If you’re looking for the best country to live in, you can’t go wrong with either Germany or the United States. The two countries were ranked #2 and #4 respectively in U.S. News & World Report‘s most recent “Best Countries in the World” list.

Given the two countries’ friendly relations—plus the significant US military presence in Germany—it’s fairly easy to move between these two countries and to get your household goods cleared for entry.

That said, there are a few items you still need to know to ensure a simple and easy move between the US and Germany. We’ll walk you through them below.

#1: You’ll Need to Navigate the Visa System with Care

If you plan on establishing a long-term residence in either Germany or the US, you’ll need to secure the right visa to match your circumstances.

Note: U.S. citizens can enter Germany without a visa and then apply for their residence permit after arrival. However, if you plan on working as soon as you arrive in Germany, the German Federal Foreign Office recommends you obtain your work visa before coming to Germany.

#2: You’ll Need to Register Your Address in Germany

Once you arrive in Germany, you’ll need to register with the local Bürgeramt (citizens’ office) within two weeks of your arrival. (Note that you’ll also need to de-register yourself if you move back to the US.) Once you’ve officially registered, you’ll receive an Anmeldebestätigung (registration certificate). You’ll need this certificate to apply for a residence permit, open a bank account, etc.

You also won’t be able to receive your household goods shipment until you’ve received your Anmeldebestätigung, so it’s important you take care of this as soon as you can.

If you’re moving from Germany to the US, the process is much less formal. Those moving to the US who aren’t citizens need to keep U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services apprised of their address.

However, beyond that, there isn’t much else you need to do. If you move within the US, you’ll want to notify the Postal Service so you can forward your mail to your new address. Additionally, you’ll want to keep your address current on any forms you submit to the government (such as your taxes), as well as official documents like your driver’s license.

#3: Household Goods Imports Are Relatively Simple—and Similar

For those making permanent moves, both the US and Germany offer pathways for duty-free import of household goods. Although there’s a little paperwork involved—and a few requirements, such as registering with the Bürgeramt upon arrival in Germany—the process for entry to both countries is pretty simple and straightforward, especially when you’re using an experienced international moving company.

Your moving company can assist with walking you through the import procedures—and preparing any necessary paperwork.

#4: Don’t Cut Corners on Packing Services

If you’re paying for your Germany–US move yourself—or you’re on a budget—you might be looking for ways to save money.

If so, you might consider packing yourself. However, that’s not something we recommend—no matter whether you’re moving to Germany or the US. Here’s why:

#5: German Health Insurance Requirements May Surprise US Residents (and Vice Versa)

In 2019, the US repealed the federal tax penalty for residents without health insurance. While there are a few US states that do require health insurance, it’s not required nationwide.

In contrast, all German residents are required to have health insurance. 88% of German residents receive coverage through SHI (statutory health insurance—a series of non-profit, nongovernmental health insurance plans, also known as “sickness funds”). 11% purchase private insurance. You’ll need to show proof of this coverage when applying for your visa.

The contrast in health insurance policies—and the medical systems found in each country as a result—may take some getting used to for those making the transition. Make sure you get yourself up to speed on the requirements and options before making your move. That way, if you or a member of your family needs treatment, you’ll be able to take immediate action.

#6: Expect a Lower Cost of Living in Germany

If you’re moving from a US city to Germany, you’re likely to see a significant reduction in your cost of living. In the below data from Numbeo.com, you’ll see that consumer prices, including rent, are lower across the board when comparing three major US cities to four German cities.

Consumer Prices in New York, NY
(Including Rent)

higher than Frankfurt

higher than |

higher than Hamburg

higher than Munich

(Source: Numbeo.com)

Consumer Prices in Los Angeles, CA
(Including Rent)

higher than Frankfurt

higher than |

higher than Hamburg

higher than Munich

(Source: Numbeo.com)

Consumer Prices in Chicago, IL
(Including Rent)

higher than Frankfurt

higher than |

higher than Hamburg

higher than Munich

(Source: Numbeo.com)

If you’re headed to Germany, this could be good news. If you’re headed the other way, you might encounter some sticker shock, especially where rent is concerned. However, if you’re not dead set on moving to a major metropolitan area in the US, you may find refuge in a lower cost of living area.

#7: You Can Save on College in Germany, Too

per student annually

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of out-of-state college tuition in the United States averages $27,091. In-state college tuition averages $9,678. For many families, that’s a heavy lift.

In Germany, that number is $0, if you choose one of Germany’s public universities, which are all tuition-free. Students pay a few small administrative fees, but none of the fees remotely approach the cost for tuition in the US.


If you’re considering a move to Germany with your children, choosing a public college in Germany can be a smart financial move. Of course, that choice won’t be right for every family. However, it can be a nice option to have, should you need it.

#8: You’ll Have Plenty of Nearby Places to Visit in Both Countries


When you’re living in the US, you’ll have the opportunity to visit many of the diverse states that make up the country. Texas, for example, is very different from Oregon, which is very different from Wisconsin, Maine, Florida, and Ohio. Living in the US means that you can explore all of the contiguous 48 states—and the diverse regions within them—with ease. (Plus, Hawaii and Alaska are just a flight away!)


There are no border crossings to deal with and no special paperwork. If you like to drive, you can put together your own road trip to see the sights. Or, hop a plane and zip from coast to coast in just a few hours. In other words, living in the US means plenty of time to explore all the pockets of this fascinating country.

Of course, you’ll have similarly interesting travel opportunities when living in Germany. The country’s sixteen states will give you a good starting point. You’ll also have the rest of Europe right at your doorstep. France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland are all within easy reach. The rest of Europe is also an easy flight away, opening the door to even more travel opportunities. While you’re living in Germany, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the country—and its surrounding neighbors.

#9: Timeliness Is a Thing

Perhaps you’ve heard the stereotype that all Germans are punctual. While no stereotype is 100% true, being pünktlich (punctual) is a cultural value held by many Germans. In fact, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel once cancelled a meeting with Vladimir Putin because he was late.

In the US, you’ll find a variety of attitudes toward timeliness. Some hold it in high regard, while others think of it as a loose guideline.

As you move between these two countries, you may have to adjust your expectations. If you’re moving to Germany, know that you’ll largely be expected to be on time and that lateness can be considered extremely rude. If you’re moving to the US, know that some residents’ concept of time is flexible, and try not to take any lateness personally.

Timeliness (or lack thereof) is just one of the many cultural differences you’ll encounter between the two countries. If you can approach these differences with curiosity and interest, they can become one of the pleasures of living abroad.

Smooth and Simple German–U.S. Moves

By and large—and when you’re in the hands of an experienced international moving company—the logistics of your move to Germany can be rather straightforward. However, some of the cultural and administrative differences require some careful consideration in order to make your relocation as smooth as possible. This list will give you a head start, so you’ll know a bit more about what to expect once you make the move.


Need a hand with your Germany–US move? Our international experts have decades of experience in making overseas moves safe, easy, and stress-free. Just reach out for a complimentary quote to get started.

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