Moving abroad is a very exciting prospect, however, the details of relocation can also be very daunting. Navigating a new system, a new language and dealing with formalities can be a challenge, this is where private relocation support can make all the difference.
Your top priorities when relocating to a new city should be visa (immigration), finding a place to live (home search), employment or educational opportunities and integration. Your relocation consultant can advise you on your options in advance.
Visa/Immigration: the type of visa you are eligible for will largely be linked to your country of origin, employment situation or educational studies. It is very important to know your options for immigration before you plan a move. IRC Berlin has the expert knowledge to guide you through your visa & immigration options.
Home search: knowing the housing market, areas of the city, and ballpark figures for rental costs/utilities is key for a successful home search. It is helpful to have a realistic expectation when you consult with your relocation assistant about what will be most suitable for you. IRC Berlin consultants have extensive knowledge of the city and can advise you as to the perfect match for you regarding area, amenities, public transport needs.
Cultural integration: This is where IRC can help, we offer intercultural training for new arrivals and their families to make their start in the new and foreign environment as easy as possible. Giving an insight into cultural differences, those ‘quirky’ German ways, and just how to navigate the German business landscape.
IRC Berlin is branching out into private relocation offering all the same benefits as we offer to our corporate clients. Our experienced consultants can support and assist every step of the way from visa and immigration, work permits, home search to giving a comprehensive orientation tour upon arrival. We want to make you feel at home in Germany and to make your transition process pleasant and successful, so that all you need to worry about is enjoying your new home!
The word on everyone’s lips this summer (2020) is ‘Stay-cation’ and it seems this will be the case for a while longer as we move into late summer and on to Fall. We would like to inspire your travel plans and show you a few ideas of what the States around Berlin have to offer!
Spreewald (Brandenburg) – Around 100km south-east of Berlin, this UNESCO world heritage site is a stunning biosphere reserve which covers almost 500 square km. Lush green forests, 200 small canals, tiny historical towns and extensive wildlife await you. The main town is called Lübbenau, from here you can explore the area on foot or even better on the water by punt or kayak. Sample the local specialities such as ‘Spreewald Gurken’ Pickels or Kartoffeln, Quark & Leinöl – Potatoes with Quark and Linseed oil which is produced locally and considered a speciality of the region. The area is steeped in history, originally settled by the Sorbian people – of whom many locals draw their ancestry today – there is rich history and culture to discover. The Spreewald can be reached by car or train.
Caputh (Brandenburg) – this village was once where Albert Einstein spent his summers sailing on the lake Schwielowsee. Approximately 30-40 mins drive from Berlin, this tranquil little haven is a great place for a day trip. You can take a walk around the Caputher See, visit the Einstein Haus and the 350-year-old barock pleasure palace ‘Schloss Caputh‘ once belonging to Friederich Wilhelm of Brandenburg on the banks of the Havel river. There is also a lovely bathing spot in Caputh called the ‘Seebad Caputh‘ which offers a sandy beach, refreshments for sale and beautiful atmosphere on a warm summers day.
Sächsiche Schweiz (Saxony)– this stunning area boasts dramatic views and fabulous historic sights, it is known as Saxon Switzerland. It is slightly further afield, 3 hours by car but also reachable by train. Southwards down the river Elbe from Dresden, you will find the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, high above the river valley – this area invites you to hike up to the Bastei, discover the Königstein Fortress or relax in the thermal pools in Bad Schandau. The Sächsische Schweiz is a fabulous place for a weekend trip with all the family and while you are here you can head up the river and discover all the beautiful sights Dresden has to offer!
Waren an der Müritz (Mecklenburg Vorpommern) – If you love the tranquillity of water this is the place to visit, Waren is situated on Germanys largest lake the Müritz (117 square km) and surrounded by a further 6 lakes. Founded in the middle ages, it has a rich history and a beautiful town centre. The Müritz National Park includes large parts of the lake and is home to a large range of wildlife. Discover the area by boat, put up a tent for a weekend of camping or hike around the lakes. Waren is approximately 2 hours drive from Berlin and can also be reached by train. 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.
Encountering a new school system can be a real challenge for parents and children. We would like to help you understand the basic structure of the German school system and what you and your child will encounter.
Although there is a wide range of international schools in Berlin (and Germany), often families relocating to Germany choose to send their children to the local school. Chances are you are not familiar with how the school system is structured and how your child’s school day will look.
School attendance is mandatory from age 6 and schools are state-run and therefore have no fees. Although there are private schools, most schools are state schools. The individual states within Germany are responsible for the education curriculum in their own state, therefore the curriculum can vary from state to state. After the first 4 years of elementary school ‘Grundschule’, children are streamed into one of three different types of schools according to academic ability and in consultation with teachers and parents. Berlin and Brandenburg are an exception, here Elementary school can go up until 6th grade. The three types of school are Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium, these can then be from 5 – 9th grade or up to 12th grade.
If you decide to send your children to the local school, you will be assigned to a school in your catchment area. If you want your child to attend a different school, then an application will have to be made to the city and approved, this will usually be based on if there is sufficient places at the school you wish your child to attend. Regarding language ability ‘When parents register a child for primary school, the school tests the child’s ability to communicate in German. Wherever a need for improvement is identified, the children are required to take a half-year language reinforcement course before they enter school. This way, all children start school equipped for success.’ (source: https://www.businesslocationcenter.de/en/information-for-new-berliners/schools/)
If you choose a private school or an international school the curriculum could be very different from the German system. Private schools have varying fees and will also be subject to an application process.
The school year starts in August, the date depends on which state you live in. School vacations are staggered state by state over the summer to avoid a big rush. There are various vacation during the school year, Fall-break, Christmas, Winter-break, Spring-break (Easter) and then public holidays. Summer is the longest break at around 6 weeks, Christmas is usually around 2 weeks.
The school day starts around 8am and goes until around 1.30pm (this can vary). The lesson periods are 45min and include breaks for snack/play. The exception to this can be so-called ‘Ganztagsschulen’ which offer a longer day. However, all schools offer ‘Hort’ which is an after-school programme where children are served lunch, home-work help and can play – this needs to be applied for separately.
Hort is a childcare service offered by schools offered to parents for before and after school hours. Childcare is usually offered from 7am – 6pm, for parents who need childcare due to their own working hours. This is available for children from 1-4th grade, for 5-6th grade a special application needs to be made. Hort fees depend on the state, in Berlin grades 1-2 are free and further grades are based on income.
Hot lunches are also free for all children in Berlin from grade 1-6.
We want to keep you updated on the current (25.05.2020) status of Corona rules in Berlin. Although there has been a significant loosening of the lock-down rules, many important rules are still in place to stop the spread of Covid 19.
Masks are required in all shops and supermarkets and on public transport at all times.
Social Distancing and keeping all contacts to a minimum are still in place, at the moment this will be reviewed on the 05.05.2020. You may meet with people from up to two households while keeping social distancing rules. Large gatherings are forbidden, this excludes demonstrations up to 100 people and church services up to 50 people. BBQs in the park is forbidden.
Clubs, Theatres and Cinemas are still closed. The only exception is drive-in Cinemas.
Sport is allowed in groups up to 8 people, social distancing must be adhered to at all times. Fitness/Yoga studios remain closed, this will be reviewed at the end of May, 2020.