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Reasons why people leave Germany

  • 13 min read

How many people emigrate from Germany every year?

It isn’t unusual or anything new that germans and people living in Germany emigrate too. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people relocate from Germany. According to Statista, in 1991, just under 596,000 people left Germany. The number rose to about 1.36 million people by 2016 and fell to just over 994,000 in 2021. So it can be noted that the number of emigrants has almost doubled in the last 20 years. (1)

But what are the reasons behind this, and where do Germans prefer to live? Has the Corona pandemic contributed to more or fewer people relocating & what effect has inflation and the looming economic crisis had on people’s motivation to leave Germany? We have answered these and other questions for you in this blog article. We hope you enjoy reading it. 😊

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Where do most Germans emigrate to within Europe?

First, we would like to give you some facts and figures. Do you want to know where there are the most German emigrants? Many people stay within the EU or German-speaking countries because the hurdle to emigrating is much lower. You don’t need a visa or a residence permit, and you don’t have to get used to a different currency or culture. In addition, health care, consumer protection, and infrastructure are very advanced. 

#1 – Switzerland

Emigrating from Germany

Switzerland has been the #1 destination for German emigrants for several years. Thus, in the last year, 2021, most Germans have been drawn to Switzerland. The Federal Statistical Office found in its latest survey that it is the most favored European relocation destination.

At the beginning of last year, 309,000 people left Germany and started a new life in Switzerland. That’s 0.7% more than the previous year, or roughly an increase of 2,100 Germans who moved to the German-speaking neighboring country. The same year, the number of Germans who took up permanent residency and Swiss citizenship increased.

In a nutshell: Switzerland is the most popular emigration destination for Germans – in Europe. 

Why do Germans like to relocate to Switzerland?

Switzerland is a neighboring country of Germany, and the language barrier is low. The country offers beautiful scenery and good infrastructure. But these aren’t the only reasons.

Switzerland is one of the most stable and prosperous economies in Europe and the entire world – and, therefore, attracts people who want to improve their careers. It has one of the highest per capita wages in Europe, and its living standard is excellent. Many relocators also value their neutral political status. Conclusively, this makes Switzerland a popular destination country.
Due to its neutrality, Switzerland is economically very stable, has low inflation rates, and has one of the strongest currencies in the world – the Swiss franc.

The Federal Statistical Office notes, “changing residence for Germans is made easier by geographic proximity and the absence of a language barrier.” Tax breaks in Switzerland are also likely to be an essential decision criterion. Many emigrants also cite a significantly higher income as one of the main reasons for moving.

Emigrate from Germany Destination Countries

#2 – Austria

In second place is the also German-speaking neighboring country Austria. Last year, 209,000 people deregistered their residence to move to Austria, which is 4% or 8,700 more German citizens than in 2020.

Germans relocating to Austria also value the proximity and low language barrier and name these as the main reasons for resettling.

Where else do Germans like to live within the EU?

  • #3 Spain: Spain is the third most popular European destination. Last year, around 140,000 German citizens chose to live where others go on vacation.
  • #4 France: Around 83,000 Germans moved to France in 2021.
  • #5 Netherlands: The Netherlands take fifth place with about 81,000 German emigrants.
  • #6 Belgium: 40,000 Germans relocated to Belgium in 2021.
  • #7 Italy: 35,000 Germans decide to move to Italy.

Germans were also drawn to neighboring countries in Northern Europe: 29,000 people opted for Sweden in 2021, 26,000 Germans relocated to Denmark, and the same number to Norway.

Where do most Germans move to outside Europe?

As noted, just over 994,000 people moved away from Germany in 2021, about 30,000 more than in Corona’s previous year, 2020.

Internationally, Switzerland and Austria continue to rank 1st & 2nd most popular countries for Germans to move to. The USA follows in 3rd place, Spain in 4th place, and Turkey in 6th. They are followed by France, the United Kingdom, and Poland.

The Federal Statistical Office notes that Paraguay and Sweden, in particular, became significantly more popular in 2021, while fewer and fewer people left for the USA, the UK, and Australia in 2021.

immigrating to paraguay

Why emigrate to Paraguay in 2022

Paraguay has become an increasingly popular destination in recent years, especially since the onset of the Corona pandemic. The breathtaking subtropical and tropical landscape, affordable real estate prices, and low taxes attract Germans. Are you considering moving abroad to this South American country with little money? Well, that’s possible in Paraguay.

Affordable living costs are a thrifty factor for many people to relocate. And especially during the pandemic, many chose to settle here, as the government imposed no corona measures. In addition, immigration from Germany is rather straightforward, and actually, 7% of the population in Paraguay has German roots.

11 reasons for people to move out of Germany

People choose to relocate for very different reasons. Whether well-educated and successful artisans, academics, software developers, or even retirees, there are countless motives. One may have professional goals, want to reconnect with family abroad, find a change of climate, or save money on living expenses. We have listed the 11 most common motivating factors for you.

1. Corona policy in Germany

Germany’s corona policies of past years caused frustration among many people. Some found measures too lenient, while others felt too restricted. Lockdowns, restrictions, and the government’s crisis management made people rethink their living situations.
Some relocators just wanted to escape the Corona measures; for others, the need to experience something new became greater. People were looking for a place in the sun, in the mountains, or by the sea, anywhere except locked in an apartment all day.

2. Low pensions in Germany 

The number of pensioners who have their pensions transferred abroad has increased. In 2020, there were about 248,000 retirees, according to the German Pension Insurance atlas. That is a new record for emigration – and around 20 percent more than ten years ago.

