Population: 4.5 Million (urban)
Non-German Population: 848.400
Area: 891,3 km2.
There are 16 German States (Länder) and each of them have their own state government and particular duties.
These include education, job training, and culture. School education, for example, can vary from state to state and should be considered when integrating children into Germany.
Germany (Deutschland) can be divided into three major geographical regions: the Northern Lowland or North German Plain, the Central Uplands, and the Alps running west to east across the country.
But each of the 16 German states has political control of a wide range of authorities which are not necessarily defined.
Below we will go more into the differences of the states as well as dive into a lot more detail for each of the states.
If you are looking for a specific state then open the Table of Contents below and click on the state and you will be zoomed right to it.
Table of Contents
The States Differences
The history, geography, culture, and cuisine vary considerably from state to state and is part of the adventure when moving to Germany.
You will most likely be met by a jolly ’Moin-Moin’ greeting in the North, whereas a ‚Grüss-Gott’ would be your typical welcome in the South.
Landscape-wise, you are spoilt for choice, with Rosamunde Pilcher style Islands and windswept beaches to Heidi and Peter Alm huts surrounded by cows with bells.
The largest Federal State is Bavaria (Bayern). The smallest is Bremen. Each one of the 16 States has a Capital and includes:
- Three City States (Stadtstaaten): Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen.
- Thirteen Area States (Flachenländer).
- Three Free States (Freistaaten): Bavaria (Bayern) Saxony (Sachsen), Thuringia (Thüringen). The self-given name Free States is an old German term for Republic.
We have put together a comprehensive and informative insight into the 16 Federal States or Bundesländer and what makes them unique.
How to Germany explains each Bundesland in detail; it includes a few facts and figures, rounding off with some little-known curiosities.
Our guide is updated regularly and is designed to help you to gain clarity on your chosen location. Before, during, and after your move.
Facts about the 16 German States
Let’s just very briefly look at the geography.
Germany shares its borders with nine neighboring European countries.
That is more countries than any other European State.
We have Denmark to the north, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the south, and the Czech Republic and Poland to the east.
Since the German Reunification on October 3rd, 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany (or BRD) grew from 11 to 16 federal states.
At the time, the population increased from 62 to 78.2 million, a plus of 26%, and its territory by 43%, from 249,000 to 357,000 km2.
The five new former Eastern states included Bremen, Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Saxony (Sachsen), Saxon Anhalt and Thuringia (Thüringen).
Even today, there is still a differentiation between the new Eastern (Osten) federal states and the western (West) old federal states, using jargon to describe one another as either from the West – a ‚Wessi’ or from the East – an ‚Ossi’.
Oh and hey, read this quick article if you want to know why is it called a Federal State and not a Region?
Population: 4.5 Million (urban)
Non-German Population: 848.400
Area: 891,3 km2.
One of Germany’s sixteen constituent states, Berlin is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg and contiguous with Potsdam, Brandenburg’s capital. Berlin, abbreviated BE, is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population and its 3.6 million inhabitants make it the European Union’s most populous city.
A city full of contrasts: you’ll discover historical buildings next to modern architecture; a laid-back mentality that meets a fast-paced atmosphere; flourishing cultures from all over the world that clash with the Berliner Schnauze – Berlin nose.
Main sites include the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building, Potsdamer Platz, the memorial to the murdered jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall memorial, the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Victory Column, Berlin Cathedral, and the Berlin Television Tower, the tallest structure in Germany.
BE is well known for its history and vibrance. Old and new architecture, festivals, nightlife, art galleries and a high quality of life.
Living in Berlin
Berlin City State is ranked 2nd best city to live in Germany and the average salary after taxes is $3122, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.8 months.
The capital of Germany is constantly reinventing itself and you’ll see this mirrored by the people living in Berlin.
Berlin is home to world-renowned universities such as the Humboldt University, the Technical University, the Free University, the University of the Arts, ESMT Berlin, the Hertie School, and Bard College Berlin. They are also famous for their wide variety of English-taught programmes.
Berlin is also home to 3 World Heritage Sites: Museum Island; the palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin and modernism housing projects. Its Zoological Garden is the most visited zoo in Europe and one of the most popular worldwide.
At first glance, Berlin might give off the impression of a grey, concrete jungle, but you’ll realise just how green it is with numerous parks, rivers and lakes covering one-third of Berlin.
While the exclusive boutiques and baroque architecture in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf create a Champs-Élysées feeling, Berlin Pankow boasts green areas, a relaxed character and magnificent streetscapes.
To get away from noise, you’ll also find a variety of co-working spaces, libraries, museums, and English-friendly cinemas.
Berlin cuisine has many influences but one of the most famous is the Berliner Currywurst. Said to have been invented in 1949 by Herta Heuwer from Königsberg, who was running a small snack stand in Charlottenburg at the time. It’s basically a sausage sliced and drowned in a spicy curry sauce. Some spicier than others.
Due to the labour migration after World War II, the Berlin kitchen re-internationalised. Turkish immigrants are said to have invented the döner kebab in Kreuzberg in the 1970s, which is now considered one of the most typical Berlin snacks. Approximately 950 döner spits are eaten every day.
Main Industries in Berlin
Its high living standard for relatively low costs evoked a vast startup ecosystem with endless opportunities to network. Berlin is a paradise for creatives and the city has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene in both startups and large corporations.
That’s why so many major companies are based in Berlin, including Zalando, HelloFresh, SAP and Flixbus. Opportunities are everywhere and expats that are seeking jobs or internships will be spoilt for choice.
Babelsberg is also the world’s first large-scale movie studio complex and so Berlin is an increasingly popular location for international film productions.
Interesting facts about Berlin:
- Berlin is nine times bigger than Paris.
- The longest open-air gallery in the world. The East Side Gallery is 1,316 meters long and showcases over 100 murals from artists all over the world.
- More museums than rainy days. There are 180 museums in Berlin and on average 106 rainy days.
- Berlin’s transport system is so long that it actually travels 8.7 times around the planet Earth each day.
- Berlin has more bridges than Venice. There are around 1,700 of bridges in Berlin. The most famous one and the prettiest is the Oberbaumbrücke. It is also known that Berlin has more waterways than Amsterdam, Stockholm and Venice together.
The capital of the dog lovers. In 2011, Berlin was voted as the Germany’s most dog-friendly city, you can take your furry friend almost everywhere!
Population: 4.1 Million
Non-German Population: 481.495 *
Area: 19.847 km2.
Situated in western Germany, Rhineland-Palatinate – Rheinland-Pfalz, abbreviated RP is the country’s 7th most populous federal state.
It’s bordered by the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse, as well as three foreign countries: France, Luxembourg and Belgium.
Living in Rheinland-Pfalz
Rhineland-Palatinate is ranked 9th most expensive and 12th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Rhineland-Palatinate is $2389, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.9 months.
Known as the “State of roots and vines”, Rhineland-Palatinate’s lush, fertile landscape, upland plains and small, hilly mountain ranges, makes it an agricultural and winemaking paradise. This gives Rhineland-Palatinate its distinctive, picturesque landscape of forested land, meandering valleys and volcanic lakes.
Along with Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate is the most forested federal state in Germany, a full 42 percent of its landmass is covered with trees.
In addition to Riesling wine and Federweißer, Palatinate Saumagen –stuffed pig’s stomach, a meat dish made from pork, roast meat and potatoes and cooked like a boiled sausage in a pig’s stomach is a speciality from Rhineland-Palatinate. A little known fact; around 80 types of vegetables, fruit in abundance, chestnuts, nuts and even lemons, kiwis and melons grow in the states idyllic hilly landscape.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Rheinland-Pfalz*
The 3 best cities to live in Rhineland-Palatinate are Kaiserslautern, Worms, and Koblenz.
More than 30% population of Rhineland-Palatinate live in cities with quality of life more than 70/100.
Nicknamed “K-Town”, Kaiserslautern is an international city with 99,292 inhabitants and home to people from over 140 nations. Around 45,000 Americans also live in the city and surrounding district, making it the largest American military community in Europe.
Kaiserslautern’s large botanical gardens feature a Japanese-style garden. Another unusual feature is the Waschmühle, also known as “Wesch”, an enormous 160-metre (520 ft) public swimming pool that is the largest in Europe.
The city offers a lively inner city and good opportunities for leisure, sports and shopping. The city zoo also boasts a collection of over 103 species that guests will love learning more about and seeing up close.
Modern-day Kaiserslautern is a centre of information and communications technology, home to a well-known university, a technical college and many international research institutes located throughout the city.
