Which Countries Speak Your Language?

For some, a move abroad is both exciting and scary. Over time you will almost certainly find yourself becoming bi-lingual, if not multi-lingual. But for those who speak only their native tongue before they move, the idea of finding themselves unable to communicate at all with those around them can be quite daunting.

So if you are looking to move abroad, it is worth knowing which European countries are most likely to be able to help you out and speak your language whilst you are still struggling with theirs.

Moving to Germany may be the best idea for those not wanting to find themselves lost for words in their new home. Surprisingly, Germany has almost the same number of English speakers as Britain itself, with 59% of its population fluent in English. Moving to Germany therefore means that more than every other person you meet will be able to speak your language and in turn help you to learn theirs.

Moving to Holland is also a great move for those who want to experience a new country but don’t want to feel completely cut off from the English language. Moving to Holland, you will find a massive 87% of people able to speak English. With a much lower population than Germany that means that there aren’t as many English speakers, but a much higher percentage, meaning that almost everyone you meet will be able to help you out if you are struggling with their language.

Belgium and France also have huge numbers of English speaking residents, so you really are spoilt for choice.

Speed Demon: Take Care on Germany’s Autobahn Roads

Moving to Germany can mean a huge plethora of thrilling new opportunities for every traveller. The kids might think moving to Germany will mean less school (German students generally only attend in the morning), teenage girls might become light-headed at the prospect of relocating to Germany to find… German teenage boys! But there’s one thing Dads, Granddads, sons, brothers and mates are thinking when the subject of moving to Germany is raised… AUTOBAHN!

Germany’s Autobahns are super-highways not dissimilar to our own UK motorways. Access to Autobahn roads is legally prohibited for vehicles unable to reach and obtain a speed of 37mph (60 km/h) The advised upper speed limit is about 80mph (130km/h), however there is no legal limit in place.

Foreigners can often get carried away at the suggestion of NO SPEED LIMIT, meaning crashes and collisions are more common amongst non-native drivers.

We’ve gathered these helpful tips from our drivers and clients –

•    Be careful when entering and exiting the Autobahn. There are often sharp bends at access points!

•    Don’t panic when people flash their lights at you; it’s often simply a polite notification that they’re approaching at high speed.

•    Let go of the element of competition – it really IS NOT A RACE!

•    Be wary of road surfaces. Some Autobahns are poorly maintained and can be dangerous when sensible driver restraint and caution is not employed.

•    Never dawdle in the left (overtaking) lane; the Autobahnpolizei (Autobahn Police) won’t hesitate to issue a fine with your name on it!

Driving Wild: European Driving Guide

So, you’re moving to France, well you’ll want to keep the car’s log book on hand if you want to avoid a hefty fine upon involvement in a traffic accident or offence! Moving to Germany? Do you know what the upper speed limit of the Autobahn is? There isn’t one! Moving to Holland? Did you know that a red triangle light at a roundabout means roundabout traffic has right of way? Only if the light is OUT does traffic entering the roundabout have right of way. Europe is a patchwork of different (and continually changing!) traffic laws, guidelines and protocols.

The legal side of foreign driving – particularly when crossing multiple borders – is rarely simple. However, for the most part, prudence, rationality, patience and airing on the side of caution will get you far.

As a UK citizen, your UK driving license covers all EC/EEA countries. It’s worth noting that the age limits of a country override UK age limits. If you’re seventeen-year-old UK driving license holder, wave goodbye to driving until you reach eighteen in Germany, Holland, Norway, Sweden, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Finland, Luxemburg, Belgium, Malta and Portugal!

To drive in a non-EC/EAA country, purchase an IDP (International Driving Permit) for £5.50; applications are available at the Post Office. Most IDPs are valid for a year and are non-renewable from abroad. After one year applicants must sit the native driving test of their domicile country.

Familiarising yourself with local traffic protocols and etiquette will take a little time and patience. Our advice? Be cautious, be polite, be diligent.

A Voyage of Discovery: Living Abroad

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”  (Mark Twain)

Making the jump from whimsical daydream to bold reality can be more than a little daunting for the best of us, especially when such actions involve travel; perhaps uprooting a young family, and moving to Germany, moving to Belgium, moving to Egypt, moving to Japan – anywhere away from home! Here are few pros and cons we picked up from previous clients moving to Belgium, Spain, and our other noted destinations.

