I have been writing positive posts about living in Germany, raising children in Germany, amazing facilities, etc, because Germany IS a great place to live and to raise children. However, I was reminded by a friend (who used to live in Germany) that not everything is perfect and that there are downsides too. I also keep getting emails from people wanting to move to Germany with children, asking about different aspects of life. So I thought I'd counter-balance things a little.
First of all, let me explain that I really do believe Germany is a great place to live. After almost 5 years here, I wouldn't still be here if I didn't think it was. It is safe, healthcare is one of the best in the world, (higher) education is mostly free, companies are recruiting. The list goes on. On paper, it is one of the best places to live in Europe (if not in the world), right now.
On paper. That is all great and good but it is not real life. What is it like to be an expat? What is it like to be a parent here in Germany? A parent who might not have the same values, the same view on things. This is partly why I wrote these posts. I want other people, expats, parents, to see what life is really like. Here are some of my favourite ones.
- General posts:
- Our top 9 reasons why living in Germany is great.
- Behaving like the Germans.
- Some fund facts about living in Germany.
- 5 untold truths about living in Germany.
- Aspects of life:
Honestly, I also write these posts because on some days, I need to remind myself about why I am here and why Germany is great. Because, man, let me tell you, I do not feel like it is the best place in to be every day! The rudeness of some people really gets to me (more about that here). The coldness of the average stranger in the street who won't return your smile or won't move for you and your pushchair is annoying. The lack of discipline: setting clear rules from the outset to avoid behaviour issues later is not that common (even in classrooms). The overall let-them-be/do approach can be really un-nerving: nothing worse than seeing a 5-year-old girl dishing out insults to everyone while mum is happily waiting downstairs because 'she is to be independent'. The bluntness of adults when it comes to telling you things as they are, when all you need is a little encouragement and diplomacy, is down right disconcerting. The lack of real German friends (by real I mean friends who are not either expats or have been expats themselves) after 5 years makes me wonder if it is my introverted self that is to blame or the locals. The hurdles a working mother has to jump through to get her kids taken care of when kids have to leave school at 1pm. The assumptions that mothers do not work. The list goes on.
These things need to be mentioned. Germany is not all about positives. Alas, no country is perfect (or else we would all aspire to live in it).
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Germany will not be my happily ever after place (Did I really write that? Will my children hate me for this?). We will move away (at some point, I think). If work wasn't so good to us, we would have, most likely, left already. Germany is not us. I truly believe some countries fit different people better than others. As we all place more emphasis on some aspects of life, different countries fit different people better or worse. Germany is not for everyone. It is for us, right now. But it MIGHT not be forever.
What do you think? Can a country be 'not for you'?
Do you live in Germany? What do you like or hate about it?