Christy Swagerty - Expat in Bavaria, Germany
We’ve had the chance to talk to Christy Swagerty, 31, an American expat who has moved to Germany with her husband. Mrs. Swagerty who has been living there for one and a half years, now works as an athlete/coach.
Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.
Q: Where are you from originally?
A: Northern California.
Q: What made you move out of the USA?
A: I missed playing competitive volleyball and looked into my options as a professional athlete in Europe.
Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?
A: Bavaria, Germany. My husband found a basketball club to coach at close to many volleyball clubs, and Germany is also easier for Americans to get work visas.
Q: How long have you been living in Germany?
A: One and a half years.
Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?
A: My husband and I live together, and adjusting is not so difficult in Germany because most of our friends and colleagues speak English fluently.
Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?
A: We’ve been living abroad for over 6 years now and the only time we experienced homesickness was when our internet was down for three months a few years ago. With technology, it is pretty easy to keep in touch and communicate with friends and family all over the world.
Q: What do you think about the locals?
A: Germans are friendly and clean people who work really hard at their jobs.
Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Germany? How did you manage to find a social circle there?
A: It has always been generally easy for us to make friends because we are involved with sports clubs and other international workers.
Q: How does the cost of living in Germany compared to your home?
A: It is less expensive for us to live in Germany/Europe than it is for us to live in California because our job takes care of our rent/bills, and our day-to-day expenses are approximately 50% of what we used to spend on a daily basis in California. Moving abroad also really taught us how to minimize our lifestyle, so that has also contributed to fewer expenses.
- Q: How much is a cup of coffee?
- Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?
- Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?
- Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?
A: Wine: $6. Cigarettes: not sure!
Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Germany?
A: Use the bank your work prefers. If you have total freedom to choose your own, pay attention to the monthly fees and find the least expensive option!
Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?
A: Germany was way easier than France. Americans can get their visas after moving to Germany. It is a little more complicated with the ongoing refugee crisis, but, in general, the German immigration system is organized and efficient.
Q: Would you say that healthcare in Germany is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?
A: Find your doctor early, and healthcare will be no problem. It’s very straightforward once you have your health insurance. We haven’t had any problems finding someone who can speak English to us and we live in a small Bavarian town.
Q: Did you secure a health insurance in your home or Germany? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?
A: Our health insurance is a German one through our jobs. This makes more sense because we spend most of our time here and it’s cheaper, too. We just have the basic needs because we aren’t very old and have no children or complicated health issues yet.
Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Germany? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?
A: Because we have minimized so much since moving abroad, everything we owned fit into a four-door rental car! We moved. It’s much easier when you don’t own large furniture!
Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?
A: Our first expat experience in France was challenging because we couldn’t communicate in French.
Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Germany?
A: The positive is that it’s easy to adjust because it is so much like living in America. The negative is that learning German is really only useful here and won’t really play a large role in our lives after we move away from Germany, whereas learning French really opened up more of the world to us.
Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?
A: Visiting the castles and enjoying the seasonal community festivals.
Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?
A: We are in Germany for a while, but we could see ourselves returning to France someday and moving to somewhere much warmer, like Spain! We do not see ourselves moving back to the USA ever. We love Europe and the way we live here way too much.
Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?
A: Join the local chapter of your favorite hobby, be it sports, art, music, whatever. You will meet the locals who you will always have the most in common with right away!
Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Germany?
A: California Globetrotter and Bavarian Sojourn.