So you got your orders and told your friends and family you are going to the old world… Germany to be exact. Your loved ones will be sure to give you lots of tips and tricks and before you know it you will be packing suitcases full of toilet paper, just because Auntie May told you …Germany has no toilet paper!!!
Well I hate to burst Auntie May’s bubble, and I’m sure many of the long time American transplant would have lots of stories like that to share, but Germany has toilet paper !!
So what should you bring?
These things should be at the top of your list:
- Passports (Military Passports are no good for personal travel)
- International Drivers license
- Pets Vaccination Passport and papers
Let’s do a stroll though your house, and again this is really up to you… but here are some suggestions.
Now this is a good time to decide if you plan on living on post or off post. Germany uses a different voltage then back in the states. All of our outlets will be 220 volt and if you plug in anything 100 volt with just an adapter it will blow. The houses on base have both 110 and 220 volt outlets, but German houses off base will not and you will need a transformer! So be sure to consider that when packing all your TV and stereo equipment. Most off post houses have big family rooms, but the apartments or on post condos are not so big another thing to consider when it comes to packing.
Time to check on your appliances; again remember the voltage. Ovens are much smaller here in Germany so you can leave the XXL cookie sheets back home. Also remember Germany is a recycling country, that means if you live off post you are likely to have several smaller trash bins that get emptied once every 2 weeks. You can read up on recycling in Germany here: http://www.living-in-germany.net/?page_id=135
Don’t forget to check your blow-dryers, a lot of them are dual voltage and will work in Germany too. You should find that on your Blow-dryer or the box. Another thing to know in advance, Germany has very hard water in some of its regions since the water does not get treated. So if your skin is sensitive be prepared with some soothing lotions.
If you plan on living off post, here is an important heads up! Most of the German houses (99%) do not have walk in or in the wall closets. You will either have to get some or have some brought to you by the housing office.
Now for the clothes:
Germany is a country that has all 4 seasons, that means depending on where you live you may get up to a couple of feet of snow in the winter and the summer can get hot and humid. The spring is usually cool at the beginning and tends to get nice and ward towards April and May. Expect rain and hail, even snow all the way past Easter. The fall normally arrives towards the early October and creeps in quickly throughout November with trees changing their leaves and fog coming in early in the mornings. The fall here is similar to the Indian summer on the east coast. We do get some stormy times in both spring and fall where warnings are issued for falling trees.
So pack it all! If you come from a warm climate it’s time to invest in some good winter jackets and boots! You may also want to have some fans handy because most of the German houses do not have air conditioning.
Now here are some things you need to consider and may want to bu6y in advance to have extra:
There are the BX and PX on the installations that will carry the most common items, but many times it’s not what you want or are looking for.
So if you go out to the economy, German stores will not have:
- American Bedding. German beds are different sizes and we use different pillows and blankets
- DVDs, Blue rays etc. German DVD and all that have their own region codes and will not play on an American player
- Books, Magazines etc. All of that is in German
- Toiletries and Make up, a lot of the brands in the US may not be available here
- Stock up on your preferred over the counter meds.. the BX may not carry them all the time
- Look into getting a VPN servive or a sling box – more info here: http://www.living-in-germany.net/?p=1001
- Specialty food items, like that local Mexican spice blend, or that BBQ sauce that is made right here in your home state
- American typical school supplies (stock up on them if you arrive here close to school start)
- American size paper / photo paper European standard sizes are different
You are no longer allowed to ship medicine from the US so be sure to have plenty in advance, just to cover the time it may take for you to get it through your local pharmacy.
Be aware that while we do carry most everything in German stores, things are usually a bit more pricy. One thing you should really take a look at and be sure to acquire is Vat forms, before you go out and shop for anything big.
All the other stuff should be a given and depend on personal choice really. If you plan on doing a lot of crafting, be sure to bring it all and see if your favorite store will ship to APO. If you’re a car guy… this may be the perfect opportunity to get into an old European car project, just be prepared, again stuff is much more pricy when it comes to parts and tools.
If you have the possibility to store items back home, leave treasured breakables and or valuable antiques. Even though the movers try their best to get your stuff to its destination, Great Grandmas China may be safest stored away in a bin at your Moms in Kansas.
The things that I was told by the Ladies here in Germany, was that they all wished they had brought lots more crafting ,scrapbooking and other art supplies.
Now be sure to remember your pets!
Germany has some strict rules on dogs that are allowed to be brought into the country check them out here:
Now if you come to live in Germany without any of the logistic support you may get from the military/government you will have to pack more since you won’t be able to shop on base.
- · Most band clothes will be more expensive in Germany so plan ahead.
- · German stores may not carry your favorite soda or snacks like peanut butter etc.
- · A lot of the American items in the German stores taste different, less sweet or not as spicy
- · German clothes and shoe sizes differ
Now get packing and have a safe trip!!