Munich, Germany Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Munich, Germany

Munich, Germany 07/28/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Germany, Scotland, India.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Midwest. About 12-15 hours, usually with a layover on the East Coast and then a short flight to my smaller hometown.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government work.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For consulate employees there are two main housing areas as well as several houses located throughout the city. All apartments are 2-4 bedrooms and in good condition.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Similar to D.C. or Boston.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. Everything is available here that you would want. If you are incredibly picky about something, then ship it in bulk, but you can find everything that you want here on the local market.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots and lots of German and international restaurants. Typical fast food includes doner kebab, American chains like Burger King, etc. You can also get easy delivery through various online delivery services- some have a minimum order amount and service charges, but very reasonable.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Nope. Some homes don't have screens on the windows.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO. Local postal is easy to use and reliable.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available, expect to pay standard wages for Germany.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Consulate employees and family members can use a gym at the consulate. There are plenty of gyms in the city where you can pay for membership.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards are widely accepted. Having a pin and chip will make it slightly easier. ATMs are everywhere and are safe to use.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Unsure. I know of friends that attend local Christian services.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

German is useful but not necessary. Munich is used to American tourists and you can get by with only English. However, the Bavarians are truly appreciative of any effort to speak in German, even if it is only a sentence or two and is grammatically incorrect. Learning how to converse at stores and in restaurants will make your life easier, but you can get by without it.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All are very safe. Public transportation is safe, affordable and extensive. The transportation usually runs until 1 or 2 AM. You can buy single journey, multiple journey, daily, weekly or monthly tickets for public transportation which includes trams, subway and buses. Taxis are safe and plentiful, but can be a bit on the expensive side if you are going out into the suburbs. Taxi from the city center out to the suburbs will cost around 20-25 Euro.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Small. The streets are narrow in many areas and parking is tight. Many places will have street parking only. I was never concerned about my car being broken into- I probably could have left it unlocked and had no issues.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. Typically 50-80 Euro a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Plenty of options here, recommend to get a local provider.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I don't have a pet here. Several friends have cats and dogs and have had no issues with local animal kennels and vets. Dogs are highly trained in Germany and you will see them all over the city- on public transportation, in beer gardens, etc. Many people will let their dogs off leash around the city or in parks. If you have a dog, make sure that it is well trained before taking it off leash. Also, if your dog is a barker or not well trained, expect to get some looks/ judgement from the locals.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Some family members work at the Consulate, but there are not a ton of jobs. It can be hard to get everything in order to work on the local market, so telecommuting might be the easier option if available.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty, lots of charities and non-profits.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business or business casual almost everywhere. Formal dress in the American sense is rarely required. It is quite common in Bavaria to have occasion to wear Tracht, typical Bavarian dress (lederhosen, dirndl, etc). I recommend if you are going to be in Munich for 12 months or longer that you invest in at least one outfit, there will be plenty of times where it is appropriate to wear.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not many. Take the same precautions that you would in any city. Europe has been more on edge in the last 12 months due to the various terrorist attacks, but all locals go about their daily lives.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

None. Excellent standard of medical care in Munich.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Great. Some might have normal seasonal allergies.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

If you have food allergies, in particular for herbs/ spices, I recommend learning the names of those things in German. Most places understand dietary restrictions, but it will be easier if you can communicate those restrictions in German.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Mild. Winters can be long and are comparable to the Midwest. Some years there is a lot of snow and some years it only snows once or twice. The days are short in the winter. Summers can be hot and are not very long. Fall and spring are delightful.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No personal experience. Most seem happy with the Bavarian International School and the Munich International School. Most high school aged kids go to MIS, but I am unsure of the reason.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

No personal experience. Preschool and day care is expensive. The most common things I have heard from colleagues and friends is that you need to look into these well in advance of your arrival to the city because of limited spaces.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Lots of expats in Munich. The quality of life is great in the city and expats are very happy.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Many chances to make local friends. Meetup and Internations are two online ways to find groups of people with the same interests/ activities.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Great for everyone.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Good. Large and active LGBT community in Munich.

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Everything. I've really enjoyed the people of Bavaria and the relaxed lifestyle you can find here.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Andechs. Tegernsee. All of the lakes in Bavaria.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Christmas markets.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES!!

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Munich, Germany 05/18/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, I've lived as an expat in Giessen, Germany, Ottawa, Canada, and Vienna, Austria prior to living in Munich.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Florida, USA -- about a 9-hour flight

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3. How long have you lived here?

3 years

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

For Consulate Munich employees there are two main housing areas, and a few scattered units throughout the city. One main area is a 3-minute walk from the Consulate and the other is a 45-minute commute on public transport.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available. Cost is comparable to DC, but in Euro.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing -- everything is available here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Fast food -- Burger King, Subway, KFC, Pizza, Kebab. Every type of cuisine is available here.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available -- about 10-12 Euro per hour.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a gym in the Consulate free to employees and family members. There are many gyms for a fee on the economy.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Major grocery stores and many restaurants accept both. Smaller stores are often cash only.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Some is helpful although many people speak English and Munich is accustomed to many American tourists.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Many places are wheelchair accessible, but not all. Some older buildings may not have elevators, or have very small ones only.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

YES!

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Smaller is better for parking and narrow streets.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. 80 Euro/month

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Consulate issues a cell to employees. Family members can purchase a low-cost plan on the economy.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business/Tracht

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No more than any other European city.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

None; medical care is excellent

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good to very good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winters can be cold, summers can be short. Weather is generally mild.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are two international schools; Munich International (MIS) and Bavarian International (BIS). Both are excellent. Older students tend towards MIS because they have a more robust sports program.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes; no personal experience

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes, through the schools and on the economy.

