10 things I didn't know about Munich before I moved here
August • 19th, 2019
New to Munich? Here are some of my expat experiences!
To be honest, when I moved to Munich as an expat I didn’t really know much more about the city then that it was in Southern Germany and we passed it when driving toward the mountains for our annual skiing holiday in Austria. Perhaps not knowing everything before you move somewhere is not all that bad, because what you read about a city is never how you experience it yourself. But to be fair, I could have certainly been a little more prepared, that might have made things easier for me at the start.
So if you are reading this, you are probably already way more prepared then I ever was! Here are a few of my experiences I’d like to share with you. No big ‘mind blowing’ experiences but perhaps they will help you when preparing to move or start your life in this amazing city I’ve come to love.
Knowing how to speak German really helps
Yes, it is true a lot of people here speak English and they are most(ly) willing to help you when you have a problem. However, there are also a lot of people who don’t speak English and that are not so comfortable to converse with you in English. First thing I did was find myself a German language course and get started with learning German.
A kitchen is not part of your apartment
When we opened the door to our new apartment for the first time we were shocked to find out the kitchen that we had seen during our viewing had been completely removed! In Germany the kitchen is considered part of the furniture and has to be removed when you move out. As buying a kitchen is quite expensive, we were not happy and really wished someone would have told us before. So be aware when you rent an apartment and make sure you ask about the kitchen!
You are not allowed to park in the wrong direction
Parking in some parts of Munich can be quite difficult: too many cars and not so many parking places. This resulted in, on occasion, circling the block numerous times to find a spot. And when I found one on the other side or the street, I took it immediately. Not knowing you are only allowed to park in the driving direction. Result: our first parking ticket was a fact!
The first ski slope is only an hour away
The first ski slope is only an hour away
I knew Munich was close to the mountains, but I did not realize exactly it was so close. Within an hour you can be sliding down the first ski slope. Be sure to leave Munich very early to avoid traffic. We’ve enjoyed the close proximity to the mountains a lot. Additional bonus: we noticed we became quite popular with our ski-loving friends from back home. They came over for weekends a lot in Winter time :)
Oktoberfest is way more than drinking beer
Oktoberfest is famous, also outside Germany. So I had heard about it, but never been to visit it. When the first Octoberfest came around I noticed the city changing and saw so many people in their colorful dirndl’s and lederhosen, I loved it. When I finally went for the first time I learned that it was so much more than drinking beer. The music, the history, the food, the rides, friends and colleagues meeting and yes of course also beer, it all makes it well worth a visit. They say you either love it or you hate it, well I certainly love it.
The Bayrisch charm does exist
They sometimes speak of the Bayrisch charm. What they mean by this is the sometimes seemingly grumpy demeanour from local bavarians. I noticed that it is mostly ‘practiced’ by the older generation who can ‘bark’ at you when you break a rule such as crossing when the light is red. Or when they think you cycle to fast or when you are too slow in ordering your food. I don’t think it is meant to be rude, but it can certainly feel that way. Especially in the beginning when you are already a bit insecure and overwhelmed by everything being new. Once you know about it, it becomes part of the charm of the city.
Munich is great for bike riding
If you like to ride a bike then Munich certainly is the place to be in Germany. Being the ‘Radl Haubstad’ (cycle capital) it has invested a lot in bike paths. You can tell this has paid off as a lot of people go around by bike. Also outside the city you can find beautiful bike paths. It is recommended to get a good city bike (or mountain bike). I’ve been told it is actually mandatory to have gears. Which is handy as not every street and road is flat.
Going out for dinner is relatively cheap (and there are many restaurants to chose from!)
Going out for dinner is I believe cheaper in Munich than in most West-european cities. The variety is also amazing, so no matter what food you like there is a restaurant to meet your needs.
Finding a job was a hell of a job
Ok, so as said I was’t very well prepared when I moved to Munich. However, I had enquired about English speaking jobs in Munich as I was planning to look for one once there (I moved to Munich with my boyfriend who had been offered a job here). The recruiter who had liaised my boyfriends job assured me there were many so no need to worry. My experience was different: almost every job also required sufficient knowledge of German. Even though the job opening was in English and the company international, German was still a requirement. This was quite frustrating. If you want some tips about how I handled finding a job read this article.
Summers in Munich are great!
Ah yes Summer in Munich, so many things to do and enjoy. I didn’t expect that staying in the city during Summer could be so great. Examples for why it is great can find found in this article.