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Work & Costs

Germany has never been famous for welcoming foreign workers, except those who clean toilets and lay bricks, jobs most Germans consider far beneath them. The development of the EU and the lowering of visa restrictions have changed all that. When prospective workers had to apply for work visas from their home countries, they now can do it all in Germany. Getting a work visa is not that complicated any more; you only need a contract or a written guarantee of work. Basically, if you have something to offer the Germany economy, you will get a permit quite easily.

Teaching English is of course a practical solution, and a quick means a establishing yourself in a town or city, getting all the right stamps and paperwork. Working in the hospitality industry is also possible, as is getting involved in sightseeing and tourism. But be warned, the local authorities consider under the table work, Schwarzarbeit, a serious offence, so try to stay as legitimate as possible.

The cities offer more working opportunities than the villages, but the cost of living is higher. In terms of rents and living costs, Berlin is Germany’s cheapest city, and you can live there quite well on $800 a month. Unfortunately, Berlin has unemployment problems and Germans are normally preferred over foreigners when jobs are scarce.

Au pair work is common, especially for English native speakers, as is tutoring. Qualifications are important, more than experience, when applying for higher level positions. Germany is currently a trendy place to do internships in international companies, and sometimes these internships turn into full time jobs.

(Editor’s note: Germany has also been a popular target for illegal street merchants -although they’re often promptly moved on or thrown out, the turnover is so high as to make it worthwhile.)

Check out the Work for Travelers section

and the Jobs Abroad Guide

Cam Jeffery

Cam'sHis first novel, The Bicycle Teacher, is now available under the Janus Books imprint and can be ordered at