The Residence Permit. This is the mighty document that you need to get to live in Germany. And it's a very complicated process! The requirements are relatively simple at first glance, but getting everything in order is pretty difficult. There are many documents you have to put together into a packet, and then you have to go apply in person at the local Auslanderbehorde (Foreigners Office/Authority). This office is notorious for being difficult to navigate, and they (purposefully, I suppose) do not and will not speak English there, according to what we've been told.
One of the most confusing requirements is health insurance. You're required to have health insurance coverage to live in Germany. If you have a normal job offer, and that's why you're moving to Germany, then this is relatively easy. You can immediately get into the (apparently awesome) public insurance system, and you're good to go (at least, this is what I've read).
But if you're a freelance, self-employed person like I am, and like Shannon is, then you have to buy private health insurance. And this insurance has to meet the strict German regulations. So, you should just buy insurance from one of the many German insurance companies, right? Well, no - apparently German insurers no longer take on freelancers who are new to the country. Oops.
Nope, newbie freelancers have to go get private insurance from an international insurer. There are also many of these - they're companies that sell insurance plans to international travelers, mostly business people I assume. Again, you'd think this would make it easy, since many competing companies would probably be offering plans for Germany, wouldn't they? Nope! Most of these companies don't meet the German regulations. So, after narrowing it down, there are only a few companies and plans that are even an option.
So, in summary, this is freakin hard! More in Part 2.
Days to Takeoff: 22