The absolutely best way to learn German is of course to move there. I haven’t lived in Germany myself, but I have lived and worked in the Netherlands, Ireland, and United Kingdom, so I know that moving abroad requires that you have done some preparations.
I have collected some tips from various websites and added some I wished I knew before I moved abroad myself.
Before you go to Germany:
1) First of all, don’t move to Austria or Switzerland for the purpose of learning German.
Swizz German and Austrian is much different from standard German. In fact so different that many Germans are not able to understand the Austrians and Swizz dialect.
2) Spend some time studying how health insurance works in Germany.
3) Find out what documentation, which are required for opening a bank account.
Naturally you will need your passport, but some banks require further documentation such as a proof of address, employment contract, or a bank statement from a former bank.
So before your leave contact a handful of banks to hear exactly what they require.
Link: List of German Banks (Wikipedia)
4) Sign up at all relevant recruitment agencies in Germany.
Finding a job can be difficult, especially if you don’t speak German fluently and you have never lived in Germany before. Therefore, you’ll be grateful for a helping hand.
The easiest jobs to get are within customer service, tele sales, etc., where your native language will come in very handy. These jobs are often available via multilingual agencies.
For other type of jobs search for “personalagentur” followed by the sector you would to work in.
5) Find further information on the websites of the nearest Germany embassy
It may not be so relevant if you are from an EU or Schengen member state, but do have a look anyway, as you can’t get more official information anywhere else.
Link: List of German Embassies
6) Learn some German
You will for sure find companies in bigger cities where the working language is English, especially in multinational call centres, but knowing some German is still quite essential and will many more opportunities on the job market.
Link: Do I need to know German to live in Germany? (Google)
Things to first after you have arrived
1) Live on a low budget until you have an income
The best way to do is to find a relatively cheap hostel, where you can cook your own food.
Use Hostels.com to find such accommodation, and to send an e-mail to the individual hostels to find out if they kitchen facilities or not.
By the way, cooking vegetarian will save you a lot of money.
2) Get a German Tax ID
You are able to work without a tax ID, but you will be entitled to pay surtax and not be able to receive social benefits. Moreover, having a a tax ID will leave a more professional impression to potential employers.
3) Apply for jobs
It’s tempting to party and do sightseeing the first few weeks, but do spend some time on job hunting every day.
You can start by contacting the agencies you have registered at before you left.
More job links:
Employment Agencies and Job Sites in Germany (About.com)
List of Job Websites and Employment Agencies in Germany (Toytowngermany.com)
Indeed.de – Search Engine for jobs that search across most job websites
4) Find a flatshare
When you have a job and thereby sure that you will get a stable income find a flateshare, don’t live in an apartment all by yourself.
You need to speak German as much as possible and as a new arrival to Germany you may also need some new friends.
Link: Finding a place to live (Study-in.de)