How to tip in Germany

How to tip in Germany

One of the most underated questions I’ve faced is the act of tipping in a foreign country. It’s one of those little things that tend to go slid under the rug and when you find it, you are like wait wait hey what howwwwwww.

When I lived in France I was completely baffled that no one tips at all and in some circumstances it was even considered rude to tip when you were recieving a service ( so odd right?-for an American at least!) in the states most individuals in the service industry live off of tips so we tend to focus on making sure we don’t forget and give the appropriet amount. Below is what I have come to learn and what to apply to various situations in Germany.*

*note these unwritten rules also tend to apply in German speaking parts of Switzerland and Austria

Tipping:

Wait Staff

This I found to be very interesting, both because of the difference in the states as well as my experience working as a waitress in Germany. When it comes to tipping at a resteraunt it is not uncommon to simply round the bill up to the nearest euro, however for a nicer sit down resteraunt the average is about 10%.

Although in groups this average changes to a table amount ( said to be around 15euro total sum) often you will notice that even as tedious as it is, wait staff are happy to split bills in between running around. They will most likely get a higher tip in total from all the split bills.

Helpful vocab: Zusammen (together) / Getrennt (seperate)

Bars

When going to a bar, same rules apply basically everywhere. If you are going up to the bar to grab some drinks and go then you simply round the bill to the nearest euro. However, if you are sitting down and being served by the bar staff, then the same rules apply to giving trinkgeld as if you were in a resteraunt.

Taxis

Taxis are a bit different than eating out or getting prettied up. For taxi drivers a smaller tip is normal. So typically between .50 to 2 euros would be acceptable. Similar to the bar rule, you generally just round up the fair. If I need to get a car, I personally prefer to get an uber or a taxi from the Free now app. This way I can pay ahead of time and not worry about how much to pay ( or having cash to pay, as often this is required). Additionally in the apps, they offer you average tip pricing options to include if you like, so no need to try and calculate on your own ( woohoo!).

Hairdressers

This is one question I was off to first seek out when I moved abroad. Since I need my monthly appointments, I always want to make sure I build a good relationship with my colourist. I know in the states people get really offended if you don’t tip after a hair service, but here it seems they are more casual. My hair dresser told me a couple euros is typically fair. Since hair dressers are paid more in Germany than in the states and Germans are not big tippers. Regardless of that I do believe ( and have come to learn) that with good service a tip of around 10%-15% is the correct thing to do.

Helpful vocab: schneiden (cut)|waschen (wash)|föhnen (blow-dry)|Strähnchen (highlights)

Paying:

When paying a resteraunt bill in Germany, a couple things different from that of the US ( and other english speaking countries I have experienced) First off, the server will come to you and verbally count out the amount at your table and you will pay there ( even with card). When tipping you simply let them know the amount for your card or when giving bar specify what the tip is so they don’t start looking for change. For example, if I was at a cafe and my bill was €8.20 I would give them a ten euro note and say ” zehn” to let them know my tip was  €1.80. As self explanatory as that seems I can say from my experience as a waitress in Germany it is still very helpful. The worst is when you begin to count out all the ridiculous amount of change in your  geldbeutel only to be told that its ok.

A side not: when recieveing services in Germany you may notice the culture is a lot less..errmmm.. “Friendly” than that of North American. This is due to the fact that they are not living off of tips and have a legal and very well regulated wage. So do not expect much over enthusiastic customer service during your visit. It is not them being rude but simply just culturally different. This is one of the main reasons you never are expected to tip over 10%.

Helpful vocab: bar (cash) |zehn (ten)|Geldbeutal (wallet)|

Tips for finding a flat in Munich

Tips for finding a flat in Munich

So you have managed to take the leap and move to Munich but now are in search of the second essential piece; a flat! And I’m certain as you have heard-or experienced- it is a double doozy trying to find accomidation in this sweet little city.

However, my dear expats, Aspen is here to help. I shall provide you with some of my best resources and advice to kill the 089 housing game.

  1. Know German ( or someone who does)

When in Germany, speak German! Most ads are in German and most landlords prefer a German speaker. When applying it is far more effiencent to write applications in German-you get much better and more feedback.

2. Types of rent

Unlike in the United States, rent is not such an easy topic to break apart, so here are some key words you should keep in your flat hunting vocabulary:

Kaution: The deposit. Typically in Germany the deposit will go into a special bank account held by your landlord that requires signatures from both parties. Although sometimes it is just transfered over with your first months rent payment, in which case it is always smart to keep bank statements tracking these transactions.

Kaltmiete: Literally ” cold rent”, this describes a contract in which utilities are not included in the rental price.

Warmmeite: The price of rent which includes utilities and Nebenkosten.

( Warmeite does not include internet,  or Rundfunkgebühr)

Nebenkosten: These are basically building management fees. So anything associated with the building such as trash removal, cleaning services or elevator maitenence can be included in the NK. This will cost will change due to how much heat you use, in addition once a year you should recieve a seperate water bill. You will have to pay for the water bill if youve gone over your allowence, but sometimes if your under you can get a refund.

