What do you think of when you hear relocation? We often find that people don’t know what a relocation actually entails and what a relocation company actually does and all the fantastic benefits that come with being supported during a move. Let us explain ….

Companies offer their employees a job or promotion in a new location, this could be across the country or on another continent. Part of this job offer can be a relocation package, whereby the employee is offered support in all areas financial, organisational to a relocation partner at the destination who will work with the employee and their family to ensure a successful transition into their new home.

This can include:

A comprehensive relocation package can ensure that an employee will be able to fully concentrate on their new position and feel supported in their new circumstances.

There are many advantages to working with a relocation company. Starting with their expertise and experience in some of the most fundamental aspects such as immigration and visa requirements. A relocation consultant understands what issues arise during a local or international move and is able to provide tailormade support to each individual client, whether someone is moving with a family, they have specific needs at their new location or they are required to dive straight into work and don’t have time to spend on all the details. The professional support can deal with all the unique challenges each individual relocation brings. A relocation company provides in depth knowledge and current information of the destination, thus giving a great local insight to the assignee.

This is where IRC comes in, we are a comprehensive partner in Germany to support in all aspects of relocation.

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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.

(Source: https://www.berlin.de/familie/de/informationen/berliner-schulsystem-im-ueberblick-101

https://www.businesslocationcenter.de/en/information-for-new-berliners/schools/

https://www.expatica.com/de/living/family/daycares-and-preschools-in-germany-107640/ )

 

If you want to hear a good overview/discussion on the ‘Mietendeckel’ Rent Control/Rent Freeze which came into effect on the 01.03.2020 – then listen in to this KCRW Podcast: HOW WILL THE ‘MIETENDECKEL’ AFFECT BERLIN RENTERS AND LANDLORDS?

104,1 FM Berlin’s English Language Public Radio Station.

(Source: https://kcrwberlin.com/2020/02/studio-berlin-broadcast-february-29-2020-rent-control-in-berlin/ )

Meet Anja!

Anja Kunzke is an Account Manager & Senior Consultant at IRC. She has been with IRC since 2013 and she is very experienced in the relocation business. Anja loves working with people and is passionate about Berlin.

Anja spends her day’s boots on the ground with Assignees, supporting with immigration matters, home & school searches and accompanying families & individuals in all their relocation needs. Her favourite part of the job is spending time with people and ensuring that their relocation to Berlin is not only smooth but showing what a great new ‘Home’ Berlin will be.

Anja is originally from Frankfurt, she has been living in Berlin since 2009. She also spent 9 years living abroad in the USA with her family, so she knows what a relocation feels like and what the most important aspects are of finding comfort in your new surroundings. Anja speaks German, English, Spanish and a little French. She enjoys travelling and spending time getting to know new cultures. She has a wonderful warm nature and she is a huge asset to our team and all the assignees she works with.

Favourite place in Berlin: The lake district of Wannsee and the surrounding area, the water and forests provide a beautiful balance of tranquillity to the urban jungle in the centre of Berlin. The hidden beaches perfect for summer swimming along the shores of the Wannsee are a top tip!

A great place to eat in Berlin: Cafe Jacques on the Maybach Ufer in Kreuzberg or the Night Kitchen in Mitte.

A hidden gem in Berlin: Roaming around the ‘Hinterhöfe’ (Courtyards) in Mitte, especially in the Galerienviertel (Gallery & Art Quarter) of Berlin around Oranienburger Str – finding wonderful little galleries and cafes hidden behind the main facades, worth a day of exploration.

Best day trip from Berlin: The incredible Heilstätten Beelitz, a former Tuberculosis which was built over 100 years ago by Architect Heino Schmieden and offered a place for Berliners to recover in beautifully designed buildings and forest surroundings. However, the hospital was left to nature decades ago and is now overgrown and offers a fascinating journey into the past. There is a walkway which has been built above the treetops and for children & families, there is a ‘barefoot’ path through the forest which offers some wonderful experiences.

Beelitz Heilstätten Treetop Path

About the author

Hi there! My name is Juli Buchanan. I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and I 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.

Meet Niklas! He is the General Manager of IRC.

In his own words:

I joined IRC-Berlin in January 2019 and took over from Ariane in January 2020. Currently, I’m adjusting and setting up my vision in my new position as General Manager for IRC.

My vision for IRC is to be a company which understands the needs of its customers combined with the solutions of our digital sphere in 2020. As I’ve worked in several digital businesses I see my biggest personal challenge to implement the heart of a truly digital company into IRC’s services. Additionally, it’s super important for me to understand the whole journey of the relocation process which means what happens before and after the relocation. Therefore I’m setting up business models and structures which allow to support these specific phases in the overall process. After setting up our Change Management Workshops and Intercultural Trainings IRC will be able to be the ultimate partner when it comes down to having a full package. We can support our clients in every tough situation while moving over to Germany and after the settling in process.

Berlin is just the start for us!

