Thursday, August 29, 2013

The big move

Ok, so this post is about what's on my mind these last couple of weeks.
Maybe someone would be interested in the point of view and differences to the US.

We're thinking about moving back to Germany.
We both realized the US and its ways and views don't make us happy, so instead of fighting through, we decided to go back to where we were happy.

When I get to Germany, I'll have to deal with going to city hall and tell them that I'll be back living in the city.
In Germany you can't just move wherever you want and no one's the wiser. You have to get the address on your ID changed in the first couple of weeks after the move otherwise you have to pay mean fees. Sounds weird to Americans, but on the other hand we don't have 'warrant strike teams' showing up in the middle of the night because they're looking for someone who didn't pay their child support who might live somewhere in the vicinity and take them to the police station in cuffs. The police, courts etc already know where you live, so they can send you a letter instead.

So it's a bit of a catch22, you have to go to city hall and get your ID changed with a new address etc, but you can't do that unless you already have a rent contract for an apartment (as proof that you're really living in that city).
Without a German address on your ID you won't be able to create a German bank account or e.g. apply for unemployment (as that's city and not state business). Without the German bank account you can't pay your rent or get a 'pay cheque' as in Germany the money gets paid via money transfer and not via paper 'checque' that you have to put into your account. And you wont get paid cash either unless it's under the table.

So a lot of things to take care of plus i'm still trying to get my drivers license here before moving (it depends on the US state what happens when you want to exchange the license for a German one, some don't get accepted at all, others are OK if you take your written test again in Germany to verify, others just take it as is and give you a German one without a problem. Thank goodness PA is one of those!)
Getting a drivers license in Germany is a lot harder and costs alot more money, as in aprox. 2000$ give or take.
You have to take theory classes as Germany has a lot less signs on the roads and more laws and restriction etc that you'll have to keep in mind for driving( no 'attention, there's a stop sign coming soon'-signs or 'this curve should be driven no faster than 15mph'-signs or speed limit signs everywhere, it depends on the kind of roads and where they are -close to schools or suburban neighbourhoods etc, and your theory classes should have taught you how fast you're allowed to drive).
You pay for those classes and are not allowed to do road classes until you sat through a certain amount of theory hours.
Then you'll start driving lessons with an instructor, you're not allowed to drive alone or even with a person 21 or older etc, you're only allowed to drive in your lessons until you pass your road test.
There's a certain number of highway lessons, night lessons etc you have to have and succeed in until your instructor tells you you're ready for your tests.
And then again, you'll have to pay for your written test and for your road test and if you fail, you'll have to pay that amount again (and it's not just 35$ like here, as far as i know e.g. your road test may cost up to 500€ a pop, your written test 200 or 300€ a pop).
So I took my written test a couple of weeks ago here in Philly, it took me about 5min and I passed and got my permit which allows me to practice driving on the road with a family member or friend who teaches me.
When I feel secure enough, i'll take my road test, and i'm done.
The Germans will groan now as their written test takes at least an hour and the questions are a lot more specific and some even mathematical (if you go 50mph how much room do you need between yourself and the car in front of you to not ram it in case it does a full stop? how much do you need if the street is wet? -and they want EXACT answers, no 'about 4-5seconds' or 'maybe 3 car lengths').

So keep your fingers crossed for me!
And If anyone is interested, I'll write some more about differences in moving abroad and in the states and what you have to keep in mind.
-ever had to think about buying light fixtures or a kitchen when you moved?
Well Germans do it all the time...more at a later time ;)