A multipart question about moving from the UK to Germany.
January 17, 2010 2:38 PM   Subscribe

A multipart question about moving from the UK to Germany.

I'm heading to Germany (Rostock) for a few years soon. Moving to a new country will be a big change but I've already got myself a good job, an apartment (via my work place) and German lessons. My work is also paying for shipping my belongings out, so most things are already covered. The outstanding things are (1) Financial stuff, (2) cell phone, (3) fun.

Financial stuff
The most popular bank appears to be Deutsche Bank, but the best in terms of (free) ATM coverage is Post Bank, so I'll probably go with the latter. Would anyone suggest otherwise? What about savings accounts? Is there an equivalent of an ISA (the UK tax-friendly savings account)? Finally, I am used to doing all my banking online. Does anyone know if these banks (or any others) have good online banking facilities?

Cell phone
I will be getting an iPhone/android phone when I get there.
Can I just go into a store and buy one using a British credit card or do I need a German card? Do I need to register the phone to an address? What is the best network in terms of coverage?
I will be doing a significant amount of traveling, mainly back to the UK, but also to the USA and within Europe. Are there any good deals on roaming charges, particularly for data?

Travel - I intend to explore the wonders of Germany while I'm there. I might get a car eventually. However the train network seems to be excellent, so that's my favoured option initially. It's not super-cheap though so can someone in the know please explain the best ways to travel throughout the country? Also, can I travel from Germany to the UK on the train via Eurostar?

Hobbies - I'm a scuba diver and climber. I have the diving angle covered, having made contact with locals who've offered to take me under their wing. Climbing presents a problem though. I want to continue with it but can't find any information on indoor climbing gyms. Are there any in/near Rostock? Or should I take up another sport?

That is all... for now. Apologies for the multi-part nature of this post and thanks in advance for any answers.

Any other tips on Rostock and nearby areas are also greatly appreciated.
posted by jonesor to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: get in touch with these guys

good luck!

I loved Rostock, amazingly hospitable people
posted by Wilder at 2:47 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

yes you can go on the Eurostar, change at Brussels.
posted by Wilder at 2:50 PM on January 17, 2010

Financial stuff

Postbank isn't great. I don't know what to recommend. You could try to look for
www.dkb.de no fees for checking, no fees for ATM

Cell phone
Not sure they would give a foreigner a subsidized cell phone. They may ask for a huge deposit.
The supermarket ALDI sells a decent USB stick for Internet access. AFAIK it is unloccked. The dataplan they sell is not so good I was told. 14,99 Euro per month butt traffic is limited. O2 may have better offers concerning speed. Most things should be much cheaper there. Living in Rostock should be basically be free compared to the UK.

"However the train network seems to be excellent"
Yes. And f.... expensive.
Take a plane. It will be cheaper then the train. Try to find a decent airport nearby. Berlin?

"indoor climbing gyms. "

My guess would be that they don't have any. I actually don't remember having seen any in Germany. Try sailing

And yes:



Are you a member of www.internations.org ?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:16 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Banks:
I think in terms of most ATMs you'll find Sparkasse has the broadest coverage. I don't know how it is in Rostock, but here in Berlin I always see huge lines in front of the Postbank ATMs, despite it being in the "Cash Group". (Deutsche Bank too, I don't think it would matter much which one of those two you choose in this respect).
I don't know about ISA, but if you open an account ask the people at the bank about the "Freibetrag", i'm sure they can give a more accurate answer.
And all banks offer online banking, this really shouldn't be a problem.

cell phone:
first: we call it Handy ;)
iPhones are currently only available with a T-Mobile contract. Since this is the former monopolist I think you'll have good coverage there, but I think most of the bigger carriers (O2, Vodafone, etc) will cover Rostock. If you're not sure, google "Netzabdeckung" and the carriers name.
If you get a phone with a contract, not prepayed, you'll need to have a registered adress, (same goes if you want to open a bank account with a german bank.) so I guess the first thing on getting there would be to go to an "Einwohnermeldeamt", and take a german speaking friend with you. They have no english forms and usually don't speak english (and if this is even a bit like Berlin, they will hate you too. Always coming into their office, demanding stuff, making them work...)

If you plan to travel a lot by rail, consider getting yourself a BahnCard.
Bahn-Card 50 costs 230,- EUR a year, and you pay half the price for every ticket.
BahnCard 25 costs 57,- and you safe 25%. If you book early on you'll always find cheaper tickets on the bahn.de homepage too ("Sparangebote"). Also the private train company Interconnex takes you from Rostock to Berlin for 19-23€
posted by ts;dr at 3:28 PM on January 17, 2010

Best answer: Financial Stuff: In terms of ATM coverage the Sparkasse is unbeatable (especially in rural areas). Deutsche Bank or Postbank are both part of the Cash Group. This means as a customer of the Deutsche Bank you can withdraw money for free at the Postbank and vice veras. One of the few German banks that allows you to withdraw money from any cash machine for free is the DKB Bank. But it is a direct bank with only a few real branches. There is one in Rostock, though. All of the banks have good online banking facilities. I would go for the DKB.

Cell Phone: Can I just go into a store and buy one using a British credit card or do I need a German card? No. You will need to have a German bank account. Do I need to register the phone to an address? Yes. This is even true for prepaid mobiles.
What is the best network in terms of coverage? T-Mobile and Vodafone.

Fun: Yes, get a Bahncard. If you have a lot of time and want to save money, you can also use the Schöne-Wochenend-Ticket. It costs 38 Euros and allows you to use all regional trains for a whole day on the weekend. Another cheap travel option is lift-sharing. There is nothing like the National Express here. Also, can I travel from Germany to the UK on the train via Eurostar? Yes, you can but is it very expensive. Eurolines might be the better option if you want to avoid taking the plane.
posted by jfricke at 4:59 PM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

"indoor climbing gyms. "

My guess would be that they don't have any. I actually don't remember having seen any in Germany. Try sailing

I'd be extremely surprised if there aren't any climbing walls in Germany. Look for "Indoorklettern" and "Kletterwand". This website looks pretty promising, it even indicates something near Rostock, but you should probably ask someone who speaks German to give you an indication of what they offer.
posted by Ms. Next at 7:10 AM on January 18, 2010

Best answer: Have you heard of toytowngermany.com ? Like askmefi, but for anglophones in Germany. They have tons of answers.

I have an online bank comdirect.de, which is part of the Cash Group, so you can withdraw money from the post office, Deutsche Bank, etc. Most salaries are direct deposited in Germany, so it is pretty convenient to have an online bank.

Best of luck!
posted by beautiful at 8:09 AM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. It looks like I now have most things covered!
I'm particularly relieved to find that Rostock has its own climbing wall (from April to September at least)!
posted by jonesor at 5:02 PM on January 18, 2010

Response by poster: For the sake of others: I've discovered a pretty good climbing wall (or kletterwand, as they call them here) in a place called Tessin, just half an hour away from Rostock.
posted by jonesor at 7:10 AM on March 8, 2010

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