Hallo there [FIRST NAME GOES HERE] -
Did you know that I first moved to Berlin in 2011, stayed for 18 months, and then moved back to Canada? I returned for varying reasons, but among them was losing my main source of income when a company I was freelancing for decided they no longer needed me. Back then, it was much harder to find a job in Berlin as an English speaking person from outside the EU, so I left to regroup and plan my move back to Berlin.
I remained in Canada for two years and spent the time learning German, networking with my Berlin based contacts, and even taking job coaching services from a Berlin based company. There was no way that I was going to move back without a job. Luckily, I landed a gig with a small start-up who helped me with my visa and relocation.
I was so happy to be back in Berlin! But this is when life got crazy.
After six months, the company I worked for was experiencing financial issues and stopped paying our salary on time. I immediately started looking for a new job and found one within a month or two. I started at the second company and less than three months in, they decided to lay off a big portion of the Berlin team, myself included. I found a job at a third company, where I managed to last around 18 months. But then guess what happened? More downsizing, with several rounds of layoffs, one round which eventually impacted me.
I'd been back in Berlin for just over two years and worked at three different companies. The stress of dealing with new visas, applying for jobs, and dealing with tight finances was taking its toll. I just wanted to settle somewhere, do well at my job, and be able to make a positive difference and contribution at my workplace.
My next job thankfully lasted 3.5 years but in the end, their business was hit hard by corona, and all of the staff were put on reduced salaries and hours. Again, I found a new job, where I've now been a year and half - today's my 18 month anniversary there actually! Read more of my story.
So why am I telling you this today? Moving to Berlin (or anywhere else in Germany) right now, should be a decision that's made very carefully and thoughtfully.
Just last week, five Berlin based companies laid off large numbers of their staff - including Gorillas, Klarna, Kontist, Getir, and Easyjet. The layoffs are triggered by inflation, economic worries, lingering pandemic effects, and the war in Ukraine. More layoffs are expected, as well as hiring freezes.
While this is happening, prices for everything are rising dramatically, especially food and energy costs. It's expected that German households will receive massively high utility bills at the end of the year. While the government has done things to help, like a fuel tax cut, a €9 monthly public transit ticket to last for 3 months, and a planned one-time payment of €300, people are definitely feeling a financial pinch right now and for the foreseeable future.
This situation makes moving to the country way more risky. While it shouldn't discourage you from moving to Germany - there are still plenty of job opportunities available - you definitely should think things through and have plans in place in case something goes wrong.
One thing you can do is to deeply research any companies to which you're applying and may receive a job offer from. We even have a pretty detailed guide about how to go about doing thorough company research.
See what you can find out about their financial health, look at industry news (are they laying people off), how long they've been around, how they treat their staff (especially those coming from abroad), and more. Be wary of companies that aren't offering visa and relocation assistant, have laid people off recently, are in an industry that's currently in turmoil (like on-demand grocery delivery) and more. Don't be afraid to ask questions during the interview about how they plan to remain resilient during this uncertain time and if they are capable of offsetting inflation with regular wage increases to all of their employees.
Make sure you negotiate a decent salary that will allow you to live comfortably once you arrive in Germany. Check out our guide on how much it will cost you to move to Germany or this guide about the cost of living in Berlin. Also read our guide about why knowing salary ranges for your job is important and how it will help you get the salary you deserve.
Another smart thing to do is have some sort of financial back-up in case you get laid off - be it savings, a line of credit, or guaranteed help from your family. This will help get you through the time it takes to find a new job or in the worst case scenario, move back home. Unfortunately, you won't be eligible to receive state help like unemployment benefits until you've worked here for at least 12 months in the past 30 months and contributed to social security programs.
Luckily, German firms usually have to pay out decent severance. Say for example your contract requires a 60 day notice period, if the company lays you off and you're past your probation period, they will have to pay you for 2 months, including your health insurance. This provides you with extra time to look for and hopefully find your next job.
If you want to talk more about this topic, why not start a discussion in our Facebook group?
💖 Until next time,
Founder - The Berlin Life