From the UK to Deutschland: 2 years in Germany and counting
It’s been over 2 years since my husband and I uprooted ourselves and our kids from Epsom and moved to Germany.
So how’s it going?
That we were due to move back in August 23 and didn’t, might give a clue that it’s been going pretty well.
Let me share my top reasons we’ve loved living in Germany:
As a family, we’ve travelled so much! Frankfurt is a great base to explore Germany. Over the past couple of years, we’ve travelled all over this beautiful country including Berlin, Munich, Leipzig, Cologne, Lake Constanz, The Black Forest, Nuremberg.
What’s more, we’re an easy drive from many other European countries. So far, explored France, Italy, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria and there are still more places we want to visit.
Staying on the travel theme, we’ve taken up skiing as a family. Having never taken the kids skiing at all before we moved here, they’ve now been 5 times.
Learning the language
Yes, mastering German is an uphill battle. Did you know that there are 5 different ways to say the word ‘the’ in German? Der, Die, Das, Den, Dem.
Nevertheless my German is improving, and I can usually make myself understood (often with the help of Google translate). It’s so rewarding being able to understand more of what’s going on around me. I’m working towards my A2.1 German level, and A2.2 is on the horizon. Beyond that, if we can reach B1, we’d be eligible for German passports, which is tempting as it would grant our kids EU citizenship, potentially opening doors for their future.
Independence (for my kids)
Germans seem to have a distinct approach to parenting compared to the UK. Children here gain independence at a much younger age. Little ones, barely knee-high, tote school bags larger than themselves, walking to school unaccompanied each day. The first few times I saw this I was on the lookout for the missing parents, assuming the child must be lost. But no, that seems to be the norm in Germany.
As well as being allowed more independence, more is also expected of them. For example, at school, they’re expected to organise themselves, do their own homework and pack their backpacks from an early age.
My kids are wholeheartedly embracing their newfound independence, which they’ve undoubtedly had more of here than we allowed back in the UK.
There is a real focus on community events in Germany. Every weekend there’s a festivity nearby, whether it’s celebrating apple blossom, wine, beer or music. The biggest one local to us is the Laternenfest which is a huge event spanning a few days.
I do miss the national trust though (that might be my age showing). With a few exceptions, the Germans aren’t great at adding quality cafes to their tourist sites, and, as everyone knows, the cafe is the highlight of a trip out.
In Germany, there’s a strong emphasis on social responsibility and good citizenship. There are lots of rules, such as no vacuuming or lawnmowing on Sundays, no car washing at home, and understanding the bin system might require a course in waste management.
It takes time to form friendships with Germans. They can be friendly and helpful, but they stick to their old friends. Fortunately, we’ve been lucky to make some local friends, although it’s taken a while. Most of our friends are from the international community. Frankfurt is a highly diverse city, with people from all over the world relocating here to be part of the well-established banking, automotive and pharmaceutical industries.
And how has all of this impacted de Jong Phillips? Honestly?
I have to really rack my brain to find any negative effects of my moving to Germany on de Jong Phillips. At a stretch, I’d say the most challenging aspect has been needing to make more of an effort to engage in face-to-face networking and social activities with our team, clients and our partners.
Yet, when it comes to running the business, we’ve encountered no issues at all. We’ve been fully digital for a long time, and with many of the team working remotely for years, the transition has been remarkably smooth.
Things have gone so well that we’ve decided to extend our stay in Germany. Time has flown by, and we’re not quite ready to return to the UK just yet.