The Kitchen: This, to me, was always a strange topic. In Germany you can rent flats that don’t have kitchens, i.e bring your own stove. Coming from America where kitchen is not counted as furnishing I have had quite a few disapointing experiences. It is important to read ads well as sometimes there is a kitchen, sometimes not and sometimes you must even pay extra for the kitchen that is already there.

Wohnungsbewerbung: The rental application. Sort of similar to applying to a job, when applying for housing you will need a cover letter, CV and proof of income.

3. Rental Abbreviations to know:

2 Zi. Whg : 2 Zimmer Wohnung :2 room apartment

WG :Wohnung Gemeinschaft : Flatshare

Mobliert : furnished

EBK : Einbaukuche :Kitchen is included (stove, cabinets, fridge, sink)

EBK (Abl VHB____) : Kitchen include, but for a cost (VHB; verhandelbar; negotiable)

Parkett Wood floors

Laminate: Laminated floors

Tiefgarage : Car garage, usually an additional cost associated

2 OG m. Lift : 2nd Obergeschoss: Third floor (English) , with elevator

Spulmaschine : Dishwasher

ca. 100 qm (or m2) : About 100 square meters multiply by 10 to get square feet

Nachmieter: Someone who is looking to leave a lease earlier than scheduled

Untermieter: Sub-letter

ab. 1 Juli: Available 1st of July

ab sof. :sofort frei : Available right away

 

4. Websites to find housing

IMMOBILIENSCOUT24

IMMOWELT

 SÜDDEUTSCH ZEITUNG IMMOBILIENMARKT

WG-GESUCHT,

AIRBNB

Hopefully this can be a helpful start to your search. As always, feel free to contact me if you need some more advice or have some to share.

Best wishes little fishes

xxA

 

7 easy steps to get your work visa in Germany

7 easy steps to get your work visa in Germany

Alright, so sorry for the delay. Honestly this should have been one of my first posts since I always receive so many questions regarding it.

buuutttt without further ado, here are the steps to follow to gain that golden German dream.

Step 1: Arrive with the intent to thrive

So you have decided you want to live in Germany, fabulous! Wilkommen bb. Lucky for you, initial entry into Germany comes with a 90 day automatic visa (Schengen Visa) to valid passport holders of these countries.

Step 2: Find a cozy set up

Almost tied with step 1, step 2 can be as much of an adventure. For me I initially came to Germany as an aupair- super great for initial transitioning- but if you are here so then you need to find a flat or Wohngemeinschaft (roomies) asap. There are many great websites you can look at to apply for places, and naturally groups on Facebook I would recommend checking out as well.

Step 3: Register in your new city

This task is a bit more tedious, but as long you have your documents, patience and someone who can help you with German you are golden.

In Germany it is very important that you register your living situation to the city. Even when you’ve been here long term, every time you move residence you have to go to your local Bürgerbüro and notify them of changes. You will need your passport, apartment contract and appointment.

Step 4: Search for your job ( in 90 days)

Now the pressure is on. Thankfully the Schengen Visa has allowed you some time to kill if you havent already got any previous job leads, but you still have the clock ticking. My first recommendation would be to set up a Xing account- a German counterpart to your linkedin. Also, make sure you have a good German resume organized, this makes a huge difference when applying ( will shortly make a post regarding how to do this)

Check out websites, network, look around the city etc.. but remember it can be difficult when you first arrive matching job credentials here, so if your 90 days are ticking down don’t worry about having to settle for something less than your dream job. Upward mobility is an easily accessible theme here.

Step 5: Apply for your new visa

Congrats! you have a flat, you have a job, what shall we do next? apply for that visa baby!

First you will need to make an appointment with your local Ausländerbehörde to go and submit your application. Then you will need to get your paper work sorted out. This includes your Arbeitsvertrag (work contract), Antrag auf Aufenhaltstitel ( application for visa), and a Stellebeschreibung (Job description). Along with this, naturally you need your passport and a set of biometric photos for when your visa is printed. When you arrive they will usually hand you a form to fill out while waiting where you give your family background and information about health insurance.

The hand over of documents is pretty simple. Much similar to the DMV, you go and you wait for ages and ages until your number is called. You will go to a designated room and hand over your documents. Sometimes they will ask you a few questions, just to verify your information. If you don’t speak German, I would recommend bringing someone along to make sure the process goes smooth. Truuuusttt mee after waiting an hour you really don’t want to be turned around and have to make a second trip ( this has happened to me a few times unfortunately)

After you have submitted your documents you will recieve a confirmation letter and a temporary residence permit which will allow you to stay during the duration your visa is being processed ( If you have to leave the country DONT forget to take this along for reentry!)

Step 6: Wait for it….

