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Planning on moving and want to know more about life in Germany?
You’ve come to the right page to find interesting information on lifestyle in India vs Germany.
As a born and raised Indian girl who moved to Germany, about three years ago, I have a LOT to say about the two countries.
For the sake of keeping things simple, I will mostly compare the two cities I spent a lot of time in both countries in my adult years.
Nuremberg (in Bayern) in Germany and Bangalore (in Karnataka) in India.
Even though comparison between India and Germany is not easy due to the drastic differences, I have tried my best to cover the most frequently asked topics.
Religion and politics have been given a pass for the sake of keeping this post short and neutral. 😉
Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of life in Germany versus India!
Weather in Germany Compared to India
Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash
Nuremberg has warm summers ranging from June until August with temperatures ranging from 20 to 30 degrees on average.
April and May are characterised by spring with 10-15 degrees on average and the same for autumn in late September- October.
November until March is quite cold with snow around late December and January and sub-zero temperatures at night.
Bangalore on the contrary has an all-around moderate climate averaging about 25-30 degrees throughout the year with rainfall during the Monsoon season.
It doesn’t have a winter season at all. Find out a detailed comparison of the two cities here.
I’ve also written a guide on how to dress like a german woman in summer, how to dress like a german woman in winter and what to have in your India packing list for around the year weather.
Food & Supermarkets in Germany Compared to India
Ahh, where do I even begin.
I think trying to compare German food to Indian food is like trying to compare two entirely different cultures which have nothing in common.
German food, tends to be restricted to various (amazing) types of bread, meat (often pork), potatoes and whatever other vegetables the friendly neighbours send across it’s way.
Indian food, on the other hand has thousands of varieties, due to a change in soil, weather, terrain and culture. In every region, you’d find different vegetables and spices leading to more permutations and combinations than you can ever hope to eat.
The critical difference, in my opinion, is that food in Germany is way safer to consume than food in India. The strict EU FDA regulations make it impossible for farmers and suppliers to meddle with fresh produce.
Leaks do happen, but they are extremely rare. On the other hand, farmers in India are known to practice questionable ethics (including chemicals and pesticides) that may get passed on to people who consume such products.
Supermarkets in Germany are plenty to find, usually follow 2 or 3 large national chains, uniform across the country.
In India, the retail sector still contains many hyperlocal stores (also known as Kirana stores) which stock a small number of products for one neighbourhood.
Biggest Supermarket chains in Germany: Aldi, LIDL, Rewe, Norma, Edeka Biggest Supermarket chains in India: Big Bazaar, Spar, Vishal Mega Mart, Reliance Fresh, Easy Day, Hypercity, Nature's Basket (organic)
Another CRITICAL difference is that almost no supermarket in Germany offers home delivery whereas in India even hyper-local stores offer that (cheap labor, culture, etc).
REWE and Amazon Fresh recently started delivery services in select cities in Germany but they usually have a high minimum buyout and costs extra for each delivery.
The same way as you won’t find plenty of European products in India, it’s hard to find plenty of Indian products in German or European supermarkets.
There usually exist Indian/Asian stores which keep packaged or frozen food, but many a time it is expired or simply doesn’t taste authentic as they were manufactured in bulk in China or Hong Kong.
Read here on my top Indian essentials to carry when moving abroad.
You might also want to read my guide here about what critical things you need to know before moving to Germany.
Traffic & Driving in Germany Compared to India
This is one aspect where the difference between Germany and India is wider than it can be calculated.
Owing to excellent road conditions, few speed limits on highways and a rigorous training system to get a driving license, traffic and driving in Germany is the most systematic I have ever seen.
(Click here to see whether you are allowed to drive in Germany or not and how to get a license)
I have almost never been in a traffic jam that lasted longer than three or five minutes. In bigger cities, this timeframe could be considerably larger, but it is still the exception rather than the norm in the country.
India, on the other hand due to its non-excellent road conditions, poorly trained or sometimes not trained at all drivers (driving with or without a license) has the most chaotic driving sense I have ever seen anywhere in the world.
If you plan on having a car in India, and you did not grow up there, DON’T. Getting cabs from place A to B or a auto(tuk-tuk) is your safest bet.
Motorcycle driving seems to be risky in both countries, but in India it is significantly more dangerous for the above mentioned reasons.
