November 2015 was the first time I started planning my move to Germany. In fact, I had put forward the exact month and year that I’ve be moving – March 2017. I remember at that time, two years just seemed so far away, but life has a habit of just moving along, then next thing you know it’s March 2017 and I’ve just bought my flights to Berlin and waiting on my German work visa.
From November 2015 to February 2017, I barely did any planning. The only thing I did was send an email to the German consulate in Canada (where I was residing at the time) in August 2016 at the possibility of obtaining my German visa at the Consultate based in Toronto. Nothing more was done after that.
It wasn’t until late February 2017 that thing slowly started to pick up. I sent an email to the German consultate in Ireland (where I was residing at the time) to check if I can apply at their Consulate and got my confirmation. I was contemplating on applying after arrival and figured that it would be much more difficult doing so.
I started researching options to find a place and there were many. I realized, at least from one reply, that the real estate agents usually would prefer to arrange viewings on the week of arrival, so they told me to get in touch with them again later on in the date.
During that time, I was spending more and more time at moving-to-Berlin type of blogs and making a lot of notes along the way. Everything from the kinds of visas that I can apply for, to the whole registration process, and so on. Much of what I have done during this time has been process-oriented focusing on administrative details and practical stuff to do. I don’t have the time or energy to go around Pinteresting Berlin inspiration photos or read through things to do in Berlin for the weekend.
Early March 2017 I arranged my appointment with the Consulate, did some more apartment research. I was very keen to find an apartment before arrival since I was aware of how much things I will be bringing with me, that I’ll still be working full-time, that I have an online course that I need to finish and that I will have some issues with the whole not-speaking-German thing.
I also arranged my residence appointment at the Bürgeramt for March 30 – the day before my contract started. Though at the time, I was missing one important document that I can only obtain after moving in.
Mid March 2017, I have found my apartment and arranged to have the paperwork, contract and security deposit sent through. I also booked my flights.
I missed my earlir Consulate appointment, and ended up having to reschedule. I was two weeks behind schedule of getting my German visa.
I also finished organizing through the logistics of my move from the Berlin airport, to the airport hotel and from the airport hotel to my new apartment. For example, what transport options are available to me? How many minutes if the taxi ride from the airport to my apartment in case I don’t feel like using public transport? That sort of stuff.
I was also making notes of what I need to do at the Finanzamt. The plan is that on the same day as my residence registration, I was going to go to the finance office and try to get my tax ID on the same day (didn’t work out) and talk to them about setting up my freelance number (didn’t work out..again…language barriers).. I wrote down what public transport options to take, how long is the car drive in case I need to use a taxi, what paperwork to fill in and so on.
Again, it was all administrative stuff.
Late March 2017 I try to open a bank account. Unfortunately, didn’t work out with the whole identification thing. Plus, the customer service was not good so for me, it was a red flag not to use them!
I also get my signed contract from the landlord.
March 27 2017 I get my German work visa – just a mere one day from flying out to Berlin and picking up the keys to my apartment! This was all completely stress inducing. The reason why it was this close was because I missed my earlier appointment with the Consulate and had to reschedule.