Do you know that I’ve been living in Germany since 2017? I grew up in India but moved to Germany at the start of my 30s. I got to experience life in India and now I’m experiencing what it is like to live in Germany.
I am a part of a few forums online where those living in India often ask how different it is to live in Germany versus India, and so I decided to write this post based on my experience, after all, I have lived in both countries.
Water and Air Quality
This is the most obvious one. Now don’t get me wrong, the air and water quality in India is not bad everywhere, but it is horrible in some cities like Agra, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgram, Noida, Patna, etc.
Pollution is especially bad in the autumn months, not because of the Diwali fireworks but because of Paddy straw burning in Punjab and Haryana.
In comparison, the air and water quality in Germany is very good. No, Germany doesn’t rank in the top 10 countries for cleanest air but it is definitely cleaner than India.
Shopping on Sundays in India vs Germany
Everything is closed on Sundays in Germany, even the supermarkets. So if you didn’t buy your important items on Saturday already, then you’re in a fix. Sometimes when Saturday or the Monday after is also a national holiday the supermarkets are closed for two days straight.
In comparison, in India, one can go shopping on a Sunday because everything is open. Many shops are still open on Diwali, which is the biggest festival of the Indian subcontinent.
Germany has one of the best work-life balance that I have ever seen. The paid time off from work in India is typically 15 days and not everyone has a 5-day week.
The paid time off in Germany is 20 days for those who work for 5 days a week and 24 days for those working 6 days a week. I often meet people in Germany who work for just 4 days a week and this isn’t something I ever saw in India.
So yes, the work-life balance in Germany is much better than the one in India and the research revealed that Germany is one of the top places to live for young professionals.
The job security in Germany is much higher than in India. Overall I think it also comes to the culture. Indians work much harder than Germans because we have a lot of competition due to the high population.
In India, if you don’t do your job then another person can replace you and the employer will just compensate you for just a month. In Germany, if a person loses their job, their employer has to pay for 6-12 months and then the employment office pays a salary.
Ever heard of good customer service in Germany? I’m sure not because it doesn’t exist. I think it has a lot to do with the culture and job security but it appears that a lot of employees actually don’t care.
I had my first shock of German customer service when I had a simple request from a staff member and he shrugged and said “What can I do”. I got the same reply from many other customer-facing people in different places over the next month and it kind of became a joke between me and my husband.
In comparison, if you go anywhere in India and ask for help, people will usually go out of their way to help you. Even if it isn’t a part of their job, they will at least guide you and help you in some way.
Shortage of Doctors
Germany has a massive shortage of doctors, which came as a shock to me since that’s not the case in India. For example, my town has just one doctor who’s an ENT specialist, three child doctors and I’m not just a handful of family physicians. I did mention this in my post about life in Germany that it isn’t easy getting an appointment with a doctor.
I realized that many doctors all over the world are Indians. I never felt there was a shortage of doctors when I was living in Delhi and it was always easy to get an appointment on the same day.
As a person who lives in Germany and often travels to India, let me share my honest openion. You will get a shock, but when I visit India from Germany, I feel like I can do just about everything using technology.
You can do everything on apps because there is an app-based service for almost everything in India. Not just taxi or food, but you can use apps for beauty salons, plumbers and what not. I’m talking about apps like Zomato, BlinkIt, Big Basket, Urban Company, Ola – they make life much easier.
In India, you don’t even need to carry cash anymore because you can just pay within seconds using digital wallets like PayTM. Even the roadside vendors selling street food or random things on carts have smartphones and they accept online payments.
In comparison, Germany has the infrastructure – perhaps even better than India but it is the people’s acceptance or the lack of it. Shockingly in many restaurants or bars, you can’t even pay using cards, let alone digital wallets.
As of the last few years, you can do a lot of paperwork digitally in India without having to visit government offices. This isn’t the case in Germany with most things because I end up visiting their City Hall – Rathaus very often for work.
Culture in Germany vs India
Germany’s culture is way more liberal as compared to India in some ways but is strangely rigid in others. Germany is open when it comes to sexuality, nakedity and other things but super old school about other things.
For example, it is considered rude if you don’t clean your windows in Germany but honestly no one cares about that in India. You also have to clean the sidewalk next to your house in case of autumn leaves, snow and many more things.
On the other hand, I like how it is socially acceptable for people to live together and become parents without getting married in Germany. In India it is still still not openly accepted. Yes, more and more couples are choosing to live together in urban India instead of getting married but having a child out of marriage is still a big social tabboo.
I also like Germany’s FKK – Free Body Culture which celebrates himan body and there’s no shame in being naked at FKK beaches. Nakedity is still a very big deal in India.
