Looking for employment overseas? Consider looking for positions in Stuttgart, Germany. As the country’s sixth largest city, it has all the perks of a metropolitan area – good restaurants, lots of entertainment options and a worthy public transportation system. Throw in the phrase “one of the safest cities in Germany” and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a great place to live and work. Want to know more? Check out these five things everyone should know about living and working in Stuttgart, Germany.
A Purple Community
If you’re working for the military in Stuttgart, it’s likely that your home base will be U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart. The garrison is home to major power players like the United States European Command, United States Africa Command and Defense Information Systems Agency Europe Field Command. The military community there consists of about 25,000 service members, family members, federal service civilians, contractors and local national employees. Because of the diversity of personnel and service branches, it’s often referred to as a “purple community.” The garrison, which manages five installations across the city, provides more than 240 services including: medical, dental, veterinary, commissary goods, vehicle registration, primary schools, child care, housing and relocation assistance services. Keep in mind that it’s possible you would work on one installation while your child attends school on a different one. Also, the traffic in Stuttgart is considered “big city” traffic so the commute to and from work could be a long one.
The types of jobs you’ll find in the Stuttgart area are the typical ones associated with major military installations. It’s possible to find health care, food service, teacher and administrative positions. However, it’s worth noting that with the large number of family members in the community it may be hard for your spouse or teenager to find work once you arrive. If you accept a position there, make sure it will cover all of your living expenses since a dual-income household isn’t guaranteed. Technology jobs are currently in demand with openings for a network engineer, SharePoint developer, and program control specialist. But it’s also possible to find other contracting positions like this senior counter intelligence analyst slot with L-3 Communications.
There’s no sugar-coating that living in Stuttgart is expensive. The cost of living is higher than the U.S. average and when the exchange rate fluctuates it won’t always be in your favor. Germany also imposes a 7 to 19 percent value-added tax, or VAT, on all goods and services. However, you may qualify for VAT exemptions if you participate in the U.S. Forces Tax Relief Program. The program allows you to buy VAT forms, which can be used to waive the added tax in certain situations. Since you have to buy a form for each purchase, it’s recommended you use the forms for larger purchases like furniture or vehicles. Finding affordable housing in the metro area can also be a real challenge depending on your needs. Freestanding homes with several bedrooms are more expensive and harder to find while apartments, town homes and duplexes are more affordable and readily available. Interestingly enough, German landlords reserve the right to interview prospective tenants and choose one based on their personal preferences. It probably goes without saying that it pays to make a good impression.
Hit the Books
Those interested in pursuing higher education opportunities in Stuttgart have several options available to them. Central Texas College, University of Maryland University College and the University of Oklahoma all have courses available through the military installation. The University of Stuttgart is located locally and accepts students from around the globe. However, potential students must pass a German language exam to ensure they’re set up for success. There’s also a National Test Center on the installation where people can take college-level exams, graduate school exams and tests for professional certifications.
Have Some Fun
The entertainment opportunities in and around Stuttgart are endless. Their museums range from the Stuttgart State Gallery to the Porsche Museum to the Schweine (Pig) Museum. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt also has the second largest mineral source in Europe so there are several spas where you can soak in a mineral pool or enjoy a massage. Festivals are held throughout the year to celebrate spring, Christmas and of course, Oktoberfest. For those who enjoy shopping, there’s the Königstrasse, or main pedestrian walking area, as well as the Markthalle, which is an indoor market featuring vegetables, meats, cheeses, spices and baked goods. For more historical sight-seeing, there are two castles at Schlossplatz Square as well as walking tours that involve climbing 400 stairs in different districts within the city. And for the truly random, there’s an elevator at town hall that never stops moving so patrons have to jump on and off to get to where they’re going.
Although living in Stuttgart can be expensive, it also has the potential to be a fun and life-enhancing experience. Don’t discount Germany when you’re conducting your job search. Instead, weigh the pros and cons of living overseas. You may be surprised to find yourself on a flight to Stuttgart.