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Germany: The Moving Process
Once you have taken care of the things we mentioned above, it is time to organize the actual move. You can, of course, put everything into the capable hands of a moving company which will leave you with a lot less to worry about. They will take care of transporting all your belongings to your new home and, most importantly, of carrying all those heavy furniture for you. The moving company may even provide the boxes for the move. However, they are not responsible for any paperwork, formalities, and administrative tasks.
Organizing Your Move
If you are going to organize your move on your own, make sure to recruit some of your friends to help you on the big day – the more the better. You should remember the unspoken contract that requires you to help them when it is time for them to move. Make sure you have everything prepared and not to make your helpers wait. If you feel uncomfortable driving a small truck by yourself, you should probably organize a designated driver as well.
Renting a vehicle should not be a problem. Some rental companies specialize on short-term rentals for moving house: They can offer you a pushcart (Sackkarre), cardboard boxes, as well as blankets and straps to secure the load. Try to reserve a parking space in front of your building. In a normal residential area, people will usually not mind if you temporarily park on the pavement. However, in some cases, you may have to ask the local buildings and safety department (Ordnungsamt) for a parking permission or something similar.
Handing Over your Apartment
If you leave an apartment, you are expected to return it in the same state as you first rented it, according to the protocol made at that time (Übergabeprotokoll). This means that you have to take care of basic repairs such as filling drill holes or painting the walls. You can do it yourself, hire professionals, or pay a certain sum to the landlord or the next tenants. However, if you caused damage to the premises beyond any normal wear and tear, you will be held responsible and the landlord will deduct all renovation costs from the security deposit you handed over when moving in. Otherwise, the deposit should have been stored in a special account at a bank in Germany, and you will get it back within six months after your move.
Make sure that you receive a protocol similar to that which you filled out when the keys were handed over to you. This protocol should include a final meter reading for electricity, heating, gas, and water. Sometimes a meter can only be read with special equipment. Then you need to make an appointment with the utility provider in advance.
Leaving the Country
If you are leaving the country, there are a few more formalities to take care of. First, de-register at the town hall and contact the tax office. The latter helps you to avoid any surprise tax claims if you happen to return to Germany. But you would also want the tax office to know where to send your tax refund to if you are eligible for one. The same applies to social security in Germany. Once you retire, even if you live abroad, two years of paid work in Germany may entitle you to a few Euros extra each month.
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