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🇩🇪 Moving to Munich: a Guide for Beginners

Munich at a glance

For a city its size, Munich is relatively calm. Think of it as the anti-Berlin in some ways, if you will. It’s a gorgeous green metropolis that will steal your heart with its Bavarian charm—so you’ve made a good choice moving here.

Here’s a quick primer to help you get started. From the moment you land, here’s your guide to your life in Munich, with real advice from other expats on the ground.

Step 1

The weather

The weather in Munich is generally pretty mild. Summers are warm (July is the warmest, averaging at 18.5 °C/65.5 °F) and winters quite chilly (January is the coldest, with average temperatures hovering somewhere around freezing).

Because of its proximity to the Alps, Munich tends to be one of Germany’s coldest cities. Your worst-case weather scenario will be lots of wind and rain, so get yourself a warm, rainproof jacket. Munich gets about 40 inches of rain a year, so rubber boots will come in handy too.

The weather can change quite suddenly, so give yourself some peace of mind and get into the habit of checking the weather forecast frequently. Watch out for summer thunderstorms!

Step 2

Arrival

So you’ve landed at Munich Airport, Germany’s second-busiest after Frankfurt. Now what?

The best way to get into the city is to take the S-Bahn train. There are two different lines: S8 and S1. Depending on where do you want to go in the city, see which one makes more sense to you. Buy your ticket upstairs for €11,6 before heading downstairs to the trains.

However...

If you have a lot of luggage and/or family members in tow, you might be better off in a taxi. It’ll set you back around €70 or so, depending on where you’re staying, but the extra convenience may well be worth it.

Step 3

Getting around

Owning a car in Munich isn’t a great idea—there’s literally nowhere to park and traffic is crazy.

In the direct words of one of our sources on the ground: Please do not drive.

But not to worry! Public transport is smooth and easy. It’s not exceptionally cheap, but the efficiency is worth it. Depending on where you live, it can take up to an hour to commute from A to Z, but if you live within the Mittlerer Ring (the most traffic-heavy road in Germany!), it shouldn’t take you any more than 30 minutes to get where you need to be.

If your traveling is limited mostly to the “inner zone” (which covers pretty much all of the actual city), an IsarCard (a frequent traveler pass) will set you back 79,10 € a month.

In addition, get a bike! Most people own one and biking accounts for 18% of all traffic in Munich. Bike-sharing is another option if you’re not quite ready to make the investment yet.

Step 4

Finding an apartment

You might have heard this already, but finding an apartment in Munich is not easy. Around 30,000 people move here every year, which makes the market very difficult to navigate. It might take months of looking, and the rents are fairly high. A decent 40-50 sqm apartment in a popular neighborhood will cost around €1,500 a month.

How much money you have to put down for an apartment might come as a surprise. You could be asked for three months’ rent in advance. Unless you find a fully furnished apartment, you might also have to invest in furniture.

Applying for an apartment is almost like applying for a job—you need to stand out. Try to find a local to help you out here, as landlords aren’t guaranteed to speak English.

There’s a serious art to snagging an apartment in Munich, so take a good, thorough look at this guide and, most importantly, don’t panic. You can do this.

As for where to live, start by taking a look at these neighborhoods:

  • Haidhausen is trendy and close to the river.
  • Schwabing is creative and dynamic and borders the massive green space of the English Garden.
  • Maxvorstadt is the arts and university district.
  • Glockenbach at the heart of Isarvorstadt is vibrant and eccentric.
  • Also check out Au, Lehel, and Sendling.
Step 5

Banking

To get a bank account in Germany, you need a registered address. The apartment situation can make this a bit tricky. But once you do get your address sorted, getting a bank account can be pretty much instant or take a few days if you’re using a challenger bank like Revolut or N26. Our advice is to do just that and not bother with traditional banks.

Step 6

Healthcare

Once you are a German resident, you have to register with a health insurance scheme. The system is a little bit complex, but here’s a thorough guide to the ins and outs.

In a nutshell, you have to choose between private or public insurance. If you’re a full-time employee in Germany, your employer will take care of registering you with a health insurance provider.

At the age of 30 or so, public insurance is slightly more expensive (€400-€500 per month). Private is around €400 and gives you better services and faster access. If you plan to stay in Germany for longer, private can become very expensive, especially if you have a family. At 40-50 years old, your private insurance can cost up to €1000 per person. Once you choose private, you won’t be able to switch back to public, unless your salary drops below a certain level (currently €54,000).

For guaranteed services in English, check out TK, which was the first insurance provider in Germany to specialize in expats.

In a medical emergency, call 112.

Step 7

Cost of living

Munich is said to be relatively expensive. The city comes off as a bit posh and fancy, but if you have a decent job, you can expect a very good quality of life.

But what does relatively expensive mean?

  • More expensive than Berlin and Barcelona

...but

  • Cheaper than London and Paris

...and

  • Similar to Stockholm and Edinburgh

The main thing contributing to the high cost of living is rent. Groceries are reasonably priced and in addition to cooking at home, there are lots of ways to be smart with your money.

Step 8

Spending your spare time

There’s probably no such thing as a boring city anyway, but it’s still worth saying that there’s a lot to do in Munich all year round.