The city might not have the most attractive name , but Worms has played a pivotal role in European history. From its foundation by Charlemagne in the 4th century to witnessing Martin Luther’s refusal to recant his Protestant beliefs.
Worms is famed for its history and its wine and situated in the southwest of Germany on the Upper Rhine, a couple of hours drive southwest of Frankfurt.
A comparatively small city, Worms has a population of around 82,000, and is known today as the home of the sweet Liebfraumilch white wine, drunk around the world.
Worms hosts the annual Backfischfest – Baked Fish Festival, Rhineland-Palatinate’s biggest wine festival and fair.
The city has a number of beautiful medieval churches, and is home to the University of Applied Sciences, which offers its renowned Aviation Management and Air Traffic Management programmes, both of which are available in English.
The university has around 4,000 students, and the city is an affordable place to live for those studying.
The economy of Worms is based mainly on the services industry, chemical production and woodwork, all of which provide jobs across the city and region. Shipping is also a major source of employment, with around 450,000 tons of shipping passing through the city each year.
Another former Roman outpost and with 106,700 inhabitants, Koblenz was named “Confluentes” for its strategically important location between the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. That area has been transformed today into the larger than life “Deutsches Eck” – German corner monument. A popular starting point to explore the Rhine and Moselle Valleys.
The symbol of Koblenz, the Schangel-Stadt, is seen on municipal signs and even manhole covers throughout the city, and you may recognise the famous fountain of a little boy which spurts water onto unsuspecting passers-by!
Koblenz is split by the two rivers into the old town – Aldstadt and new town – Neustadt.
The old town dates from medieval times, with narrow streets, timbered houses, quaint shops and street cafés, whilst the new town has broad streets, frontage along the Rhine and the Löhr shopping centre.
Expats living in Koblenz will find the city is easily accessible on foot, with a park and ride system in operation.
Main Industries in Rheinland-Pfalz
Rhineland-Palatinate leads all German states with an export rate around 50%.
One of Europe’s high-tech regions, with above-average economic power, the city boasts a high quality of life and a focus on export activities.
Important sectors are the wine-growing, chemical, pharmaceutical, and auto parts industries. Distinctive regional industries include gemstones, ceramics and glass, and leather.
Interesting facts about Rheinland-Pfalz:
- Rhineland-Palatinate is both Germany’s most important producer of wine, and established in 1935, the country’s oldest tourist wine tasting route. 85 kilometres of Palatine countryside, taking in a number of spectacular sights and tasting rooms, of course.
- One of Germany’s largest beer breweries, Bitburger, is located here.
- The slate cliffs along the river in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a World Heritage Site, are lined with castles and ruins. Every year on the last Sunday in June, cars are banned from driving on a 120 km stretch of road from Bingen to Koblenz. This is when cyclists and skaters can enjoy the route, which ends in a big party celebrated by 150,000 visitors on both shores of the Rhine.
- The Rhineland-Palatinate State capital is home to a carnival, the Mainzer Fassenacht or Fastnacht, which dates back to the 16th century. The climax of the carnival is the Rose Monday procession. A lovingly preserved tradition in Mainz are the "Schwellköpp" - oversized papier-mâché heads known as "swollen heads" that exaggeratedly represent typical Mainz characters and weigh up to 25 kilos.
Population: 2.5 Million
Non-German Population: 149.540*
Area: 29,654 km2.
The northeastern state of Brandenburg is the 5th largest federal state and the 10th most populous in Germany. It surrounds the city-state of Berlin, it also borders Mecklenburg-
Vorpommern, Lower Saxony and Saxony.
Established in 948 AD by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto, Brandenburg is the fastest growing state in Germany, being at the centre of all things international from traffic routes to important decision-making in Berlin.
Expats can find historic castles, country houses and gardens, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Potsdam and an array of theatres, museums and galleries which entertain
residents and tourists alike.
Living in Brandenburg
Brandenburg is ranked 2nd most expensive and 2nd best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Brandenburg is $2962, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.8 months.
The picturesque small towns and villages are perfect for stressed city-workers and young families and fittingly Brandenburg is known as “Berlin’s garden”.
Roughly half of Brandenburg’s area is in agriculture and a further third covered by forests.
There is an abundance of countryside pastures, woodland, lakes and quaint villages, all within easy reach of Berlin on the train. Brandenburg is also home to the Lower Oder Valley
national park which was established in 1995 as a joint Polish-German effort to preserve the region’s flora and fauna.
A famous speciality food from the Spreewald region are the Spreewald gherkins, which are protected by the EU as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).
Plinsen which is a kind of pancake and a speciality of the region of Niederlausitz. And one of the most famous dishes using the infamous linseed-oil, is potato with Quark (a kind of thick
yoghurt) and shallots.
Another well-known dish which is also considered a “national dish” of the region of Priegnitz is Knieperkohl, a pickled cabbage similar to Sauerkraut containing white but also red cabbage, kale, grape and cherry leaves.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Brandenburg
3 best cities to live in Brandenburg are Berlin, Potsdam, and Falkensee*. More than 30% population of Brandenburg live in cities with quality of life more than 95/100.
Berlin is located in northeastern Germany along the River Spree and the city is both the largest in area and in population in the country. Currently, home to about 3.5 million people in the metropolitan area, it’s the 4th most populated city in Europe and the 72nd in the world.
Berlin and its international roots even has areas which have a reputation for being “expat” neighbourhoods such as Neukölln. The city has about a third of its residents possessing a non- German background, so no doubt Berlin is a haven for expats.
Berlin is one of the ‚hippest‘ cities in Europe and people are drawn here for the low cost of living, creative spirit, and lively nightlife.
In many offices, especially startups, the working language is English. Virtually all younger generations will have a good command of it but on a long term basis, learning the language is still really important.
Berlin is certainly different from other cities in Germany. Germans are very liberal and generally quite comfortable with nudity, and underground party culture.
There is a myriad of unique styles and opinions and the quirkiness is part of the city’s charm.
Berliners are very green and care a lot about the environment. Recycling is taken very seriously and many people ride bikes and take public transport to lower the city’s carbon footprint.
Farmers markets are bountiful and good news if you are vegan. Berlin is often regarded as the vegan capital of the world, with a multitude of vegan restaurants ranging from Michelin starred options to pizza and kebab stands.
Potsdam, with a population of 160,000, is the capital city of Brandenburg. It’s situated 24 km southwest of Berlin and is part of the larger Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region.
The city is a historical jewel and was long home to the German Kaiser and the Prussian kings. Such as the stunning Sanssouci Palace, which used to be the official residence of the Prussian royals and the German imperial family. This complex is now part of the largest World Heritage Site in Germany.
Potsdam is also famous for its green woodland and lakes which has earned it the nickname “The City Beneath the Oaks”. A rich history of cosmopolitan residents also led to the building of the historic quarters, including the Dutch Quarter, the Russian Alexandrovka colony, and the Weavers’ Quarter.
Potsdam is a thriving university town and research centre bringing many expats to Potsdam to work in these renowned institutions. It has a vibrant film industry in Babelsberg and is an important centre for many areas of science. Software development, IT, the automotive industry, and biotechnology companies are also major employers.
Falkensee is a small town in the Havelland district. It is the most populated municipality with 44,240 residents and shares a border with the former West-Berlin.
The city commune Falkensee was formed in 1923 by the merger of Falkenhagen and Seegefeld, hence its name.
Much beautiful nature awaits you here too. In fact, the town name literally translates as “falcon lake” and doesn’t disappoint. There is a falcon refuge centre for the threatened species and be sure to take a leisurely stroll around the idyllic lake too.
Main Industries in Brandenburg*
Brandenburg offers the highest research density in Germany and an ultra-modern infrastructure combined with a superb quality of life.
Being right in the heart of Europe, global investors find excellent business prospects. Brandenburg’s economy is characterised by fast-growing, innovative industries including renewable energy and tourism.
Promoting the economic strength of Brandenburg is a key concern in order to grow Brandenburg’s attractiveness for firms and skilled workers.
A particular emphasis is put on small and medium-sized enterprises as they account for the majority of local firms.
Interesting facts about Brandenburg*:
- The Brandenburg gate was modelled on the Propylaeum of Athens’ Acropolis.
- Berlin has one of the largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam, with almost 83,000 people of Vietnamese origin calling the city home.
- About a million people flock to the Gate every year for its famous New Year’s Eve party, complete with music and fireworks.
