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    I Left The US And Made The Move To Europe Four Years Ago — Here Are The Top 9 Things People Want To Know

    People have asked me about *everything*...

    Back in 2019, I moved from NYC to Berlin and wrote all about it. Since publishing my first post about my big move, I've received a lot of follow-up questions. People have been curious about the cost of living, how I scored my flat, how much German has actually been necessary to survive here, and my experience as an AAPI in Europe.

    Writer standing on second level of the Semper Gallery with blue skies in the background

    Now, with a few years of experience under my belt, I'm eager to answer all those questions and more. While the internet is full of great resources and informative sites, I've found — from personal experience — that honest, real-life anecdotes and tips from friends have proved the most helpful. So, consider me your American friend in Germany, and let's go through your questions!

    1. Why did you move to Berlin (as opposed to Paris, Seoul, Mexico City, or any other city in the world)?

    I wish I could say I had a more concrete reason than "I visited the city and really liked it," but that's exactly what happened. I didn't fall in love or get a dream job or fulfill a lifelong fantasy of moving here. What did help, though, was being able to test-drive the city while working out of my then-job's Berlin office and moving here during a time when both the job and rental markets were pretty manageable. 

    If you're wondering what the things I actually liked about the city were, they were things I had been missing in NYC: green space, a slower pace of life, universal healthcare, ease of travel to countries across Europe and Africa, and lower cost of living*.

    During mentally challenging times, it helps to think about my practical reasons for moving here. It usually grounds that quarterly jolt of midnight panic I get, wondering if I've made a horrible mistake and if I should have just stayed put. 

    2. How did you get your visa? Was it hard?

    3. What was your experience finding an apartment? Would you recommend furnished flats?

    4. Do I need to learn German now? Should I learn some before moving?

    5. How did you make friends?

    6. What's the cost of living like?

    7. How do taxes work?

    If I ever move out of Germany, it'll be because of taxes. As an American living in Germany, I'm required to file taxes in two countries. It's hard enough to struggle through the deep dread of filing taxes in one country and wondering if I've accidentally committed tax fraud — now, I have the pleasure of experiencing forosophobia (that is, the fear of taxes) in two countries. 

    So, there's the bad news. The good news? Due to a double taxation treaty between the US and Germany, I'm only required to pay income taxes in a single country. That is, if I'm making under $112,000, or whatever the IRS says is the Foreign Earned Income Exemption for a given year, then I'll only have to pay taxes in one country. 

    The other great news is that after three years, I finally found a German tax accountant willing to take on new clients, and I'll move out of Germany before letting her go. 

    8. What has been your experience as an AAPI person been like? Have you been able to find community around that?

    9. Where do you buy Asian groceries? Is it easy to get all the ingredients together for kimchi stew?

    Close-up of kimchi stew with a cracked egg on top

    Are you considering moving abroad? Do have anymore questions? Share them in the comments below, and I might answer them in a future post!