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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi!

I am new here, and a soon-to-be expat (I'll leave my country next year). I still have a few things to understand about Germany, and one of them is... can I really expect to live there (in Hamburg, so not in a small city) without a car?

And before you tell me "you can live anywhere without a car", yes, I know that in theory you can do that, but for example where I live if you don't have a car it's nearly impossible to have a job. It's often written directly in the requirements.

I've read that it's not so uncommon for people to use public transportation (expensive but very efficient) or directly to go by bike or by foot if the place they have to go to is nearby. But I'd like to know if anyone has direct experience with this and can confirm it or disprove it.
 

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I would contend that, unless you live and work within the city proper and have a good to excellent transport system at your disposal, you are going to need a car at some point for living in Germany.

The large shops tend to be located on the outskirts of town and not often terribly convenient to the public transit lines. If you're working, how do you get a week (or two) worth of groceries back home? When you're buying furniture (even at IKEA, where it's boxed up nice and flat) how do you get your purchases home?

Check the transport lines in and out of Hamburg and see how well they cover all the places you are likely to want to go on a regular basis.

I lived in Pforzheim and in Freiburg (well, not actually "in" either town, but rather in the adjoining town) and I definitely needed a car for a variety of reasons. Transport in Freiburg was actually pretty good, but not at all practical for commuting to and from work (due to the location of my workplace), nor for much of my routine shopping. I did take the tram to go into the center of town, because parking was a hassle, but you have to see what suits you based on where you live, where you work and where the shops are. (Besides, do you really want to walk to work or the shops or the closest bus or tram stop when it's pouring down rain? Or in the snow or other bad weather?)
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Hi!

I am new here, and a soon-to-be expat (I'll leave my country next year). I still have a few things to understand about Germany, and one of them is... can I really expect to live there (in Hamburg, so not in a small city) without a car?

And before you tell me "you can live anywhere without a car", yes, I know that in theory you can do that, but for example where I live if you don't have a car it's nearly impossible to have a job. It's often written directly in the requirements.

I've read that it's not so uncommon for people to use public transportation (expensive but very efficient) or directly to go by bike or by foot if the place they have to go to is nearby. But I'd like to know if anyone has direct experience with this and can confirm it or disprove it.

I am from Berlin and never owned a car in my life. I have always been employed, had supermarkets in walking distance and took a taxi whenever I had something big to transport or paid for delivery - much cheaper than paying the exorbitant petrol prices, insurance, etc., etc. !

It depends where in Hamburg you will live. A densely populated area with blocks of flats will have better access to public transport and shops than an area with detached family homes.

I have only visited Hamburg but the public transport system seems to be comparable to the Berlin one.
 

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If you live in a major city and work somewhere reasonably accessible by bike or public transport, you do not need a car. Also note that many of the major cities now have car-sharing services like Car2Go and DriveNow, which may seem a little pricey, but are much cheaper than car ownership.

Central Hamburg would be fine without a car. It is much like Berlin, where I have happily lived without one.

If you live or work on the outskirts of a city, or in a smaller town, at some point you will probably need a vehicle.
 

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If you're working, how do you get a week (or two) worth of groceries back home? When you're buying furniture (even at IKEA, where it's boxed up nice and flat) how do you get your purchases home?
Ikea - taxi, car sharing or rental.

Groceries - you shop twice a week somewhere a short walk from where you live. Everything's open late now, it's not like the bad old days.

Urban parking is a *****, something to consider also.
 

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Public transport is pretty good and car sharing schemes ubiquitous, so car ownership has effectively become a lifestyle choice rather than a necessity in Germany (except in remote countryside locations and for some people who need to be mobile for their job).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for the replies :)

From what I remember the place I'll be staying at first (I have a person who can host me for the first months) is near the very centre of Hamburg, definitely not in the outskirts.

It's good to hear that not having a car isn't a huge deal! I know it's more practical for several things but I have always hated the idea of driving and having to own a car. Moreover, I have no car license* and therefore having the whole nightmare of working only to make the money to get one and then a car too would be a pain.

I have no problem with taking the grocery home under the rain or with the snow, I've done that here before :) (contrary to popular belief, some places in Italy get really cold in the Winter.)



*Before you call me irresponsible or lazy, I dunno about other places but in my country getting a car license is expensive. About 1500 euro gets spent considering all the lessons and the bureaucracy. Unfortunately I have a limited amount of money. My family is made of four people and only one of them still works. I had to give up on several things because of lack of money and needing what little I have for specific medicines.
 

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I'd say quite the reverse. Living near the center of Hamburg and owning a car would likely be a huge, expensive pain in the ass.

Add in the fact that you don't actually have a license, and that you don't want a car anyway, and it's not exactly a tough decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'd say quite the reverse. Living near the center of Hamburg and owning a car would likely be a huge, expensive pain in the ass.
That's what I suspected/hoped too, but I wanted to be sure :)

Add in the fact that you don't actually have a license, and that you don't want a car anyway, and it's not exactly a tough decision.
That seems to be the case! :D


PS: I am sorry if I offended anyone with my comment about the driving license, I do not mean to say it is more expensive here than everywhere else (also because I have no idea about the price of it in most countries), it's just that when I read/hear people speaking about car licenses the first thing that a lot of people say is that if you don't have one you are irresponsible and lazy, which is not the case in a lot of situations. So I wanted to prevent that kind of comments.
 
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