- The Filmstudio Babelsberg in Potsdam, is the oldest large-scale film studio in the world and was a major film production studio pre-1930s. It has enjoyed success as a major centre of European film production since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
- Brandenburg has 3,000 lakes, 15 large protected areas, each of them provided with state-financed administration and park ranger staff. In and around Potsdam alone, visitors can marvel at 77 palaces and castles surrounded by landscape gardens.
*www.thelocal.de; sebastian ioan
1156 Words Bianca Demsa
Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Population: 18,077 Million
Non-German Population: 2.8
Area: 34,084 km2.
Commonly abbreviated to NRW North Rhine-Westphalia – Nordrhein-Westfalen is the most populous state of Germany and is the 4th largest German State by size.
The name comes from the fusion of two culturally distinct regions: Westphalia and the northern part of the Rhine Province. It’s bordered by Lower Saxony to the North and northeast, Hesse to the East, Rhineland-Palatinate to the South and Belgium and the Netherlands to the south-and-northwest.
Its history goes back to prehistoric times – the Neanderthal was discovered just outside of Düsseldorf, and first mentioned by Julius Caesar, who conquered the territories west of the Rhine and established numerous fortified posts there.
Living in Nordrhein-Westfalen
North Rhine-Westphalia ranked 6th most expensive and 7th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in North Rhine-Westphalia is
$2481, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2 months
North Rhine-Westphalia has it all: beautiful landscapes, rivers, captivating churches, fairytale castles and monuments and offers one of the most vibrant cultural landscapes in Europe.
52 percent of its surface area is home to agriculture, and a further quarter is covered with forest.
Transportation and logistics are excellent and 6 airports offer more than 400 direct international flights to destinations worldwide.
Typical regional specialities include Rheinischer Sauerbraten – marinated pot roast and Reiberkuchen – a type of potato cake.
The typical bread is the very dense and dark bread pumpernickel. And each region has its own special beer, Pilsener, Altbier, Kölsch and Bönnsch are the best-known varieties.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Nordrhein-Westfalen **
The 3 best cities to live in North Rhine-Westphalia are Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Bonn. More than 30% population of North Rhine-Westphalia live in cities with quality of life more than 77/100.
As the name suggests, Düsseldorf began as a small village (Dorf) on the banks of the River Düssel, around 800 AD. Situated around northwest of Cologne and in between the Rhine and Düssel rivers, the city has 592,400 inhabitants.
Düsseldorf is Germany’s 7th-largest city and the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Despite being almost 730 years old, Düsseldorf is a remarkably modern city.
As well as being the German home of banking, advertising, fashion and telecommunications, it hosts a thriving art, architecture and electronic music scene. The MediaHafen alone is home to over 700 companies, many of them international businesses.
Düsseldorf Airport is the third largest airport in Germany and is excellent for international flights.
With roughly 1 million inhabitants and known as Germany’s capital for the television industry, the city is cut cleanly into two halves by the Rhine River, with the ‘left Rhine side’, as locals call it, being Cologne’s centre.
The right Rhine side, is somewhat negatively, called the ‘Schäl Sick‘ (the ‘Wrong Side’). A name which seems to have stuck by some Cologners – Kölner, despite vast green areas and a beautiful panoramic city view.
But the districts on the ‚right‘ Rhine side such as Deutz, Mülheim and Kalk have changed a lot recently due to companies such as RTL – Germany’s biggest private TV channel, and large re-urbanisation programmes moving there.
‘Kölner’ are known for being open to new people, liberal
towards different lifestyles and their relaxed attitude. Cologners usually love their neighbourhood – Viertel and after a while people know one another and call out greetings on the street.
The city remains a cultural hotspot, famous for its museums, festivals and great nightlife. A popular destination, especially for bar-and restaurant-hoppers, who tend to live in parts of the New Town – Neustadt, such as the Belgian Quarter – Belgisches Viertel or Agnesviertel, and parts of the Old Town – Altstadt, such as Südstadt or Eigelsteinviertel.
Quieter than Cologne but still a prospering town with 327,900 inhabitants and attracting young professionals from the IT and communication industries.
Bonn is a city with a history jam-packed of interesting attractions that date back to over 2,000 years ago.
As well as the older sites, and museums, the city also has a variety of modern attractions, including contemporary art galleries, theatres and a great nightlife.
Many international schools are available in Bonn, either following the German or international curriculum.
Higher education institutes include the well-known Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, offering courses in English, with almost 35,000 students, and the private International University of Applied Sciences, with its international curriculum.
Main Industries in Nordrhein-Westfalen:
North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has always been Germany’s powerhouse with the largest economy among the German states by GDP figures. A dynamic business location with a great location in the heart of Europe.
NRW is full of highly qualified workers and academics. This is ensured by the 70 universities and universities of applied sciences with 768,000 students.
Nearly one in eight students in NRW has a foreign passport. This makes NRW Germany’s No. 1 breeding ground for talent.
The most important industries are mechanical engineering, food and beverage and metal production. Moreover, NRW is one of the key centres of the German automotive industry.
NRW ensures the best international connection including the densest rail network in Germany with about 6,000 km of tracks. More than 2,200 km of motorways and around 720 km of waterways with 120 ports, including the world’s largest inland port in Duisburg.
Interesting facts about Nordrhein-Westfalen:
- Bonn is the ex-capital of Germany. In 1949, after the end of the Second World War, the West German parliament declared Bonn to be the capital of the Federal Republic, while Berlin served as the capital of East Germany. The German reunification in 1990
resulted in Berlin being named the capital of Germany the following year. Bonn remained the seat of the government until 1999 when the move was completed, but it is still home to some ministries and federal officials.
- Cologne Cathedral, the city's most famous landmark, towering almost 160 meters high and dominates the skyline. While the foundations were laid in
1248, the cathedral was not completed until the
nineteenth century. Inside, the Shrine of the Three Kings, a masterpiece crafted in gold and said to contain the bones of the Three Wise Men, is well worth a visit.
- Every year, carnival-goers conquer the cities along the Rhine in the run-up to Ash Wednesday. Millions dress up in colourful costumes and celebrate. Germany's biggest Rose Monday - Rosenmontag parade is held in Cologne: with around 12,000 carnival revelers parading through the streets.
- The Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex is a visitors' magnet. The site once housed one of Europe's largest coal mines. Today, it's a UNESCO world heritage site. The old industrial buildings are centres of art and culture. The swimming pool on the site attracts huge crowds in the summer.
- Have you ever wondered where your favourite gummy bears come from? The short answer is Bonn. HARIBO is short for Hans Riegel Bonn, the founder of the jelly candy that has sweetened the lives of generations. The company was founded in 1920 and if you visit Bonn, you can explore the factory outlet on Bad Godesberg and stock up on your favourite sweets.
Population: 2.9 Million
Non-German Population: 250,798*
Area: 15,763 km2.
Schleswig-Holstein is the northernmost of the 16 federal states in Germany.
Abbreviated SH, it is bordered by Denmark to the North and the German states of Lower Saxony – Niedersachsen, Hamburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern to the South.
The state also incorporates two sea coasts:The North Sea to the West and the Baltic Sea to the East.
Schleswig-Holstein’s main economy is known in public service areas, such as education and health, trade, transport, accommodation and the information & communication services.
It’s a popular tourist destination for Germans with its spectacular beaches and landscape.
Living in Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is ranked the 11th most expensive and 10th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Schleswig-Holstein is $2491, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2 months.**
The landscape comprises of vast hilly landscapes, narrow paths as well as lakes, forests and of course the ocean and its beautiful beaches. Schleswig-Holstein has six nature parks.
Other highlights: Lighthouses, dike lambs and the mud flats or Wadden Sea.
The typical cuisine is fish and a classic is Labskaus which is a dish with a mix of meat, fish, potatoes, onions, beetroot, and a fried egg. It can take some getting used to for people who are not from Hamburg!
Top 3 Expat Cities in Schleswig-Holstein
The 3 best cities to live in Schleswig-Holstein are Kiel, Norderstedt, and Pinneberg. More than 30% of the population of Schleswig-Holstein live in cities with a quality of life of more than 71/100.**
Kiel is the capital of Schleswig-Holstein and has 242,000, inhabitants.
Known as the “The Sailing City”, Kiel is one of Germany’s most important maritime cities, hosting the world’s largest sailing event, the yearly Kiel Week sailing regatta.
Its ideal location makes it home to one of the main ports of the German navy and an important hub for ship building and sea transport, being on the Kiel Fjord and Kiel Canal, which is the world’s busiest canal.
Expats living in Kiel will find a wealthy city, where the average income is well above average in Germany.
