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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
One company is offering me an IT job in Berlin. I have 7+ years of experience.

I have a family consisting of a wife and 1 kid. The offer is 50,000 Euro. So my questions are:
1) Is that enough for a good life? Will I be able to save some money after tax? Notes: I don't eat outside, and I need a 2-bedroom apartment.
2) If you have 2 offers, one in Berlin and one in a small town (population 30,000). Which to take?

Thanks
 

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That's a reasonable enough income. Plug it into the tax calculator to figure out what's left, then knock off 1000/month for a modest apartment (you can do cheaper, but might not want to).

As for Berlin vs. a small town, that's a question of your preferences. Smaller town might be cheaper, but also more isolated, more "German" rather than international, and generally a whole lot less fun. Then again, if you don't eat out, you're probably not hitting the bars and clubs either, so wouldn't miss the big advantage of being in the city. Also, again depending on where you are, you might need a car in a smaller town, whereas you likely won't need one in Berlin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's a reasonable enough income. Plug it into the tax calculator to figure out what's left, then knock off 1000/month for a modest apartment (you can do cheaper, but might not want to).
I found that my tax may be 35%. So, I will get a monthly net of almost 2,500. Then subtract 1000 for apartment, so 1,500 will remain. For grocery and other usual monthly expenses, I think that I won't be able to save anything. What do you think?
 

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I found that my tax may be 35%. So, I will get a monthly net of almost 2,500. Then subtract 1000 for apartment, so 1,500 will remain. For grocery and other usual monthly expenses, I think that I won't be able to save anything. What do you think?
Whether you will be able to save something depends on you and your spending/lifestyle.

I am from Berlin, have a family of four, never paid EUR 1000 in rent (unless this includes heating, all related utilities, etc.?) and I never lived in a "bad" part of town, I was on a (much) lower income than 50k and managed to save money and travel.

Also, I know an Australian programmer who earns less than that, has a nice 3-bedroom flat in a very nice area in Berlin, the bilingual school his children attend is across the street and the family has done an extensive tour of Italy and Switzerland during summer holidays. They do not seem to struggle financially.

Whether you would be better off in Berlin or a smaller town largely depends on where that smaller town is located.

In Berlin you will have a Kuwaiti/Arabic community to support you in daily life. A smaller town - depending on where it is - might have NO other non-EU expats.

What kind of education do you want for your children?

There are English medium and bilingual Europa schools (bilingual state schools, I highly recommend them!!) in Berlin. A smaller town most probably only has German state and maybe a private school or two. Unless the town is in some kind of US-Army hub, you might struggle to find an English medium school that is realistically reachable on a daily basis.

Do you require foods from home/halal meat? Again, very easy to come by in Berlin, possibly not available at all in a smaller town.

Would you mind sharing the name of the smaller town or the general location? Living in a smaller town in Bavaria is totally different from a smaller town just outside the big agglomeration of cities in the West of Germany and again totally different from a smaller town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
 

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The rental market in Berlin seems to be tightening up, so don't assume you'll find a great place for a bargain price. It's not like the good old days... I figure one should allow 1000 for rent and utilities just to be safe. One might do better, but it will require some searching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the detailed answer.
I am from Berlin, have a family of four, .... I was on a (much) lower income than 50k and managed to save money and travel.
That's nice... I feel much relaxed now.
...., the bilingual school his children attend is across the street
So, there are bilingual schools in Berlin? How much would it cost approx. ?(e.g. for elementary classes)
Would you mind sharing the name of the smaller town or the general location? Living in a smaller town in Bavaria is totally different from a smaller town just outside the big agglomeration of cities in the West of Germany and again totally different from a smaller town in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The town is around 80 Km away from Frankfurt (Giessen). The population is around 60,000.

Thanks in advance
 

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International schools are private and cost buckets of money. Search online, you'll find the fees. There are bilingual English-German state schools, which will cost nothing, but you have to get in. Again, get on the berlin.de site and find the listings. Where you look depends on where you live and where you work. Do the same to find school possibilities in the town near Frankfurt.
 

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There are several private English medium schools that will cost around 8-10k per year.

Then there are two bilingual Europa schools that are EU-sponsored and free of charge like all state schools. These schools have two branches: a German one with intensive English language classes for the German children in the catchment area and an English one with intensive German classes for English native speakers (or children at native speaker level).

