Recruiting 101: The Best Cities for Expats in Germany who want to relocate or identify their happy place.

Dec 28 / Thomas Bartelsen
If you're an expat or international wondering where to live in Germany, you're lucky! There are plenty of fantastic cities to choose from. Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Munich are just a few of the best places to live as an international worker. Come and uncover your happy place in Germany - one of the best countries to live and work in the world!

Why choose Germany as an expat?

As an expat, choosing where to live in Germany can be daunting. With so many beautiful cities and places, it's essential to consider your options carefully. However, Germany is one of the best places in the world for expats, and there are plenty of reasons why you should consider moving here. The country is known for its high standard of living, excellent healthcare system, and strong economy.

As an international worker or student, you'll find plenty of opportunities to work and improve your skills in Germany's bustling cities, such as Berlin or Frankfurt. In addition to the professional opportunities available here, you'll also have access to some of the best cultural experiences in Europe. Whether you're interested in history, art, or music – German cities like Munich or Hamburg have something for everyone! So, if you're looking for a new place to call home as an expat – look no further than Germany!

Ok, stop. Do you need to learn more about Germany's states? 

Germany, a federal republic comprised of 16 states, boasts diverse landscapes. The southern regions, such as Bavaria, feature the Bavarian Alps, offering picturesque mountainous terrain. In contrast, the central and northern areas are characterized by plains and low-lying landscapes. Germany has access to the North Sea in the northwest and the Baltic Sea in the northeast, with key ports like Hamburg facilitating international maritime trade.
The country's economic strength is exemplified by states like North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous region with approximately 24 million residents. This industrial powerhouse, home to cities like Cologne and Düsseldorf, contributes significantly to Germany's robust economy. The three largest cities, Berlin, Hamburg, and Munich, each with unique cultural and economic significance, collectively showcase Germany's diverse and influential urban landscape.

Germany has a population of approximately 83 million, of which around 24 million have a migrant background. A recent happiness study has found that the three happiest regions are:

Schleswig-Holstein: 7.21 out of 10,
Hamburg: 7.11 out of 10,
Bayern (Bavaria): 7.09 out of 10,
Hessen (Hesse): 7.06 out of 10,
Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia): 7/10.

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Is Germany expat-friendly?

Germany is considered to be a relatively expat-friendly country. The German government has implemented policies that make it easier for foreigners to move and work there. Additionally, English is widely spoken in Germany, particularly among younger generations, making it easier for expats to communicate with locals. Germany offers many job opportunities for skilled workers, particularly in IT, engineering, and healthcare industries. The country also has a high standard of living and a robust social welfare system that provides benefits like healthcare and unemployment insurance. However, there are some challenges that expats may face when moving to Germany. One of the biggest obstacles is the language barrier. While many Germans speak English, navigating daily life without knowing some basic German phrases can still be tricky. Another challenge is the cultural differences between Germany and other countries. Germans tend to be more reserved and formal than people from different cultures, which can take some getting used to for expats. Overall, while there are challenges to living in Germany as an expat, the country offers many benefits and opportunities for those willing to make the move.

Germany has grown with migration

Germany's population growth in recent decades is primarily attributed to a consistently positive net migration balance, with more people moving into the country than leaving since the late 1950s. The first wave of immigration occurred in the 1960s and early 1970s due to recruiting foreign labor, mainly from Southern Europe, Turkey, and former Yugoslavia. Following a recruitment halt in 1973, migration was characterized by family reunifications. The 1980s saw a second wave, including asylum seekers from conflict zones and developing countries, as well as ethnic German resettlers. Since 2010, a notable increase in immigration, driven by economic motives from Eastern and Southern Europe and a surge in asylum seekers, has contributed to Germany's population growth. In 2021, the net migration balance remained above the long-term average of 330,000 people.

The percentage of non-German residents varies significantly between regions. For example, these areas have a significant percentage (20-37% of non-German residents): Berlin, Hamburg, Wiesbaden Area, Düsseldorf Area, Saarbrücken Area, Stuttgart Area, and Munich Area.  On the other hand, cities such as Rostock, Leipzig, or Erfurt range around or below 12%. Besides Berlin, you can roughly state that eastern states tend to have less.

Factors to consider when choosing a city in Germany as an expat

When it comes to finding the best city to live in Germany as an expat, you should consider a few factors. One of the most important things to think about is your personal preferences. Do you prefer living in a big city with lots of international flair, or do you want to experience life in a smaller, more traditional town? Another thing to consider is work opportunities. Some cities, like Frankfurt and Munich, have thriving business scenes that make them ideal for expats who want to work in finance or technology. Of course, the cost of living is also a significant factor to remember when deciding where to live in Germany as an expat. While Berlin may be one of the best places for expats, thanks to its vibrant culture and relatively low cost of living, other cities like Hamburg and Frankfurt might offer better job prospects or higher quality of life depending on your needs. The key is to research and find the right balance between what you want from your new home abroad and what each German city has to offer.

A complete blueprint to find the ideal employer for you can be found here
There are various guidelines and portals that you can use to identify the best ones for you. One is the nomad list, a procedure for digital nomads that ranks Berlin as the number one place in Germany.

Where to live in Germany as an expat - The vibrant capital, Berlin

Berlin is one of the best cities for expats to live in Germany. As the vibrant capital, it offers a perfect blend of modernity and history, making it an attractive destination for many international professionals. Berlin is known for its diverse cultural scene, which makes it a great place to experience different lifestyles without leaving the city. It has various entertainment options, from world-class museums to trendy clubs and bars. The cost of living in Berlin is also relatively affordable compared to other major European cities. Expats can find numerous opportunities to work and build their careers in this dynamic city. Overall, Berlin is definitely one of the top places to consider when deciding where to live as an expat in Germany.