Honking in Germany means something is very wrong such as an accident. If you don’t honk in India, that means something is wrong. You get the hint of how that works!
[irp posts=”14776″ name=”19 Germany Travel Tips That Every First Time Traveller Should Know”]
Public Transport in Germany Compared to India
Since Germany has been a welfare state longer than India has been independent, it’s logical to say that Germany’s public transport system although expensive is much more efficient than the one in India.
Buses, Trains and Trams in Germany are reliable even though delays are more common than one would expect. Buses are almost never late.
Trains have a notorious history of being late due to shortage of tracks but there are high speed trains that can get you across the country in 5 hours flat.
Local Buses in India are unreliable, hard to find a seat in and maybe a danger to your life depending on the driver’s skills.
If you’re in India, it’s better to stick to private transport such as cabs, autos (tuk-tuks) or rented taxis (with drivers) for a longer distance.
Long-distance government buses on the other hand are much safer than private ones. It’s confusing I know.
Trains in India are regular and reliable although during the winter season you can expect delays of 6-12 hours sometimes even more than a day.
Germany: Use DB Navigator App to see what to take when, where and how including all types of public transport. It's more accurate than Google Maps. India: Use Ola, Uber or a safe rental company with a driver for long distance travel.
Cost of Living, Salaries & Economy
It’s difficult to have a fair opinion here as Germany has been a developed country for a long time, and India is still developing.
Average wages in Germany after tax are $2851 whereas in India are at about $452. As you can see the cost of living on a rough basis is about 6 times. However, if I compare Nuremberg to Bangalore, the difference is much smaller, I’d say about 3x.
How cheap or expensive any city in Germany or India will depend on WHERE you live. Munich is notorious for extremely high rentals and so is Mumbai.
Make sure to factor that into your research. Wages are also adjusted to reflect the cost of living differences. For an exact picture, go here and compare any 2 cities you’d like.
The German economy is on average strong and stable with very low unemployment rates, but this can highly differ from state to state.
India’s economy is constantly growing at one of the fastest rates in the world, so if you’re planning to start a business or invest, India would be the better bet.
Renting/Buying Property: Germany has no restrictions for foreigners who want to rent or buy property as long as they show either a job contract (renting) or solid financials (buying).
It would be almost impossible to rent a place in Germany without a solid job contract.
India on the other hand has a flexible and ever changing rental market. It’s not difficult to find landlords that will rent you a place for 6 months or 1 year (something almost never happening in Germany except Airbnb).
Buying property on the other hand is strictly impossible for a non-India person. In a partnership with an Indian citizen, perhaps yes, but standalone no.
Bureaucracy & Immigration in Germany compared to India
Before I spent considerable time in Germany, I had a different opinion. But after being here for close to two years, I have realised that German public offices are slower than India’s on average.
In India, offices and paper work is slow due to demand>supply, corruption and general lack of law and order.
In Germany, everything is super slow because of rigid rules, strict guidelines (such as sending every document by post mail), waiting periods and a tendency to be very detailed.
In both countries, immigrating as a foreigner can be VERY hard even if you are highly skilled and can demonstrate great credentials.
There are certain fixed income, qualifications and time period related rules that you need to “exactly” fall in to be eligible to get working permits in both countries.
The only place where India has an advantage is that tourist visas are six months and can be easily extended if you were to stay back and look for jobs.
Germany on the other hand only has a one time 6 month job seeker visa (no extension), and Schengen visa’s as you probably know have a 90 day cap in a 180 day period.
All in all, neither country comes out on the top here in my opinion. Because, as a foreigner your life is likely to be very hard in both places with low or no room to wiggle when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy.
Safety & Laws in Germany compared to India
The rule of law is taken quite seriously and followed by the majority of people who live in Germany. The police is highly regarded in the society, is quick to take action and therefore a high sense of safety exists.
Riots and breakouts do happen from time to time, but nothing that may have cause serious damage to the civil society.
In India, the rule of law is taken as seriously as the power and influence a person or their family has. It is well known that corruption in India is widespread and since a lot of it is petty, it is hard to know what’s what.
The police may or may not be your best friend depending on where and in which situation you might find yourself.
In general, the society in Germany cares about how they behave and how it affects others such as paying for public transport (even with no checks), keeping their surroundings clean and respecting their neighbours.
