All you need to know about studying, working, and living in Germany
Last updated on October 11, 2022
5 Reasons why working in Germany is better than in the US
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I am originally from Hong Kong. I moved to Germany for my master’s studies 12 years ago and stay there until now. I was sent as an expat to the US for one year. So I know very well how it is like working in Germany vs in the US. And I can be very objective since I am not from either of these countries!
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Here are the reasons:
(1) Germany has more vacation days
On average, a German employee is entitled to 30 days of vacation in a year. This is on top of the public holiday in Germany. This is really a lot of time off!
In the US, or back in my home city Hongkong, the average would be around 10–15 days a year. Sure it can increase when you work longer in the company. (maybe until 2x days in a year). Still, Germany is much better in terms of vacation days.
(2) Germany has a better work-life balance
This has to do with their culture. In the US, it is very competitive and very capitalist. Basically, very workaholic. People try to do as much as they can. They can work long hours. They can be working during their vacation or other non-office hours. And it is normal.
In Germany, people tend to put more value on their private life. Working overtime or working in non-office hours is not necessarily the norm. And people respect this culture. It means that you can have more private time and spend more time with your friends and family.
The average length of parental leave for a woman after giving birth in Germany is one to two years. Depending on your job situation, you can get around 65% paid for your leave in the first year (with a maximum of around 1800 EUR per month). For maternity leave, it is around 14 weeks in total. 100% paid.
People can choose to take parental leave for up to 3 years without losing their job. It is also common for a father to take parental leave. On average for two months. (you can arrange to have it longer)
In the US, people are working until almost the moment that they have to give birth. And not every company will have maternity leave. For the company I worked at, the father is entitled to 2 weeks of maternity leave. He told me this is a really good benefit in the US as many companies do not allow any maternity leave for the father.
With that being said, Germany is a better place in terms of family life.
Germany is a high salary tax (you get around 60% after deducting your tax and insurance). However, it has also better social benefits because of that.
People value their health. They are not going to work until they are recovered from their sickness. If you get a flu and go to a doctor, you will easily get a certificate for sick leave for one or even two weeks. You can then focus on rest and recover faster.
When people are more seriously sick, e.g. need surgery, etc. it is not uncommon to see people having sick leave for a year or so. This sick leave will be fully paid at the beginning by the employers. And after a few months, the insurance will take care and the people will still get a certain percentage paid.
In the US it is not common to have longer sick leave. It is not even common to have a continuous vacation for two weeks. In Germany, a normal vacation is on average two to three weeks, and some people even take a month off!
I have mentioned this in another article 5 Reasons why I study in Germany. If you find a job in Germany, you may be eligible to get an EU Blue Card. After holding the EU Blue Card for 33 months, you can apply for permanent residence. (If you speak German, you can apply already after 21 months.)
The permanent residence is similar to a green card in the US. You can enjoy many rights like the German do, but you cannot vote and you will not have a German passport (unless you apply for it).
Comparing to other countries, the visa process in Germany is relatively easy. For example, in the US, you would need to go through a lottery process to determine if you can extend your visa. So, it is easier for foreigners to stay and work in Germany, if they are highly educated and skilled.
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