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Old 04-11-2013, 11:40 PM   #1
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Default Winnersh, UK or Munich, Germany?

I'm thinking about taking a job which would require me to relocate to Europe. The primary office is in Munich, with satellite locations in Paris and Winnersh (just east of Reading.)

Paris is right out. I have utterly no desire to live there.

I have spent a small amount of time in Germany- three weeks in Papenberg, a week in Bremerhaven, and a couple of days on Dusseldorf and Bremen. So while I have had only a very cursory introduction to the country, I like it a great deal. It's beautiful, and I get a tremendously good vibe from the people there.

The downside is that I do not speak German. So I am slightly uncomfortable about committing to dropping myself into the middle of a country in which I know nobody and am unable to speak the language.

I have, amazingly, never been to the UK. But I do know that they speak English there, and that's certainly a plus. On the downside, it'd be a much longer commute (by several hundred km) to many of the areas I'd need to be visiting on a semi-regular basis; kind of the same problem one has in the US being located in California as opposed to, say, Texas or Nebraska.

I'd welcome the personal opinions of anyone familiar with these areas, particular if you happen to be (or have ever been) an expat. How easy and costly is it to find housing in a decent neighborhood in these cities? What would the tax situation be for an American citizen residing in the UK or Germany? Are there any areas of Munich which have a large english-speaking community (Aussies, Brits, Canadians, Americans, whatever) in the way that, in many large US cities, there are certain neighborhoods which are predominantly Chinese or Korean or Filipino or Mexican or so forth?
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Old 04-12-2013, 12:01 AM   #2
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Germany for roads. One road in particular.

Oh, and a lot of Germans know english better than we do. Certainly better than the Brits.
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:22 AM   #3
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I really loved Germany for the 8 months I lived there, and I visited Munich a lot. I lived about an hour south west by train. Bayern is a very nice area with extremely friendly people I visited the UK as well during that time and it was nice. If you are OK living in a city/country that speaks another language then I definatly vote Munich. You can get by quite easily there with just English (I managed to in a MUCH smaller town so it will be easy in a big city) but I suggest learning as much as you can. German is a very neat language once you understand the nuances and grammar. Also, Germany is much more financially secure country than England/UK and also MUCH cheaper to live in Germany. I couldnt' belive how expensive everything was in the UK. And this is coming from someone from Vancouver which is known to be one of the most expensive cities in North America.
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:23 AM   #4
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Also, I noticed you said you have been to Germany... but the North. If you think they are friendly there just wait until you visit the South. You will be blown away.
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:14 AM   #5
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Could you get used to driving on the proper side of the road? (the left?)

I didn't even know a place called winnerish existed in the UK, a cursory glance at google maps tells me I wouldn't mind living there.

I think if it meant you had to commute an awful lot you'd hate it though, the UK isn't a brilliant place to be able to commute easily.

It is darn sarf, (how southerners say down south), so you'd get a bit more sun than us northerners. It's still the UK though, expect a lot of rain and grey days.

If it were my choice I'd pick Germany/Munich, and take the opportunity to lean another language, but then I already live in the UK, so it's not very exciting to me.
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Old 04-12-2013, 09:28 AM   #6
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i live about the same distance outside of the city as winniersh, but on the east side of london. and it takes me about 25 minutes to get into the centre by train. so commuting isnt tragic if you need to get into the city. winnersh also seems well placed for driving too, as youre not far from the M4 or the M40 which will pretty much get you anywhere west and north in the country. where will you be commuting to?

London is a great place if you live in the right area. ive been to munich, and really like it, but i wouldnt live there. you would need to be 100% set on learning the language/local customs to do it, and i wouldnt - you need to be able to throw yourself into an overseas move.

plus the MX5 scene in the UK is bigger than Germany ^^. you cant beat a cheeky lap around silverstone or Brands.
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Old 04-12-2013, 10:59 AM   #7
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My choice would be Germany, for sure.

Much better location for traveling around the rest of Europe while you're there.

Also, take this opportunity to learn a little German.
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:03 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by StarletRick View Post
winnersh also seems well placed for driving too, as youre not far from the M4 or the M40 which will pretty much get you anywhere west and north in the country. where will you be commuting to?
I got the impression, based on his American geographic reference, that he would be visiting sites in various countries. Consider that the entirety of the UK is about the size of Oregon.

Traveling from California to NY is like crossing The Continent.

http://www.sarmonster.net/UK.htm
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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+1 for Germany.