Kiel is a versatile city, and boasts everything from a 13th century church to popular beaches for fun and relaxation.
A young city, Norderstedt is the fifth largest city in all of
Schleswig-Holstein and in direct proximity to Hamburg.
The city has a booming economy, and a population of 81.900 inhabitants.
The lush green city offers many parks, including a water park for hot days, playgrounds and recreational facilities.
The theater TriBühne Norderstedt hosts many concerts and performances and the Festival Hall on Falkenberg hosts family-oriented productions, and a children’s theatre. Norderstedt is easily accessible from literally any direction by all forms of transport.
Pinneberg is the capital of the district of Pinneberg and has a population of about 43,500 inhabitants. The city is located 18 km northwest of Hamburg.
Known in history as the village with a castle, the Pinneberg castle, although now in ruins, still has a history that goes back to 1351 and is a spectacular site to see.
The town will surprise you with its gourmet delights including the local home-made flour-bun Mehlbüddel.
A traditional dish of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg cuisine it was adopted from the English pudding around the late 17th century. The serviette dumpling spread to northern Germany, especially in Dithmarschen, where it took on the status of a national dish.
Pinneberg and its surroundings have plenty of sight-seeing opportunities for the whole family. Parks and swimming pools invite you to exercise or relax and the spectacular countryside for a hike. Drop into a café for a locally baked cake – Kuchen and coffee – Kaffee with a dash of cream – Sahne.
Main Industries in Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein’s main industries also include shipbuilding and fishing. Fish being the basis of its distinctive local cuisine.
Its offshore oil wells and wind farms also produce significant amounts of energy.
Interesting facts about Schleswig-Holstein:*
- Schleswig-Holstein has a remarkable four official languages – German, Low German, Danish and North Frisian. There is a Danish minority of around 50,000 inhabitants in the state.
- It has the largest national park in central Europe – the Wadden Sea National Park. The park incorporates part of the largest area of tidal flats in the world and has been an UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009.
- It has Germany’s only high sea island. Helgoland is a tiny speck of land 46 kilometres off the German coast.
- In 2014, Schleswig-Holstein became the first German State to cover 100 percent of its energy needs through renewable energy. With steady winds blowing in off the North Sea, the state creates most of its energy via wind turbines.
- The largest heavy metal festival in the world, the Wacken Open Air is hosted here. Every August, 75,000 metal heads arrive and things tend to get muddy… very muddy.
860 words Bianca Demsa
Saarland, abbreviated SL is the smallest German State in area apart from the city-states of Berlin, Bremen, and Hamburg, and the smallest in population apart from Bremen.
Strategically located on the border between France to the West and South and Germany to the North and East. It also shares a small border about 8 km long with Remich in Luxembourg to the Northwest.
Germany’s “Little France” as the state is sometimes called, has a long history of being passed back and forth between different rulers – mainly France.
Living in Saarland
Saarland is ranked the 10th most expensive and 15th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Saarland is $2317, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.9 months.
Saarland is among the most densely wooded regions of Germany. With forest covering over a third of its area, Saarland takes on a special international responsibility for the preservation of beech woods.
Locals are foodies with seven Michelin-starred restaurants and a cuisine that has both German and French influences. Quirky names stand for delicious, down-to-earth meals which include potatoes – Kartoffel, or in the dialect, “Grumbeeren”, pork and beans.
Apple wine – Apfelwein or “Viez” is considered the quintessential Saarland beverage. Locals mix it with mineral water called either Sauergespritzte or Apfelweinschorle or a sweet version, Süßgespritzte is with soda.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Saarland
The best 3 cities to live in Saarland are Neunkirchen, Saarbrucken, and Homburg. More than 30% population of Saarland live in cities with quality of life more than 69/100.
The former mining town is located on the River Blies, ca. 20 km northeast of Saarbrücken and with about 50,000 inhabitants, Saarland’s 2nd-largest city.
The name of the town originates from “An der neuen Kirche” meaning “by the new church” not from “nine churches” as often assumed.
Optimal transport connections and a central location allow you fast access to France, Luxembourg and Belgium, but also German neighbouring cities such as Trier, Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken.
The capital of Saarland, Saarbrücken, or ‘The City of Bridges’, is a beautiful German town that lies southwest of Germany and borders on France.
With a population of 180,000, Saarbrücken was first settled more than 2,000 years ago. The city is a fusion of three former towns: St. Johann, Malstatt-Burbach and Saarbrücken that were brought together in 1909.
Historical architecture dates back to the 16th century including the stone bridge that stretches across the River Saar.
An economic hot spot with a modern metropolitan Franco- German atmosphere, expats can enjoy four universities, more than 15,000 businesses and a major centre for mechanical engineering, ceramics, automobiles and pharmaceuticals.
With a population of 43,029 inhabitants (2022), Homburg is the third largest town in the state and is located in the northern part of the Saarpfalz district, bordering Rhineland-Palatinate.
Both Neunkirchen at 16 km and Saarbrücken at 36 km are located nearby and easily accessible from Homburg.
The important medical department of the University of Saarland is also situated here.
The city is also home to the Karlsberg beer brewery, so good for beer lovers!
Main Industries in Saarland
Saarland’s central location and neighbours France and Luxembourg has always meant an international focus which has transformed the state into a blossoming and innovative economic hub with global connections.
A strong industrial foundation (cars and steel in particular) has led to major successes in attracting firms such as Ford, ZF, Fresenius, Bosch and Michelin. Over 200 industrial businesses now employ over 116,000
Interesting facts about Saarland:
- Saarland used its own currency. The Saar franc, and postage stamps were issued specially for the territory until 1959.
- The 400-kilometre-long Saarland circuit hiking trail is split into 20 beautifully landscaped stages and means you can it takes you 20 days to see everything.
- The German-French border cuts right through the tiny village of Leidingen. The vast majority live in Germany and a couple of dozen in France.
- Different laws and regulations apply, two official languages and if locals call their foreign neighbour metres across the border, they have to dial the country code and pay the international fee!
- Make a stop at Mettlach. It houses the headquarters of world-renowned Villeroy and Boch. Founded in 1748 one highlight is the 1892 dairy shop which is decorated from floor to ceiling in more than 15,000 hand-painted tiles.
- A primeval forest with a tram connection? No, it’s not Harry Potter but Germany's only primeval forest, 1,000 hectares located just outside the gates of the Saarland.
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg-West Pomerania)
Population: 1.6 Million
Non-German Population: 87.410
Area: 23,173 km2.
The most northeastern federal state in Germany, Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern borders the Baltic Sea to the North, Poland to the East, Brandenburg to the South, Lower Saxony to the Southwest and Schleswig-Holstein to the West.
Abbreviated MV, the state is the 6th largest state in Germany in surface area, yet the least-densely populated. Founded in
1945, MV’s history goes back even further to over 12.000 years after the Ice Age.
Living in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is ranked 8th most expensive and 14th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is $2243, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.8 months.
MV has a moderate climate and its landscape is very much shaped by the glacial forces of the last Ice Age. Lakes and forests cover one-fifth of the area and two-thirds of the state is in agricultural hands.
The typical cuisine is characterised and produced by the surrounding Pomeranian farms. Such as swede – Wruken and sugar beet, poultry, including the famous Pomeranian goose, and fish from the Baltic Sea, rivers and lakes. The food is hearty. Potatoes, known as Tüften, are prepared in various ways and whose significance is marked by the West Pomeranian Potato Museum – Vorpommersches Kartoffelmuseum.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
The 3 best cities to live in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are Rostock, Schwerin, and Wismar. More than 30% population of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern live in cities with quality of life more than 64/100.
Rostock is a city in Northern Germany and is located right by the Baltic Sea. Rostock is the largest city in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and stretches for about 20 km along the Warnow River.
The town has a unique maritime flair and expats can enjoy the city’s sandy beaches and sailing festivals such as the famous Baltic Sea Jazz Festival. The city has a rich extensive history and is a popular tourist destination.
Rostock deserves credit for being one of the lowest crime cities in the country.
Another institution of higher learning is The Academy of Music and Theatre which offers graduate degree programmes in an array of artistic disciplines.
Other noteworthy institutions include the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis.
The largest industries include biotech, IT, service industry, tourism and maritime industry particularly shipbuilding.
Largest employers include Caterpillar Inc., Neptun Werft, Nordex SE, Suzlon, AIDA Cruises, Yara International and the University of Rostock.
Schwerin is the capital of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and famous for its palace. But has also developed into an established city of major, internationally operating companies.
A lake-view is almost inescapable here, with lakes making up about a third of the entire area of the city.
