The German health care system is one of the best in the world. Everyone is required to be insured and this insurance covers a large range of medical care across the board from General Practitioners, Specialists, preventative measures to dental. Depending on where you are coming from you may find the German System very extensive, it offers some excellent options for not just the treatment but also prevention of illness and general wellbeing for body, mind and spirit.

There are two types of insurance in Germany, Statutory Health Insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung) and Private Health Insurance (Private Krankenversicherung). It is mandatory to have medical insurance, which insurance you are eligible for depends on your income.

The criteria is as follows, Statutory Health Insurance is compulsory if you are:

Spouses, civil partners and children (up to age 23, or 25 if studying) of someone covered by state healthcare insurance are eligible for family co-insurance in certain conditions, without having to pay contributions, provided their income does not exceed €415–450 each month, depending on the situation (casual or regular, respectively).

(Source: https://www.expatica.com/de/healthcare/healthcare-basics/a-guide-to-german-health-insurance-693463/ )

If you earn above the 57,600€ a year then you are open to choose Private Health Insurance. The benefits of private health insurance can definitely be Doctors/appointments being more readily available and access more senior staff at hospitals. Private health insurance is more expensive and it requires you to pay for spouses and children separately. Once you have been privately insured in Germany, it is difficult to almost impossible to change back into the Statutory Insurance – this is important to consider this when deciding whether to choose private insurance because if you have a change in financial circumstances you are bound to the higher premiums.

It is always advisable to look into various Insurance companies and see what they offer, make some comparisons and consider if they have specific offers which are compatible with your needs. Especially if you are looking to ensure a partner/spouse and/or children that you are being offered the best package. Under the Statutory Insurance families can often be insured with the employee.

The costs of Statutory health insurance are 14.6% of your income before tax (this is subject to change) – you pay around half of this and the employer pays the rest.

The costs of private health insurance are determined by various factors including your gender, age, current health and also your medical history. It is also important to note, if you are privately insured you will be billed by the doctor or medical institution and then subsequently reimbursed by your insurance, so there will be a time period in between where you are out of pocket until the reimbursement.

There are websites which offer comparisons of the different health insurance companies, you will need to enter in your data regarding your income, family situation, etc and they will give you an overview of the costs and what is offered.

For example: https://www.check24.de/gesetzliche-krankenversicherung/ or https://www.gesetzlichekrankenkassen.de/

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.



We would like to inform you about a new app designed and offered by the TK Health Insurance regarding your medical records.

One of the main objectives of the “TK-Safe” digital medical record is to link health information for the benefit of patients. This way, previous treatments, diagnoses and examinations can be combined to form an overall picture which is useful for the patient. Experts agree, that in the future, this will enable better collaboration between doctors and clinics. Thus far, this crucial information is decentralized amongst different doctors and institutions. With TK-Safe was developed in collaboration with IBM Germany, using this APP patients will be able to share this information with the attending physician. Thus, important information about their medical history can be incorporated into the treatment.

The new electronic health record also makes an overview your of vaccinations possible. In addition, there will be the opportunity to upload important documents such as x-rays, medical reports or more detailed findings – for example from the hospital – into the electronic medical record. “I can also activate individual services, such as reminders of my vaccinations and preventive appointments,” adds Beke Reimers. Finally, there is a central place where you can safely store your digital medical records and retrieve them anytime. 

The use of TK-Safe is voluntary and free of charge for all TC-insured persons. The digital file is provided by IBM Deutschland GmbH, all data is stored encrypted on German servers.

By downloading the app and registering for TK-Safe, you can then immediately have the TK account data, such as the hospital stays from the past four years, transferred. So, you can start with an up to date file, all the important data on diagnosis, treatments and fees are clearly “stored” in one place.

To use the SAFE APP you will need to be registered for ‘Meine TK’ and then download the APP in your app store.

*Text translated/edited from German – source: https://www.tk.de/techniker/magazin/themen/spezial/das-magazin/tk-safe-2048362

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‘Berliners’ and through my work  as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

Summertime ends at 03:00am on Sunday, 27 October, 2019 – clocks go back by one hour.

Grocery shopping in Germany can be different to other countries, especially if you are used to long opening hours and convenient weekend shopping as it is offered in other places.

Germany still adheres to a more traditional model, including speciality stores, butchers, bakeries and outdoor farmers markets instead of only 24/7 convenience stores and big Malls. The speciality stores have the great advantage of having very knowledgeable staff and a wide range of specific and fresh products.