Depending on if you’ve applied for a Qualified/ Unqualified or Blue Card the processing time can last up to a couple of months. Since your documents are being processed you are allowed to stay and live in Germany without any issue, however traveling out of the country is not really recommended. I mean the border usually doesn’t give much problems if you have documentation to prove you’re in the visa processing phase, but its best to avoid anything that could jeopardize the situation with immigration.

Normally you will receive a letter in the mail saying when your visa is finished processing and available to pick up. Before then, they will give you a contact number for your local Arbeitsagentur so you can call and check the status ( aka yes or no it is ready). Other than that, you just have to chill and enjoy your remaining free days.

Step 7: Pick up visa and party

Hurray! the mail has been received and it is time for you to go pick up your documents so you can head on into the German work world.

You will not need an appointment this time, but it is always recommended to try to get there as early as possible to beat the never-ending Ausländerbehörde crowds. Once arrive, you get your number and wait ( agaaaainnnn) until you are called. They will give you your documents and send you over to the Kassenautomat where you will hand over your passport to have the visa stamped and you pay. In my experience it was usually only around 60€ or so, but this varies, however your job will either pay or reimburse you for acquired visa fees. So, no worries.

 

All in all, it’s a rather easy and straight forward process. In my experience, everything you need in Germany can be accomplished if you are willing to do enough paperwork..boy oh boy do they love paper work.

Please comment below with your questions or if you have any additional points I missed, I would love to hear them.

As always, I’ll do my best to help out

xx A

 

Resources for Munich:

KVR|Kreisverwaltungsreferat

Bürgerbüro

Visa application forms

 

Housing websites:

Wg Gesucht

Immobilien Scout 24

Immowelt

 

Top five Summer activities in Munich

Top five Summer activities in Munich

Ahhh yesssss, finally the days of snow are through and the temperature is headed up. Summertime is starting in Munich, and what better way to enjoy it then hurry on outdoors.

But wait! what is this you say? You don’t know what fantastic activities Munich holds for this season? Well then my dear, let me give you a little help.

  1. Englischer garten

Known as one of the biggest urban parks in the world, the englischer garten is by far one of the first attractions youll want to hit up in the Munich Summer months. It stretches on throughout Munich with its many wooded trails and chill  sunbathing friendly greenery. People come from all over to lay by the river, play volleyball, do sports and spend their whole days in the sun.

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They even have a part of the river where people surf. I knowww right? bananas.

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2. Open airs

Another popular summer activity in Munich is to attend an “open air”

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An open air is a bit of a loose term. Its like any sort of gathering event, with music and drinks outside. It ranges from big music festivals to smaller outside gatherings and even outdoor cinemas. Below I’ve added a couple standard open airs that would definitly be a good option to see for the new to Munich:

and here are some bigger note worthy festivals around the area

3. Cafes and Roof top bars

 

Now on to on of my favourite activities…eating and drinking! The long sunshine hours of summer create the perfect opportunity to sit outside, enjoy the weather and some treats. Whether you choose to brunch, lunch or go out for a drink the options are endless. Since I tend to post about my favourite cafes, right now I will just tell you about to great rooftop bars.

Flushing Meadows | http://flushingmeadowshotel.com/bar/

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This hotel bar sits in Fraunhoferstraße between the Reichenbackbrücke Isar and Gärtnerplatz. They serve amazing smoothies and Açai bowls from Super Danke and have a fabulous list of drinks and cocktails ( my current favourite being the Flushing Meadows Spritz) Its a wonderful place to go anytime of the day, but particularly evening I find lovely.

Café Vorhoelzer Forum | http://www.vf.ar.tum.de/cafe/

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Located above the Technical University of Munich ( TUM or TU) is another great-and super popular- roof top bar. Naturally as its above the university, finding a spot there can be difficult but when you are lucky or have put your weight in it is worth it. The food is not someting extra ordinary and the drinks are standard but the atmosphere is really what catches you. And the view of the city is really great.

 

4. Glockenbach

Glockenbach is one of the more popular districts in Munich ( coincidently also my home). However it has two main areas that are great local attractions:

Gärtnerplatz

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A small enclosed roundabout between Marienplatz and Sendlinger Tor is host to a wonderful mini garden park. People often come and sit on its benches and stairs under the central fountain for the day. Drinking a beer or radler, eating some ice cream or even just sunbathing with friends. The area is always very well manicured and the plants are changed out for each season.

Reichenbackbrücke Isar

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The part of the Isar flows under the Reichenback bridge near Fraunhoferstr. ( just a few minutes walk from Gärtnerplatz) Its a great place to go and relax in the sun. It doesnt quite have the swimming capabilities as the Englischer Garten, but its more for just chilling in the grass or running along the paths.

5. Lake trip

Now this is a bit far off, but any proper Munich inhabitant will know it is one of the best ways to spend some free summer time. And with the amazing German public transport system, its pretty easy as well. All around Bavaria there are many great lakes or in german Sees to visit. Here are some of the most popular:

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