There are currently over 5,300 employees in the manufacturing sector, 1,000 in artisan enterprises and some 1,000 men and women work in the Schwerin Industrial Park alone.
The city is located on the Baltic Sea and was originally a trading port. Wismar was part of the powerful trading group called the Hanseatic League which gave it the official name: The Hanseatic City (Hansestadt) of Wismar.
The city has around 43,000 inhabitants and is the 6th largest city of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The old town (Altstadt) is listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002 and includes the city’s stunning architecture from 14th century Gothic to 19th century Art Nouveau which is often seen in film and television.
Wismar has one higher education institution: The Hochschule Wismar – University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design.
Founded in 1908, the university offers courses in engineering, business and design. The technical university, has more than 100 international partners from places as diverse as Cape Town and Hyderabad.
Jobs in Wismar can be found in shipbuilding or logistical services, which play a big part in the economy of this port city.
Every year, Wismar also hosts the ‚Schwedenfest‘. This festival is a highlight and commemorates and celebrates Wismar’s time spent under Swedish rule.
Main Industries in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
A hub for Scandinavia and the Baltic area, the region offers modern harbours directly connected to important trans- European transport routes. It is fully integrated into international transport and logistics networks.
Globally competitive segments such as renewable energy technology, precision mechanics and materials handling have excellent prospects in the state.
The highly specialised automotive and aerospace supply industry is also growing. Products from research projects developed in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern have been marketed and sold internationally.
Interesting facts about Mecklenburg-Vorpommern:
- Mecklenburg-Vorpommern does not only possess the longest name of all 16 German states, it also has three of Germany’s 14 National Parks, and the country’s two largest islands - Rügen and Usedom.
- With over 2,000 lakes and almost 2,000 km of coastline, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is a water-lover’s paradise. The state’s Baltic coastline attracts massive numbers of tourists each summer.
- The University of Rostock, established in 1419, and the University of Greifswald, established in 1456, are among the oldest universities in Europe.
- The old harbour (Alter Hafen) in Wismar was featured in the 1922 Dracula movie Nosferatu.
887 words Bianca Demsa
Population: 13.1 Million
Non-German Population: 2.05 Million
Area: 70,550.19 km2.
Bavaria is the largest German federal state, covering approximately one-fifth of the country’s entire land area. The state shares its border with Austria and Switzerland and neighbouring states include Thuringia, Saxony, Baden- Württemberg and Hesse. It’s the second-most populous state in Germany, after North Rhine-Westphalia.
The history of Bavaria goes back to the 6th century, making it one of the oldest states in Europe.
Bavarians have traditionally been proud of their culture, which includes a language with many dialects, cuisine, architecture and alpine folk festivals.
Living in Bavaria
Bavaria ranked 3rd most expensive and 4th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Bavaria is $2814, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.9 months.
The landscape is a hilly state of high plateaus and medium- sized mountains that climb south towards the Bavarian Alps and Germany’s highest point, the 2.962-metre mountain known as the “Zugspitze”.
The state can be divided into 4 main regions: the Alps, forming a natural border with Austria; the Alpine foothills, famous for its picturesque lakes and cosy ski resorts; the Eastern Bavarian central mountains, home to the first-ever national park in Germany; and the colourful hills of Swabia-Franconia.
The main rivers that run through Bavaria are the Danube and the Main.
The old Bavarian cuisine is closely connected to Czech and Austrian dishes, especially from Tyrol and Salzburg and so the typical Bavarian cuisine is a meat lovers paradise! Knödel, a type of dumpling, is hugely popular here and due to its rural conditions and cold climate, beets and potatoes grow best and are a staple diet for Bavarians – Bäyern.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Baden-Württemberg
3 best cities to live in Bavaria are Munich, Nuremberg, and Erlangen. More than 30% population of Bavaria live in cities with quality of life more than 70/100.
Munich – München is great city for expats. It’s a thriving international city, smaller but with a bigger-city-feel and you have nature simultaneously.
It’s safe, cosmopolitan, and clean. It’s a city in the traditional sense, where you can find all the typical German stereotypes such as lederhosen, beer, Dirndls, pretzels, but the atmosphere is cosy.
The international airport in the city provides global access and you will also find a large number of international restaurants in Munich, as well as an excellent beer scene! It’s a popular expat city for its high quality of life and work-life balance.
But it’s also worth noting that Munich is one of the most expensive cities in the country and finding affordable housing is difficult.
Munich is a great city for professionals, families and those looking to retire as well. Munich is home to many global companies. There are endless job opportunities for professionals in business, art, tourism, technology, culture, finance and more.
Nuremberg or Nürnberg is the second largest city after Munich in Bavaria, with a population of over 500,000 and is very popular among expats.
The 14th largest city in Germany can be found on the banks of the Pegnitz River and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal and neighbouring cities include Fürth, Erlangen and Schwabach.
Sites to see include Nuremberg Castle, one of Europe’s largest castles and the Staatstheater Nürnberg. One of the five Bavarian State theatres showing operas, musicals, ballets, plays and concerts.
Bavaria’s third-largest and Germany’s 11th-largest university.is the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg – Friedrich-Alexander- Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg.
Nuremberg Airport – Flughafen Nürnberg “Albrecht Dürer“ is the second-busiest airport after Munich and the tenth-busiest airport of the country.
It is the smallest of the eight major cities in Bavaria and has about 116,000 inhabitants.
Erlangen has a proud heritage and the University of Erlangen- Nuremberg gives the city a strong educational atmosphere and intellectual economy.
There are a wide range of cultural attractions and the city is located near one of the most scenic areas of Germany: Franconian Switzerland with numerous rocks and caves. Other highlights include the Erlanger Bergkirchweih and the International Comic Salon.
Main Industries in Bavaria
Today, industrial companies in Bavaria contribute significantly to the economic power of the state. Three of the largest industrial companies in the State as well as in Germany include BMW AG, Siemens AG and AUDI AG.
Interesting facts about Bavaria:
- Bavaria is home to the over 200 year old Oktoberfest. The first Oktoberfest festival took place in 1810 to honour Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage, and today it is associated with German beer, cuisine and Bavarian culture.
- The world famous Neuschwanstein Castle is located in Füssen, Bavaria. This fairytale castle was built by King Ludwig II (1845- 1886).
- The Neues Kino Gabriel is most likely the oldest cinema in the world. It has existed since 1906 and it’s been open ever since.
- An earthenware amphora, discovered in a Celtic chieftain's burial mound in Kasendorf dates back to 800 BCE and considers to be the oldest evidence of beer-making in Europe.
855 words Bianca Demsa
Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony)
Population: 7.9 Million
Non-German Population: 895.490
Lower Saxony is a German State in northwestern Germany. Abbreviated NI, it’s the second-largest state by land area and fourth-largest in population.
Niedersachsen borders more neighbours than any other Bundesland, including Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Living in Niedersachsen
Lower Saxony is ranked 9th most liveable and 12th most expensive state in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Lower Saxony is $2548, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2.1 months.The scenery is unique and characterised by flat plains but also mountainous and maritime areas. Significant natural borders include the North Sea and the Harz in the south-east with valleys, mountains, meadows and forests.
Food and drink is a cultural asset in Niedersachsen and Lower Saxon cuisine or Niedersächsische Küche covers a range of regional, North German culinary traditions.
Be it sausage (Knipp, Bregenwurst or Kohlwurst, take your pick), herrings, North Sea crabs or the local white asparagus – Spargel, most dishes are (unsurprisingly), accompanied by Germany’s favourite vegetable, the potato. Preferably boiled – Salzkartoffel.
Kale or Grünkohl, known regionally in Bremen and Brunswick Land as Braunkohl, is also a popular tasty winter dish and eaten with Pinkel sausages.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Niedersachsen
The 3 best cities to live in Lower Saxony are Hanover, Braunschweig, and Wolfsburg. More than 30% population of Lower Saxony live in cities with quality of life more than 71/100.
Lower Saxony’s State capital Hannover is a gateway to the Rhine, Ruhr and Saar river valleys. The city is green, laid-back, inexpensive, and has good public transport and a wealth of culture, all within easy reach of the largest urban forest in Europe.
It is the third-largest city in Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen and is a city of huge historical significance reflected in many sights within the city. The Historic Museum displays the long history of Hannover in great detail, including the city’s links to the British royal family.
This historically important centre of trade was once a member of the Hanseatic League. Nowadays, it’s the largest city between Hannover and Berlin, and is known as the “Lion City” after the monument in its main square, erected by Henry the Lion in 1166.
