As an expat, adapting to a new country can be both exciting and challenging, especially when it comes to ensuring your safety and security. Germany is generally considered a safe country, but like anywhere else in the world, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and understand the local dynamics to make your stay as secure and enjoyable as possible.
Now, hold on, we are not telling you that you need to be concerned for your safety in Germany, but we’ll do our best to share some tips to help expats navigate the nuances of living in Germany.
From understanding local laws to integrating into the community, these tips are designed to provide you with practical insights and peace of mind.
Whether you’re here for work, study or adventure, these are indispensable to keep in mind to equip you to handle any emergency that may arise at any point.
Understanding Safety and Security in Germany: An Overview
Germany is widely regarded as one of the safer countries in Europe and across the globe. Its commitment to law and order, efficient police force, and strong legal force contribute significantly to this status.
In terms of crime rates, Germany generally reports lower levels of street crime compared to other countries, though, like any nation, it has its share of issues, primarily in larger cities.
Internationally, Germany often ranks favorably in global safety indices. For instance, in the Global Peace Index, which measures the level of safety and absence of conflict, Germany consistently scores well, indicating a high level of internal and external peace.
This is bolstered by its effective healthcare system, robust public infrastructure, and well-maintained urban and rural environments, which further enhance the overall safety for residents and visitors alike.
For expats, this translates to a relatively secure living environment, but it’s always wise to stay informed and cautious, as circumstances can vary from place to place.
Make sure to check this out: Germans and Punctuality: 5 Important Things You Need to Know
Top Five Tips to Ensure Your Safety and Security in Germany
We asked a few expats who live in Germany to give us their top tips to make sure that you have a comfortable stay in Germany. These are our top five tips:
#1 Familiarize Yourself with Local Laws and Customs
Understanding local laws is crucial for any expat in Germany to avoid unintentional legal issues. Germany has a well-defined legal system, and ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse. This encompasses everything from traffic rules and public behaviour to residential laws.
For instance, downloading or streaming from illegal websites is strictly prohibited and heavily fined. Similarly, strict recycling laws, which may seem quite overwhelming at first are also in place. But that corresponds to the eco-consciousness strain of German thought.
Key German Customs and Cultural Norms
- Punctuality: Germans deeply value punctuality, so being late is generally considered to be rather disrespectful.
- Privacy: Respect for personal and private space is almost always paramount.
- Direct Communication: Germans are known for their direct manner of communication. This should not be mistaken for rudeness.
- Quiet Sundays: Most shops are closed on Sundays, and it’s usually observed as a day for quietness, with loud activities being frowned upon.
- Environmental Consciousness: There is a strong emphasis on being sustainable and conscious of one’s direct environment.
- No Jaywalking: Pedestrian signals are very important, always keep an eye out for them.
#2 Stay Informed About Local Areas
Identifying safe and less safe neighbourhoods is a key aspect of ensuring your safety in Germany. While Germany boasts a high quality of overall safety standard, there can be variations between different areas, especially in larger cities. Doing thorough research before choosing a place to live can greatly impact your experience. Online forums, local expat groups, and real estate websites offer insights into various neighbourhoods. Additionally, visiting the areas at different times of the day can give you a feel for the local atmosphere and safety.
Look out for this: 15 Essential Phrases to Make Your Apartment Hunting in Germany a Breeze
Importance of Staying Informed About Local Areas
- Awareness of Local Incidents: Regularly follow local news channels and newspapers to help bring awareness about any unusual activities or incidents in your area.
- Weather Updates: Staying informed about weather conditions, especially in winter is crucial for safe travel plans.
- Public Events and Gatherings: Knowledge about local events and demonstrations can help you avoid potentially dangerous mobs or chaotic situations.
- Transportation Changes: Updates on public transportation can affect daily commutes, especially with frequent changes in schedules or routes.
- Emergency Alerts: Being aware of emergency situations, such as alerts for natural disasters or major accidents, is vital for timely response and safety.
#3 Use Public Transport Wisely
Germany’s public transportation system is extensive and efficient, making it a popular choice for expats, but that also increases the chance of danger. However, using it wisely is essential for your safety.
