10 Tips for Expats Moving to Bavaria

By: Brittany Ruth

I want to share 10 of my best tips for those planning on moving to Bavaria. Bavaria is unlike any other place in Germany. It is beautiful, safe, and has that small town charm. But, there are some tips you will need to understand while navigating your way through this part of the country or initiating a move. These are all tips that I had not known myself prior to moving to Germany. But, after living here for a year, I feel that these will be most helpful for newcomers or expats. There are so many things to do and see in this part of the country and I wish I had known these things before I moved here so I could be better prepared. Take note of these tips, both pros and cons that will give you a good idea of Bavaria and what to look out for.

10 Tips for Expats Moving to Bavaria

1) Remember that German you learned in high school?

It doesn’t matter if you remember much because the German they teach in school is very different from the Bavarian dialect. It may take a while to get used to the way people speak here as there are different words used, phrases, and even punctuation. Sure, you are ahead of the game if you know German at all, but Bavarians may not immediately understand your German. With that said, a little German goes a long way. They appreciate that you are trying even though they might respond in English.

2) There are speed limits on the autobahn

You know those stories from people who have never been to Germany and say that there is no speed limit? Well they are wrong. Don’t get me wrong, the autobahn is very fast it takes some getting used to when your speedometer goes past 100 MPH. I admit, even two hour trips on the autobahn are exhausting because you must be paying attention 110% of the time. But there are areas with speed limits. Where there isn’t a speed limit, it is suggested that you drive around 130 KPH depending on the area. If you see a flashing light it means your car and license plate has been photographed and will be sent in the mail with a fine. While it is true that in some parts you can go as fast as you want, if you do end up getting into an accident, you will be at fault for not being able to control your car at that speed, if you are even alive to be punished.

3) Gas Prices are Insane

Unless you are getting gas at American prices (if you are associated with the military), expect gas on the German economy to be double what you are used to in the states. When you are burning all of that gas on the autobahn, it can become very expensive. That is why a lot of Germans use the train or carpool.

4) The Trains are Safe and Effective for Travel

I’ve taken the train throughout Germany by myself and it is a very safe way to get around. Keep in mind that you should always be on the lookout for red flags and pay attention to your surroundings, but overall, it is a pretty easy system to use. It can save you the trouble of driving to a destination and there is usually a helpful desk clerk that speaks English and can help you with ordering tickets and finding your stops.

5) Travel is a Must

Take advantage of living in Bavaria and Germany in general, as it is a central point in Europe where you can easily branch out and visit other countries. You could conceivably drive or take the train to countries like Italy, Switzerland, France, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Beligum, and the Netherlands. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience slow travel and really get a feel for each country. It will be cheaper because you don’t have to by a plane ticket from the states and you can take shorter weekend trips! Traveling in Bavaria alone is exciting in itself. There are many famous restaurants, outdoor activities, and castles to explore. Get out and travel!

6) Don’t Assume People are Rude Because they Don’t Smile

Smiling at strangers is a dead giveaway that you are an American. I still do it, but don’t be offended when they don’t smile back. It doesn’t mean they are rude, quite the opposite, I have found Germans to generally be very hospitable and friendly. They just think it’s quite awkward to smile at people all the time for no reason. I think it’s pretty awkward too.

7) Try the Food, it Will Blow you Away

I didn’t know too much about German food until I actually moved to Germany. And you know what? It’s pretty amazing. The food is prepared fresh with usually local products being used and free of preservatives. It may not last in your fridge for a week but that is a good thing. Typical dishes are brats, sauerkraut, spaetzle, jagerschnitzel, salad, and potato salad. Most dishes are made with pork and you won’t find too much beef here. Even if you go to a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere, you are getting quality food. Germans tend to eat a little later in the day and have the biggest meals for lunch. Germany also has great Italian and Asian food; however, you may end up missing good seafood and Mexican food in Bavaria.

8) Trachten (the dirndl and lederhosen) are Real and Bavarians Wear it Quite Often

Originally worn by peasants, Trachten became popular by nobles and eventually everyone else started to follow suit. Trachten, however, is typically only worn in Bavaria and parts of Austria. If you go to Northern parts of Germany they think it’s kind of funny. I love that Bavaria is so traditional. Bavarians wear their trachten to a lot of events like fests, markets, and the wildly popular Oktoberfest. Don’t be afraid to buy one for yourself either.

