Buying an apartment in Germany is an experience all in itself. Once the contract is signed, there’s an extra special perk: membership in the German home owner’s association for your particular building. You might know it as the “body corporate”, “condominium corporation”, “strata council” or “commonhold” in other countries. Once you’ve bought an apartment in Germany, you’ll come to know it fondly as the “WEG”, that is, the “Wohnungseigentümergemeinschaft”. So… what exactly will you be getting yourself into? How does it work? And will you ever get out alive?
Category Archive: Moving to Berlin
Life admin – it’s something everyone has to deal with. Correspondence, finance, tax, registration forms, paying bills, etc. It’s so necessary and so painful. And in a foreign language? Excruciating. Getting the answers you want feels like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s hard to talk to customer service without getting shut down for not speaking German. The credibility of replies on English-language social media forums is questionable at best. Lately, I’ve been getting all sorts of requests for help with expat life admin tasks, things like “can I pay you to sort out this billing issue?”, “I got a scary letter from the Finanzamt, can you help me understand it?” or “Can you find me a medical specialist who speaks English?” I can, I can and I can! Introducing Life Admin from Red Tape Translation.
Hello friends and supporters, welcome to the new year in Germany. Enjoy the occasional thick and fluffy snow and when things get a bit slippery and scary on the icy streets, grab yourselves a pair of Yaktrax traction cleats – you won’t regret it. I spent some time abroad in the southern hemisphere facilitating valuable synergies (ie. visiting the fam in Australia). There, I received my yearly fix of Vitamin D, which is important for getting through February in Berlin.
Every now and then, you fall in love with Germany. Or maybe it’s person who just happens to live in Germany. Whichever it is, time is running out and you want a way to stay as long as you can. You don’t even really care how, as long as it’s legal. Or perhaps you just need to buy some time between your Schengen Visa running out and you figuring out what happens next. I know the feeling very well, so this post is for you.
Cold beer, warm lunches, coffee, cake, socks and sandals. Naturally, there is no one German way of living, but there are some trends that I’ve come to recognize fondly as “German”. Here are a few I think are neat.
The question on everyone’s lips in Berlin is: does having an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde Berlin extend my Schengen Visa? It certainly seems to be one of the biggest causes for confusion. If it’s true, why isn’t everyone just perpetually booking themselves appointments at the Ausländerbehörde? Red Tape Translation takes you through the myths and the realities of the current situation for tourists from the United States, Australia, Canada etc.
The Ausländerbehörde in Berlin is a special place. Among other special nicknames, it has been described as “the most miserable place in Berlin”, “the place of shattered dreams” and “inefficient government bureaucracy at its finest”. Above all, though, getting acquainted with its tightly-closed-up windows, flashing neon boards and slightly-off key announcement bells is inevitable. So embrace it and do it right. Here’s how to save time, avoid stress and leave with a shiny new visa or permit.
You moved to Berlin, landed a job and just received your first pay cheque. You notice a deduction called “Kirchensteuer” in the small print and wonder what it could possibly be…
What is Kirchensteuer?
Kirchensteuer (church tax) is a tax imposed on members of some religious congregations in Germany.
Great news from the Bürgeramt! 2017 has brought with it a wave of days marked in blue on the online calendar – that means you can even get same-day appointments at registration offices across Berlin! Get clicking!
Getting out of Unemployment with Self-Employment: The Gründungszuschuss
If you are facing unemployment in Germany or are right in the middle of it, you might be interested to know about a grant that the Agentur für Arbeit offers to job seekers on ALG1 unemployment benefits if they want to start a business in Germany. The idea of this “new business grant” (Gründungszuschuss) is to get people out of unemployment (ALG I) by encouraging them to become self-employed or to start a company. Naturally, this won’t suit everyone, so the Agentur für Arbeit is really interested in making sure that you’re the entrepreneurial type and that you have a viable idea before they approve your application.
It is difficult to find information about the Gründungszuschuss in English. Here are the basics.
A magical summer in Berlin has convinced you that you want to stay here forever. You’ve found the perfect apartment to buy at the right price and talked to your bank about financing. Here’s what you can expect when buying property in Berlin, from making an offer through to getting the keys.
Chances are, at some point after your arrival, you’d love to get behind the wheel again! The rules can be a little complicated here: some driving licenses are easy to exchange without bureaucracy, others require you to start from scratch. If you already have a valid driver’s license from your home country and you’d like to get a German driving license, read on.