Being An Expat in Munich: How to Thrive, Not Just Survive

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I’m what you could call a serial ex-pat. My ex-pat journey has taken me to South Korea, Thailand – twice in two different cities, Maryland, U.S. and now to Germany, where I’ve lived since!

I’ve moved for different reasons – adventure, job opportunities and to Germany for love.  My journey as an expat in Germany started in Stuttgart, where I lived for a year before moving to Munich.

In fact, right from my very first day in Munich, I thrived, even meeting a friend on my very first day in the city!

Here are my tips for thriving as an expat in Munich:

Find Your Peeps

For me having friends and a strong network is crucial to my happiness.  It isn’t enough to just rely on just your partner.  Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to meet like-minded people in Munich with so many international groups:  Meetup, Internations, Professional Women’s Network (PWN), Toytown and Expat in the City, Munich’s first expat fair taking place on March 22nd – more on that below!

These groups offer something for everyone from book clubs to badminton to weekly bike rides to the chance to meet other professionals!  I’ve found it more effective and enjoyable to join the smaller special interest groups where you are more likely to meet people you connect with as you have a common interest versus the larger general events, but that’s just my personal preference.  And how did I meet a friend on my first day in Munich?  She’s a German journalist that I met at a book club!  We bonded over our hatred of the book, and 3 1/2 years later we’re still friends!

Have A Reason To Wake Up every day

I cannot stress how important this is.  I’ve seen a lot of miserable expats over the years, and often it’s because they don’t have a purpose.  It’s easier if you came to Munich for a job or to study – at least that gives you something to do five days a week. But it’s not so easy if you moved here because of a spouse or significant other.  As much as you might love them, they can’t be your sole purpose for existing.

I understand that finding a job is not easy, especially if you’re not fluent in German or are only going to be here for a couple of years, but there are so many options!  The one that worked for me was becoming an entrepreneur.

Instead of searching for a new job, I started my own company.

Chances are you have applicable skills that you could use to start your own business as well! I used to work in the education sector, not the travel industry, but had a lot of applicable business skills.   And given technology, your clients could be located in your home country, so that you don’t need to worry if your German isn’t quite up to par yet! That’s not to say that you shouldn’t learn German, you totally should!

Or perhaps you don’t need to work.  It doesn’t matter, you still need to have a reason to get up every morning.

You could even do a bit of volunteering, I love walking dogs at the Animal Shelter in Munich, and they really need volunteers during the week.  It could be training for a half marathon, or learning German in fun ways, or learning how to cook Bavarian food, writing that book you’ve always wanted to write, learning how to paint, or finding the very best Weisswurst in the entire city – seriously how fun would that be and what a conversation starter!  There are so many online classes you can take in English if German is an issue.

Udemy, which has thousands of classes on almost every topic imaginable, or you could take an open-sourced class from a prestigious university – for free!  There are also classes you can take in Munich that don’t require you to speak more than a little German.  I learned the words inhale and exhale from taking a yoga class in German and have done Zumba classes in German as well! My point is, if you want to thrive, you need to have a purpose, something that gets you excited about your life! For me, besides, my work, I love to hike and can be found in the mountains almost every weekend!

Figure Out Life in Munich

It can be frustrating to figure out how to set up a bank account, or which insurance you need, and so on.  That’s why I highly recommend attending Expat in the City, Munich’s first expat fair taking place on March 22nd.  Besides learning how to set up a bank account, you can talk with different language schools to figure out which one is best for you, there’s advice for parents, information on international schools and different clubs you can join.

There are also informative presentations, I’ll be speaking on How To Thrive, Not Just Survive As an Expat in Munich.  There’s a talk on the mortgage process and how to find a job. And there are also interactive workshops like the Salsa and Zumba workshops! It’s basically everything you need to know about being an expat in Munich!  And get this, it’s absolutely free!   I really hope to see you there, I think it’s going to be a really fun and informative event.

Follow these tips and you’ll thrive as an expat in Munich.

Note: This post was made possible by Expat in the City.  As always, all opinions expressed are my own and I’m really looking forward to the event!