I spent 3 weeks traveling all around the country visiting family over there and it was amazing. Cost of living did not seem too bad, the weather was nice, and I could get around all but the smallest towns with just English. I would definitely attempt to learn the language though. Its never bad to be bilingual.
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:29 PM   #10
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I lived 40mins west of Munich for 2 years and didn't sprech a lick of Deutsch when I moved there. I had no trouble traveling about, shopping in places Americans didn't typically shop, eating in places where Americans didn't typically go to eat, etc. Everybody under 50 speaks plenty of English because it has been mandatory in school for that long. The people in southern Germany are generally much friendlier than the ones in northern Germany. They have walking and biking trails EVERYWHERE, and all of the trains, buses, and streetcars are designed to accommodate bikes being brought along.

Every little town has its local breweries. There are a dozen different ones just within the reach of the Munich streetcar system, without even getting on a big train. Since breweries like to sell beer and people like to drink it, the breweries help sponsor fests. Every little town has fests of various sorts throughout the year from early spring until fall. Starkbierfest, Fruelingsfest, Maifest, Oktoberfest, Barenberglfest (had something to do with bears(???)), to name a few. Every six weeks or so they were celebrating something in each of the surrounding towns, so there was always a folk party going on somewhere.

And, frankly, I didn't need a car to get anywhere. And that is a good thing because stumbling a couple of blocks from the S-Bahn stop is safer than driving ( and takes some of the worry out of ordering one more liter of bier).
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:58 PM   #11
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by czubaka View Post
Germany for roads. One road in particular.

Oh, and a lot of Germans know english better than we do. Certainly better than the Brits.
Heh. I'm not really in this for the roads. If I settled in Munich, I might not even buy a car straight away. (I'm guessing that importing my US-spec '90 into any European country would be more cost and hassle than it's worth.)

For me, the language barrier is more of a comfort thing. It would be nice, having just uprooted and moved to a new continent leaving everything and everyone I know behind, to be able to go to a pub in the evening and have something feel at least very slightly familiar. There's a reason, for example, that the Perez family settled in Cuba after fleeing Spain during the period of turmoil which followed the Spanish-American war, and then from Cuba to Puerto Rico during the communist revolution.

My experience in the towns I was working in was that if you tried hard enough and were sufficiently polite and humble about it, it was generally possible to get by with English. And obviously I'd try to learn the native language to as much of an extent as possible. But I think I'd be a lot more comfortable living in a region in which the native tongue is the same as mine, even if it is that bastardized version that folks across the pond refer to as "proper" English.




Quote:
Originally Posted by richyvrlimited View Post
Could you get used to driving on the proper side of the road? (the left?)
It's funny that you say this. I actually sat in the passenger's seat of my car last night and tried working the shifter with my left hand. It felt... odd.


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Originally Posted by richyvrlimited View Post
I think if it meant you had to commute an awful lot you'd hate it though, the UK isn't a brilliant place to be able to commute easily.
Well, by "commute" I actually meant all across Europe, as well as out into western Russia and northern Africa. So mostly by air, and to some extent by rail, but always cross-border.


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Originally Posted by richyvrlimited View Post
If it were my choice I'd pick Germany/Munich, and take the opportunity to lean another language, but then I already live in the UK, so it's not very exciting to me.
Imagine, then, that you were given a choice between Munich and any random suburban town in Australia, Canada or the US. And not for a vacation, but for work.



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Originally Posted by StarletRick View Post
London is a great place if you live in the right area. ive been to munich, and really like it, but i wouldnt live there. you would need to be 100% set on learning the language/local customs to do it, and i wouldnt - you need to be able to throw yourself into an overseas move.

plus the MX5 scene in the UK is bigger than Germany ^^. you cant beat a cheeky lap around silverstone or Brands.
And that's the rub. I have no problem adopting local customs (within a day of my first trip over, I found myself intuitively keeping the fork in the left hand, rather than swapping over as is done in north America) but I have never had an ear for languages. And to be brutally honest, my hearing isn't all that great- I suffer from tinnitus and sometimes have trouble even keeping up with conversations in English at a noisy restaurant or pub.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrappy Jack View Post
Traveling from California to NY is like crossing The Continent.

United States UK size comparison
That map is a riot. And I never realized that not only is the UK about the same size as CA, it's damn near exactly the same shape as well. (Try it- the whole UK conforms almost exactly to the outline of California, with Northern Ireland and a bit of the southwest sticking out rather unpleasantly.)



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan_G View Post
+1 for Germany.

I spent 3 weeks traveling all around the country visiting family over there and it was amazing. Cost of living did not seem too bad, the weather was nice, and I could get around all but the smallest towns with just English. I would definitely attempt to learn the language though. Its never bad to be bilingual.


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Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
My choice would be Germany, for sure.