9) Everything isn’t Open 24/7

In fact, besides some restaurants, most stores, shops, and other businesses are closed on Sundays. Bavarians respect this day as a religious day of rest. But Sunday isn’t the only day with limited or closed hours. Many stores close early during the weekday; some as early as 5pm. So if you work and then need to run an errand it can be kind of difficult. It can also be frustrating when you want to run to a certain store in the evening and it is already closed. Things like restaurants however, are usually open late. Some don’t even open until dinner and stay open until about midnight or later. It will take time for you to adjust and plan ahead and realized that 24 hour service is not an option here.

10) People Take Pride in their Property

People here take pride in their homes and backyards. Germany is a small country in reference to the United States and they need to conserve energy and keep the country clean by practicing recycling, good landscaping, and organic farming. In fact, recycling isn’t just a good idea here, it’s the law. You can walk through any neighborhood in Bavaria and see how beautiful they keep their lawns and really take pride in their property. There are flower pots hanging from almost every window sill. It is a beautiful area to see and it has reminded me to be more eco conscious and to really think about what kind of foot print I am leaving for future generations.

I hope these tips will be helpful for someone considering a move to Bavaria. It is a wonderful place to live, but always remember to be respectful to the people and your environment and you will have a great time.

About the Author:

Brittany Ruth began her expat blog, TheRococoRoamer.blogspot.com to keep friends and family in touch while she moved overseas to Germany as a newlywed. Quickly she discovered that she really enjoyed blogging and began to incorporate posts about her love for antique and flea market traveling all around Europe. She also writes about DIY projects and DIY inspiration. She has a passion for travel and plans to visit as many countries in Europe as she can. She loves to help others plan their trips and discover new places. She is also working full-time while in Germany and attending grad school. Stop by her blog and say "Hi!" - See more at: http://www.expatsblog.com/articles/1607/expat-interview-brittany-american-expat-living-in-germany

About the author

Expat Blog ListingBrittany Ruth is an American expat living in Germany. Blog description: European adventures through the eyes of an American living in Germany. Travel, antique/flea hunting, and DIY. By Brittany Ruth
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Contest Comments » There are 38 comments

Evelyn wrote 10 years ago:

I love this article and am a fan of Brittany Ruth's blogs she writes with passion. I have visited Bavaria this past July and everything she wrote is so true. I have booked a flight to visit Bavaria again this coming June 2014 love this place. Thank you Brittany Ruth for all the information and living through your eyes!

Thrifty Travel Mama wrote 10 years ago:

We visited Berchtesgaden a few months ago, and one of our hikes, we ran into another hiking family. My husband and I chuckled because the (young) dad was wearing lederhosen and a hoodie! We don't see that in our corner of Germany outside of Oktoberfest.

Mimi wrote 10 years ago:

As someone who may be relocating to Bavaria soon, this list is great! It is always best to get tips from other expats too as they understand the concerns of fellow expats like myself.

Renae Nae wrote 10 years ago:

Love the article it has a lot of really good information. I am so guilty of smiling at the Germans and you are right they don't smile back but i can't stop doing it I guess I have been doing it for so long. I love your blog and you are a great writer.

Destiny wrote 10 years ago:

So informative! Relocating can be a scary thing it's helpful to get tips from someone who's braved the move!

Brandon wrote 10 years ago:

Very informative. I've been living in Bavaria for over a year now and couldn't think of anything else I would have added.

Zack wrote 10 years ago:

My parents had given me the opportunity to visit Bavaria what a beautiful place and the 10 tips were right on target. Nice job Brittany Ruth

Nicole Ross wrote 10 years ago:

This is definitely helpful information. One of the biggest adjustments for me when we moved to Bavaria was the fact that everything isn't open 24/7, or what I would consider to be normal hours. The things you have shared here should really be shared with anyone moving to Europe for the first time. It will help them prepare and adapt to the new culture.

Heidi wrote 10 years ago:

Very useful info! After living in southern Germany for three years I just sat here reading the article and nodding my head!

Reid wrote 10 years ago:

Great information very informative, simple and straight to the point. And also very accurate about life in bavaria. Wonderful work!!!!

Melissa wrote 10 years ago:

I have never been to Bavaria but if I were to go this information would truly be very helpful. The author writes this so well and has obviously put thought into identifying what a person new to the area would need information to help them adapt to their new life.

Kathy Nagy wrote 10 years ago:

Wow lots of helpfull info, I would love to visit , brittany thanks for the great tips!

Kathleen Ralf wrote 10 years ago:

Your post is worth the read for anyone interested in life here. I especially identify with Germany is not 24/7. If fact it is one of the things I love about living here. It does take some getting used to for us Americans. But I miss the slower pace when I visit the pace.

