Health Insurance - Private or Public (TK, AOK,...)

Your German Bank Account in English

September 6, 2018

Top German Language Schools in Berlin

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Ready to speak German?


German Course

The Best German Language Schools in Berlin


Scroll down to the bottom of this article to find the Top German Language Schools in Berlin.



You’ve moved to Berlin, you’ve found an apartment and you’ve got your visa to stay for a few months, you’re all set, right? Not so fast, since you are living in a foreign country with its’ own language that you need to learn if you really hope to become a member of German society.  

There are many options open to those who want to learn German, from websites and phone apps to intensive courses at local schools; we will share here the different options we looked into and what we’ve found helpful as some of us tried to learn German.

One
Learning German Online


Duolingo

We’ve found Duolingo to be pretty great app for helping learn vocabulary and practice basic sentences.

We really enjoyed using it and have learned a lot with it, plus a huge bonus of course is that it is FREE and you use it when you have time each day.

Free language education – no hidden fees, no premium content, just free.


There is another app that was recommended to us called Babbel. We’ve heard it is also a good way to learn vocabulary and practice sentences.

Instead of drilling abstract sentences, vocabulary or grammar rules, the app teaches through real-life dialogue. Beginners start with typical greetings like, “Hello, how are you,” and gradually build up to practical dialogues like, “How can I book a single room?”

Babbel lets you learn anytime and anywhere with prices starting at 4.95€/month (20-day money-back guarantee).



Lingoda
Lingoda

If you are looking for an online German course with real teachers for all learning levels... look no further! Lingoda is the best website around!

Whether for students just beginning their language studies, or for more advanced students, there are classes to suit everyone at Lingoda. Classes are offered across the areas of grammar, speaking and writing, with a broad range of topics and at all learning levels, from A1 to C2.

Lingoda has basic, premium and pro versions including group and private classes as well as certifications. Prices are starting at 109€ per month.

 Group classes are led by native teachers, are 60 minutes long, typically have 5 students, and are organized according to the level and interests of participants, in order to achieve the best possible learning results for everyone.

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German Language Schools Around Berlin

There are many different schools that have their own systems and cost varying amounts of money; some offer intensive courses that meet every day for 4 hours and then there are other courses that meet 2-3 times a week in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings.  

It all depends on what you are looking for, what you are willing to pay, what time of day you prefer to attend class, etc etc. 

The schools we looked into include Berlino Schule, Goethe-Institut, Deustche Akademie and Expath. You can find the full list at the bottom of this article. 

August 31, 2018

14 Steps to Buying a Home in Germany

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How to Buy a Property in Germany


[Article written by Hypofriend - This is NOT a sponsored article!]

Mortgage & Property Buying Process Explained


Thinking about buying a home? To a first-time buyer who wants to purchase a property in Germany, the buying process can appear overwhelming and hard to understand. Even if you are fluent in German, the process from first understanding your mortgage affordability to finally becoming the lawful owner of a property can be overwhelming. When buying home in Germany, you will certainly be exposed to many unfamiliar German terms and daunting processes which are different from buying property in your home country.

In order to help you buying a property in Germany, we asked an expert to come up with this Guide to clearly outline what you can expect at every single step of you going through the property buying experience. Whether you are looking for your dream house for your family or are an investor looking into the German real estate market, the steps described in this guide will help you navigate through the process.

Note: The buying process outlined in this article is mostly applicable to the process when buying an already existing German property. If you are looking to buy a new-built property from a German project developer, the buying process will differ slightly but is fundamentally very similar.

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Disclaimer
This article describes a typical Altbau” case in Berlin. 
The mortgage & buying process could slightly differ depending on the Bundesland.

The mortgage & buying process is not a fully standardized and regulated process.
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Step 1: Check your affordability online

Before you start your property search, it is critical that you understand if you qualify for a German mortgage and how much you could potentially afford. Across Germany you must cover your purchase fees, these vary by Bundesland but are composed of the real estate broker commission (if required), the property transfer tax and the notary fees. Combined these fees can be anywhere from 5% and 15% of the total purchase price.