Much better location for traveling around the rest of Europe while you're there.
To be clear, I'm not planning a backpacking trip or a "find myself" vacation. I'm talking about relocating for work, long-term.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Efini~FC3S View Post
Also, take this opportunity to learn a little German.
I met a little German the last time I was in Papenburg. She was a cheerful thing, and alas I didn't get her phone number.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:53 PM   #13
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I can't really say what you should do - because I am biased... ;-)
(Though I lived in Nottingham for a few months and did really like it...)

Munich is one of the most expensive places in Germany but I think no match with the U.K. price-wise. It's a very nice area and I think a great place to live.
For how long do you plan to live in one of those places?
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:56 PM   #14
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mgeoffriau and czubaka, sorry for deleting your posts, but I really do want this to be a serious thread.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan_G View Post
(...)Cost of living did not seem too bad,(...)
See, that's interesting.

From the time I spend there, it was my perception that the cost of everything seemed to be rather high. Walk into any store, and the number printed on the price tag was the same as what I'd expect in the US, but with a € instead of a $ beside it.

From the very limited research I've done, I've also heard that Munich in particular is not an inexpensive place to live.





Quote:
Originally Posted by sixshooter View Post
I lived 40mins west of Munich for 2 years
Perhaps you could share with me some of your experiences with the more mundane, tactical aspects of your situation, dealing with daily life in Germany as a US citizen. Eg:

1: Finding a place to live.
2: Opening a bank account.
3: Obtaining a driving license and auto insurance.
4: Taxation.
5: Healthcare / dental care (if you needed to experience this)
6: Etc.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:58 PM   #15
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Even given all your answers there above, I still vote Germany. The language thing really won't be much of an issue after a few months, you can quite easily find American pubs all over Munich (hell, there was one in my town of 10,000). Secondly, if you'll be travelling all over Europe, Munich is a much better central location. Taking the train out of England sucks, as you have to take the tunnel every time an then transfer in Paris/Lille etc. Chances are you would likely fly more if you were in England and I would guess on flights like RyanAir/Easy Jet which isn't the funnest thing I've ever done. Germany has one of the best train systems in Europe which extends into many surrounding countries (IE; a high speed German ICE train can travel into France/Italy/Poland etc.). I personally love trains.

I know you say you're going there for work, long term but you will still be "living" there. In that case Munich every time. I really enjoyed London/UK but fi I were to go back on a semi permanent basis I would likely go to Berlin or Munich.
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:00 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Zaphod View Post
I can't really say what you should do - because I am biased... ;-)
(Though I lived in Nottingham for a few months and did really like it...)

Munich is one of the most expensive places in Germany but I think no match with the U.K. price-wise. It's a very nice area and I think a great place to live.
I'm not quite sure how to interpret this. You are saying that Munich is expensive, but that the UK, in general, is even more expensive?


As a matter of perspective: I'm fine with paying $1,600 a month for a 1 bedroom apartment with a garage here in southern California. I would not enjoy paying €1,600 a month for a tiny flat in Munich


Quote:
For how long do you plan to live in one of those places?
Initially, it would be for around three years. And if it turns out that I happen to rather enjoy it, then I might start asking questions about the requirements for citizenship (for real.)
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:02 PM   #17
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mgeoffriau and czubaka, sorry for deleting your posts, but I really do want this to be a serious thread.
Based on this, I think you'd fit in in Germany better.
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
I'm not quite sure how to interpret this. You are saying that Munich is expensive, but that the UK, in general, is even more expensive?
I think this is the correct answer...
Cost of living really depend on your expectations. How much luxury do you want.
In our are for 1.600€ you can rent a huge house, in Munich itshould e at least a huge flat.

Personally I think you would fit to Germany rather well, you are open minded, interested...
Together with the central location in Europe I think Germany would be fine for you...

P.S. And there are cheap Mx-5 to be had here too. :-)
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
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To be clear, I'm not planning a backpacking trip or a "find myself" vacation. I'm talking about relocating for work, long-term.
I understand this, but you being a cultured man (as far as I can tell), will probably take this opportunity to do some traveling through Europe whilst you're there. I'm sure Germany will be more convenient in that regard, not that England would be so bad either.

My wife worked in Belgium for a summer, it's central location allowed her to travel all over Europe just over normal weekends. All she had to do was hop on a train and in a few hours she was in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, etc. etc.

I've known a few people who have lived and worked in England, and my impression was that it was generally miserable.

My family is German though, maybe I'm biased...


PS - I would love to spend a few years in Europe working
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Old 04-12-2013, 07:38 PM   #20
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I can't get the UK to drag on Chrome or IE, so I can't see what you are seeing, Joe. But it's about half the size of California by land mass.

Most people have no idea just how huge the USA really is.


I vote Germany because of logistics but UK because of introversion and comfort level.
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