Pros
•    Excitement! When travelling, the thrill of the new is something beautiful. It can’t be replicated, can’t be found through books, and can’t completely be explained verbally.
•    The UK is going nowhere. So, perhaps relocating to Germany was wrong for your family. So what? Count your blessings, pack up, head home and settle back into a life you now KNOW you want.
•    Difference. As Mark Twain professed above, travel and new cultural experiences go a long way to expanding the mind, soul and that little font of knowledge within. Children’s brains particularly are truly great information sponges!

Cons
•    Fitting in. Taking the first step isn’t the only hard part! It can take months – years even – for an expat to feel truly settled.
•    Homesickness. Time heals all wounds? Suddenly you forget how tedious the British drizzle was – “I miss the dull weather/late trains/familiar road signs etc!”
•    Loneliness. Expat communities are common throughout most of the world, however being apart from trusted supports back home can be heart-wrenching.

Quick Guide: The German School System

Moving to Germany might be fine for you, but are you concerned about providing your children with the best education? Before you consider removals to Germany, take a look through our quick guide to German education:

Kindergarten
As in the UK, non-compulsory but can be a great place to introduce your littlest monsters to German language.

Grundschule (Primary Education)

Spanning four years (ages 6-10), Grundschule is made up of basic education (reading, writing, maths and general knowledge) which occasionally includes the introduction of a second language (generally English) Upon completion of Grundschule, students are recommended for the most suitable type of high school (Gymnasium, Realschule, Hauptschule and Förderschule)

Gymnasium

Educates top-level students with the intention of entering university level education. Passing the final exam (Abitur) is a real accolade and necessary in order to enter university. Other types of school do not offer the Abitur exam.

Realschule
A varied range of subjects combined to cater for intermediary students.

Hauptschule

Designed to afford students a vocational education. German society places great emphasis on apprenticeships and vocational study.

Förderschule
Similar to Special Needs school establishments in the UK, offering tailored facilities for those with unique needs.

NOTE: Graduates of Realschule and Hauptschule can still attend university upon attendance and exam undertaking at Berufsoberschule (Upper Vocational School)

International School
Upon relocating to Germany, many UK natives send their children to one of the numerous and highly accomplished International Schools. Native language lessons are a benefit (German lessons are included), as is the exposure to other international student’s cultures.

Scouting Ahead First? A Quick Guide to European Health Coverage

Moving to Germany, moving to Holland, or just moving down the road – scouting ahead and taking every step to happily conclude your decision to move is the right one is an obvious course to all folks considering a big move.

Moving to the next town? Pop over and take a look easily. Relocating to Germany? Well… you can’t exactly get here using local public transport! A trip to see your potential new abode is a great idea. However, a lot of our clients are a little unsure as to what healthcare provisions to make for their trip (Do we need health insurance? Are we covered in France? Germany? Luxemburg?)

From 2006, the traditional E111 form was gradually phased out of use and is no longer valid. Its replacement – the EHIC card (sometimes known as the EU Health Card) – is free, available via application form (online at www.ehic.org.uk or via the Post Office) and represents the new standard emergency health necessity for all those travelling in Europe. Every person (including children) should have their own card.  You MUST reapply for the EHIC card whether or not you still carry the E111 form.

EHIC cover is not a substitute for comprehensive travel insurance. Coverage doesn’t extend to repatriation or losses due to being the victim of a natural disaster or crime.  The card only entitles the bearer to free or low cost emergency healthcare within EEA (Europe Economic Area) countries.

So, moving to Holland? We heartily recommend a well-insured, safe research trip to all!

Germany isn’t Boring! – A Few Facts About the Nation

All nations have their little quirks, and Germany is no exception. In fact, Germany is packed full of interesting little idiosyncrasies that make it not only one of the most interesting places to live or visit, but also one of the weirdest, which could make relocating to Germany one of the best decisions you ever make!

First we’ll start by exploding some of the myths associated with all things German, and the idea that somehow Germany is a little boring. In reality this couldn’t be further from the truth, and anyone moving to Germany will pretty much immediately discover that it is one of the most vibrant and culturally intriguing places on the planet.