Safety Tips for Using Buses, Trains, and Other Public Transport
- Stay Alert: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded situations.
- Keep Valuables Secure: Carry bags and purses in a manner that prevents theft.
- Follow the Rules: Adhere to the transportation rules and guidelines.
- Plan Your Route: Familiarise yourself with your route and stops to avoid confusion.
- Avoid Rush Hours: If possible, travel during less crowded times to ensure a safer and more comfortable journey.
- Emergency Buttons: Be aware of the location of emergency buttons in trains and stations.
Night-Time Travel and Taxi Use
Night travel in Germany is generally safe, but extra caution is always advisable. Most cities have night buses or late-running trains, which are reliable, but it’s wise to avoid waiting alone at poorly lit or deserted stations.
When using taxis:
- Choose official taxis, identifiable by their signage and taxi meter.
- Never get into an unlicensed cab which does not have the markings of a regular taxi.
- To honor your personal safety and pay homage to social norms, sit in the back seat.
#4 Secure Your Residence
Ensuring your safety and security in your residence is a vital aspect of expat living. Whether you are renting or owning your own space, there are specific measures you can take to enhance the safety of your home. When you book an apartment with Urban Ground in Berlin or Frankfurt, may it be a shared flats, studio apartments or regular apartments for rent, they have your residential security covered.
Home Security Measures Specific to Germany
- Quality Locks: Invest in high-quality door locks. German standards for locks are high, and upgrading can provide additional security.
- Window Locks: Ensure windows have secure locks, especially if you’re on the ground floor.
- Lighting: Use automatic or timed lighting to give the impression that someone is home, even when you’re not.
- Alarm Systems: Consider installing an alarm system, especially in standalone houses.
- Insurance: Get adequate home insurance that covers theft and damage.
Make sure to read: 5 Simple Tried-and-Tested Tips for Shared Apartment Living in Germany
Safety and Security in Germany: Considerations When Renting vs. Buying
|Initial Security Measures
|Often limited ability to modify security (e.g., installing alarms).
|Full freedom to enhance security features.
|Landlord typically responsible for maintaining security measures.
|Owner must regularly check and update security systems.
|Renters’ insurance is crucial for personal belongings.
|Homeowners’ insurance covers both structure and contents.
|High in apartment complexes; communication with neighbors helps.
|More dependent on individual initiative in private houses.
|Less control over long-term building security upgrades.
|Ability to continually adapt and upgrade security features.
#5 Health and Emergency Services Awareness
As an expat in Germany, being aware of how to access healthcare services in emergencies and understanding the emergency response system is vital.
In case of a medical emergency, the universal emergency number in Germany is 112. This number can be dialed free of charge from any phone, including mobile phones without a SIM card. The operators speak English and will dispatch medical services as required.
How to Access Healthcare Services During Emergencies
- Emergency Numbers: Dial 112 for medical emergencies, fire or life-threatening situations.
- Non-Emergency Medical Issues: Use the non-emergency medical service number 116-117 for non-life threatening health issues.
- Hospitals and Clinics: Know the location of your nearest hospital or emergency clinic.
- Health Insurance Card: Always carry your German health insurance card with you.
Key Emergency Numbers To Keep in Mind
|Non-Emergency Medical Service
- Health Insurance: Mandatory for all residents in Germany, including expats. Ensure you understand what your policy covers, especially for emergencies.
- Travel Insurance: Consider travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, especially if you frequently travel internationally.
We Wish You a Safe Stay in Germany
By familirising yourself with local laws and customs, staying informed about your neighbourhood, using public transport wisely, securing your residence and being aware of health and emergency services, you significantly enhance your safety and security, as well ensure a fruitful living-experience in Germany.
Each of the tips above serves as the foundation for creating a secure and enjoyable journey that is culturally rich and safe for your well-being. I mean, these are nothing new or specific to Germany. If you are an immigrant, they apply regardless of where you are living.
Integrating to a new country takes time and patience, but with the right mindset, it can offer a safe, welcoming and rewarding environment.
Stay vigilant, keep an eye out and make sure to go our and enjoy the life Germany has to offer.