Are you planning to live in Munich, or just curious about expat life in Germany?
In this Expat Interview, Varsha will share her experience and tips on living in Munich as an expat. All the information from moving procedure, overcoming difficulties, understanding the cost of living in Munich to getting to know the city is here!
Munich, or München, is the capital city of Bavaria district in Germany. It is one of the popular cities among the foreigners to settle in Europe. With the population from different countries, today, Munich is a modern cosmopolitan city.
There is a perfect balance of modern lifestyle with the ethnic feel. The infrastructure facilities in Munich are up-standards. Also, in Munich, you can find excellent public transport from the metro, tram, local trains, to buses. Diesel cars are completely banned in the city center.
There are lots of touristic places in and around Munich, and it’s really easy to visit Switzerland as a day trip from this city. All these things make this Southern German city- Munich, a great place to live for expats.
Let’s start the interview!
2. How did you move to Germany?
We, as a family, moved to Stuttgart about 7 years back and to Munich in Jan 2017. Amol, my husband is in IT industry and we moved here for his job. Moving from Stuttgart to Munich was quite smooth, but the transfer from India to Stuttgart was a bit bumpy. We moved to Germany with our 2-year-old son. The first few months were very difficult and it was lonely for him. He didn’t know German language and therefore he had no friends here. This matters much when kids were much social back in the home country. In those previous months, we traveled a lot around nearby destinations and made ourselves aware of the place, culture and made some friends as well.
3. Why did you choose to live in Munich?
Hmm… Reasons to live in Munich? Munich is a cosmopolitan city with a considerable international crowd comparing to other German cities. There are lots of international companies and one can enjoy a good quality lifestyle. I like this city as a traveler also. There are tons of the things to see and do in and around the city. The education (schools and higher education) in Munich has one of the best qualities in Germany. This was an important factor for us as a parent of the school-going kid.
4. How to prepare for moving to Munich?
The first and foremost thing we did was to start searching for a house. Munich is the most expensive place in Germany to live. We searched for a house on the internet through different websites like Immobilienscout24. Once you get an address in the city, rest of the transfer procedure is very easy. As I said above, Munich is cosmopolitan city and therefore one can survive with English. If you can speak German that will, of course, make a difference.
5. The cost of living in Munich
Munich is a costly city. A medium sized flat (about 80 sq.mt) in the city center will cost around 2000-2500 Euro per month. Transportation facilities are the BEST but I would say these do not come cheap. Other prices like grocery, clothes etc. are similar to those in neighboring European cities.
6. How to overcome difficulties when moving to Munich?
Language is the main obstruction here in Germany. English is not a very common spoken language. While in Stuttgart, we all learned German and that helped us a lot. In Munich English is fairly spoken so there’s not much problem for new expats. Another main difficulty is finding a house. It is extremely difficult to find a house in Munich. It took us three months to find a flat with some (or lots of) compromises.
7. Did you experience any discrimination in Germany from the locals?
No, as Munich has quite an international public, locals are friendly with expats. There are lots of international companies and the Technical University of Munich has a good reputation among foreign students. I would say, German locals have accepted foreigners in the city and if we respect their space, they don’t avoid you. I do have lots of German friends and I see that they are equally interested in understanding our culture.
8. How to overcome culture shock when moving to Germany?
When I first moved to Germany, I experienced lots of cultural shocks. Asian culture is really different from that of European. I came here from India where we have a distinct culture. It took me a while to understand and to adjust to this. I got a help from some German friends and some foreigners like me. I searched for and read on the internet about each and every bit of customs or how-to things I came across everyday life. Also, I discussed it with friends. All this helped me to adapt to the local life.
9. What do you like about Munich?
I like the Munich’s cosmopolitan feel. The city and in general, Germany is a kid-friendly country. There are lots of cultural festivals, celebrations, and many activities or places suitable for families with kids. It is one of the ideal places for kids to bring up. Also, there are various reputable educational institutes that attract many young people. As the result, it makes the city lively. Different international companies are here so it improves the standards of living.
10. Are there any bad things about Munich that you don’t like?
Munich is the costliest city in Germany. Housing prices are shooting up considerably. It is quite difficult to find a good house with an affordable price near the city center. This is pushing people going out of the city to find accommodations.
11. What are your favorite things to do in Munich?
There are lots of parks in the city. I like to stroll around in the evenings. Also, there are dedicated cycle tracks all around the city. Therefore, we can enjoy cycling during summer. I enjoy collecting berries (when in season) in the farms and to cycle around public parks with my son.
12. Where do you recommend to visit in the Munich?
There are some worth visiting museums like German History museum, BMW museum. A large public garden called ‘Englischer Garten’ is right in the middle of the city and I recommend spending some time and watch wave surfers there. ‘Marienplatz’ is the Town hall square with a number of brand shops and cafes etc. The Starnberg lake is on the outskirts of the city, popular as day trip location.
13. Is it easy to make new friends in Munich?
In Munich, there are lots of expats and this makes easy to get friends. Locals will open up if you learn some German language. Language course can be one of the first places to make new friends. There are some ‘mom-kids’ social groups around the city where expat moms meet regularly to chit-chat. These groups are also great option to make friends and to get some information.
14. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?
I have friends both – locals as well as foreigners and also lots of Indians. I meet them frequently on the occasion of some fest or get-together.
15. Where is your favorite place in Munich to meet friends?
Sometimes we also plan for dinners. When the weather is good, we meet in parks with kids. My favorite place to meet my friends is cafe shop. I like the German ‘Cake n coffee’ tradition.
16. Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Munich’s Oktoberfest is worldwide popular and people from around the world come here to attend it. The festival itself is a great experience, and there’s no doubt about it. However, it is also my most nervous period. For about a month during this festival, the drunken people roam around the city littering everywhere and spoiling the charming feel. Except this, the city remains good clean place whole the year.
17. Did you change your perspective about Munich after living here?
Not actually, I came here with a clear idea of the city and I got the same. This might be because I already knew the German lifestyle during my Stuttgart stay. I also had some friends from Munich.
18. Advice and tips for living in Munich
I would like to give 2 suggestions. The first one is about the accommodation. If you are a student, you should find a room before coming here. Maybe your friends will help you. If you want to work here, ask the company to assist you to find an accommodation. The second suggestion is about language. It’s important to learn at least basic German so you can interact with the locals. The main language used in most of the companies here is also German.
19. Would you recommend to live in Munich?
Yes, definitely! This is the best place for students, families, singles, basically for all. Students get great chances to work for international companies, while families get quality and safe living environment. Also, Germany’s working policies help employees to keep nice work-life balance. Youngsters and singles have lots of options like pubs, various communities, and groups etc to get social. Senior citizens get the best support from the government. Isn’t that awesome to have something for everyone?
20. What have you learned from living abroad?
I’ve learned a new language. Otherwise, I would have never thought of learning German. Also, I’ve learned new culture and lifestyles. I took the opportunity, of our moving to Germany, to understand new customs and protocols. I got introduced to new foods which I think is the yummy way to understand a new place. And yes, I learned to survive in the chilling cold weather. I would say, Munich is a beautiful city and being a mother, I totally recommend this for families. Kids enjoy their freedom, stress-free education and lots of outdoor activities. The only drawback is the high cost of living.
Hi all, it’s me, Varsha. I learned Biology and have worked as a biologist for a few years. After moving to Germany, I got an absolutely new territory to explore and I am enjoying my life in Germany. My hobby is traveling and I love taking my family to different heritage sites and beautiful landscapes. Last year, I started sharing my travel experiences on my Travel Blog. I’d love to visit as many heritage sites as I can. Follow me on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.