This may or may not be found in India, where most people care most about themselves and their immediate family and friends.
A lot of it has to be blamed on the fact that law and order is taken seriously in Germany with strict and quick punishments, while the opposite is true of India.
To illustrate the magnitude of difference:
in Germany, small kids start going to school alone (taking buses and metros) since
a young age (8-10) with no one to accompany them back and forth .
In India, this would only happen if the parents didn’t live in the same city or the school was next door. On weekends, small children (under 2 or
3 ) in Germany are driven all around town by their parents attached to a bicycle carrier. It looks something like this.
Seeing this, has not only been slightly terrifying for me but also tells me just HOW different the two countries are in terms of general safety.
If you carried a small baby in India across the city attached to a cycle with this carrier, there is a huge chance you will either lose your baby or he/she may end up injured.
You can also read more on what it feels like to be a girl in Germany vs. in India to understand the gender roles at play in the two countries.
Shopping in Germany compared to India
German cities usually have cosy city centres with lots of branded shops and standalone malls in various sections of the city. The malls are usually small housing about 20 to 30 brands at the most.
Street shops are non-existent. Flea markets take place from time to time during city festivals or special occasions but these are not regular avenues for buying products.
Sometimes, the malls may be specific to clothing or electronic stores too.
Indian cities on the other hand have shops EVERYWHERE. There is most likely going to be a few large street markets with a mix of branded shops, and huge malls that may house up to 100 shops.
The larger the city, the more likely it is to have a bigger mall. Small cities on the other hand only have local markets and street vendors.
Indians like to shop from anywhere and anytime, so you may end up buying something like pyjamas from a guy selling it on a cart and it’s going to last you almost as long as a branded one from the mall.
Online shopping is common and prevalent in both countries with Amazon being a huge player in both countries.
Things To Do in Germany compared to India
Recreational activities in Germany includes all kinds of sports, some that I have never even heard of in my life.
Germans on average love sports or physical activity and it is not uncommon to see people jogging, biking, mountain biking, skateboarding, swimming, rock climbing, hiking, etc depending on where you go.
Another huge aspect of expat life in Germany are festivals, some cultural and some modern. The city centres organize a lot of free music, carnivals light show type festivals throughout the year for free as well.
Heading to the cinema or eating out are relatively expensive activities so it’s mostly working adults or families that you will see doing this.
Drinking alcohol in public is legal in Germany so you will often see a bunch of friends taking a few beers to the park or any such festival and having a good time.
In India, drinking alcohol in public is forbidden and open green spaces are often non-existent in cities. This means that urban Indians tend to go to gyms, spas or pubs/clubs often for recreation.
Traveling to new places on weekends is also quite common as is heading to the movies or eating out at restaurants.
Indians LOVE food and eating out even if it means having street food, it is viewed with a lot of enthusiasm.
People in Germany compared to India
I saved the most difficult to explain aspect for the last. If I compare people or the culture in Germany to India on the surface, it seems like I’m talking about two opposite ends of the pole.
When I dig deep down, they’re actually not that different.
It’s harder to make friends in Germany because of tight-knit circles since childhood and lack of workplace mingling, whereas in India you can call some one a friend after sharing one meal with them or even a cab ride home.
The meaning and intensity of a friend is somewhat different. Getting invited over to a friend’s place in Germany is a huge deal whereas, in India, it may be a sign of politeness.
Indians are way more hospitable in general and are warm and loving to people they like. Germans on the other hand show you warmth and love after building a strong foundation.
Quality over quantity seems to be the German friendship mantra. In India, it can sometimes be the opposite.
On the street, it’s unusual to strike up conversations with strangers unless you need help or some information. Germans are friendly on average to tourist and strangers but they will only tell you what is the bare minimum.
On Indian streets, the person you ask for help may ask you about your entire family story, stop what they are doing and even help you reach somewhere.
The downside of this extra friendliness is that not all people may have good intentions and may try to trick you into buying something or selling you a scam.
Around large tourist areas and railway stations, this can happen often and you should filter out who you ask for help. In Germany, this is a rare occurrence and usually people will leave you alone after your question is answered.
In personal life, Germans consider family and time with their friends and romantic partners sacred. They try to find a healthy balance and it’s not uncommon for adults to go home to visit their family every weekend even if it’s two hours away.