The city has that special charm of a vibrant city centre and yet has green recreational oases. It has 250,000 inhabitants and a diverse cultural life with renowned museums, fantastic theatre and concert events, art exhibitions and top sporting events.
With its wide range of attractive shops and a endless restaurants, Braunschweig is also worth a visit as a popular shopping town.
Wolfsburg is the 5th-largest city in the German State of Lower Saxony, located on the Aller River. It lies about 75 km east of Hanover and 230 km west of Berlin.
Wolfsburg was originally founded in 1938 as a town to house the workers assembling Volkswagen Beetles in the nearby factory. It’s still the location for Volkswagen’s AG’s headquarters and today is home to the biggest car plant in the world.
The Autostadt is a visitor attraction that features the company’s model range: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Ducati, Lamborghini, MAN, Neoplan, Porsche, Scania, SEAT, Škoda Auto and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
Main Industries in Niedersachsen
Agriculture and especially the livestock area, has always been a very important economic factor in the state. The North and northwest of Lower Saxony are mainly made up of coarse sandy soil that makes crop farming difficult and therefore grassland and cattle farming are more prevalent in those areas.
Lower Saxony is also among the front-runners in many different branches of a global industry. Automotive and auto parts, shipbuilding, and the chemicals and food industries are to name a few. But also growth sectors of the future, such as regenerative and renewable energies and aerospace.
Interesting facts about Niedersachsen:
- It’s the State of cows and cars!
- It's rich in horses! - There’s even a horse on it's crest!
- People from Lower Saxony are known for being direct and a bit stubborn.
- They are the largest producer of white asparagus in Germany.
- They're also known for their humour, even though it takes a while to understand it 😉
- Some of the famous sports played in Hannover is football, rugby, ice hockey, golf and water sports.
Bianca Demsa Words: 743
Population: 2.1 Million
Non-German Population: 126.270*
Area: 16,171 km2.
Thuringia, officially the Free State of Thuringia – Freistaat Thüringen is a state of central Germany and the 6th-smallest of the 16 German states.
Thuringia is bordered by Bavaria, Hesse, Lower Saxony,
Saxony-Anhalt, and Saxony. It has been known as “the green heart of Germany” – das grüne Herz Deutschlands from the late 19th century due to its broad, dense forest.
Historically and culturally significant residents include Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach.
Living in Thüringen
Thuringia is ranked 13th most expensive and 11th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Thuringia is $2554, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2.2 months.
The state of Thuringia is known for its spectacular landscape which is characterised by picturesque hillside, mountain regions and a large reservoir located on the Saale. A unique red beech forest habitat has also been preserved in the Hainich National Park south of Mühlhausen.
Who invented the potatoes dumplings? That’s one thing Saxons and Thuringians can’t seem to agree on but to these avid potato dumpling lovers, these round delicacies take such a centre stage that main dishes are often downgraded to mere accompaniment status!
Thuringia’s biggest food festival is the onion fair held in Weimar. It looks back on a long tradition, going back to 1653 and visitors can sample onion specialties from delicious soups, stews, breads and tarts from over 500 booths.
The market’s signature trophy are decorative onion braids. They are cleaned, sorted by colour and size and craftily twisted around a straw core. Dried flowers, herbs and even garlic decorate the braid and contains up to 60 red and yellow onions.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Thüringen
The 3 best cities to live in Thuringia are Jena, Erfurt, and Gera. More than 30% population of Thuringia live in cities with quality of life more than 69/100.
Jena is located in eastern central Germany in the state of Thuringia. South-west of Leipzig, the city is surrounded by some of the most heavily forested land in Germany.
The city has a population of just over 100,000, but together with the bordering cities of Weimar and Erfurt, it makes up the central metropolitan area of the state of Thuringia, with a joint population of around 500,000.
The city is one of the most important economic centres of eastern Germany and a renowned centre of research and education. Many academic expats apply to the renowned Friedrich Schiller University.
You can get the best skyline view from the city’s tallest building, the Jen Tower, and its viewing platform and sky restaurant.
The ancient city of Erfurt is Thuringia’s capital and well-known for its beautiful architecture.
Locally known as ‘The Rome of Thuringia’, Erfurt lives up to its nickname by sitting at the geographical heart of Germany and playing an important role in Europe’s past.
Martin Luther studied here before moving to Wittenberg. You can visit one of Germany’s first universities and the oldest synagogue in Europe, founded in 1094.
With around 100,000 inhabitants, Gera it is the 3rd-largest city in the Free State of Thüringen after Erfurt and Jena and was home to Otto Dix – one of the most distinguished artists of the 20th century.
The City lies in picturesque Thuringian Hill Country, between Greiz and Leipzig, and it’s also the easternmost city of the Thüringer Städtekette; an almost straight string of cities including the 6-largest Thuringian cities Eisenach, Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and Gera.
In 1990, Gera became part of re-established Thuringia and many of Gera’s buildings were restored. Big urban planning programmes like the Bundesgartenschau 2007 stimulated Gera’s economy.
Sights include the royal residence Epoque and many public and private residences from the economic heyday between 1870- 1930.
Main Industries in Thüringen
Due to its central location the region has always functioned as a vital hub of commerce and trade. It was in the “Free States” of Thuringia and Saxony where the industrialisation of Germany started.
Today, Thuringia continues this vital tradition but attracts future-oriented technologies thanks to continuous reconstruction and reinvention.
Interesting facts about Thüringen:
- One of the most well-known hiking routes in Europe, the Rennsteig, runs along a mountain range for 168.
- The area is home to Europe’s longest sled dog race “Trans Thüringia” at 400.
- The recipes and names for Thuringia’s famous dumplings vary from region to region, and the precise techniques are often a well-kept family.
- In 1995 the longest onion braid ever crafted for the Weimar market measured an unbelievable 5 metres and was suspended from the tower of city.
Non-German Population: 140.330*
Area: 419.38 km2.
Officially the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen – Freie Hansestadt Bremen, the 11th largest city in Germany and the smallest and least populous of Germany’s 16 states. Abbreviated BRE, the City State is located on the River Weser and is informally named Land Bremen.
The State consists of the city of Bremen and its seaport exclave, Bremerhaven, surrounded by the larger state of Lower Saxony in northern Germany.
Living in Bremen
Bremen State ranked 7th most expensive and 3rd best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Bremen State is $2072, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.7 months.
The State has a mild climate and the inner city lies on a Weser dune, named the Hills of Bremen.
Despite its industrial reputation and mercantile history, Bremen has dozens of theatres, museums and galleries, charming medieval architecture and the oldest coffee house in Germany.
Most of these are concentrated in the Old Town, especially in the Schnoorviertel, a district that was restored to its original 16th- and 17th-century appearance during the post-World War II reconstruction.
Parks are located all over the city and offer a relaxing contrast to Bremen’s often hectic pace. The best known are the Bürgerpark, with its famous rhododendron gardens, and the former demolished ramparts, which now form promenades surrounding the Old Town.
The typical cuisine includes Kohl und Pinkel (kale and sausage),
Labskaus (meat stew), fried smelt (small silvery sea fish)
and Knipp (sausage with groats and meat).
Top 2 Expat Cities in Bremen
Bremen State ranked 3rd most liveable and 7th most expensive state in Germany.
The 2 best cities to live in Bremen State are Bremen City and Bremerhaven. More than 30% population of Bremen State live in cities with quality of life more than 87/100.
To this day, Bremen’s proud history of autonomy and global trade is reflected in the city’s architecture, traditions and social life, which form a rich melting pot of cultures that makes you feel at home – and the statue of Roland, the symbol of civic liberty and freedom, still stands proudly in the city’s main square.
Bremen City is the heart of the Weser metropolis, and its multifaceted living areas give you a mix of tradition and modernity, big city atmosphere yet short distances.
Guests come from all over the world, whether to shop, find accommodation on ships or in exquisite hotels or visit the “Guten Stube“ in the town hall, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004.
Other outstanding features in the Altstadt, or Old Town, in the restored heart of the city, is the famous marketplace with its 11th-century cathedral, a picturesque row of old gabled houses, and the modern-style Parliament.
Bremerhaven is a young city. Tourists flock to the Alten and Neuen Hafen (old and new port), the new German Emigration Centre, the Maritime and Historical Museums and the Zoo at the Sea which families love.
Bremerhaven presents itself as a city in transition. New attractions include the Harbor Worlds Bremerhaven incorporating the Climate Experience Centre, the SAIL City look-out platform, and the Lloyd Marina shopping centre.
