My husband and I recently moved to Germany. We have been here for almost three months (crazy!), and there are already sooo many differences and things they do that Americans don’t.
All of these things are simple, nothing crazy or dramatic, but more so differences in way of life. Of course, these are things I have noticed from the specific part of the country we are living, so it may be different else where! We haven’t explored as much of this beautiful country as we want (yet).
Let’s get to the list! Shall we?
Here are the top things that are different in Germany vs America.
Their front doors of houses.
I know what you’re thinking, “what’s so odd about a front door?”. Like I wrote earlier, these are simple things that stuck out to me! Their front doors do not have a door knob from the outside. Any of the houses we have driven past all have a long vertical bar that takes up about 1/4 to 2/3 of the door height. So the only way to get in the door, lets say, if you take out the trash or have to grab something from the car and forget to leave the door open, you have to use your house key!
Again, simple, I know, but it’s so smart, in my opinion. Plus, all of the doors look very sleek and nice.
Shutters for windows.
It took me a second to figure out how to work the shutters when we were in temporary housing. The windows either have electric or manual aluminum shutters (obviously on the outside of the house). These act as blinds, too. I assume they are multipurpose. For storms, to keep your home warm or cool, and to block the sun. The manual shutters will have a strap on the inside of the house running parallel to the window and it goes into the wall on both ends, so you pull that strap to either close or open the shutters. Electric shutters use a remote to open or close the shutters!
Windows in General.
Windows here are like mini glass doors. That is the best way I can describe them. They open two different ways. One is just like a regular door you would open, and the second way of opening is where only the top part of the window opens. Imagine it as the top part of the window angles towards you. If you were looking at it from the side it would look like this: / vs | So it’s a safe way to still have windows open incase you have young children or just don’t want your entire window open to the world!
Heating + Air Conditioning
From what I have been told, German winters get pretty cold. Our winter has been pretty mild for the most part. Staying in low 40’s or mid to high 30’s. Most homes have radiators for heat, and others have heated floors. No central heating or air like the U.S. Our home has heated floors, and has solar panels to use for electricity, too!
The summers are beautiful (from what I hear!) and about two weeks of summer become unbearably hot, so make sure to have fans!
I don’t want to speak for all of Germany, but they are all about being eco friendly. They don’t leave anything running if it isn’t being used. If you’re not in a room, turn off the lights, if you aren’t using your charger, unplug it. You have to pay for bags at most grocery stores if you forgot yours, you have to pay for a shopping cart and sometimes even public restrooms. Those things will cost .50 cents. Recycling is a law, their roads are always so nice, and well taken care of. They just do what they say they are going to do, and I really dig that.
They drive on the right side of the road, just like Americans. They do have the Autobahn, which means you can (realistically) go as fast as you want. There are some areas of the Autobahn that do have a speed limit, but it’s only sections.
They also use cameras as a way to catch you speeding or driving too close to the car in front of you. I thought that was pretty clever. They don’t have police parked nonchalantly trying to catch people speeding, you just see a flash of light from the camera and can expect a ticket in the mail in about a month. It could be something as little as a 10 euros or in the hundreds. You have to pay it, unless you know for a fact that it wasn’t you.
A lot of their roads are smaller. Definitely not as wide as America’s. Especially in villages. Some roads it seems can barely fit two cars without the worry of hitting the oncoming traffic. You do have to pull over for larger vehicles (like buses). One thing I really like, is that they have round-abouts EVERYWHERE. Not stop signs. You will occasionally see a stop sign or stop light, but the majority of the time it will be a round-about. It keeps traffic moving.
Germans take driving seriously. The legal driving age is 18 here, and it costs a lot of money to get your license and takes a lot to be able to get your license, unlike back in the states.
Back in the states, well, at least Kentucky, you pay your water billed based on your usage. In Germany, we pay 35 euro per person who lives in your house. This could be just for rentals, but that’s what it is for us!
This is something I DO NOT take for granted. My husband and I had been studying German for about a year. I am no where near to being fluent in German and I get so intimidated when trying to speak German because I know so little when it comes to having a conversation. They speak so quick and apparently there are different ways of saying words like “I” in German is “Ich” (basically pronounced like “ick”) but some people pronounce it like “Ish”. So when they are speaking and say it differently than I am used to, I get confused real quick. haha.
The majority of Germans we have ran into do speak English. Even if it is a little. The majority of the younger generations speak a lot of English, which is very helpful. They have always been so patient and kind about it, too. I would say they are kind of used to lots of Americans since they live near a US Military base, but that’s just an assumption.
Paying for Water When You Eat Out.
This was NEW to us. We’ve only ate at restaurants a handful of times, but we would order water not thinking about it, and see water was added to the bill. It’s not cheap, either.
Oh, and if you are ever traveling in Europe, make sure you ask for still or sparkling. Sometimes they will ask, but sometimes they don’t and they will just give you sparkling water (personally not a fan). Just something to consider when eating out!
In our cute little village, you will ALWAYS see someone walking on the street. I do it, too! It’s the thing to do. Especially on Sundays, or if the sun is actually out for once. People are always walking. Doesn’t matter the age, either. We see older people walking (with walkers) out and about, we see families, people walking their dogs, you name it.
I like it, though, and maybe this is normal for most people, but we lived in the country so the only time we really saw people walking was if their car was broken down, they were exercising, or sometimes we would walk to my mamaw’s house, but she was our neighbor. haha.
I’ve had to learn other languages before, well one: Spanish, but never have I noticed that my brain will be getting words mixed up when I spell. It’s only gotten worse the longer we have been here. I think it’s because there are so many words that are similar in both English and German, and the use of the words and how they are pronounced is what gets me confused. “W’s” in German are pronounced with a “V”. Water in German is Wasser (“Vassa”) so when I type things in English I want to put a “W” instead of a “V”. That’s just an easy example to show, though!
Sundays are for rest and family time. There aren’t a lot of stores open on Sundays. If there are, it’s more of the entertainment type: restaurants, movies, etc. So you have time to spend with your family. I like it, really.
Okay! So that is all I have so far about differences in Germany versus back in the states. I hope this was an interesting read, to see how it is on the other side of the world, or even helpful if you are traveling/moving to Europe! I will definitely be posting more about it the longer we are here, but for now, this is what I have!
Ask me any questions if you think of any. I’d love to answer them for you!