Retirement Around the World – Germany
Published on November 1, 2016
One of the most prominent and prosperous nations in Europe, Germany offers retirees a bevy of personal, financial, and cultural benefits. Germany has much to offer everyone, making it a great retirement option. From politics in Berlin to festivals in Munich, expats can reside in the land where Bach and Beethoven once called home and enjoy native food and drink that have become popular throughout the United States today. If you are looking for adventure, drive down the speedy Autobahn to visit some of Germany’s gothic castles for a glimpse of medieval Europe in this northern European powerhouse.
Germany has many diverse regions that offer different experiences for everyone:
- Bavaria: This southern German region is a gateway to the Alps, where you can find an abundance of forests and lakes to enjoy outdoor activities. In Upper Bavaria, attractions include old castles and monasteries that dot the landscape. Additionally, with beer being a prime commodity in Bavaria, Munich’s Oktoberfest is a must-do!
- Black Forest: A land filled with German legends and myths, the Black forest region takes you out of your natural and spiritual shell. Home of the cuckoo clock, schnapps, and traditional German garb, you will really feel like you’re living in the “old country.”
- East Germany: As a former Communist region during the 20th Century, the city of Berlin was always in and out of current events. Now, it is the center of the German government. An abundance of old and new architecture can be found in East Germany, as well as thousands of lakes and hot springs. History buffs can take in stoic remnants of the old regime that controlled this area for decades.
- Rhine Valley: Welcome to a medieval wonderland! Filled with towering castles and old churches, the Rhine Valley has been an inspiration for writers and artists alike. Famous cities situated within the valley include Dusseldorf, Mainz, and Stuttgart.
- Ruhr Valley: The heart of Germany industry – with heavy manufacturing, coal, and steel production – has seen its ups and downs on the economic roller coaster. However, initiatives to modernize this region have been completed, and various cities (such as Dortmund and Duisburg) have formed connections with each other.
- North Germany and the Baltic: Perhaps the best place for retirees in Germany is in the north. Cliffs and beaches dot the shoreline of the Baltic Sea, connected by cozy villages along the way. Fishing is a very popular activity here, and the countryside contains national parks and holiday spa resorts. How much better can it get for a retiree?!
Cost of Living
According to statistical data, the cost of living in Germany is relatively the same as living in the United States. However, renting property in Germany is significantly lower by approximately 34%. A one-bedroom apartment averages around $733 USD per month to rent inside a major city, while three bedrooms will be around $1,382 USD. If you’re looking for something a bit more remote, you can rent a one-bedroom apartment in areas outside of the major cities for about $527 USD or a three-bedroom apartment for around $1,031 USD.
Aside from property prices, basic utilities in a small apartment should run you about $224 USD on average. Additionally, food, transportation, and clothing expenses are relatively similar to those in the United States, which is beneficial to Americans looking to retire and plan for living expenses.
All legal German residents receive universal healthcare coverage. Most of the nation (approximately 85%) has government-regulated health insurance, while the remainder is covered through private insurance providers. Public service members (i.e. police officers, military, etc.) have specially designated healthcare plans.
For Americans planning to retire in Germany, the best way to keep some form of healthcare coverage is to go through a private insurance agency; government healthcare insurance is not offered to all retirees or expats. However, there is an insurance plan available for everyone!
Germany has one of the strongest and most powerful economies in the world. The Euro is the national currency (formerly the German Mark) which flows through an open-market economy that is very active in international business. Additionally, for people living and working in Germany, the income tax percentage is currently at 45% which is allocated for public services including free university tuition and top-notch transportation services.
Germany is known for festivals that show off its rich cultural heritage and hearty foods. Perhaps the most popular festival known around the world is Oktoberfest, held every year at Munich’s city festival grounds as an introduction to autumn. If you enjoy lots of beer, German delicacies, and carnival fun, this is the place to be. Aside from Oktoberfest, Berlin hosts the Spandau Spring Festival with a carnival-like atmosphere and fireworks. During the Christmas season, many cities and towns will host holiday markets selling festive products, the most prominent one being in Nuremburg.
Historically, Germany is also known for being one of the most influential nations in terms of music. Some famous composers include Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These men are classical giants that broke various musical boundaries in their day.
The Germans are also very passionate about sports. Some of their most popular sports are also played in the United States. These include soccer, basketball, and hockey. Some of the country’s more popular teams (such as Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayer Leverkusen) have enjoyed years of success and ardent support both on the national and international levels. In terms of basketball, German native Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks is regarded as one of the greatest European basketball players ever.
Handball, tennis, and winter sports are also very popular among the Germans, who are consistently considered to be among the top competitors in both the summer and winter Olympic Games.
Food and Drink
When we think of German food in the United States, a few things come to mind: bratwursts (German sausages), sauerkraut (to put on the sausages), schnitzel (breaded meat), cheeses (such as Limburger), giant pretzels, and most important – beer! Aside from these, Germany’s various types of dishes are cooked up throughout its diverse regions. You can find smoked or roasted hams, lamb, veal, and braised beef. Seafood such as herring, salmon, perch, and trout, and side dishes like potato dumplings or pancakes, are also extremely popular. Be sure to leave room for a slice of Black Forest cake (a German staple), ice cream, and assorted fruit.
In terms of beer, there are over 1,200 breweries in Germany that produce various popular varieties. Among them are “Doppelbock” (a stronger beer), “Weissbier” (a light beer), and “Dunkel” (a darker-colored beer). Beer is not only a trademark of German culture . . . it’s a way of life.
Germany also produces many wines, especially Rieslings. During the holiday season, a popular hot wine beverage called “Glühwein” is usually consumed.
As you can now see, Germany is a great option for your overseas retirement. It is a modern world power with a rich culture and stable economy. Financially speaking, living in Germany is similar to retiring in the United States. You will enjoy great food, friendly people, and an abundant of activities and sights to see. No matter what part of Germany you may choose to live in, there is always something new to explore!