As part of this development, there has been intense focus on cooperations with research and educational institutions such as the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research at Bremerhaven University using marine biological applications, offshore wind energy and food technology.
Main Industries in Bremen
The economic life of the state reflects the historical interconnection of shipping, foreign trade, and industry.
The port facilities of Bremen and Bremerhaven, (administratively and economically one unit) incorporate free- port status, meaning imported goods can be handled and stored without time limits and without customs formalities.
Goods include mixed cargo, grain, coal, ore, and oil and the merchant fleet of Bremen consists of several hundred seagoing vessels and many barges.
Local steelworks and machine-building industries specialise in equipment for shipbuilding, trucks and machinery for growth industries.
Bremen also has many banks and insurance companies, a stock exchange, and cotton- and tobacco-marketing centres. The importance of its overseas connections is illustrated by the presence of many foreign consulates.
Interesting facts about Bremen:
- The quality of wine from Bremen is amazing. It was produced for the first time around 800 years ago and the largest wine cellar in the world is located beneath the main square.
- Bremen is famous for the German fairy tale “The Bremen Town Musicians”. Donkey, dog, cat and rooster have become the city’s symbol. But did you know that Robinson Crusoe’s father came from Bremen? You can find a house dedicated to the novel on Böttcherstraße.
- Bremen is known as the City of Space. The city is home to ArianeGroup, Airbus and OHB, three of the world’s most important space.
- The beloved Beck’s brewery was founded in Beck’s founders even took inspiration from Bremen’s Coat of Arms to create the company logo.
- No other German city has more green spaces than Bremen—with 70% more green space per inhabitant than Berlin.
Non-German Population: 2.5 Million (Urban) 1.85 Million
Area: 755,2 km2.
Germany’s second biggest city after Berlin, Hamburg is a major transport, industrial, financial and media hub. Officially the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg – Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg as well as the overall 7th largest city and largest non- capital city in the European Union with a population of over 1.85 million.
The city lies on the River Elbe and two of its tributaries, the River Alster and the River Bille. Hamburg is surrounded by Schleswig-Holstein to the north and Lower Saxony to the south.
Living in Hamburg
Hamburg City State is ranked 1st most expensive and 1st best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Hamburg State is $3018, which is enough to cover living expenses for 1.7 months.
The heart of the city is the Altstadt (Old Town) with its Alster Lake, measuring 455 acres (184 hectares) and divided by the Lombardsbrücke into the Binnenalster (Inner Alster) and the Aussenalster (Outer Alster). Many waterways, navigable by canal boats, run into the Aussenalster.
Due to its location on the Elbe River and near the sea the regional cuisine features a lot of fish dishes like Matjes, Bismarckhering or Green Herring. Another famous fish dish is Räucheraal, which is a smoked eel and was already sold by street vendors in the early 19th century
Other popular snacks are curry sausage or Currywurst which comes in a variety of sausages, or Knackwurst and spice ranges.
Top Expat City in Hamburg
The best place to live in Hamburg State is Hamburg City. More than 30% population live in the inner city with a quality of life more than 93/100.
Main Industries in Hamburg
The port of Hamburg makes this northern German City one of the most important economic centres in Europe. Everything from coffee, cocoa beans, tea, spices, tobacco and sugar are imported and exported from this leading location and international food companies such as Unilever and Kellogg’s operate DACH headquarters in Hamburg.
But Hamburg is much more than its port. Other main industries include: Airbus Operations GmbH, Aurubis (copper), Jungheinrich AG, (intralogistics), Nordex SE, (renewable energy) and Senvion Deutschland GmbH (wind energy).
The media and advertising is also widespread in Hamburg with various publishing houses from Axel Springer to Burda and startup companies in real estate and design are sprouting by the minute.
Interesting facts about Hamburg:
- Hamburg has the most bridges of any city in the world. Estimates at between 2300-2500.
- The over 100 Lake Alster swans are looked after by the Schwanenvater “the swan father” since the 17th century.
- The Herbertstraße in St. Pauli district is Hamburg’s shortest and most notorious street. It is closed for women… unless they’re prostitutes.
- The Beatles launched their career in Hamburg giving an estimated 273 shows in Hamburg between 1960 and 1962.
Hamburg’s City Hall has more rooms than Buckingham Palace. 647 to be exact. That’s 6 more than in London.
- It’s home to the world’s biggest miniature railway world built by twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Braun in 2000 with a track of over 16,000 meters.
- Citizens of Hamburg are called "hamburgers“.
Population: 2.19 Million
Non-German Population: 127.670*
Area: 20,451 km2
Saxony-Anhalt or Sachsen-Anhalt is the youngest of the German Bundesländer (federal states) and borders Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia and Lower Saxony.
Abbreviated ST, it’s the 8th-largest state in Germany by area, the 11th-largest by population and its largest city is Halle (Saale).
Living in Sachsen-Anhalt
Saxony-Anhalt is ranked the 14th most expensive and the 13th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Saxony-Anhalt is $2427, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2.1 months.
A good majority of the ST landscape is made up of the flat expanse of the North German Plain and beautiful nature can be found in the Harz National Park and the Middle Elbe UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Known as the heartland of German history, Saxony-Anhalt has five UNESCO World Heritage sites to offer. The picturesque timbered town of Quedlinburg, the Lutheran sites in Eisleben and Wittenberg, the Bauhaus and masters’ houses in Dessau, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz and since 2018 the Naumburger Dom.
For cheese and wine lovers, a well-known specialty is the “Börde Speck“ a semi-soft cheese specialty. And the least known “culinary secret” is Saxony Anhalt’s “Saale-Unstrut” wine region.
Along the Saale river valley between Weimar and Leipzig, is one of Germany’s oldest and northern- most wine cultivations. Gourmet grapes such as the Müller Thurgau, Pinot Blanc and Riesling are produced by small vineyards that make high quality wines.
Top 2 Expat Cities in Sachsen-Anhalt
The 2 best cities to live in Saxony-Anhalt are Halle and Bitterfeld-Wolfen.
More than 30% population of Saxony-Anhalt live in cities with quality of life more than 71/100.
Located in the east of Germany and with a population of around 231,000, this pretty city of ancient spires is also known as ‘The City of the Five Towers’. Halle is one of eastern Germany’s most important centres of education and business.
A bustling centre that is at the core of a budding start-up culture. The job market is vibrant, with growing sectors including solar power, banking, and tech development.
Out of around 239,000 locals, 23,000 are students at Martin Luther University – one of Germany’s most famous educational establishments and a national hub for medicine, natural sciences, botanical research, and agriculture.
Plus it’s very international, with 2,100 foreign students and numerous English language courses.
The city is located in the south-east of ST and in the Anhalt-Bitterfeld district, west of the River Mulde.
The name is owed to the fairly recent merger of Bitterfeld and Wolfen and the municipalities Greppin, Holzweißig and Thalheim on 1 July 2007.
Bitterfeld-Wolfen is a surprising city of change. A green industrial city on a 25 km2 waterfront lake area which was created by flooding the “Goitzsche” opencast mine. A paradise for nature lovers with a promenade, harbour, the “high water tower” and several beaches.
The city offers a well-balanced setting for residents whatever age and status. From first-class modern housing and a good network of health and social services to exemplary childcare, a new hospital and various educational opportunities.
Educational opportunities are aplenty and includes a music school as well as a community college. All-day care is also available for toddlers to young school children in 24 care centres.
Main Industries in Sachsen-Anhalt
Aspirin manufacturer Bayer has a large complex in Bitterfeld.
Magdeburg is Saxony-Anhalt’s major service and university centre in the North and an important inland port and trucking centre.
Interesting facts about Sachsen-Anhalt :
- There are ties to the present British and Belgian royal families. They descend in patrilineal line from the House of Wettin, which originated in the village of the same name along the Saale River.
- The Saxony - Anhalt locals are early birds and get up 10 minutes earlier than the rest of Germany!
- 80% of residents are non-religious which might even be in relation to…Martin Luther (1483-1546) who was an Augustinian monk and university lecturer in Wittenberg. He composed his “95 Theses,” which protested the pope’s sale of reprieves from penance and indulgences. He had hoped to modernise the church, but in 1521 he was summoned before the Diet of Worms and excommunicated.
- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche also came from the area, and was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar, whose work has had a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.
- The sparkling wine - Sekt brand Rotkäppchen (“Red Riding Hood”) was originally founded here in 1856 in Freyburg, Saxony Anhalt. It started out as the wine shop Kloss & Foerster and created the Rotkäppchen brand in 1895. It grew to become Germany’s leading supplier of sparkling wine and spirits.