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Expat Life:

1. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, this is a good city for everyone.

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2. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, large, open, gay community.

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3. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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4. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Travelling within Germany and Europe.

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5. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Too many things to list: Visit a Biergarten; take the S-bahn to Andechs Monastery for the day, or to Tegernsee; visit one (or all) of the many fests (Oktoberfest, Fruehlingsfest, Starkbierfest); wander through Christmas markets and sip hot, mulled wine and nibble on freshly roasted chestnuts. Visit Garmisch for skiing, the Englisch garden for sun bathing, go white-water rafting, hiking, biking, etc.

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6. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

BEER! But seriously, beer! Travel, culture, history.

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7. Can you save money?

If you don't eat out, don't travel, don't have household help, yes. Otherwise, maybe.....

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

ABSOLUTELY!

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Munich, Germany 01/22/07

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

8 to 10 hours from the States.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most people live in apartments. It is rare to find a single family home in Munich city limits. I have heard that finding housing is difficult here. Housing was provided for us, but friends of mine complain that there are so many people going for one home that the owners can really take advantage of you. Be aware of extra or hidden fees! Also, homes here do not have light fixtures or kitchens. You will have to purchase all of these when you secure your home.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Groceries and supplies are equal to the cost in the States...but those of us being paid in dollars will have to take in consideration the exchange rate. Be aware that when you are at the grocery store you have to buy your own bags, as well as bag your own groceries. Many times, the person checking out will begin checking the next person out while you are still bagging your own groceries. This can be very stressful the first couple of times. Also, most grocery stores close about 7 or 8 and are closed on Sundays and all holidays.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

If you don't have commissary priviledges you may want to ship your favorite non-perishables. I have friends who ship Jiff, instant oatmeal, chocolate chips.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

McDonald's, Subway, Burger King, Pizza Hut are all here. We do not go out to eat very much because smoking is so horrible!If you are a non-smoker it is sickening...you smell like you have been at a nightclub, worst your children are breathing the poison. If there is a non-smoking section, then most likely it is one or two tables with no ashtray surrounded by smoking tables.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

We have a maid once a week at 12 Euro an hour. This seems to be the going rate.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most places do not take credit cards, but usually large stores like Galleria Kaufhauf will take them. You will need to carry cash or have an EC card. We were recently at a large electronics store and were shocked to find that they only accepted cash. This is very difficult to get used to. ATMs seem to be easily accessible but some charge large exchange fees. My husband says that the banking system is very different and takes a great deal effort compaired to those in the States.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are several English churches here. You will have to visit them to see what best suits your style.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Widely available newpapers and other print. TV is limited to German, but I have heard of some people spending a fortune to get the British channels. Not sure.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

If you are a person who enjoys going into the city and meeting the locals it would be best to know the language. Many people speak English, but I have found that they really appreciate it if I will make an effort to speak German, even if it is bad.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This city is not great for persons in a wheelchair. Often the elevators are broken at the U-Bahn, but I have seen stangers helping a wheel-chair bound person down the stairs. I have a small baby in a stroller and most of the tourist places are not accessible for strollers or wheelchair.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Public transportation is great and inexpensive.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

I would think any well-maintained car should be fine. You need to have tires that are equipped to go the high speeds on the Autobahn.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Long distance is inexpensive.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Germans love their dogs and it is reflected in their vet care. I have the best vet her practice is in Fasangarten. She is one of the most lovely compassionate persons I have ever met.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, though many jobs may require specialized training.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Varies according to the job

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very good.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

This is an extremely safe city, especially for one this size. I feel very safe downtown at night alone. The police are excellent!

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Good medical care. There are many homeopathic physicians, which I am not into, but if you are, then you will really enjoy it.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Moderate to warm temperatures in the Summer, can sometimes be very hot or very cold in the Summer. Winters tend to be very cold and snowy...though this winter ('06/07) has been quite warm in high 40s and 50s.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There are two English speaking schools here. One in the North which is called Bavarian International School. My child goes to Munich International School and loves it!

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

The German preschools are plentiful and inexpensive. This is a great opportunity for your preschooler to become fluent in German. There are also some English speaking options, but I am not sure of their names. If you do not wish to send your child to school, then you can always participate in a playgroup like Sticky Fingers.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

There is a large expat community...you can check out postings at Toytown Munich.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Great opportunities from formal to casual.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

This is a great city for everyone. Never a dull moment!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I believe that there is a large open gay community. There is a gay pride parade every year.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Nothing that I have observed.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

So much...castles, art, zoo, Oktoberfest, there is a great deal of history here, especially if you are interested in WWII.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are lovely handmade antiques. Knife sets.

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9. Can you save money?

Not really, especially if you like to travel.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

Ski equipment, bike, anything to do with the outdoors.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Munich

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7. Do you have any other comments?

We have enjoyed our time in Munich. I will say that it takes some time to get to know the locals, but once you become friends with a German you are their friend for life. Do not assume that this culture is like that of the United States...like anywhere, have an open mind and be respectful of the new culture that you are in. We all experience culture shock when in new places, so I will share mine. My first trip into Englischer Garten (with my children on day two in Munich) I was greeted with about 100 nude people in various states of activity...most sprawled out on blankets, but some doing yoga, eating lunch, kicking a ball, swimming, or simply walking around. Now it hardly registers, but that first day, I just turned around and left. Just take it one day at a time and enjoy this beautiful city...naked people and all.

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