7 curious facts about living in Germany


When I moved back to Germany after 10 years of living abroad, my home country didn’t feel so familiar anymore. It was just like moving to any other country; apart from I should have understood the language… But I had moved to Southern Germany and the local Swabian accent has nothing to do with my Saxon roots.

So did I really have to experience a reverse culture shock in my own country? I certainly did!

Here are 7 curious facts that struck me most:

  • Crossing pedestrian traffic lights on red is an offense.

    The road might be clear with no car in sight, but still: hardly anyone will dare to cross the road. Germans won’t object to that rule. And if you dare stepping onto the road without permission of the green man, someone will most likely give you grief – especially when kids are in sight. It might sound great for teaching kids… but police will fine you for it. Isn’t it ridiculous to wait by the side of an empty road?

  • You’ll have to plan your social life 3 weeks in advance.

    This one is tough: it’s seriously tricky to find a German who is generally up for spontaneous nights out. Social life is often planned three weeks in advance and they really stick to it. Does commitment come before fun? This makes them very reliable though and you can surely count on them: they will turn up once committed.

  • Punctuality

    They get irrationally annoyed if a bus or train is 5 minutes late! I guess we have all heard about this classic – but it is sooo true.

  • The variety of local German accents and mentalities

    is amazing and so much stronger than in most other countries I have lived in. Even as a German I won’t understand many local accents. Seriously, if Bavarians talk with each other, I won’t get what they say.

  • Kitchens, cars and food:

    In Germany most people drive fairly new cars like Audis and BMWs and have the most perfectly fitted kitchens with 1000 EUR expresso machines… But they buy food at Lidl and Aldi low cost stores. Seriously, it is really hard to find great quality food in this country.

  • Shops don’t like credit cards

    and will most likely send you around the bloc to pick up cash or pay with their EC-Karte – the German equivalent of a debit card.

  • Recycling is done to perfection.

    You even have to separate white, green and brown glass. And you are only allowed to recycle it until a certain time of day to keep noise down – which I actually think is a good thing. For some people recycling even goes as far as taking tea bags apart to recycle paper and metal!

Please share your experience in the comments below!


I have been a traveller and expat for over 15 years. So far my nomad lifestyle has allowed me to live and work in seven countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Australia. Moving country, studying abroad and a passion for travel has been part of most of my adult life.

9 thoughts to “7 curious facts about living in Germany”

  1. This is so true, especially the waiting patiently for the green light. I got some reprimand-like looks when crossing the street España-style during my last visit. I felt like a “sinvergüenza”

    (I can deal with the perfectionist recycling though – I like picking my tea bag apart 😉 )

  2. I really enjoyed this post. I currently live in Holland and a lot of this corresponds to their attitudes too. I also have a lot of German student friends who are definitely lacking in spontaneity!!

  3. I lived south of Stuttgart for almost three years. It’s been years ago – from 1972-75 – but what I learned in Germany in those years matches what you’ve learned. Life is too short to learn the language. Good beer; good bread; good sausage. Otherwise, the food was pretty ordinary. I liked it anyway and did a lot of European travel while there. The best and most amazing trip was down to Dubrovnik when it was Yugoslavia. Amazing journey. And then (a careful warning for your future) at sixty, I bought a house and got married. And here I’ve remained since. Still traveling, but my expat days seem to be over. I’m going to enjoy hearing about yours.

    Thanks so much for finding me so I could find you! J.

  4. Thanks for your lovely comments! Sounds like you have a lot of travel stories to tell and I hope to read about them. Croatia is definitely a place I can’t wait to discover. Great to connect!

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