Author Topic: Moving to Germany  (Read 1937 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Moving to Germany
« on: February 16, 2019, 05:38:38 AM »
My husband is German (green card) and I am America. We live in Texas with 3 kids. I donít work and my DH works from home for a US company. We pay US taxes since we live and work here. We would like to move to Germany for 1-2 years to let our kids have the experience of going to public school there and being close to family.  Mustachians are so smart, so I wanted to ask here. Can we move to Germany but keep residency in the US for taxes?.

 We have a few options:

1. Keep high paying remote US job. Potential problems with health insurance and enrollment in German schools.

2. Get new job in Germany. Lower pay after taxes. Currently DH is not a US citizen, but he started the process. Would we have to pay US taxes too?

3. I move to Germany with kids and he travels back and forth keeping his US remote job. We file taxes separately, him in US and me in Germany. Only problem is that I am not a German citizen. Could I get a visa? My 3 kids are dual US German citizens.

Thank you! We hope this works! It would be so cool for our kids to have this experience!



  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2019, 06:10:09 AM »
Check with an immigration lawyer before deciding to leave the US, especially with the current political stance on immigration.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 06:11:28 AM »
What a great dilemma to have! All your options sound exciting, the first being preferable.

Your situation like any immigration scenario involves a lot of country- and situation-specifics so you're probably better off consulting an expat board for Europe/Germany. No matter what you do, you'll need to file taxes with the US gov't, even if you don't owe anything. If your H continues working for a US-based company, he'll have taxes withheld from his salary. If he works for a company in Germany, he'll probably need to pay taxes on income over US~$100K. But again there are lots of variables and you'll want to ask on European boards.

Some things you'll want to research first:
* What kind of taxation reciprocity is there between the US and Germany?
* Will being resident in Germany stall or hinder your H's US citizenship process?

Best of luck!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 10:33:20 AM »
Thank you for your reply! That is a good idea to try to find an expat board. I wonder if there is a mustachian one? We want to move summer 2020 so we have some time to plan. Iím so excited about this idea! Life has gotten monotonous with 3 little kids and us all at home. I think this will be a really fun change. My oldest would be entering 1st grade in 2020. The other 2 would be in kindergarten. I hope the company is okay with it. DH would have to work 3pm-12am to be on the same 8-5 schedule. Itís hard to calculate all the costs and the stress. I still hope it works!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 01:27:11 PM »
I think you should do it, but be warned, if you move, you might not want to come back. Germany is a great country with free college education. Youíll have access to all of Europe. The world will be your oyster. There would be lots of Americans in Germany online to chat with about this, definitely search them out. For yourself, youíre going to need to learn German, it will help a lot. Have fun!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2019, 01:32:06 PM »
Our family (Americans) lived in Germany three times. We loved it! I can't help too much with the immigration questions because our situation was different; my husband had grants from German research agencies and the kids and I came as his dependents. I was not allowed to work. We filed US taxes (federal and part-year-resident state). The German government did not withhold tax from DH's income and we didn't file German income taxes.

We entered with just our passports, because US citizens don't (or at least they didn't then) need a visa to enter Germany. After we arrived, we had to register our address with the city, then we applied for one-year residence permits based on DH's grant. Both the efficiency and the sternness of German bureaucracy fulfilled all my stereotypes! I don't think they would let you come and stay longer than the visa-less 3 months without an accompanying source of support.

We loved the kindergartens and elementary schools.

You might want to talk to an immigration lawyer. My father is in the process of applying for Canadian citizenship and there are restrictions on how long he can be out of the country.

Where in Germany are you considering?


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2019, 06:24:47 PM »
I have no advice to offer on your questions, but I just want to say I'm jealous!  I'd love to move to Germany.  My wife, not so much.

Has your husband been speaking German with the kids?  Having 2 native speakers of different languages is a tremendous benefit to the kids which unfortunately many parents don't utilize.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2019, 06:41:48 AM »
Try, I haven't used it for a few years but I assume it's still one of the main expat forums here. The insurance guys especially (John Gunn and Patrick/Starshollow) are really helpful, especially with the intricacies of health insurance. There is also a German thread here:


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2019, 08:14:49 AM »
I think your goal should not be to keep paying low American taxes, but paying normal German taxes. Those German taxes pay for that public school, cheap university and affordable healthcare.

But of course, if you have to pay American taxes, you should try to get deductions for that.

I think it should not be a problem for you to get a permit to stay in Germany with a husband and children whi have the nationality. You should read up what your recidency would cost in Germany. Some countries in Europe make it pretty expensive to import a non European citizen into Europe.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Moving to Germany
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2019, 01:06:29 PM »
As far as I know, the US is the only country that requires it's' citizens to pay income tax even when they live and/or work in another country. So do check with the IRS directly - it's just a phone call and it is what it is.
Ilhamo is correct that you may well qualify for a credit if you stay on top of your paperwork and fall under the income limit - check the IRS website and browse ex-pat forums.

Also, bear in mind that immigration laws may change at the drop of a hat - both for your husband and for you, they might enact a change a month before you leave, so be prepared and have a plan B, just in case.
I'm mentioning this not to scare you but to counsel you to be 100% aware of what is going on with immigration in both Germany and the US at all times regardless of where you live, the law is the law.
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to immigration - in any country.

In my opinion, the smart thing to do would be for your husband to get his citizenship before he leaves the country - dual citizenship is the best route if you still have some connection to Germany and know you will be going back from time to time.

If he goes back to Germany for an extended period - not sure what the critical time frame is at present for a green card holder, either 90 days or 180 days is the limit, he will be forced to start the entire immigration process once again - his alien card will become invalid. (You can get an extension, but only if you get it approved by immigration before you leave, illness of a close relative is a qualifying reason for instance).

Doesn't matter if you worked in the states for twenty years and paid taxes - you lose your permanent residency and you have to have a sponsor who makes X amt of money, etc. and start the immigration process all over. Not sure about the student and specialty work visas, but they seem to be even more restricted.

The German consulate in your state may be able to help you with a number of your questions and your Visa requirements. Call them for an appointment or e-mail them with your questions.
They will usually also be aware of what laws are about to change and their impact on your stay, work permit if any, etc.

At any rate, this is a fabulous opportunity I'd certainly take advantage of. You will be glad you did, Germany is in the heart of Europe - you can go to Paris for the weekend any time you like:) and most everyone there seems to speak English.
You'll have family at your disposal to help out and make sure that all of you have a great stay and hopefully lots of travel and great educational experiences.

Language - study-up and make sure your kids are as prepared as possible for a smooth transition, they'll pick up the rest quickly enough. I grew up in Germany but my son knew almost no German at all at 15. (Long story) When I went back to Germany for several years, it took him only three months to become fluent since he was fully immersed and both my Mom and I refused to speak English with him for the most part - he hated us for a month:) but then one day it was like someone flipped a switch, he spoke fluently.
Writing took longer, German is not an easy written language.

Think about what you would most like to see and do while in Europe/Germany, then find a way to make it happen:). We all have different expectations and enjoy doing different things as individuals and as a family - living abroad with familial support is a gift, make the most of it.
Giving your children an opportunity to get to know their grandparents on the other side of the pond is a wonderful thing, a privilege not everyone can afford.
... and yes the health insurance is a huge bonus, so you might consider "playing medical tourist" while you are there, making your trip that much more profitable to you. I do that even when I'm just there for a long visit.

It sounds like you are already doing your due diligence, the rest is cake:) - so, GUTE REISE und VIEL SPASS.