It’s extremely common and acceptable to live with your romantic partner for as long as you want with or without the need of being married.
In India, families also play a huge role in one’s life, some adults may chose to live with their parents until they are married or even afterwards in the case of joint families (a system where the entire extended family lives together).
Some may live alone or with friends especially if they live in different cities as their parents.
Living in with a partner although increasingly common in urban India is still viewed by the majority of Indians as a taboo and many adults who do so may never tell their families about this and have a hard time finding landlords who will rent them a place.
At work, well all the stereotypes hold true. I wouldn’t go into details as there are plenty of articles on both working cultures, and I need to stop writing this post at some point.
Overall Quality of Life in Germany compared to India
Having lived in the best of both worlds, I’d say, it’s hard to say what is good for one or another.
If you’re the kind of person who likes their space, loves punctuality, things in order, slow paced life and a safe and green environment to live in, Germany is your place.
The downside is the individualistic culture and you may feel lonely if you don’t have a support system of friends or family around.
If you’re the kind of person that likes interacting with people, a fast paced life, fast growth, shortcuts, a diverse and vibrant culture, amazing local food and are okay with living with bad air quality, noise pollution, lack of every day safety and few green spaces, India may be the right fit for you.
Whether it be about life in Germany or life in India, I would say these are two very very different countries. I hope with this guide, you’re able to make the best choice on which place may be the perfect fit for you.
As for me, I feel at home in both countries, sometimes more, sometimes less. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!
You may also want to read:
- 9 Reasons Why Moving to Germany From India Might Not Be For You
- How Living in Germany Changed Me
- How much does a Masters in Germany cost?
- How to Get An Internship in Germany?
- How to Find an Apartment in Germany
- 5 Places You Should Not Miss on Your Trip to India
- How hard is the German language?
- How I went from Zero to Talking German in 1 year
Wow. Comparing India to Germany is just awesome. I mean, I would never imagine comparing these two. This was such a great read and I literally learned so much 😀 Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
Thankyou so much. The two countries are indeed very different but share some similarities too! Thanks for reading 🙏🏼
Abhishek Vaid says
Good one Shruti. Thats quite detailed.
But I am surprised you didn’t touch the work culture bit 🙂
The post crossed 3000 words and then I gave up! Haha, I need a whole guide on that. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Phil Cobb says
Wonderful presentation. You didn’t sugarcoat anything. Very well-written.
Thanks a lot Phil! Happy you liked it!
Quite an in depth guide between the 2 countries. Mostly I agree with your points. I’ve been to the 2 countries as well, each for 3 months and the most that stuck with me were the people, the colors and the food. Let’s be real, in Germany it is all grey in the major cities. All concrete and grey buildings. In India people are living way closer to each other, but it’s so colorful. It’s like a color book. The food as well, those supermarkets vs street food. Indian food is way tastier then the import food in the supermarkets. Only disadvantage I had in India like most tourists is what comes after eating the street food hahaha. Nice post, keep up the good work!
hehe I totally agree to India being a color book! And yes, you need a VERY strong stomach to digest Indian street food without falling sick soon after. It happens to the best of us! Thanks for reading!
I don’t know why but it is still surprising to see the cost of living differences between Germany and India. It’s a wonder that people in India get by somehow but maybe the salary is comparable to all the other amenities of living there. It’s just such a drastic difference. The chart you showed, it that comparing 1 person’s salary from 1 job or multiple salaries in one household possibly with multiple jobs?
Yes, the cost of living in India is also much lower than the majority of the world and services are pretty cheap! The chart shows individual one person salaries, but do bear in mind it is an average and in India since inequality is high the richer people may even make more than an average German but due to a large ratio (60% of very poor people) the average for the country is always quite low!
Pooja Somani says
This is the best& honest article about. Everything you have written is to the point. Must read article 👍👍👍
Thanks so much for stopping by to read and your wonderful comment! 🙂
Excellent article!.. one thing which could have spiced up a little bit is the social benefits between these 2 countries.
varun riat says
cool post vary good comparison cheers
Eran Ben-Shahar says
Very Honest review shruti nice blog i came across cheers
Anita Chaudhary says
Exciting place both india and germany although they are so far you made us visit both thanks shruti ji
very good excellent blog
Wow! What a well written blog! So unbiased and honest! Great job.