For every one that doesn’t already know, James’ company lost a big project and is ending his contract early. So his one year assignment in Germany turned into about 6 months. He recently had his last day of work and we are currently traveling southern Spain to use up his vacation time before we head back. He recently put a list together of the differences he’s experienced living in Colorado vs Germany and posted it to facebook. I am re-posting them on the blog and added a few of my own:
How life in Germany is better for most people than in the US:
- Medical insurance — you have a card that any provider anywhere scans, immediately has all of your information, and everything is covered, period (Kirsten and I are still fighting with two different US insurance companies who don’t want to pay two claims from the last 18 months in the US that should be covered). No in-network vs out-of-network, no co-pays, no deductibles…your medical care is just covered.
- Child care is subsidized — what you pay is dependent on income and winds up being much cheaper than the US (a colleague was complaining that their 300euro/mo daycare was SO expensive)
- “Parents’ time” — paid up to three years after a birth, not equal to your full salary but enough to live on (they think it’s crazy some women have no choice but to go back to work after 12 weeks)
- Laws protecting renters — laws limit rent increases and it’s very difficult for a landlord to end a lease a renter wants to maintain (so renters know they can provide a stable home for their family and be in a place for as many years as they’d like)
- University is almost free — amounts to a couple hundred euros per semester
- 6 weeks vacation per year
- Overtime worked must be banked for future time off or paid — even for professionals
- Almost all stores are closed on Sundays allowing even those people who work hourly jobs a consistent day off
- Things are designed with kids in mind. Whether it’s a playground every few blocks or so, or just a random piece of play equipment, there seems to be stuff for kids around every corner. Even a lot of restaurants have play areas (not just McDonalds!).
***When you consider all those listed above, I think they add up to a much more stable, worry-free life*** Some others:
- No guns, no violence, little theft — I would probably be on my fifth bike in Denver if I used the bike “lock” i use here, and while in Germany we were 8x less likely to be killed by firearms
- Areas without speed limits — drivers are much more disciplined about staying in the right lane unless actively passing
- Wagons! They have as much room as cross-overs but better handling and efficiency!
- Far less helicopter parenting. You don’t see parents hovering over their children at the playground, I’ve seen mothers leave their very young children in the car while they ran in to get their dry cleaning, and young children ride the train by themselves. It’s very refreshing.
Ways in which life in Colorado is better than Germany:
- Better climate. 300 days of sunshine anyone?
- Less population density — Germany has 80M people living in half the area of TX, yet the biggest city is half the size of Houston, so typical middle class family lives in a flat (life is just better with your own back yard, laundry room, and garage)
- More open space — CO specifically
- Nearly free university means many students delay starting careers until much later, delaying the start of earnings and reducing the number of working years
- Lower taxes — German tax rate is approx 40%, which results in less disposable income
- Better beer — may have been different before the US craft brewing renaissance, but this is no longer the case
- Stores are closed on Sundays. This is both a positive and a negative. You really need to plan ahead to make sure you’re not going to run out of the essentials like diapers or milk on a Sunday.
- People are friendlier in the US. They smile or say “hello”. Germans can be quite serious. I don’t think they mean to unfriendly, they just don’t come across as very helpful or nice at first.
- Probably due to our love of consumerism, I can find an amazing variety (particularly at grocery stores) of really anything I want. A million brands of everything, organic, non-gmo, etc… Maybe I don’t know how to shop properly in Germany, but it seems like I have to go to several different stores just to get the basics. Luckily they still have Amazon Prime in case I really can’t find it 🙂