Population: 4.1 Million
Non-German Population: 244.415 Million*
Area: 18,413 km2.
Officially the Free State of Saxony and abbreviated SN, Saxony is the 10th largest of Germany’s 16 states and bordering states include Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, as well as Poland and the Czech Republic.
With a history spanning more than a millennium, the state has been a medieval duchy, an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, a kingdom, and twice a republic.
The Erzgebirge – Ore Mountains, between Germany and the Czech Republic, are also known as the “Land of Christmas.” The region owes its festive fame to its world-renowned seasonal wooden handicrafts.
Regional craftsmen have exhibited their wooden works of art at the Leipzig trade fair for over 300 years, since 1699.
Living in Sachsen
Saxony is ranked 15th most expensive and 5th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Saxony is $2401, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2.1 months.Saxony’s south is formed by various mountain ranges. Giant sandstone rock formations – Sandsteingebirge (Sandstone Mountains) are also referred to as Sächsische Schweiz – Saxon Switzerland. They are a favourite tourist attraction and popular amongst rock climbers.
The German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen – Gaffee un Guchn in the Saxon dialect – coffee and cake, originates in Saxony and the Saxons were the first to serve cake with their coffee.
No other region in Germany has such a distinct and rich café- culture as Saxony. This can also be seen in the beautiful old coffeehouses of Dresden and in Leipzig, where the first German café was opened.
What would a German Christmas be without the traditional sweet bread called Dresdner Stollen*. Saxony is also home to Germany’s oldest Christmas market, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden, the earliest record of which dates back to 1434.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Sachsen
The 3 best cities to live in Saxony are Leipzig, Dresden, and Delitzsch. More than 30% population of Saxony live in cities with quality of life more than 72/100.
Modern Leipzig is known as Saxony’s economic powerhouse but its worldwide reputation is founded on the city’s importance as a music, publishing and trade show centre.
Without a doubt, the city’s most famous resident is baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who lived in Leipzig from 1723 until his death in 1950.
Leipzig is one of the most liveable cities in Germany. A vibrant city where the past decades have seen a fast-paced gentrification into a modern haven.
Saxony’s capital Dresden is also known as Elbflorenz, or “Florence on the Elbe.”
Pre-World War II Dresden was an architectural marvel and named the Jewel Box because of its stunning baroque and rococo city centre.
By the end of the war the centre was almost completely destroyed but brought back to some of its former glory through reconstruction.
As the greenest city in Germany, Dresden has numerous parks and green spaces, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Elbe Valley.
Many expats send their children to the excellent international school where they can be taught in English. There is also the BIP Kreativitätsgrundschule, which teaches in German, French, Arabic, and English.
Dresden is also home to one of Germany’s best universities, the Dresden University of Technology which is ranked in the top 10 universities in the country.
Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Dresden University of Applied Sciences, and the Carl Maria von Weber College of Music are further institutions of higher education.
Delitzsch is a town 20 km north of Leipzig and 30 km east of Halle (Saale). With ca. 25,570 inhabitants and is the largest town in the district of Nordsachsen.
The first mention of Delitzsch dates from 1166 and the old town is well preserved, with several plazas, citizens’ and patrician houses, towers, a baroque castle and the town’s fortifications.
Delitzsch is good for nature lovers with waterways, hiking and cycling networks and nature reserves.
Main Industries in Saxony
The State owes much of its strong economy to the 3 major cities Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz, which together once formed one of the most important industrial centres in Germany.
Interesting facts about Sachsen:
- Dresden has the most beautiful dairy shop in the world. Pfunds Molkerei is decorated with neo-Renaissance tiles and was added in 1998 to the Guinness Book of World.
- Toothpaste was invented in Dresden. Pharmacist Ottomar Heinsius von Mayenburg produced the first version in 1907.
- The coffee filter was invented in Dresden in 1908 by Amalie Melitta Bentz. Her name is still associated with the filter company Melitta, although no longer based in Dresden.
- The name “Stollen*” is taken from miners’ language and describes a support beam, a fitting name for a sweetbread without which Christmas in Germany just would not feel complete. Another interpretation compares the shape and look of this seasonal specialty to the swaddled newborn Jesus.
Population: 6.3 Million
Non-German Population: 1.16 Million
Area: 21,116 km2.
Hesse is a federal state in west-central Germany that is bordered by the states of Lower Saxony, Thuringia, Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine- Westphalia.
Hesse, abbreviated HE, has around 6 million inhabitants, most of them living in the Rhine-Main region of the Southwest.
Hesse features a wide variety of cultural offerings from 3 State Theaters, numerous cultural events to fortresses, castles and parks.
Living in Hessen
Hesse is ranked 4th most expensive and 6th best state to live in Germany.
The average salary after taxes in Hesse is $2705, which is enough to cover living expenses for 2 months.
Lying between the Upper Rhine Plateau and the Thuringian Forest, Hesse is the greenest state in Germany, with ca. 42 % of its surface area covered mainly by beech and conifer trees. The landscape is hilly, with numerous mountain ranges including the Rhön, the Westwald, the Taunus and the Vogelsberg,
Hesse also owes its lushness to the 5 rivers that run through the state: the Fulda and Eder to the North, the Lahn in central Hesse and the Main and Rhine rivers to the South.
Southwestern Hessen is industrial, but it’s also an area of intensive agriculture. The rivers provide for the vineyards, orchards, grain, potato and tobacco crops found flourishing there. Livestock farms focus on butter and cheese production.
Traditional dishes include sauerkraut, fried potatoes and schnitzel and Hesse’s most famous invention, the Frankfurter sausage. Hessians also love their cheese. A popular dish in Apple Wine Taverns is “Handkäs mit Musik”. A tangy local cheese served with a vinegar dressing, vegetable oil and onions.
One regional speciality you’ll constantly see is green sauce – Grüne Soße or Grie Soss in Hessian. Served with almost everything, green sauce was allegedly Goethe’s favourite dish.
It has become such a cultural icon that it even has its own festival.
Top 3 Expat Cities in Hessen
The 3 best cities to live in Hesse are Frankfurt, Darmstadt, and Marburg. More than 30% population of Hesse live in cities with quality of life more than 73/100.
Nicknamed “Mainhatten”, due to its location on the River Main, Frankfurt is the home of business and finance in Germany. A mixture of modern towering skyscrapers and smartly dressed financiers with historical medieval architecture and a laid-back student population.
Frankfurt am Main boasts the highest concentration of expats in Germany, with around a third of its residents not holding a German passport.
Hesse’s former state capital is an epicentre for science and technology in Germany. Although a large part of the centre was destroyed during World War II, Darmstadt still features plenty of culture, museums, and historic architecture. Enjoy the Herrengarten, an English-style park or the Russian Orthodox Chapel. The city is perfect for families and young couples.
Many expats also describe the city as peaceful and calm, particularly in comparison to its Frankfurt neighbour.
This picturesque university city dating back to the 16th century is picture-postcard Germany. Cobblestoned streets, medieval architecture, river views and countless restaurants and bars.
The town area spreads along the valley of the River Lahn and has a population of approximately 76,000 and few tourists.
Because of the academic and international character of the town, most people speak some degree of English and 12% of students are international, which is the highest level in the state of Hesse. The town’s economy is dominated by the university, which provides jobs both for academics and customers for the cafés, bars and restaurants of the town.
Main Industries in Hessen
Today, Hesse functions as the financial capital of mainland Europe. Over 200 national and international banks, including the European Central Bank and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, have registered offices in the largest city in Hesse.
Industry in Hesse is concentrated primarily in the Rhine-Main region. Traditionally with a high proportion of chemical- pharmaceutical industries and automobile production. This is also evident in the listing of the 3 largest industrial companies in Hesse. Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA, Bad-Homburg v.d.H. and Heraeus Holding GmbH, Hanau which are both pharmaceutical companies and Opel Automobile GmbH, Rüsselsheim.
Interesting facts about Hessen:
- The State is divided into a total of 21 different districts and also has 5 independent
Hessen has one of the best transport systems in all of Europe.
- One of the political parties is called the 'Pirate Party‘.
- Wiesbaden is known as the town of the rich and beautiful because one in every 270 inhabitants is a millionaire.
- The composer Richard Wagner and Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky both lived here.
- Fulda is known as the town of the bishops. As a result streets and squares bear such names as Nonnengasse - Nuns Lane or Jesuitenplatz - Jesuit Square. Even the beer is called Hochstift-Bier - monastic
brew and is very popular.
- The European Space Agency (ESA) is also based here.