Work in Munich without speaking German
Can you work in Munich, Germany without speaking German?
In very short: Yes, you can. With more details: Yes, you can move to Munich, get a job and start working in English. Where you will need German, will come first in your personal life and after a while in your professional life, you will need German for your career.
The question if you can is big, we hear it a lot. Top talents change often companies and countries; for that, they often need to learn a new language or live with English. Even though in Munich you can live and work in English, it does not mean that you will not need German. Münchners (inhabitants of Munich, Germany) like to or even prefer to speak German. Do not neglect this part, let’s see what it means.
Context to work in Munich for non-german speakers
You never had a connection to Germany (Family, Education) and did not have the chance to learn the language of Goethe. Two options why you will be willing to work Munich or Germany: you got an opportunity through your company and it has to be in Germany or München; or you went to the Oktoberfest or to Germany for Holidays, you enjoyed your time and see there are interesting opportunities.
First steps to arrive in Munich without speaking German
Searching a job: application process, negotiating a contract (Vertrag)
To find a job in Munich, you can go through the application process without a problem by only speaking English. Though, you might encounter issues when the contract arrives. Some startups provide half-German, half-English contracts. Bear in mind that only the German version counts legally. It can happen that there is only an English version but make sure that it is mentioned that the English version is valid.
Here you can ask friends or German lawyers speaking English or your native language to review your new contract. A small investment worth the consideration to keep a peaceful mind.
Searching a flat in Munich
This is the moment where the things can get complicated. The real estate market of Munich is growing for the last year to finally become one of the most expensive cities in Europe. The shortage in housing is a recurring topic for Münchener and you will find out very fast that it is for a good reason. Not enough housings are available in Munich and you better come well prepared.
For searching a new home in Munich, we recommend you to master some Germans. You might not be able to land on a friendly landlord or real estate agent willing to speak English. Showing off some Germans and not being scared to speak it would only increase your chances to get an apartment. Here again you can ask help from friends or from your company to prepare the necessary documents. Your company can also provide a document that will inform the landlord that you are employed by them.
To support your search and move to Germany, to München, you can ask professional services. Relocation services (Wohnungssuche Service in München) in Munich will help you in all those details, be ready to have a budget for it.
Shopping and going out
Learn German basics, like the most 100 words and you will come along easily. Still expect the locals to be willing to speak with you in German and that not everyone speaks English. Even though, English is becoming more and more common.
Administration, specially tax declarations
There will be some challenges. Get ready for it. You might be lucky to encounter international-friendly employees in Burgeramt or other administrations. Your new company might help you but most of all you will be on your own. A good samaritan or friends is a trusty experience and worth having. Nevertheless do not count too much on it and this is maybe where you would like to get help, like for the flat search.
For tax declarations, you have to do it once a year. Doing your tax declaration is not always fun and it is better to have a good, professional companion.
München has always been an international city across the years and is still one. In Munich, you will be able to find all commodities in English. You surf around on other blogs and websites to get the last addresses in town.
Finally to consider: traditional aspect of Munich
Yes, you will come along in this first step by speaking only English. Now let’s consider after you arrived in Munich, moved into your new apartment and started working.
Second steps to live and work in Munich without speaking German
Office life in Munich
Through the interviews for your new job in Munich, you will easily find out what is the culture or the main language of your new company. In startups it is very common to speak English and you might have an international life in Munich. Even though, do not assume that it will always be the case. You might land in a group at work that speaks English in everyday office life.
No big secret that Munich is a well-known location for beers. And a very important traditional aspect of Munich are the Biergarten (Beergarden). Located everywhere across the city, Biergarten will become a part of your day-to-day life and you will experience an exodus of the Münchener when Springs bring warmth to the town.
Biergartens will become a big part of afterworks in Summer.
The Octoberfest is also Business
Beers again! Even this event is an important moment for companies. Some companies will book tables in tents and invite their employees to join. You might even have customers’ meetings there.
Feierabend or afterwork in English
You might enjoy some English speaking meetings for afterwork, especially in the tech and startup world. Search for Meetups, networking events and trade fairs. You will often find internationals that come to work for big corporations.
Next steps in your career in Munich
Thanks to English, you made it into your first company or startups from Munich. When you will be willing to stay in Munich and move to another company, you might also be requested to speak German. To go further in your career, you will be required to speak German and to a good level.
Learn German in parallel
In order to smoothen your integration process, learning German will help and you can start early. Here a few tipps to start learning German before even coming to Germany or Munich.
Apps to learn German
A good way to get confortable in German is to begin with Apps to learn languages, e.g.: Duolingo, Babbel, Linguee, Der Die Das, Memrise.
With the apps, it is not like you are going to master the German language and be fluent. It is a very good way to get familiar with hearing the language and especially to learn vocabulary. With apps, you can learn quickly up to 200 or 500 words that will help you to get your first steps. Even after taking a course, we recommend you to keep on using the apps for the vocabulary and training.
Signin for German course
You got the job? You are willing to speed up the integration before or after moving to Germany? You learned some basics through apps and you want to go further?
Good point and German is requesting some grammar to be more fluent. Signing up to a German course, it will help you to learn the basics in German grammar and orthography. On top, you will often find out in job offer that a certain level like A1 or B2 will be required. With a course, you can get those certifications and on top improve your German skills.
Make a tandem
Even before moving to Munich or after some time in Munich, you can start a “tandem”. It means you can meet a German native who would like to learn your mother tongue and this one will help you get familiar with German language. It is a great way to learn especially the everyday words, expressions and not a written, very theoretical German. A german tandem will not replace a course for grammar, it will bring you the informal aspect of the language that cannot be taught.
Make friends at work
You are in Munich, started to work and you would like to get deeper in the language to pursue your integration. Work will bring your social contacts and will be a good environment to get used to the language.