If you are unsure what you can afford, you can use this affordability calculator to give you an accurate estimation that takes your financial situation into consideration. Knowing your affordability will give you the necessary information to understand what realistic range of property prices you should be looking at.


July 30, 2018

Insurance Options in Germany

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Insurances in Germany


Insurance Germany

The Most Important Insurances in Germany



When I arrived in Germany I was only worried about having the required health insurance to meet the visa requirements, but, once I spoke with some friends and did some research I learned that Germany is extremely insurance happy. 

I conducted research to determine which insurance I needed to have for my own peace of mind and I am going to share what I learned in this article. Insurance is, of course, one of those things you don’t worry about having until something happens and you realize how helpful it really could have been in the situation, so it can seem not important or not a priority to obtain- please, leave this thinking in the past.  

Here in Germany I have seen/heard multiple horror stories of events happening that cost someone 1,000 EUR or more out of pocket to cover the costs, things that I truly have never considered or imagined before, so believe me, it is important. 


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The first type of insurance I will discuss is called “Haftpflichtversicherung” and this is insurance for personal liability. I am talking about this one first because this is the second insurance you really really should have apart from health insurance. 

July 18, 2018

Long Stay German Visas for Americans

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German Visas

I’ve written about entering Germany on a tourist visa and what it takes to get a freelance visa to live and work in Germany for up to two years (read the article here), but are there other visa options for Americans?  

Yes there are a few other visa options open to Americans for coming to Germany and staying for longer than the three months allowed on the tourist visa. I’m going to share the information for these visas in this article, but the focus will be on Americans and what the requirements are for them, since I am American and did a lot of research before moving here. 

All of these long-term visas could be applied for from your home country through the German embassy/ consulate and most require proof of significant amounts of saving to cover your living expenses while in Germany.

It is important that you find and choose a good health insurance that meets the government requirements for the freelance visa. I spoke with a local insurance broker who directed me to plans that would be accepted for the freelance visa within my budget and I chose one; it was accepted for the freelance visa.  

Important
You need to schedule an appointment in order to apply for a residence visa. Schedule your appointment here.


Note
Citizens from the USA (excl. green card holders), Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Israel, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, New Zealand, Venezuela and Colombia (see the full list here) are automatically granted a 3-month tourist visa immediately upon landing in Germany. You go through customs as you exit the plane and get a stamp in your passport that allows you to be in Germany for 3 months. You do not need to apply for a visa prior to entry and could apply for a residence permit once in Germany.
A so-called Residence Visa could be applied for from your home country through the German embassy/ consulate if you intend to stay in Germany for more than 90 days. 

Note

July 5, 2018

How to get health insurance in Germany

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Public and Private Health Insurance in Germany


Health Insurance Germany

Two Types of Health Insurance Options in Germany


Health insurance in Germany is a complex topic and it’s also highly personal, so in this article I will discuss the difference between public and private options, and which ones are accepted by the Ausländerbehörde for freelance visa seekers (a caveat: the foreigners office can change things or make a different decision the day of an appointment). 

In Germany there are two types of insurance (private and public): the government-regulated public insurance (GKV) and the private insurance from a German or international insurance company (PKV). First I am going to give a rundown on these two and then I will discuss who qualifies for them. 

Insurance Germany

GKV (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) is the government-regulated health insurance, and if you are an employee then this is the insurance you qualify for, and your employer and you share the costs. Employees earning less than 59,400 EUR per year (gross) are usually obliged to take out public health insurance. If your income exceeds this amount, you can still join a public insurance fund but on a voluntary basis.

If you join the GKV you can choose to register with any of the 110 Krankenkassen, which are non-profit associations administering the government health scheme. I am not going to list all 110, I just know some of the bigger named ones are AOK, TK, DAK, SBK, Barmer; they all have to follow the government regulations and laws so all will be pretty similar. Just check which voluntary supplemental programs are offered, and also ask which ones offer English customer service. 

From my research I read that most German residents are members of the public health plans, and the 110 different Krankenkassen all charge the same basic rate of 14.6% plus a possible median supplemental rate from the health insurance fund (E.g. TK has a contribution rate of 15.5%, which consists of the general contribution rate of 14.6% and the fund’s supplemental rate of 0.9%).

German Insurance Card