Thinking about living and working abroad? Why not try Germany? Germany is packed full of history, beautiful cities and towns, mountain ranges, lakes and so much more. With lots to see and do, you’ll need more than a few weeks to explore the country. Depending on where you’re from, getting your hands on a Germany working holiday visa might be easier than you think! Let’s get into it.
Best Time to do a Germany Working Holiday Visa
Germany’s climate varies year-round with four seasons so it doesn’t matter what time of year you choose to go. Work opportunities don’t change much throughout the year and if you stay for the full 12 months, you’ll get to experience all seasons.
Visas Available to Work in Germany
If you’re considering getting a Germany working holiday visa, you’ll need to see if you qualify. Here are some options to check out:
• European Union (EU) nationals – Those who are from a country that’s a part of the EU can live and work in Germany with little to no barrier to entry. Each EU country has varying rules and regulations when it comes to working rights so double check before you take off! Visit www.europa.eu for details.
• Working Holiday Visa – A Germany working holiday visa allows people from the age of 18-30 to work and live in Germany for up to 12 months. This program is available for people from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, Uruguay and Brazil. If you decide to do a working holiday visa in Germany, you must have health and accident insurance, a return ticket and a certain amount of money to prove you can provide for yourself (1200-4000 euros).
• Other visas for visiting Germany – People from Canada will have to apply to the Youth Mobility Program. This program is for young professionals seeking employment or an internship in Germany. It’s available for those aged between 18 and 35.
• Digital Nomad Visa – Germany was the first country in the EU to introduce a digital nomad visa. For those with an online business and who want to spend some time in Germany you may want to look into this visa option. There are two types of freelance visas, one for artists and one for other professionals.
Things to do on Arrival in Germany
As soon as you land in Germany to start your working holiday, you’ll need to get a few things in order.
Apply for a tax number: In order to start working, you’ll need a German Tax ID. This is used to process your income tax at the end of the fiscal year. You’ll need a German address (which we’ll get to shortly) in order to apply for your tax number and it will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to receive it.
Open a bank account: Setting up a bank account in Germany is fairly easy to do. You’ll need a bank account in order to start working so you should do that as soon as you arrive. Choosing a bank in Germany can be tricky because there are many options but some of the best for international residents are N26, DKB, Postbank and Netbank.
Find somewhere to live in Germany: Before you move to Germany, you’ll want to think of a few places you might want to live. Once you arrive, you’ll need to formally register your address (Anmeldung) and once that’s processed, your tax number will be automatically generated.
Not sure where to live? Berlin is a common option for those who can’t speak German as there seems to be many English speaking jobs available. It’s a multi-cultural area and has a lot to see and do. Other major cities to consider are Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg, Munich and Stuttgart which are also popular options! It will probably depend on which city attracts you and what work you can find. There is no harm in moving around from city to city as there is plenty of short-term accommodation such as hostels you can stay at while finding your feet.
Enjoy the beer and pretzels
Living in Germany – Types of Accommodation
When trying to find accommodation that will suit your needs in Germany, you’ll need to secure short term accommodation at first. Stay at a hostel or hotel for the first week or two. This will allow you to explore the city you’re in and find a location you’d like to live long-term.
You’ll most likely be looking for an apartment but keep in mind that it’s not likely to be furnished. Most apartments won’t have a bed, utensils or any of the basics that you’d typically find in rental units in other countries. You’ll likely have a flatmate when living in Germany and here are some places you can look for an apartment/flat:
If you’re still not having luck, search “wohnung + the city or town you’re looking to live in” on Facebook. You’ll stumble upon a few groups where you can find a place to stay.
Finding Work in Germany
Why should you choose to live and work in Germany? Well for one, Germany is known for having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU! Its unemployment rate stands anywhere between 4-4.5% on average, making it a safe bet when going to a new country in search of work.
One thing you must keep in mind before looking to do a working holiday in Germany is the language barrier. If you don’t speak German, Berlin will be your best bet for finding a job, as English speaking jobs are becoming more common there. You should do your best to understand the basics of German before moving to Germany to speed up the job hunt or land specific jobs.
Some typical jobs people do during their Germany working holiday visa are as follows:
• Hospitality and retail – For those with experience working at a clothing store, cafe, bar or restaurant, you should have no trouble finding work in this field. It’s also a great way to make new friends in Germany! There is lots of casual work around Oktoberfest time in Munich to cater for the large number of tourists that visit to enjoy the beer and the atmosphere. Most hotels in major German cities often have staff who don’t speak German so you could even ask at the hostel you are staying as many hostels are run by travellers. In return for your work you are provided with accommodation and a wage. Or you can exchange your work for free accommodation and work elsewhere. Another opportunity could be to stock shelves in supermarkets overnight.
• Tourism – Tourism jobs are great because they generally have flexible schedules that will allow you a lot of time to travel through the country on your time off.
• Au Pair – If you enjoy working with children, you might want to consider becoming an au pair in Germany! You can apply for a visa specific to working as an au pair that’s good for up to 90 days. This visa won’t allow you to work elsewhere, so if you hope to get a second job, you’ll need a working holiday visa.
• Digital Nomads – There are numerous jobs digital nomads do on-line including blogging, web design, teaching English, content creation, IT and accounting to name a few. To continue offering online work I’m sure you’re already set up selling your services via your own website to platforms such as Fivver.
If looking for a job check out www.findajobinGermany.com which is a website dedicated to English language jobs. If you’re part of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, the European Employment Services website has a job portal that can help you find work in any sector. They also hold job fairs in the spring and fall.
Things to See and Do in Germany
Being a tourist while on your working holiday in Germany is always the best part and there is plenty to see and do.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of the major German cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich or Frankfurt. Don’t miss the wall and Brandenberg Gate in Berlin and the Glockenspeil in Munich.
Germany has numerous castles and palaces. The most famous of them, Neuschwanstein Castle, even served as Walt Disney’s inspiration for the castle in the film version of the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty”.
As well as the castles and palaces you will be enchanted by the breathtaking landscapes. In the south, the Alps await you, while in the north you can visit the North Sea or even the Baltic Sea. And in the centre of Germany there are some beautiful low mountain ranges like the Bavarian Forest or the Ore Mountains, where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the big German cities.
Final Words on a Working Holiday in Germany
Not everyone will have the opportunity to do a Germany working holiday visa. If you choose to, you’ll have the option to visit castles, see the Berlin Wall, explore stunning national parks, have beach days in Sylt and so much more. Start your application today and you’ll be living and working in Germany before you know it!
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.