Some places to hang out and things to do:

  • Visit the Allianz Arena, home to FC Bayern Munich.
  • In December, don’t miss the traditional and thoroughly creepy Krampuslauf.
  • Speaking of winter, it can get quite cold and quiet, so liven up your days and evenings in one of the city’s many magical Christmas markets.
  • Gyms range from 15€ to up to 85€ (maybe more) a month. There are also outdoor gyms.
  • The gorgeous Englische Garten (English Garden) is one of the world’s largest urban parks. As such, it hosts an artificial surfing wave, more than one (!!) beer garden, and an area for nude sunbathing.
  • Run or stroll along the river Isar.
  • Oktoberfest. Duh. Also, remember that Oktoberfest actually starts in September.
  • Speaking of Oktoberfest, make sure you catch the Oktoberfest 7s, a rugby sevens tournament held during the festival.
  • The Tollwood Festival is a twice-yearly (one in summer, one in winter) event with music, food, and other awesome activities.
  • Obviously, there are plenty of world-class museums, such as the Kunsthalle Munich.
  • For a fun night out, try Milchbar on Thursdays, or weekends if you like hip hop or 90s music.
  • We also like Lucky Who, Favorit Bar, Alte Utting (MS Utting, a decommissioned passenger ship turned into a club), and Bahnwärter Thiel.
Step 9

Food

The world owes Munich a great debt of gratitude—this is where the concept of beer gardens was invented in the 19th century. Today there are more than 60 of them in the city, including giant sprawling gardens that seat thousands (!).

But there’s more in Munich for your palate than beer. Bavarian cuisine is the very definition of the word “hearty”. Simple ingredients are manipulated into incredible comfort foods that will leave you craving a lettuce leaf by the end of the day.

Try a good Münchner Schnitzel and some Weisswurst and you’ll know what we mean.

Traditional cuisine may be fairly meat-focused and on the heavier side, but Munich is obviously still a modern and international city. So you won’t find it hard to track down vegetarian, vegan, or halal options.

When you’re eating out, book a table in advance and leave at least a 10% tip. For example, if your bill is €27, you’d normally just pay €30. You always pay the tip together with the bill, either card or cash.

Some of our favorite places to start with:

  • Paulaner am Kapuzinerplatz
  • Cooperativa
  • Italian Shot
  • Keko

But you’re probably not going to eat out every day, so you’ll need to stock your fridge at home, too. For groceries, we recommend:

  • Edeka: best quality
  • Lidl: best price-to-quality ratio
  • Aldi: cheapest

This being Munich, of course, you’ll want to check out the legendary Viktualienmarkt in the center, but don’t miss out on the small local markets that most neighborhoods have at least weekly. They’re fantastic for buying fresh food.

Step 10

Travel in and out of the country

As the capital of the absolutely stunning (zero exaggeration) state of Bavaria, Munich is perfectly located for some serious world-class sightseeing.

Whether you want to explore Bavaria, the rest of Germany, and/or other countries in the region, you won't be disappointed. It's easy to get around by train, plus MUC is one of the world's best-connected airports.

Some destinations we love:

  • The Alps. Yeah, those Alps, only one of the world’s most famously beautiful mountain ranges, no big deal. Except it’s a huge deal. Take a day trip and have your mind blown.
  • Spend a weekend (or more if you can) in the Black Forest.
  • Neuschwanstein Castle is extremely popular and crowded. But then again, it’s also incredibly majestic, so...
  • Salzburg in neighboring Austria is a gem of a city.
  • Nuremberg (NĂĽrnberg) is Bavaria’s second-largest city and brimming with history (although which city around here isn’t?).
  • Regensburg is another picturesque Bavarian city with more history than you can shake a stick at.
  • The Czech city of Pilsen, the home of pilsner beer, is worth a trip. Particularly if you’re a beer lover, of course.
  • Milan is a train ride or quick flight away. Oh, and Prague, Strasbourg, Vienna… You get the idea. You won’t run out of places to explore.
Step 11

Basic survival apps

  • Lieferando for food delivery
  • Uber for getting around
  • MVV for train tickets and schedules

General tips and observations

  • Munich is very safe, but still—watch out for pickpockets as you would in any other big city.
  • Getting all the paperwork done and finding an apartment are likely to be the biggest challenges you’ll encounter. If possible, find a friendly local to help you. Don’t be afraid to ask colleagues for help and advice.
  • Bavaria as a whole might be a bit on the conservative side, but Munich, like other big cities in Germany, is quite LGBTQ-friendly. Check out the Glockenbach neighborhood, which was where the first gay bars emerged.
  • Do not order Weisswurst (white sausage) after 12 PM. It’s only eaten early in the day.
  • Also be careful not to offend locals by ordering a small beer—the normal size for a beer is 0,5 l.
  • Do yourself the favor of buying a pair of lederhosen or Bavarian traditional dress.

Links

Before you go…

The information and advice in the guide has been compiled (and is constantly updated) based on the experiences of real-life expats in Munich. We can’t guarantee that your experience will be identical or that you’ll like everything we recommended in these pages.

We’ve barely scratched the surface. But that’s what this guide is meant to do—give you a place to start.

Now go out there and make the most of your new home!

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