I want to share 10 of my best tips for those planning on moving to Bavaria. Bavaria is unlike any other place in Germany. It is beautiful, safe, and has that small town charm. But, there are some tips you will need to understand while navigating your way through this part of the country or initiating a move. These are all tips that I had not known myself prior to moving to Germany. But, after living here for a year, I feel that these will be most helpful for newcomers or expats. There are so many things to do and see in this part of the country and I wish I had known these things before I moved here so I could be better prepared. Take note of these tips, both pros and cons that will give you a good idea of Bavaria and what to look out for. This is the article I had orginally written for the Expatsblog contest where I took home Gold for Germany!
10 Tips for Expats Moving to Bavaria
1) Remember that German you learned in high school?
It doesn’t matter if you remember much because the German they teach in school is very different from the Bavarian dialect. It may take a while to get used to the way people speak here as there are different words used, phrases, and even punctuation. Sure, you are ahead of the game if you know German at all, but Bavarians may not immediately understand your German. With that said, a little German goes a long way. They appreciate that you are trying even though they might respond in English.
2) There are speed limits on the autobahn.
You know those stories from people who have never been to Germany and say that there is no speed limit? Well they are wrong. Don’t get me wrong, the autobahn is very fast it takes some getting used to when your speedometer goes past 100 MPH. I admit, even two hour trips on the autobahn are exhausting because you must be paying attention 110% of the time. But there are areas with speed limits. Where there isn’t a speed limit, it is suggested that you drive around 130 KPH depending on the area. If you see a flashing light it means your car and license plate has been photographed and will be sent in the mail with a fine. While it is true that in some parts you can go as fast as you want, if you do end up getting into an accident, you will be at fault for not being able to control your car at that speed, if you are even alive to be punished.
3) Gas Prices are Insane
Unless you are getting gas at American prices (if you are associated with the military), expect gas on the German economy to be double what you are used to in the states. When you are burning all of that gas on the autobahn, it can become very expensive. That is why a lot of Germans use the train or carpool.
4) The Trains are Safe and Effective for Travel
I’ve taken the train throughout Germany by myself and it is a very safe way to get around. Keep in mind that you should always be on the lookout for red flags and pay attention to your surroundings, but overall, it is a pretty easy system to use. It can save you the trouble of driving to a destination and there is usually a helpful desk clerk that speaks English and can help you with ordering tickets and finding your stops.
5) Travel is a Must
Take advantage of living in Bavaria and Germany in general, as it is a central point in Europe where you can easily branch out and visit other countries. You could conceivably drive or take the train to countries like Italy, Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Beligum, and the Netherlands. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience slow travel and really get a feel for each country. It will be cheaper because you don’t have to by a plane ticket from the states and you can take shorter weekend trips! Traveling in Bavaria alone is exciting in itself. There are many famous restaurants, outdoor activities, and castles to explore. Get out and travel!
6) Don’t Assume People are Rude Because they Don’t Smile
Smiling at strangers is a dead giveaway that you are an American. I still do it, but don’t be offended when they don’t smile back. It doesn’t mean they are rude, quite the opposite, I have found Germans to generally be very hospitable and friendly. They just think it’s quite awkward to smile at people all the time for no reason. I think it’s pretty awkward too.
7) Try the Food, it Will Blow you Away
I didn’t know too much about German food until I actually moved to Germany. And you know what? It’s pretty amazing. The food is prepared fresh with usually local products being used and free of preservatives. It may not last in your fridge for a week but that is a good thing. Typical dishes are brats, sauerkraut, spaetzle, jagerschnitzel, salad, and potato salad. Most dishes are made with pork and you won’t find too much beef here. Even if you go to a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere, you are getting quality food. Germans tend to eat a little later in the day and have the biggest meals for lunch. Germany also has great Italian and Asian food; however, you may end up missing good seafood and Mexican food in Bavaria.
8) Trachten (the dirndl and lederhosen) is Real and Bavarians Wear it Quite Often
Originally worn by peasants, Trachten became popular by nobles and eventually everyone else started to follow suit. Trachten, however, is typically only worn in Bavaria and parts of Austria. If you go to Northern parts of Germany they think it’s kind of funny. I love that Bavaria is so traditional. Bavarians wear their trachten to a lot of events like fests, markets, and the wildly popular Oktoberfest. Don’t be afraid to buy one for yourself either.
9) Everything isn’t Open 24/7
In fact, besides some restaurants, most stores, shops, and other businesses are closed on Sundays. Bavarians respect this day as a religious day of rest. But Sunday isn’t the only day with limited or closed hours. Many stores close early during the weekday; some as early as 5pm. So if you work and then need to run an errand it can be kind of difficult. It can also be frustrating when you want to run to a certain store in the evening and it is already closed. Things like restaurants however, are usually open late. Some don’t even open until dinner and stay open until about midnight or later. It will take time for you to adjust and plan ahead and realized that 24 hour service is not an option here.
10) People Take Pride in their Property
People here take pride in their homes and backyards. Germany is a small country in reference to the United States and they need to conserve energy and keep the country clean by practicing recycling, good landscaping, and organic farming. In fact, recycling isn’t just a good idea here, it’s the law. You can walk through any neighborhood in Bavaria and see how beautiful they keep their lawns and really take pride in their property. There are flower pots hanging from almost every window sill. It is a beautiful area to see and it has reminded me to be more eco conscious and to really think about what kind of foot print I am leaving for future generations.
I hope these tips will be helpful for someone considering a move to Bavaria. It is a wonderful place to live, but always remember to be respectful to the people and your environment and you will have a great time.
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