Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Planning for retirement as an expat in Germany

26 Jan 2021, 23:33 GMT+10

Germany is a good place to retire for foreigners who have worked in the country for a while. It is also one of the world's 5 super-aged societies where 20% or more of the population is aged 65 and older. The UN says that population aging will become a significant social transformation of this century. Of more immediate import are costs and other factors relevant to migrant would-be retirees. Here is a look.


Germany offers reasonable living costs for expats compared to several other EU countries. As in other countries, monthly per-person living expenses in Germany vary widely with the city. Berlin and Siegen are among the larger, yet affordable cities. Monthly expenses here range from EUR 1, 000-1,500. This is less than half of what one would spend to live in a place like New York or London. Frankfurt and Cologne cost nearly 50% more than Berlin.


Large migrant communities live and work in Germany. For most of them the priority is to send home remittances via the Ria Money Transfer App and similar channels. Half the German population and the vast majority of migrants live in rental apartments. It is cheaper than buying a property. In an affordable city like Berlin the average monthly rent for a 120 sqm apartment is EUR 839. The same in Munich or Frankfurt would cost EUR 1,094.

Those who prefer to own a home should prepare to spend EUR 350,000 for a 100 sqm in a city like Berlin, or 450,000 in Frankfurt. Buying property can be extra cumbersome for expats. It would require a mortgage from a German bank. The bank will need assurance of your intent to stay in the country for a long time. This will be followed by the usual costs including down payment, property tax, notary fees, registration fees, possibly agent fees, and so on.

Quality of life

A study compared the quality of life for seniors around the world and ranked Germany 5 out of 96 countries. Policies and infrastructure in Germany are designed to make life easier for a fast-growing age range. Age-appropriate rebuilding programs will benefit seniors. It is becoming easier to find housing with accessibility features. Smart home solutions include features that allow for the remote operation of doors and windows. Seniors will be able to live on their own comfort. It would delay or avoid the need to move to care homes. E-health laws are aimed at encouraging the use of information technology and tele-health applications by health service providers. Home-based care reforms will improve care for the elderly.

Germany has made it a priority to strengthen municipalities and enable them create environments that foster independent living. The German government has adopted legislation to improve transportation accessibility for older people. It is a long-term goal to reduce transport barriers, such as the gap between vehicle entrances and the ground. Seniors using wheelchairs and walking sticks will be able to get on and off with ease.

Renewable energy usage in Germany is up to 34%. It helps cut air pollution. Germany is a leader in progressive policies to counter climate change. It also leads to renewable energy technology and usage. Compared to the EU and the world, Germany plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55%. Seniors (and everyone else) in Germany will breathe easier.

Services for seniors

One of the services specifically aimed at the elderly is the emergency calls system for immediate medical assistance. It is meant to give seniors living alone a sense of security. Seniors in need of counseling have access to it. Other services include insurance and self-care groups. Such services are offered by non-profit organizations, and paid for with public funds within the framework of the Federal Social Assistance Act.

Social security and pension benefits

Expats can have their pensions transferred from their home countries to Germany. These funds might be taxed. The tax depends on whether the home country has a social security agreement with Germany. The US and many countries in the EU have these agreements in place. Germany has an elaborate social security system. To gain access expats must fulfill certain conditions or contribute to the relevant schemes periodically.

Staying healthy, busy, and happy

The federal ministry of health and federal health agencies have created a number of activities to prevent disease and addiction in seniors. There are also regional and locally oriented initiatives aimed at improving the health of seniors. One factor which correlates with high satisfaction in seniors is volunteering. It is an excellent productive way to keep busy. In 2013 the government initiated programs to help seniors learn basic skills for technology use. These skills are taught by adept senior volunteers. Through multigenerational housing, the government is working on strengthening social cohesions between seniors and younger people.

About the author:

Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he's not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.

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