Living in Germany
South Africans – like other foreign nationals – need a residence permit if they want to live in Germany. The permit also entitles them to take up work in Germany. Applications for a residence permit have to be submitted to the German embassy or a consulate in South Africa prior to entering Germany.
The new “Immigration Act” (effective since January 1st 2005) provides for highly qualified persons to be granted permanent residence from the outset. Self-employed persons can receive a residence permit if they invest at least one million euro and create a minimum of 10 jobs. Details of the “Immigration Act” are available on the website of the German Federal Foreign Office.
Where to stay
If you want to rent a flat or house, have a look in the local newspaper. It is usually not too difficult to find suitable – and affordable – accommodation. Most owners advertise their properties directly and there is no need to involve an agent. Prices vary from city to city, largely depending on the prosperity of the city. For example, Bremen is cheaper than Hamburg and rents in Munich are double than rents in Berlin.
How to find a job
This is a much more difficult matter as there is a substantial amount of unemployment in Germany (almost 12% unemployed people). Unless you are a highly skilled professional, finding work will not be easy. If you have a work permit, look into the local newspapers for job offers and/or go to the local “Arbeitsamt”, the national and government-owned job agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) where an official will discuss the available job opportunities with you in detail.
Cost of Living
Your expenditure will largely depend on your lifestyle. Food is – compared to South Africa – relatively inexpensive in Germany, clothing as well. Housing is affordable. But other items, such as petrol prices or medical insurances are just shocking. The absolute minimum amount for a single person to survive in Germany is about 600 Euro (or 5000 Rand) per month. Comfortable living starts at about 1000 Euro.