Danielle wrote 10 years ago:

Great article Brit. I can't wait to visit Germany and Bavaria and experience all you have written about. I agree about the smiling thing. It is super awkward but sometimes a smile can go a long way!

Olga@The EuropeanMama wrote 10 years ago:

Great list! I've never been to Bavaria, but know the North of Germany quite well. Some of your points apply to all of Germany, others are totally Bavarian specific!

Miles wrote 10 years ago:

A great list. As someone from UK who lived in Germany for awhile, I completely agree with all the points, but especially "Don’t Assume People are Rude Because they Don’t Smile" It took some getting used to!

Manface wrote 10 years ago:

Make sure and Politely ignore advances by drug dealers while traveling aboard.

Khadija wrote 10 years ago:

I love the autobahn and the beauty of Germany. I think the pride they take in their surroundings makes the country all the more beautiful. Driving through the little towns is like being in a storybook.

Sharon wrote 10 years ago:

I have never been out of the United States and would love an opportunity to explore other countries. This is one place I would have never thought to visit. Now I must put in on my bucket list. Sounds wonderful to me.

Annie wrote 10 years ago:

I love this insight from a true German transplant! What a thoughtful and educational list. Maybe one day I'll have to opportunity to put all these nuggets of wisdom to use in Germany.

Erica wrote 10 years ago:

This is so helpful! I find the dialects in Germany so tricky to get used to, and it was definitely a surprise to learn that people actually do wear traditional clothes quite often!

Irene S Levine wrote 10 years ago:

Thanks for telling us about the tendency not to smile. That's really an interesting cultural difference and something worthwhile for travelers to know about.

Cynthia White wrote 10 years ago:

Brittany, I really love reading your blog, if only to live vicariously through your adventures in travel. This article is very well written, and would be useful to anyone planning to visit or move to Bavaria. I would have to admit that it is a dream of mine to one day visit that part of the world, and see some of those places you've shared with your readers.

Shawn Miles wrote 10 years ago:

These are great "basics" for visiting Germany, the southern part in particular (Bavaria); which is also the most beautiful area of Deutschland IMHO. I am AD USAF and have lived in the Stuttgart area for over 2 years and can attest to ALL of these tips. Gas IS insane, and yes, there are speed limits (the speed-cameras will prove it)! While some may find it funny to read these COMMON misconceptions, it's spot-on! My wife and I splurged on a set of Trachten for the abundant seasonal fests, but why not!

Andy wrote 10 years ago:

Great stuff thanks for all the great information I can't wait to move!

Kim MacHenry wrote 10 years ago:

Not that ill ever get the WONDERFUL chance to go here but it was great to have the opportunity to learn soo much I never knew.Cant get over the speed part though.Thanks for all the fantastic tips if my opportunity ever comes..

John wrote 10 years ago:

Theses tips are very helpful. I am planning a trip to Bavaria in 2015. Thanks Brittany for all the advice.

Laura Turner wrote 10 years ago:

Brittany's post went past the touristy things and captured the heart of Bavaria. Now I really want to visit there!

Michele {Malaysian Meanders} wrote 10 years ago:

I wholeheartedly agree with Tip #5! I also would have thought that there were no limits on the Autobahn.

Richanna Good wrote 10 years ago:

My ancestors are from Germany and I would love to have the opportunity to visit Bavaria. One of my favorite things to do it research places to travel and add my favorites to my bucketlist. It's aritcles like these that catch my interest and give lots of great info on where I would like to travel next.

Johnson wrote 10 years ago:

Bavaria is by far the best area of Germany. Best beer on the planet!

Kaija wrote 10 years ago:

I've been living in Germany for about a year and a half now and these tips are spot on! These tips would definitely be very helpful to anyone wanting to visit or move to Bavaria.

Nicole H wrote 10 years ago:

I Love this! Very helpful! Thank you so very much!

Shaniqua wrote 10 years ago:

Fantastic article. This is a great explanation of things to expect when living in Germany.

Travis Dorman wrote 10 years ago:

Although I will probably never get to go to bravaria it was a pleasure reading this fine article about such a wonderful place. It was very well written and informative. I enjoy your blogs!

Zec wrote 10 years ago:

All these tips are very helpful maybe one day I will be able to visit a beautiful place.

Jon wrote 10 years ago:

Great tips maybe someday I will be able to travel Bavaria for a vacation.

Eve wrote 10 years ago:

I would love to visit Germany someday and these tips are very helpful.

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