An expat guide to living in Munich, Germany
Are you planning to live in Munich, or just curious about expat life in Germany?
In this Expat Interview, Varsha shares 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, and getting to know the city are here!
1. About Munich
Munich, or München, is the capital city of Bavaria district in Germany.
It is one of the popular cities among foreigners to settle in Europe. Today, with a population from different countries, 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 many tourist places in and around Munich, and it’s really easy to visit Switzerland as a day trip from this city.
These things make this Southern German city- Munich, a great place to live for expats.
Read more: How to use public transportation in Germany.
2. How did you move to Germany?
We, as a family, moved to Stuttgart about seven years back and to Munich in Jan 2017. Amol, my husband, is in the 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 tough, and it was lonely for him.
He didn’t know the German language, and therefore he had no friends here. This mattered 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.
3. Why did you choose to live in Munich?
Hmm. Reasons to live in Munich?
Compared to other German cities, Munich is a cosmopolitan city with a considerable international crowd. There are many international companies, and one can enjoy a good quality lifestyle.
I like this city as a traveler also. There are tons of things to see and do in and around the city.
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 start searching for a house. Munich is the most expensive place in Germany to live in.
We searched for a house on the internet through different websites like Immobilienscout24. Once you get an address in the city, the rest of the transfer procedure is very easy.
As I said above, Munich is a 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 these do not come cheap.
Other prices like groceries, 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, which helped us a lot. English is fairly spoken in Munich, so there’s not much problem for new expats.
Another main difficulty is finding a house. It is challenging to find an apartment 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 many international companies, and the Technical University of Munich has a good reputation among international students.
I would say German locals have accepted foreigners in the city, and if we respect their space, they don’t avoid you.
I 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 different from that of Europeans. I came here from India, where we have a distinct culture. It took me a while to understand and adjust to this.
I got help from some German friends and some foreigners like me.
I searched for and read on the internet about every bit of customs or how-to things I came across in 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 Munich’s cosmopolitan feel.
The city and, in general, Germany is kid-friendly country. There are many 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, various reputed educational institutes attract many young people.
As a 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 pretty challenging to find a suitable house at an affordable price near the city center.
This is pushing people to go 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 in the summer. I enjoy collecting berries (when in season) on the farms and cycling around public parks with my son.
12. Where do you recommend to visit in Munich?
There are some worth visiting museums like the 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 watching wave surfers there. ‘Marienplatz’ is the Townhall square with several brand shops, cafes, etc.
The Starnberg lake is on the city’s outskirts, popular as a day trip location.
13. Is it easy to make new friends in Munich?
In Munich, there are lots of expats, making it easy to make friends.
Locals will open up if you learn some German language. Language courses 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 a great option to make friends and get some information.
14. Do you hang out with locals or foreigners mostly?
I have friends both – locals and foreigners and 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 the kids. My favorite place to meet my friends is cafe shops. I like the German ‘Cake n coffee’ tradition.
16. Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
Munich’s Oktoberfest is worldwide famous, 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 for this, the city remains a good clean place for the whole 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 Germany
I would like to give two suggestions.
The first one is about 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 in finding accommodation.
The second suggestion is about language. It’s essential to learn at least basic German to 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 high chances to work for international companies, while families get a quality and safe living environment. Also, Germany’s working policies help employees to keep an excellent work-life balance.
Youngsters and singles have lots of options like pubs, various communities, 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 about new cultures and lifestyles. I took the opportunity to move to Germany to understand new customs and protocols.
I got introduced to new foods, which is a 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 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 a 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.
The opinions expressed here by Expatolife columnists are their own, not those of Expatolife.