Opening hours are government regulated, this is particularly evident in regard to shops being closed on Sundays and on all public holidays such as Easter & Christmas. The exception to the Sunday rule are bakeries, they are usually open from 7 – 12 pm and the ‘Verkaufsoffener Sonntag’ which occur around 4 times a year, usually in the lead-up to Christmas, shops will be open from 1 – 6 pm. In a pinch, you can pick up limited goods from Gas Stations or in some neighbourhoods ‘Spätis’ which are typical for Berlin, small shops that are open late and on weekends which stock, drinks, sweets and snacks.

Sunday Shopping 2019: 08.12.2019 & 22.12.2019 (this applies to all participating supermarkets and shops) These can be googled with the term ‘Verkaufsoffener Sonntag Berlin’.

Supermarkets are generally open from 7 to 9 pm (in some places later), the major chains in Berlin are Edeka, Kaisers, Rewe, Real and Kaufland. Then there are the so-called Discounters, these include Aldi, Lidl, Netto & Penny – these are defined by their focus on less effort put into the display of the goods, sale of many no name or own-brand products and cheaper prices, they also offer weekly specials from furniture, clothes, plants to stationary.

Organic food is very popular in Germany and widely available, the word for this in German is BIO. Regular supermarkets all carry their own-brand line of BIO products, as do most of the Discounters. However, there are also BIO only supermarkets around, for example, Denns, LPG & Das Reformhaus.

There are also countless open-air markets around Berlin, these are called Wochenmarkt, here you can buy fresh produce daily, from Fruit and Vegetables to meat, fish and speciality foods such as Turkish or Asian. Open-air markets are usually once a week. Wochenmarkt days and times in your area can be found here: https://www.wochenmarkt-deutschland.de/maerkte/berlin/wochenmaerkte-in-berlin/

A couple of very important notes – you will need a 50 cent or 1 Euro coin for the shopping cart. Bring your own bags, bags are available but can cost up to 1 Euro and it is better for the environment to bring your own bags. Pfand, this is a small deposit imposed on glass and plastic bottles, usually around 25 cents to ensure you recycle the bottle, the deposit is refunded upon return of the bottle. One more tip, this is from experience – there is a product called Dishwasher Salt (Geschirrspüler Salz) in Germany, it is for the dishwasher ONLY. Be careful not to buy it and use it as regular salt.

If you are looking for country-specific products, some supermarkets carry small international sections and there are some speciality stores around Berlin.

Local food & produce: https://markthalleneun.de/ & https://www.visitberlin.de/en/arminiusmarkthalle & https://www.top10berlin.de/en/cat/shopping-261/farmers-markets-2840

Italian: https://www.centro-italia.de/

Asia: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g187323-d2421570-Reviews-Dong_Xuan_Center-Berlin.html & https://goasia.net/

International: https://www.goldhahnundsampson.de/shop/ & https://www.rogacki.de/

British/American: https://www.british-american-food.de

French: http://www.leflaneur.de/

Indian/Pakistani: https://tariqfoodstore.com/

Australia/New Zealand: https://australiashopping.de

(Source for Pfand: https://liveworkgermany.com/2017/05/how-does-the-german-pfand-system-work-and-is-it-effective/ )

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

As Oliver Twist said ‘Food glorious food’ and who doesn’t love to eat?! Autumn is a great time to discover some great new restaurants and eateries around Berlin or to learn some new skills and partake in a cooking class. The Berlin Food Week is primarily being hosted by the Bikini Mall in City West but there are events all around the city including showcases, cooking courses and pop-up stores.

Since its launch in 2014, the Berlin Food Week has established itself as an integral part of the food scene. The capital has long been known for its creative and cosmopolitan protagonists of a new food culture. Restaurateurs and innovative young chefs are shaping the culinary image of the city with their curiosity, joy of experimenting, and passion. This makes Berlin the ideal venue for the most exciting food festival in Germany. At various locations throughout the city, chefs, food entrepreneurs, and manufactories will present tasty and thrilling innovations from all over the world. The focus is on enjoyment, trying things out, and exchanging experiences. Visitors will learn all about creative food trends, fascinating nutrition topics, and sustainable consumption. Workshops and networking events will invite them to join in. Look over the shoulder of experienced chefs and get to know the producers behind the products. Enjoy the culinary delights that will be served in food trucks and restaurants throughout Berlin. (source: https://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/berlin-food-week )

Full Programme can be found here: https://www.berlinfoodweek.de/programm/

From the 11-20th of October, 2019 the nights in Berlin will be bathed in stunning colours thanks to the ‘Festival of Lights‘.  Sunset is around 6.15pm and as the daylight fades, the Festival of Lights begins. This spectacle is definitely worth an evening out with family or friends, wrap up warm and take a magical walk through the city. 

