Come to Germany, Pepe. 3.0. Chapter V. Is it Worth it?
The thing I’m going to talk about in this chapter is perhaps the most personal aspect of all. I’m going to give you my view of things, which is inevitably a subjective, untransferable view. I don’t know if you’ll agree with me, and I don’t even know whether what I’m going to say can be extrapolated to other cases of professional emigration, but here goes.
In absolute terms, and at the moment, yes.
It is worth it. The sacrifice is considerable but the rewards, for now, are (very?) big. Let’s look at the specific details.
We’re almost 3,000 km away from our home city, Seville. Is that very far? Yes. But if you consider that it takes us less time to get from here to Seville than it does to get from Seville to Logroño, where we also have a lot of family, the distance isn’t that great. Expenditure on travel is high, both for us and for members of our family when they come to visit us. We don’t find that particularly appealing, but it’s worth it.
On the downside, one handicap is that when everyone is enjoying their Christmas holidays, as and when they come, we use up almost all of our holidays just travelling home. Those who live here can work on the days that aren’t bank holidays, but we’re on holiday over the whole Christmas period.
We’ve already talked about salary from a more objective perspective. Salaries in Germany are high compared to Spanish salaries. So is it worthwhile economically? Well, to tell the truth, that’s more subjective than anything else. As I said at the beginning, we spend a lot of money on travel during the course of a year. We’ve also spent A FORTUNE settling in. We came over as a family, and we didn’t want to live in just any old place like we would have if we’d come alone, or as a couple. The standard of living here is high, but in comparison with Spain the difference doesn’t seem to be as big as the difference in salaries, so yes, it does seem to be worthwhile economically. Working here certainly makes a lot of things affordable – things that in Spain were stuck on the wish list.
Family and friends.
You very much miss family and friends. Very, very much. I often joke that when you start seeing people who look like/remind you of your family and friends in the street, that means you’re in urgent need of a trip home.
We were reckless enough to come over with our son when he was very, very small – just a couple of months old, and in these two-and a-bit years there are a thousand things that could have gone wrong but fortunately didn’t. Grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins (and also stony-broke friends doing the rounds) have visited us a lot, and that made the nostalgia more bearable, but the truth is we miss them a lot.
One direct result of all this, at least in a way, is that you’re almost certain to end up with such great friends here that it’s like having your own German family. We’ve got a gang of friends who we know will always be there if we need them and who know that they can count on us. If you decide to come over I’m sure you will, too.
One really disconcerting aspect is the speed you seem to work at. To put it in cycling terms, working in Germany is like riding up a steep slope in a low gear. It doesn’t take all that much effort and you pedal very fast, but you climb very slowly. Working in Spain is like riding up the same slope but in a high gear. You have to stand up in the saddle, grip the handlebars and exert all your strength to be able to move, and you do end up climbing – but your progress is just as slow and, what’s more, you’re gasping for breath. The low gear you use here in Germany, that constant pedalling that doesn’t let you climb with any speed, takes the form of having to coordinate structures, drainage, plumbing, heating, etc. Everything is already prepared, everything is done for you: no effort is required, but even though you don’t have to grit your teeth and stand up in the saddle, you’re pedalling like mad all the time….