Friday, August 31, 2007

Would you do it again? Move to Germany, I mean.



I recently had this question posed to me. Probably most people who have moved "permanently" to Germany have heard this question. I grew up in California and when Germans hear that, many of them stare at me dumbfounded.

For everyone, this is a personal decision that can be hard to quantify. I have met people who tried living in Germany and moved back to their homeland. Oddly enough, I have often found one peculiar pattern. When a couple moves to Germany, where one of the people in the couple is originally from Germany, it is usually the German who wants to move back to the US (or elsewhere). It seems to be that the memories of the country where they grew up seemed to have gotten rosier as they were away. Once they land in their "old country", they seem to be disappointed with all the aspects of reality that one simply can't avoid.

As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I moved to Germany because I was interested in my kids growing up in Europe and in them being close to a large pool of family members. For us, that meant Germany. Now that I have lived here a while, I am happy about our decision. I do get frustrated at times about how much harder it is to get ahead career-wise and financially than it is in the US, but there are upsides that make a decision much more difficult.

I have spent a lot of my life in and around large cities -- San Jose (Silicon Valley), Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. While the cities offer lots of diversity, they also bring lots of crime and stress 24 hours a day. When I first moved to New York, I lived in a corporate apartment directly across from the World Trade Center. That apartment was part of the collateral of 9/11. So many really positive and treasured personal values and beliefs make up the American personality, that it breaks my heart to see how the US has come to represent absolute corruption and arrogance in the world. There was a time where the US commanded respect because of how our leaders behaved on the world stage and because the founding fathers wanted to create a foundation that took the best thinking of their age and use that to be a permanent guiding light.

My descendants in America came mostly from Germany and Switzerland, where they suffered and personal and religious constraints. A mennonite family that was put in jail in Switzerland was able to make it to America and become part of the movement that helped shape the country that became the US of A.

But, now I want to live in a world where there is great understanding for varying opinions and the intent is to give everyone equality. I want a neighborhood which is clean and crime is something that doesn't come into my mind every night I go to sleep.

Being in Germany also means that I am within 2 hours flight of all the major cities of Europe. And, the flights are cheap. It is unbelievable that my flight to Rome cost less than my taxi ride to the airport. The difference between Rome, Paris, Oslo and Berlin is much greater than that of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Plus, so much is new for me. I truly love seeing so many new things in this world, even if they are older than dust. Walking in the footsteps of Julius Caesar in Rome is quite awe inspiring. Just around the corner from me, in Hamburg, I can walk along a canal and think back to the time when pirates were put on public display and even earlier vikings came along and pillaged the town. The rich history here is inescapable.

I did enjoy the times that I visited Napa Valley in California. It is beautiful and the food and wine there is amazing. But, it has become some a commercial machine and so ridiculously expensive, that the taste sours a bit in my mouth. My in-laws live in Wiesbaden in the Rhine wine region. When we visit wineries and eat there, I notice that a simply glass of wine and the food don't need to be ridiculously expensive to be enjoyable. I can truly appreciate fine wine and haute cuisine, but I prefer that to be the rare occasion, rather than the only option.

My life here is full of fresh air, non-pretentious friends, an awareness of the environment and plenty of traditions around the holidays.

Would I do it again? I would. I would love to hear your stories, too. Let me know how you feel about your decisions. Add a comment to this article and/or answer the poll at the upper right (it will be up until October 15).

11 comments:

C N Heidelberg said...

Great post. I agree with pretty much everything you said - and I would come here again.

Gardner said...

That's the toughest question.

Yes, 100%, but some days you definitely think otherwise.

petetow said...

It always seems nicer else where, i believe the term is 'grass is greener', but in reality most cities are the same the only difference is people, climate and location within a country, if you live out of cities and towns life seems more idylic, if you live in a large house or log cabin or even a garden sheds it is not the country you are in that matters but your frame of mind and how you think of it, no matter what country you are in, a part of you misses home and a part does not want to go back it is human nature.

Gina said...

I had to chuckle when I read this post. I grew up in Germany but lived in the US for 25 years. My memories of growing up were from before the wall came down and life was much different. I moved back last year and I am so homesick for the US it is making me ill.

Great post.

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♥ Katinka said...

This is an AWESOME post. I love it! I'm German and my boyfriend is American. We are trying to figure out where we wanna live. I would love to stay in Germany.

Linda Sawtelle said...

Sounds like it is a really good fit for you! I love the part about non pretentious friends as I well know the Bay Area has a lot of pretentious people (the hi tec arena is full of them too - not bad people just more into themselves, self centered. But it is still a beautiful place to live. If you ever come back give me a shout.

... said...

Hi,
I am considering moving to Germany (Goettingen) perhaps next year, to study and find part time work.
I am a 23 year old Australian woman and have a close friend and acquaintances in Germany.

Do you have any tips or warnings for me?
I also have a small cat that I am adamant about not leaving behind. Do you know anything about quarantine and/or the procedures involved in flying a house pet to Germany?

Darrell Mankin said...

You have pretty much summed up why we want to leave the USA. We have been interested in the idea of moving to Germany for the past month. I have been combing blogs and language sites and pretty much anything I can get my hands/eyes on to learn what it will take to make it happen. I am in the process of reading your entire blog. I hope the transition will be easier than I am imagining. We just want a simpler life..we want to be around more people that care about family and the environment..instead of whats going on on the latest reality show. We are truly being taken for a ride over here and the govt is so corrupt.

I hope to finish reading your blog this evening THANKS

roni said...

Hi, i am 26 years old male and I'm hesitating on moving to Germany. my fiance lives there and i have visited germany 3 times in past 2 years and i do love it. I know there are ups and downs like the weather. Well anyways I am assuming Germany is a place to raise your kids, new generations in America seems to be dumber then European kids cause most of them speak at leas 2 languages fluently. The hardest part for me is my friends i grow up with, i mean its 4of us that were never separated and i just don't know how i would leave them for a new journey of my life, i try not to show my emotions cause i am a guy :) but what can i do i will miss them very much. Anyways enough with the emotions lol my only concern here is a having a true family and children that will get very well educated with a good health care. Hope everything works out for me, wish me luck....

Ulises Martínez said...

The poll is stil up and it's March 18th of 2015. :P