Aus Deutschland auswandern als Rentner

The reason for this is often low pension, motivating people over 65 to move to a country where the cost of living is more affordable. According to the Stuttgarter Zeitung (2), retirees can expect an average gross pension of 1,620.90€ in the old federal states and an average gross pension of 1598.40€ in the new federal states (as of July 2022). Net old & new federal states come to a little over 1,400€.

The yearly inflation in Germany continuously rises, which leaves pensioners with less money from year to year. What seemed to be a good amount thirty or more years ago isn’t enough anymore today. In addition, many retirees choose to enjoy their “years off” at holiday destinations.

3. Better climate & climate change

According to a survey, the weather is a major reason why German expatriates left their country. For many people, rain, snow, clouds, and low temperatures drive people out, so they decide to escape German winter and have a pleasant climate and sunshine all year round. Especially people suffering from certain diseases can noticeably alleviate their discomfort due to better weather.

Already and especially in the future, climate change will play a role. Floods, summers too hot, and winters too mild will contribute to Germans moving away, depending on their preferences or the environmental situation.

4. Better earning opportunities & job situation

In some countries, you can earn more money, which is often an essential criterion for decisions. Also, academics and well-educated professionals, such as craftsmen in specific industries, can make much higher incomes in some countries and get good jobs easily. In addition, entrepreneurship and start-ups are promoted much more strongly in many places than here, so self-employed people can also make higher profits in other countries and have to deal with fewer bureaucratic hurdles.

immigration to Dubai

5. Lower taxes

The issue of taxes is closely related to income. Germans and Austrians pay one of the highest tax rates in the world. The situation is entirely different in Switzerland and many other countries. There you have to pay much less of your salary to the state. Especially childless singles in Germany and Austria must pay a high amount. It is different in other countries of the world. That’s why tax havens like Dubai are becoming increasingly popular. This Arab emirate has neither income tax nor other comparable private taxes.

6. Low living costs

Financial factors can be noted as one of the driving motivations for Germans to relocate to another country. The fact is: In other countries, citizens have larger net incomes due to lower taxes, and often costs of living are lower too. Especially people who have already created a substantial financial portfolio, like moving to countries where their money lasts longer. In some countries in Southeast Asia, Central America, or Southern Europe, you can afford a much better standard of living with the same money, for example, buying a property, renting a lovely big apartment, and eating out regularly in restaurants. It is also excellent for people who continue to earn their money in Germany through a digital job or business.

Emigration from Germany

7. Professional development

Career advancements inspire Germans to move to specific industries and positions. In some countries, you have a better opportunity for further development, as the technology in your industry may already be more advanced, or a particular position may be in high demand. It is also often a good opportunity for women to take the next step on the career ladder. In Norway, for example, many more women are working in management positions than in Germany.

8. Becoming more tolerant

What does tolerance have to do with emigrating? 

When you move to another country, where perhaps another language is spoken, you automatically belong to a minority. You must learn new manners and traditions and integrate and adapt. This way, you will realize that your way of seeing or doing certain things is sometimes not the only correct and valid. Most importantly, when you eventually return to Germany, you will understand the view of minorities in this country much better.

9. better educational opportunities

Emigration from Germany

Another reason for many people to leave Germany is better educational opportunities. Indeed, everyone knows the world-famous universities of Oxford and Harvard. A degree from one of these universities naturally gives you utterly different career opportunities – whether in Germany or another country. Education costs more, but sometimes you can get a scholarship. In addition, you learn a language in great demand, which can bring many advantages. There are also great universities in Scandinavia and the Netherlands whose degrees are highly regarded worldwide.

10. Better atmosphere

Whether it’s due to a pleasant climate, more hours of sunshine, or something else, you can often observe a greater positive view of life among people in other countries. Your basic mood improves because you’re (hopefully) going where you want to. So follow your dream; relocating is easier than you might think.

11. Make new life experiences

Moving house always means starting over, maybe starting from scratch, especially when moving to a different country. To build a new social network and reinvent your life. Many people are attracted to this idea for various reasons. Some people never lived outside of their hometown, and people who end relationships sometimes look for a new beginning elsewhere. And some people feel like they’re suffocating in their everyday routines.
Living in an unknown country is a challenge in many ways. Figuring out how to make everything work, finding new friends, and learning a new language can be exciting and inspiring. These enriching experiences can give a deep sense of satisfaction.

Moving abroad – our conclusion

Emigration from Germany

Especially in light of inflation & the ongoing economic crisis, many Germans look for ways to alleviate financial and emotional strains and find relief by moving abroad. Nevertheless, the reasons for relocation are very versatile and individual. Whether you are thinking about it for professional, family, social, political, geographical, or financial reasons, we want you to follow your dream! You only have one life; make it as beautiful as you deserve & collect as many moments as possible. In the end, it should be a good decision.

But remember that there are also many new beginnings & hurdles associated with emigrating. It starts with the move and the bureaucratic matters in Germany. Canceling your apartment, deregistering your German residence, canceling contracts & GEZ, forwarding mail, deregistering your car, etc. We can make your departure from Germany as comfortable as possible and take some of the work off your hands. Please have a look at our service pages. We are happy if we can help you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us via our live chat or email.

Thank you & have a great day, 

Your Team 👋🏽☀️





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Louisa Anger

Louisa Anger

Louisa is responsible for written content creation and adoption on our website. Content curation and Webdesign lie in her responsibility.