Updated: May 11, 2020
It’s personal. Arun has been living in Germany for over 6 years now.
The following is the list of pros and cons based on his personal experience of living and working in 3 of the best German cities :
Heidelberg : 1st city Arun lived in German - quaint small student city, with a charm that can not be put in words,
Munich : the traditional old city flush with old money, set in its way - taking its own sweet time to come to grips with the changing world and even more rapidly changing economic players,
Berlin : the most unique and under-valued European capital. Its not complaining though, this makes Berlin the hub for innovation and startups. Also, the party capital of the world with the most crazy clubs.
(in 2019 Arun attended events in Berlin that included listening to CMO of Twilio, new investing trends by an Eastern Europe financial giant and KPMG’s session on how to fund your startups ==== All for FREE!!).
Arun is from India, which has influence on these perspectives.
Working in Germany :
Work : work is the focus during office time. Coffee and lunch breaks are welcome, but finishing quality work on time is the aim,
Peers : generally, the peers are highly qualified professionals, delivering on very high levels consistently. It is fun to work with such peers, engage and spar and learn from them,
Focus on quality : The companies will go through the rigorous process of interviews, and still not select a candidate if the desired quality is not met,
Clear communication : There is generally clear communication on your deliverable, timeline and tools available to work. The reviews and feedback are a breeze if you are good performer, very stressful and demotivating if one is lagging on their tasks,
Job security : German laws always protect the employees. There are strict lay off policies, defined on the basis of one’s employment duration, marital status and family composition,
Vacation days : 25–30 vacation days, in addition to public holidays and weekends are pretty generous. Arun's wife get 1.75 days comp off, if she is attending a conference on Sundays (her peers in London, NY dont get this, and have ~10 annual vacation days),
Paternity vacation : Arun knows of a friend (Indian) who is on 1 year paternity vacation…. need he say more?
Work life balance : all of the above means that there is no need to put in long hours at office (might vary based on personal and business stages). So, there is ample time after office for a hobby, social event or family…
Fear of new : those who have only worked in German companies, are not open to new trends, business or technology,
Hierarchy attitude : The management is the management and does not need to explain or open up about their decisions…..Quiet contrary to the current trends of building transparent corporate cultures across the globe,
Job vs Mission : The work is a 9 to 5 job, to be done, which ends when one leaves office. No wonder that my office is empty by 6pm though we are competing with new world companies across the globe who are on 24*7…. really??
Data privacy : This is very big topic and very strongly enforced in Germany. While this means more data security for the citizens, it also leads to slowdown in innovation. More so in the areas of health and wellness. There are so strict privacy laws, that the scientists and researchers are not able to get access to patient data, even after their death.
Living in Germany:
High quality of life - daily life is simple, easy and relaxed,
World cities - international cities with a fusion of values, culture and people from across the globe,
Heritage - the depth of history and culture provide insightful perspective for today,
Gateway to Europe : 1–2 hrs flights to most of the “top tourist cities” in the world (Arun has been to Amsterdam for 2019 Easter weekend, 3rd time now),
Visa process : Yes, Arun still require Visa to travel to other countries. Though tedious n expensive, 6+years in Germany ensure that he gets his visa without any hassle,
(Arun got his US Visa in 1.5 days of interview appointment, those in front of him in q…. not so lucky),
Racism : Germany is stereotyped for many things. During his 5 years here, he faced racism once. That was from a really old person in Berlin U-bahn. (does not paints my opinion of Germany or its people),
The above is definitely a very personal topic. This experience might vary significantly.
Openness : People are happy if one joins in their lifestyle. Arun's experiences in German saunas and Berlin clubs have been pleasant and similar to any other person there….. n memorable :)
Helpful : This reminds Arun of an incident when he ordered something specific during lunch, an off-the menu item. Though the server mentioned it is not possible, a German customer who was waiting for his order immediately asked why and proceeded to help Arun get his desired order.
Activities : Arun can’t recall the last movie he saw here. And he is not complaining. There is theater, exhibitions, lakes and bbq in summers, comic clubs, concerts (going to Brian Adams in June,19), cultural shows, wine tasting events and so much more…. why spend time in a theater !! (though eagerly waiting for the new Top Gun movie in couple of months:) )
Social circle : it is not easy to break into German social circle in short period of time. Arun has been able of develop great friends over a long period of time,
A German couple friend of Arun's traveled for their 1st ever vacation to India in Dec,2019.
Bureaucracy : this one takes the highest honors. The offices and officers are intimidating, more so if the language is a barrier. Though fair, the process can be tiring, time consuming and frustrating,
Customer trends : a new internet connection takes minimum of 2–3 weeks… this basically defines the speed of customer trends adoption,
Banking : still done how it was done decades back. A debit transaction done on weekend only gets reflected on Monday, once business hours start. An intra-bank transfer takes 1 day to reflect (comparing to Indian banking system). ATMs are slower than those in India,
Business bank account : Arun has over 6 years of banking relationship with Deutsche Bank,. When Arun asked for an appointment for business banking account, the earliest appointment was available in 6 months.
Commerzbank opened the account in 2 weeks (not too fast by Indian standards, but surely better than waiting for 6 weeks for an appointment with Deutsche Bank).
The above has led to companies like N26 and Coya to disrupt the banking and insurance industry…..!!
Cash economy : cash is still the king in Germany. The first thing Arun needs to check while going to a restaurant is if they take cards (any type…. if yes, its usually Debit),
Fresh produce quality : Veggies and fruits just dont taste the way they are supposed to. Not sure what is the reason for this, have heard the same from friends from Spain, Italy, Greece…
Consumer contracts : Gym, phone, TV etc etc are minimum 1–2 year contract periods. If not cancelled in time, auto-renewed for another year or so…. good for companies, since they get assured revenue, terrible for customers,
State TV Fee : 17.50 Euros per month to ensure an independent state press. Fair enough on concept, not so fair on the amount, transparency and charging logic. If unpaid for long time, they can garnish your wages.
As mentioned earlier, all of these are based on Arun's personal experiences and observations. While no country is perfect, Germany and German people have been super amazing to Arun and his family. His wife completed her Phd here and is working for a global publication group. He has been able to get my parents to Europe, same for his in-laws, cousins, relatives n friends too… take them around and be part of their happiness…
Arun has no regret in moving to Germany and setting up his life and career in the country.
It always helps to have a mentor, who has worked and lived in Germany for some of the best brands. For personal consultation with Arun Mahajan, book a time with him.