My favourite place in Berlin is hard to pick – there are so many places and districts that are fantastic. Every district in Berlin is like a whole new city. If I’ve to choose I would go with Kreuzberg for all the variety of tasty food and different cultures. Currently, I’m living in Mitte and it feels like the perfect mixture between Kreuzberg and Charlottenburg where I used to live.

A great place to eat in Berlin is Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg – this vivid place offers you a fantastic variety of freshly made food. You can choose between so many nice dishes which are prepared directly in front of you. This place is full of life!

My hidden gem in Berlin for sure is the Lietzensee which is located in the centre of Charlottenburg. This area is perfect to have a run or just to relax in the sun during summer. Most important it’s not overcrowded like most the parks in Berlin.

Favourite Place in Berlin, when it comes down to the best trip from Berlin I would say Prague! It takes you around 3 hours to go there and this city is just breathtaking! For watersport enthusiast like me, I also enjoy having a time out in Zossen where you can find a Wakeboard Cablepark which offers the perfect conditions to spend a whole day switched off!

Meet Ariane!

Ariane Almerood has worked in the relocation sector for 21 years, she founded IRC 15 years ago and built the company to what it is today. 2020 she passed on the leadership of IRC to her son Niklas Almerood, but she is still supporting IRC and the consultants with her extensive knowledge in her role on the Board of Advisors.

In her own words:

The fact of moving all my life, living on three different continents, Asia, North American and Europe made me “experienced”. New cultures, new social structures, new languages, new environments, new colours and new smells, were part of my lifestyle. I had been doing this most of my life. However, my move from Munich to Berlin in 1998 was the most difficult.

We, my family and I were supported by a relocation agent and I understood how important it is was to have someone by my side to explain the new environment and with whom I could discuss the challenges. Berlin was rough in 1998.
I spoke the language but felt like a stranger. I asked myself, what does a New Berliner do when they can’t understand the language, nor the strange German ways. The seed for IRC was planted.

The moving boxes were unpacked, the house now a home, my children in school, my husband at work in a familiar corporate culture, my cat happy in the garden and I was needy.
I gave up my job, my friends and my comfort zones. This experience sparked my decision to assist others with their adjustment processes. My first relocation company was established in 1999 and IRC Berlin grew out of this experience in 2005.

We take the needs of each family member serious and offer guidance to resolve these. What drives us to excel, is the challenge to assist the New Berliner with organizational tasks allowing them to settle emotionally. The entire IRC Team has experienced living abroad and can emphatically support New Berliner.

Favourite Place in Berlin:
I have become a typical Berliner, after 20 years, and my favourite place in Berlin is my “Kiez”. I love walking down the Ku’damm, there is always something new to see and experience, or drink coffee at Stuttgarter Platz, with its historical past or just around the block. I love watching my Kiez change its face with new buildings, new shops and new Cafés and restaurants. I now have my “Koffer” in Berlin and couldn’t live in any other German city.

A great place to eat in Berlin:
In Berlin, there is such a large variety of interesting and good restaurants. I stay within my Kiez. Stuttgarter Platz offers a wide variety of restaurants. The square full of tables outdoors, always lively and with a historical past …. I love it. And the adjoining streets, the Leonhardt Strasse has a special “feel good” flair with its speciality shops and restaurants and the Windscheidtstrasse offer such a special atmosphere, as well as great yoghurt ice cream. 

A hidden gem in Berlin:
My favourite places aren’t hidden but offer many gems. Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Germany. The Tiergarten is a special place with its beer gardens, flea market, the zoo and many paths for biking and walking only to end in front of Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I also love walking along the River Spree, the Museums Island, the Monbijou Park with its open-air tango and salsa dancing lessons. This is Berlin and this could be my hidden gem! It’s a feel-good experience.

Best day trip from Berlin: I grew up in California, near the beach, and in Munich, I had my “hide-away” place at Starnberger See. Water is my element. The Ostsee certainly isn’t the Pacific but Usedom and the Darß are my favourite day trips (although I prefer a few days on the Darß).

Starting in 2020 IRC is excited to announce, that we will be partnering with Friederike von Denffer and Elisabeth Villalta (IRC Independant Consultant) for Intercultural training to support our assignees and their spouses and children on their relocation journey.

We believe that by creating understanding some of the initial pitfalls of relocation and all this entails can be relieved or avoided altogether. We also want to bring awareness that many issues which arise in the interaction with a new culture are normal and with understanding will get better over time.

The benefits of Intercultural Training is to learn to gain more confidence when dealing with Germans, your colleagues or administration in Germany. Get to know the most important cultural differences. We want to support you in your understanding of your new ‘home’ and present tried and tested strategies for successful integration.

The intercultural training is designed to help participants deal with a “foreign” culture and to acquire appropriate behaviour to promote successful cooperation and a pleasant daily life. The trainings are designed as an interactive learning environment. Content is science-based, and inputs are brief and built around participants interests.

For more information, please contact us on: info@irc-berlin.com

About the author

Hi there! My name is Juli Buchanan. I have German roots but I grew up in New Zealand and I 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.