Where to live in Germany as an expat - The multicultural hub, Frankfurt

Frankfurt is one of the best cities in Germany for expats looking to live a vibrant, international life. As the multicultural hub of the country, Frankfurt boasts a diverse population and a bustling city center. With excellent transport links and a thriving business scene, it's no wonder that many expats choose to live and work here. The city is also home to many international schools and universities, making it an ideal place for families with children. Whether you're looking for lively nightlife or cultural attractions, Frankfurt has something to offer everyone. So, if you're wondering where to live in Germany as an expat, consider adding Frankfurt to your list of top places to explore!

Where to live in Germany as an expat - The historical gem, Munich

As an expat, Munich is one of the best places to live in Germany. Known for its rich history and culture, this city offers a unique experience for those looking to live abroad. As an international hub, Munich has plenty of opportunities for expats to work and thrive. The city is home to many world-renowned companies, making it an ideal place for professionals seeking new career prospects. In addition, Munich boasts a high standard of living with great infrastructure, excellent healthcare facilities, and a diverse range of restaurants and shops. With its picturesque architecture and beautiful parks, there's no wonder why Munich is often referred to as a historical gem. If you're considering where to live in Germany as an expat, overlook this incredible city.

Where to live in Germany as an expat - The picturesque city of Hamburg

Hamburg is a breathtakingly beautiful city and one of the best places to live in Germany as an expat. Known as the "Gateway to the World," Hamburg has a rich maritime history offers a high quality of life. As an international hub, it attracts expats worldwide, making it easy to find a community with shared interests. Its numerous parks and lakes provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, while its cultural scene is vibrant and diverse. Not only that, but Hamburg also boasts a booming economy with plenty of job opportunities in various industries. For those looking for somewhere picturesque to settle down in Germany, Hamburg should be at the top of their list.

Other great cities for expats in Germany

Suppose you're an expat looking for the best places to live in Germany. You may have already considered Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Hamburg in that case. But other vibrant cities in Germany could also be great options for expats. For example, Düsseldorf is known for its international business community and vibrant nightlife. Stuttgart has a bustling cultural scene and is home to many global corporations. Cologne offers a mix of old-world charm and modern amenities. Bremen boasts a rich maritime history and charming medieval architecture. These cities offer plenty of opportunities for work and play while still providing the high quality of life that Germany is known for. Nuremberg (Nürnberg), located in Bavaria, Germany, is a historic city known for its medieval architecture, cultural heritage, and significance in the Holy Roman Empire. It gained prominence as a significant center for trade and arts. It later played a pivotal role in Nazi Germany's history as the site of the Nuremberg Trials after World War II. Today, Nuremberg attracts visitors with its well-preserved Old Town, iconic castle, and annual Christmas market. No matter where you choose to live in Germany as an expat, there's no doubt that you'll find yourself immersed in a rich culture with endless possibilities for exploration and growth. So don't hesitate to explore all the unique places that this country has to offer! 

Are there specific cities where plenty of specific nationalities are? 

Yes, there are specific areas where most specific nationalities are more densely located.
For example, Germany is a popular destination for American expats, with many living in major cities such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Hamburg. The presence of major U.S. military bases, such as Ramstein Air Base and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Rhineland-Palatinate, and Grafenwöhr Training Area in Bavaria, has attracted a significant number of Americans to settle in proximity to these defense installations. The states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Bavaria, encompassing cities like Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl near Ramstein and Grafenwöhr itself, have become hubs for American expatriates. The strategic location of these bases not only fosters a robust military community but also provides Americans with the opportunity to experience the rich cultural offerings of nearby cities, including Kaiserslautern and Nuremberg, enhancing the transatlantic connection between the United States and Germany.

Other examples are:

Frankfurt/Main: 28.7% of residents are Yugoslavs
Munich, with roughly 21% Turks
Freiburg/Breisgau.: 13.1% (the largest group is Italians)

Discover your happy place – Living the dream life abroad!

The options are endless when it comes to finding the best city to live in Germany as an expat. There is something for everyone, from the vibrant capital of Berlin to the historical gem of Munich and the picturesque town of Hamburg or a smaller city such as Nuremberg. No matter where you choose to live, one thing is for sure: living abroad can be an incredible opportunity to discover your happy place and live your dream life. As an international hub for work and culture, Germany offers expats a unique chance to explore new places and ways of living. So why not take a chance and find your perfect home in this fantastic country? With so many great cities and locations, your dream life abroad awaits you!

From almost immediate one hour coaching, to a self-paced e-learning course, all the way to a six-week guided program, we've got you covered!

These coachings are tailor-made to tackle your unique challenges based on the above obstacles you encounter.

Write your awesome label here.

Quick support

Individual one-hour career coaching

This option provides immediate career coaching assistance such as mock interviews, answering pressing career questions, and CV/LinkedIn profile assistance.

Write your awesome label here.

E-Learning

Transformative Action Process

This is our signature eLearning course.

This is right for you if you have 28 days for change, prefer to work by yourself and commit to your quests.
Write your awesome label here.

Guided
Individual six-week career coaching

This is right for you if you want constant sparring, guided assistance and back-up, and a go-to person along the path for answers to all arising questions.
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