Wondering about expat life in Germany for retirement? If you’ll live there into old age, know what elder care in Germany looks like.
Germany ranks high in several factors compared to other countries and may be worth considering when planning a late-life international relocation. According to the HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, it ranks fourth in political stability and second in economic stability. It’s incredibly diverse landscapes, including forests, mountains, and beaches, draw adventurers worldwide. There are 46 World Heritage Sites in Germany, giving it the honor of being the fourth-most sites in any country. Plus, there are castles! Germany has more than 20,000 castles in every condition, from ruins to bed and breakfast sites.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of a golden year move to this lovely European country and to determine if you’ll be saying Abschied (farewell) to your home country and hallo (hello) to Germany (see also France elder care).
Germany has several strict requirements you’ll need to show that you meet before you are granted residency. You must demonstrate more than basic German language skills and complete an integration course. You’ll also have to present evidence that you are financially secure, open a German bank account, and have German health insurance.
Many German citizens were deprived of their citizenship between 1933 and 1945 for religious, racial, or political reasons. Children born to German mothers before April 1953 and German fathers before July 1993 that were stripped of their national rights are eligible for reinstatement of German citizenship. This decree makes it much easier for descendants of Germans who left the country during this period to re-establish ties.
Germany’s Cost of Living
In comparison to other European countries, Germany has a lower cost of living. Housing is comparable to the United States. The cost of utilities is slightly higher except for internet services, which is lower. Groceries are much more reasonable in Germany than in the U.S. Vehicles cost more, but many residents prefer public transportation and save money that way.
There are over 2,000 hospitals throughout the country, including 30 university hospitals. As with most things German, the healthcare system is efficient and reliable. The quality of medical services is ranked high or very high, with Munich having the best facilities. On average, Germans live two years longer than comparable populations with a life expectancy of 81. It also has the 12th lowest infant mortality rate, much lower than the United States.
Germany offers universal healthcare known as gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (or GKV) to all residents, including foreigners. However, some procedures are not covered, and citizens are expected to have private coverage for outpatient treatment and hospitalizations.
The transportation system is also very efficient. Trains run on time, and tickets on the high-speed railway are inexpensive. Public transportation in cities and towns in the form of buses, trams, U-Bahn (subway), and S-Bahn (train) is also very reliable. Many Germans do not own cars because it’s simpler and faster to use public transport.
German Language Barrier
Although more than half of the population speaks English, you’ll need to be proficient in German in order to qualify for residency. Fortunately, the German grammar structure and vocabulary are similar to English, making it easier to learn than other languages.
Elder Care in Germany
The baby boom after World War II means that there is a large elderly population in Germany. By 2060, there may be more than 4.5 million individuals over the age of 65. Germany is approaching a healthcare crisis in this regard since there are insufficient carers to meet the rapidly aging population’s needs.
Up until the 1990s, most caregiving was done by the family. Because of the financial burdens placed on families, Germany established national long-term care insurance (LTCI) known as Pflegeversicherung, making it one of only four countries with this type of insurance. Those that are enrolled in public health insurance automatically receive LTCI. Those that have private health insurance must pay for private LTCI. LTCI covers care for those who cannot live independently for at least six months. Eligibility is not based on age.
Most LTCI beneficiaries live at home and receive a monthly cash payment to cover their care needs. Family members can arrange to work part-time and receive 75 percent of their pay if they need time to care for a loved one. For those that live in institutional care facilities, the policy pays for part of their care. Typically, the remaining portion is covered by pensions, private insurance, or family.
Life Satisfaction and Personal Relationships
Most Germans consider themselves happy. The country is rated as the 17th happiest in the world. More than 77 percent of ex-pats that have moved to Germany say they are happy with life. U.S. citizens make up 15 percent of the ex-pat population. In recent years, more and more Americans have applied for German citizenship.
On the other hand, Germany ranks low for ease in setting in and making friends. This becomes exasperated if you are not fluent in German. Initially, it may be difficult to establish satisfactory social contacts, but with persistence and open-mindedness, you just may break through the invisible barrier.
Climate and Pollution
More than half of ex-pats to Germany are disappointed with the climate. It rains all year with snow in colder months. Winters temperatures can get as low as 5 degrees Fareighneight while summer temperatures might reach a sultry 95 degrees Fareighneight.
Pollution ratings for Germany are low. Green spaces and parks make even urban life pleasant. Strict regulations keep the air quality high and the streets tidy. The capital of the state Baden-Württemberg, located in the southwest, Stuttgart, has the cleanest city rating.
If you’ve got all your ducks in a row, then the clean and ordered life in Germany may be in your future. The country’s health care is efficient. The systems of elder care in Germany and long-term care insurance makes it a more accessible location for the elderly. The cost of living is less than in other European countries, but by no means cheap. Language and cultural barriers might make it more difficult to acclimate initially. Residency isn’t easy to obtain. However, the clause permitting children of descents of Germans stripped of their citizenship during WW II might make the process simpler for you.
If you’d like further reading on relocating to Germany, consider the following books:
- DK Eyewitness Germany by DK Eyewitness Travel
- Fodor’s Essential Germany by Fodor’s Travel
- Germany for Beginners: The German Way Expat Guidebook by Humboldt American
- How to Move to and Live in Germany: Everything You Need to Know by E. James