3 July 2018

Jenna Davis - Expat in Germany

Jenna Davis - Expat in Germany

We’ve had the chance to talk to Jenna Davis, 26, a Canadian expat who has moved to Germany with her husband. Mrs Davis, who has been living there for almost four years works as an online content manager. Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Born and raised in a town just outside of Toronto, Canada.


Q: What made you move out of Canada?

A: Love and travel. I caught a travel bug, decided to start travelling the world, and then met my husband along the way.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Düsseldorf, Germany. Despite meeting my husband halfway across the world in South Africa, he is a German raised in Düsseldorf. We had a decision to make, Canada or Germany? In the end, we chose Germany, a country I like to say is “in the middle of the world” which has allowed me to advance significantly in my career as an Online Content Manager and Travel Blogger.


Q: How long have you been living in Germany?

A: Almost 4 years now! 


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I’m living here in Düsseldorf with my husband. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by loved ones from his side of the family, though the pain of missing my family back home in Canada never really got any easier. Adjusting to the expat community has been easy and difficult. It’s easy to meet a hundred new amazing people, but it’s hard to actually recreate the friendships you have back home with childhood best friends from Kindergarten. Nothing ever compares!


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Not a day goes by where I don’t miss my family back home, but life cannot always be perfect. I chose to love and marry my husband, and our life here in Germany is incredible. If I had it my way, I’d ship my entire family here to live with me. Videos chats and Facebook seem to be the best cure for my homesickness. It also helps planning a couple trips home in the future to look forward to.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: The state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in general is quite a friendly region. Many people consider NRW to be home to some of the countries most open and friendly individuals. While it’s certainly no Canada, I’ve adjusted pretty well to finding ways to interact with the locals and learn a few stories every now and again.


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: Making friends and meeting people in Düsseldorf is extremely easy! The city is quite international and there are a ton of different international groups and events going on every week to keep up a busy social life. Funny enough, I don’t socialize with anyone else from Canada while living in Germany, and I don’t mind that at all. Expats are amazing, and most of them have quite an interesting story to tell! Not to mention, it’s pretty neat when you’ve been able to meet friends from around the world despite all living in the same location.


Q: How does the cost of living in Germany compare to your home?

A: It’s a difficult question to answer, but at the end of the day, I think I end up spending about the same each month regardless of whether I’m in Germany or Canada. Shopping for clothing is more expensive in Germany, but shopping for groceries is cheaper. Taking public transportation in Germany definitely beats having to buy a car and fill up on gas every week while in Canada, but I’m also just a few steps from many restaurants, so my entertainment expenses have skyrocketed. At the end of the day though, it all seems to even out to cost me roughly the same.


Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: 2-3 Euro


Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: About 10 Euro (or 4-5 Euro for a Döner)


Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: 40 - 50 Euro (though that really depensive on what your definition of “expensive” is)


Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: My favorite wine is 3 Euros a bottle (but many others are between 10 - 15 Euros). A pack of cigarettes I believe is about 5-8 Euros.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Germany?

A: Read up on expat forums! We’re all asking the same questions constantly. Germany has quite a few banks that speak English, Sparkasse, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank just to name a few. However, if you’re a fan of managing your expenses and accounts all from your computer, then N26 is also a great option.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Sadly, I have no good news in this department. Government paperwork in Germany is incomparable to Canada. What can be done in the click of a button back home, takes a week of setting up face-to-face meetings, mailing letters and confirming your identity here in Germany. It’s not an easy task, but it has to be done!


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Germany is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: Healthcare in Germany is excellent! The doctors and nurses are extremely reliable and professional. You can pick between paying for public insurance and private insurance (depending on your income). I don’t have any recommendations for preferred clinics because thankfully, many doctors here in Germany speak English perfectly.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in Canada or Germany? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: Yes, everyone is legally required to pay for health insurance in Germany. Many of the insurance firms offer very, very similar offers, so unless you’re very particular about what you need, it’s usually safe to choose any insurance company. If you go to www.check24.de, you’ll be able to compare rates and options.


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Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: The biggest challenge that I faced and that I believe many others face when moving to NRW, is finding an English speaking job. While I was never 100% convinced I wanted to work full-time in an office, I decided to take the independent route and work online creating content and managing social media accounts for different tourism boards around the world. However, for the many that prefer the 9-5 and steady English speaking jobs, it’s quite a tough barrier to jump when moving to Germany.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Germany?

A: As I mentioned earlier, Germany feels to me like the center of the world. While living in Canada, I never had the opportunity to drive 3 hours and visit 3 different countries. It is an amazing feeling knowing that tomorrow, I could get up and go to a new country for very little money. The hardest thing about living in Germany is learning the language (I’ve never had a talent for languages), but it’s been amazing slowly getting the hang of speaking in public.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: I have 1,000 different suggestions as to what you could do around the area of Düsseldorf, but that would take an entire new post if I wanted to go through just a fifth of my suggestions. Instead, you can check out this 5-day Düsseldorf Guide (http://lifeinduesseldorf.com/5-day-guide-exploring-dusseldorf/) that will give you some inspiration if you’re planning on coming to check out the city


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: Nope! I’m planning on staying put. My husband and I have agreed that perhaps in 30 - 40 years when we’ve planned our retirement, we will move back to Canada, but until then, I’m excited to see what new adventures are in store for me here in Europe!


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Make friends, stay updated and push your boundaries! If you don’t, it’s going to be extremely hard to find your place here in Germany.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Germany?

A: I may be a little bias, but I pour my heart and soul into www.lifeinduesseldorf.com and work hard on inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and explore new arounds around Düsseldorf, NRW and Europe!