5 Tips for living off-base in Germany

Living off base in Germany can be one of the most memorable experiences you’ll ever have. Which means, of course, that you might encounter some things that are very different than what you might be used to. Here are five tips to help bring (or keep) you up to speed.

Cell Phone Contracts

Cell phone contracts need to be formally canceled before leaving Germany, so keep this in mind when you sign up for one. Ask your provider how you can cancel when you need to do so and get the address that you’ll need to send this information to before you leave Germany.

Quiet Time (Ruhezeit)

Quiet time is from 8 p.m. until 7 a.m. and all day Sundays and holidays. A little quiet snoring is allowed, but house and garden appliances and machinery are off limits. No midnight clothes washing or Sunday afternoon lawn mowing.

If you have any specific questions, such as: “Can I use my brand new chainsaw to trim daisies on sunny summer afternoons?”, ask the Ordnungsamt representative (usually located in your local city hall).  The Ordnungsamt (ordnung meaning ‘order’) have their own cars and staff that help to enforce these rules, so be sure to follow them if you live off base, to keep from receiving a visit from city officials.

Although this might take a little getting used to, you’ll come to love the peaceful evenings and Sundays and be surprised by how rarely you are disturbed by noisy neighbors.

Sidewalks & Streets

The homeowner (or renter) is responsible for sweeping the sidewalk and street in front of the house. You also need to pull out the weeds in the sidewalk.

Snow Removal

You must shovel and sand/salt your sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. If someone slips and breaks their leg in front of your house during this time, you will be liable. (Note: if you have an elderly neighbor, go ahead and shovel their walk too. You’ll gain a bunch of points and make fast friends.)

Washing Your Car

It is against the law to wash your car at home, because chemicals in the soap seep into the ground water.  Take your car to the car wash on base, or one of the many in your neighborhood instead.
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Categories: Family Life, Newbie Tips