Did you know, for example, that there are more than 150 castles in Germany, some of them still inhabited by German aristocrats? Of course, anyone moving to Germany is unlikely to be relocated to a castle; however, many are open to the public and make great days out.

There are also plenty of quirks about the German nation that you might find it a little difficult to get your head around to begin with. For instance, the German working week actually includes a Saturday; therefore when checking train or bus times, for example, you should be aware of this.

You mightn’t immediately think of Germany as a natural as well as a cultural “vunderland” but in fact a massive 31% of the nation is covered with forests and woodland. This means that anyone moving to Germany will never be more than a few hours drive or train ride from some truly world class countryside.

Europe Calling!

Many people forget that the UK is an important part of the EU, and although we definitely have our own cultural idiosyncrasies, there is just as much that binds us to Europe as distinguishes us from it. This means that on the one hand, moving to the continent is something novel enough as to be really exciting, whilst there are enough similarities between the nations that it doesn’t have to be too much of a logistical nightmare!

Of course the biggest decision for anyone considering moving to Europe is where to go! For example, there will be certain advantages or disadvantages in moving to Germany as opposed to moving to France. For instance, France is a distinctly “legislature heavy” nation; therefore it can be difficult securing a property, whereas, the cost and ease with which you can by a house in Deutschland is a lot easier to swallow.

There are certain logistical factors that all moves to the continent have in common, and whether your moving to Germany or Moving to France there are certain factors you need to consider. For example, you’ll need to notify the tax office about the fact you’re leaving the country and have your mail redirected – essentially all the boring stuff.

Once you’ve put in the leg-work, all that’s left to do is to move all of your belongings. Luckily this doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as it sounds, and by choosing a removal company like European Removal Experts, we’ll take the hassle out of that big European move!

Doing Things the German Way!

There is a lot that the UK and Germany have in common. However, there are enough differences between the two great nations to make moving to Germany potentially one of the most exciting decisions that you’ll ever make, whether you’re moving for a short stay or looking to become a fully-fledged emigre.

First we’ll examine the similarities between Britain and Germany that will make moving to the country seem a little less daunting. For instance, just like the UK, Germany enjoys a great transport infrastructure (which undoubtedly benefits from a bit of German efficiency), this makes getting around the major cities like Berlin or Munich pretty easy.

Of course, you aren’t likely to be moving to Germany just for the transport, as Germany happens to have the largest economy in Europe; therefore you can expect all the little luxuries that you’ll find at home, plus plenty of job oppourtunities in the ‘manufacturing capital’ of Europe.

Germany isn’t all about hard work and efficiency; however, and despite having a reputation to the contrary, it is nowadays home to some truly world class cuisine, with cities such as Munich beginning to rival gastronomic capitals like London and Paris in terms of the quality of its food.

There is an old adage that you tease the one that you love, and it is a testament of our closeness with the culture and national behaviour that we are so apt at pointing out our differences. In reality, anyone relocating to Germany from the UK will be surprised at the wealth of cultural intrigue on offer, but also the likeness it bears to their homeland.

Moving to Germany – Beware of the Church Tax…

If you are moving to Germany, you will have already investigated every aspect of living and working there. Moving to Germany, or moving to Holland or any other country in the EU, is relatively straightforward once you have waded through all the paperwork! But there is one aspect which is often overlooked by those who are moving to Germany.

Once you have moved to the country, you’ll need to register with the local authorities, and one thing to beware of is declaring your religious faith. Have you heard of the Church Tax?

The German government still maintains a kind of tithe system called the Kirchensteuer, or Church Tax. It may sound odd that a modern society still uses a tithe system, which disappeared from Britain in the 18th century, but it is alive and well in Germany. It works like this.  If you declare yourself a member of one of the recognised faiths, the German government will deduct between eight and nine per cent of your salary, which is then handed over to the churches. This means that the churches earn billions of Euros every year, thanks to the hard work of the German people, and anyone else who is moving to Germany. Now you know about this strange custom, anything else you have to deal with when moving to Germany will seem relatively easy and straightforward, and that includes the move itself. Make sure you use a reputable company like European Removal Experts who have years of experience in helping people who are relocating to Germany.