While German parents battle to get their children in, there usually are slots for native speakers available. Another way of being guaranteed a place is to move into the catchment area ;)

Bilingual Europa schools:

Charles-Dickens-Grundschule, Europaschule Deutsch-Englisch in Westend

Home - Quentin-Blake-Europeschool

There is also The John-F-Kennedy school which is going by the American curriculum and is partly sponsored by Berlin and partly by the US government, thus also free of charge. It is VERY hard to get in. I know of at least one case where even the younger sister of a girl already attending the school was denied a place.

Welcome to John F. Kennedy School

Giessen is a nice University town, capital of the district... quaint? I´ve googled a bit but haven't come up with a lot of Englich/bilingual schools in the area. Could be just that my google-fu is broken. There seems to be a private school in Bad Homburg, 6600 - 7800 EUR tuition fees per year.

In the end it depends on what you like.

My latest experience of renting a flat in Berlin is a bit more than a year old and it is true that rents are on the rise. It is also quite easy to spend much more than 1000 Euro on a flat, depending on location and size. When searching, bear in mind that in Germany you don't search for bedrooms but rooms - for a 2-bedroom, one living room, you have to search for a 3-room flat. It might be much more difficult to find a reasonable flat while abroad or when you have just arrived and don't know where to search, yet.

Have a look here:

Mietwohnungen Berlin: Wohnungen mieten in Berlin bei Immobilien Scout24

The "Kaltmiete" usually does not include any utilities, heating or maintenance charges. How much that is depends on how the flat is managed.

this one (the cheapest one in the search I did for all of Berlin, this is not near any of the English medium schools!):

3 Zimmer Mietwohnung in Berlin mit 69 qm (ScoutId 69560657)

has a cold rent of 303 EUR plus 109 EUR charges and 87 EUR for heating, bringing the total rent payable to the landlord to 518 EUR per month plus possibly electricity, gas and water charges depending on consumption. It is a bit on the small side for a 3-room flat.

Also, the aforementioned Australian programmer had the services of a relocation company that organised admission in the bilingual school for his children and then put him and his family in a furnished flat on the other side of town. They arrived in January, did not know just how cold it could get, had no idea about dressing in layers and such survival things and had to travel 1.5 hours to school each morning in -6 centigrade. Not good. It always pays off to do your own research and ask loads of questions!
 

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The rental market in Berlin seems to be tightening up, so don't assume you'll find a great place for a bargain price. It's not like the good old days... I figure one should allow 1000 for rent and utilities just to be safe. One might do better, but it will require some searching.
True.

I left Berlin in 2012 and was then paying 612 EUR including charges for a 2-bedroom flat with a garden. I admit that I was very lucky :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thanks for your replies, really appreciate it.

So which is better now:
1) Live a little bit far from work (e.g. 40 KM) and enjoy living in a big city with all facilities, but of course more expenses and have to travel every day

or

2) Live in a small town close to the work but then have to travel in order to buy things or entertain a little
?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
That question cannot be answered by anyone but you. It's like asking which is better, blue or orange?
I agree.
I just want to hear everybody's own opinion.

So which one would you choose and why? (with respect to living in Germany, bec. the answer may vary depending on the country).
 

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In that case, my opinion would be neither. I'd do what I do now - live in Berlin, but close to work and school so we can get everywhere quickly by bicycle or public transit.
 

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I meant to ask you - did your children attend Mandela?

If so, did you get in under the reserved places for "highly mobile families"? If not, was it difficult to get a place?

My daughter only had one year out of her eight years of schooling in Germany and I would love for her to be able to go to Mandela but have been told that we would not count as highly mobile since we are not sent all over the globe by an employer, just moving all over the globe because we like it.

Also, that they couldn't give us a definite answer until we are physically back in Berlin, which is fair enough.

I am just trying to get to grips with whether it's worth trying for it and looking for a flat that's somewhat close to Mandela, taking the risk that she might not get in, or just sticking with where my parents live and taking the guaranteed place at a decent regular secondary school with a pseudo-bilingual branch (history and geography taught in English from 9th grade).
 

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My daughter did not attend the Mandela, though we lived relatively close by. She went to a normal Gymnasium, though with a bilingual French component. We deliberately chose not to send her to Mandela because we wanted the maximum exposure to German. I've seen Mandela students riding home on the train and it's pretty cool, they speak their respective mother tongues and everyone understands everybody, but of course that wasn't ideal for us because for only five months she needed friends with crap English for her to speak only German - it was boot camp.

But I digress. Our neighbour's son was going to the Mandela school, they were on a one-year sabbatical. If you PM me I can ask her if she's willing to answer questions.

Whether it's the right move or not depends on a lot of factors, as you well know.
 
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