Berlin will turn into the largest open-air gallery in the world: and again, the most important landmarks, building and squares will be enlighted with sensational projections, magical 3D-Videoshow and breathtaking light installations related to this year’s theme “Lights of Freedom”. On the occasion of the anniversary “30 years fall of the Berlin Wall” we will transform the city of freedom into a colossal stage and tell touching stories: expressive, emotional, amusing, surprising and unexpected. The Berlin Festival Of Lights connects diverse cultures and people throughout the world and easily transcends borders and continents – because lights speaks all languages. (source: https://festival-of-lights.de/en/) 

You can pick a neighbourhood or walk along the route on the map shown on the illumination plan – https://festival-of-lights.de/wp-content/uploads/Illuminationsplan.pdf

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‘Berliners’ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

 

After a long hot summer, the glowing colours of Autumn can be  a welcome sight and Berlin has so much to offer in this bright and cosy season. It’s time to throw on a few more layers and to enjoy what the city and surrounding countryside has going on indoors and outdoors, falling leaves in beautiful parks but also fantastic museums and lovely cafes in which to pick up a warm drink and some delicious food. 

  1. Spargelhof Klaistow – A family run Asparagus Farm turned ‘Amusement Park’ for young and old – they produce Asparagus, Blueberries and Pumpkins, all of which are sold fresh on location. There is a a huge playground for children, restaurant, a climbing-forrest, animals to see and in Autumn they host a HUGE pumpkin exhibition which is worth a visit.  On the 26.10 they will be hosting  a Halloween Party for young and old, including Pumpkin carving, kids disco and a bonfire. Klaistow is approximately a 40min drive from the center of Berlin, it can also be reached with the Regional train/Bus and also by bike. https://www.spargelhof-klaistow.de/unser-hof/
  2. Urban Nation Mueum –  Situated in Schöneberg, you can imerse yourself in some modern art  at the URBAN NATION MUSEUM FOR URBAN CONTEMPORARY ART .Recently opened, it is free of charge and hosts changing exhibtions, it features artists from all around the world. https://urban-nation.com/museum/
  3. Schlossgarten Charlottenburg – Time for an autumnal walk amoungst the most stunning colours this time of year has to offer. The baroque gardens of this charming Palace, which was completed in 1713 are beautifully designed and as you wander down the rambling paths you can discover many features, for example a carp pond, the Mausoleum and the Orangery. Charlottenburg Palace is a richly faceted setting of royal garden design, which aims to inspire its visitors and provide them some relief from the capital city’s hectic pace. Its creation began in 1695, guided by the clever and worldly electress, Sophia Charlotte. She commissioned Siméon Godeau, a pupil of the famous court gardener of Versailles, André Le Nôtre, to lay out the most modern garden in the German-speaking world (citation from -) https://www.spsg.de/en/palaces-gardens/object/charlottenburg-palace-gardens/
  4. Shopping for winter woolies – Cooler tempretures call for warm clothing, why not take a days out to stroll down the Avenue, browse the stores and pop into a cafe for a hot chocolate?  Friederich Str in Mitte and the Kurfürstendamm offer all the highstreet brands and lots of opportunities for something to eat and drink. If you are looking for something a little more individual, the Akazien Kiez in Schöneberg, or the area around Hackesicher Markt in Mitte may be more suited to find more individual stores. If you are shopping for children, who will need wet weather/snow clothes for school and kindergarten, as you are often required to have a set which they leave in a cubby – there are many great secondhand shops around, especially for small children.
  5. Sports in Berlin – Why not support a home-team and go see some local sports?! Alba Basketball plays home games in the Mercedes-Benz Arena and it a great day/night out. Founded in 1989 ALBA BERLIN now plays its 29th season. Eight German league titles, nine German cups and the Korac Cup in 1995 are the outcome of 29 years in which the “Albatrosses” always played in a European competition and always reached the German playoffs (citation from ) https://www.albaberlin.de/en/
  6. Eating Soup – it’s cold outside and it’s time to eat some delicious hot food. Ramen has been a huge trend world-wide and great ramen can be found in Berlin too. Why don’t you give Cocolo Ramen Xberg https://kuchi.de/restaurant/cocolo-x-berg/
  7. Laughs – Berlin also offers an aray of English Speaking entertainment and amoungst other options is the Quatsch Comedy Club English Comedy Night. Tickets range from 18-32€ and can be booked online. https://www.quatsch-comedy-club.de/berlin/english-shows/ 

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have german roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‘Berliners’ and through my work  as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.