If you are in India, you will perhaps hate me for saying this but not many people take physical fitness seriously in India as they do in Germany. People are overall more sporty and physically fit in Germany.
Movement and sports are important aspects of German culture. People actually get excited to go skiing in winter and swimming in summer. Children learn how to cycle and skate at a very early age and I often see grandmas and grandpas cycling with their grandkids.
I’m a Yoga teacher and I teach in Germany. I am often surprised to see how physically fit people are even in their 50s and 60s. It is sad that this fitness culture isn’t as widespread in India even though it is the land of Yoga.
Why should we care about the English language when we’re not in England or the USA? It is because it is one of the most widely spoken languages, internationally understood and accepted.
English is more widely spoken in India than in Germany. As a foreigner or an expat, you will have an easier time understanding people in India as compared to Germany. It isn’t because people don’t know the English language in Germany, but they won’t talk in it unless they are hundred percent confident that their grammar is totally perfect. That’s not the case in Germany.
Even if it comes to visiting government offices, English is widely accepted for official documents the officials will have no problem explaining things to you in English. This isn’t the case in Germany.
Traveling within the Continent
I love to travel and visiting new countries is a part of my quarterly dose of fun in a year. In that sense, it is so much easier to travel within Europe while living in Germany versus traveling within Asia while living in India.
If you live in Germany, then you hold a German residence card. With this card, you can travel freely without even thinking of visas within the EU and beyond. For example, if I’m visiting a country that’s not a Schengen state, I can just show my German residence card and enter.
In comparison, if you are traveling within Asia from India, you will have to do your visa even if it is visa-on-arrival in most cases. So in that sense, it is so easy to do a road trip within Europe as compared to within Asia.
Getting a driver’s license is super complicated in Germany versus in India. This is both a good and a bad thing.
In order to get a driving permit in Germany, one has to complete a particular number of hours in the driving school to learn the rules, clear the written test, and the practical driving test, and undergo first-aid training. This entire process is not just time-consuming but also very expensive. It can cost up to 2,000 Euros in many cases, if not more.
This is bad because despite living in Germany since 2017, I still don’t have my driver’s permit. This is a good thing because the system ensures that only those who know about every single rule can be trusted to drive legallly.
German Food and Indian Food
When we talk about food, India wins hands down in every way. This isn’t just a matter of personal choice but about the variety of food that’s availble and the cultures. It isn’t about spice versus non-spice.
Indian food had so many options for every kind of a person – there’s enough vegan food that tastes good, super flavourful food for those who like an extra kick, bland food for those who can’t handle spice, meats, seafood and much more.
I’m not talking just about the local food but also about food from other cultures. The international food scene in India is difinitely better than what it is in Germany. When you go to an international restaurant in Germany, you will notice that they dull down the flavours to match the German palate.
If you travel from Germany to the Netherlands (just a few hours away), you will notice that the food is a bit more flavorful and delicious. If you travel from Germany to Italy, the flavors are so much more intense because of the fresh produce.
Even if you are a good cook, from time to time you would want to visit a restaurant. If you are used to the restaurant and food scene of India, living in Germany will kind of make you cry everyday.
It is Easier to Become Rich in India
If you are educated, have done your bachelor’s degree then you will find it easier to be rich financially in India versus Germany.
Firstly, India is a growing country and the inflashion rates are high. As a result the interest earned on deposits is much higher in India and is literally non existant in Germany. Secondl;y, the taxes are much higher in Germany than in India so you will have less of your salary in your hand in Germany.
Third, there is a massive difference in incomes of those who are at a senior m anagerial positions in India versus Germany – it is normally not a good thing because it creates social inquality. But on the other hand, if you are looking to become rich financially, then Germany isn’t the right country for you.
Perhaps it is the most imporant point but I decide to discuss it at the end. Germany is a country that’s full of rules. Even though you are free, but you won’t feel as free as you do in other countries because the rules.
For example, you aren’t allowed to mow the lawn or through glass trash on a Sunday, because as a rule, it is a “Ruhetag” – a quiet day. It is generally a good rule except for those who don’t have time to do these things on other days of the week.
A few more seemingly weird rule in Germany are that you can’t run out of fuel on the autobahn (the highway), or can’t wash your car at home or can’t be naked in your car.
India has many rules too but Indians don’t love following the rules but most Germans are proud of their rules.
Closing thoughts about living in Germany versus India
So what’s better, living in Germany or India? Both. Living in Germany is so different from liuving in India – not one is better than the other but they both have their pluses and minuses. In a perfect world, I’d like to spend half my time in India and the other half in Germany to enjoy the best of both world.