Got any burning questions about life in Germany? Being part of an online expat community is the easiest way to quickly gain access to a huge database of advice from like-minded people in similar situations.
While compiling a big ol’ guide to making friends and connections in Germany (post incoming), I realised that I spent a very long time furiously typing out all of the benefits to using and abusing your online presence – and an even longer time listing all of my personal favourite spaces to head for advice from other people (and potential friends) living in Germany. So to save some time, I’ve compiled a handy list of my favourite established, online communities for expats in Germany.
- Girl Gone International
Kicking it off with one just for the ladies – Girl Gone International is a global network of empowered ladies (usually also with a passion for travel – double win). They have an amazing app you can download which works almost a la tinder – you can view various member profiles and choose to connect with other like-minded women in your area. Using the app you can receive OR offer your skills – including general friendship, mentoring (my favourite option – good mentors who are actually willing to help you out are hard to find even in your own community network), career advice, or for professional networking.
On the less formal side of things, they also maintain city specific Facebook Groups. I only personally have experience with the Berlin one, but it’s amazing. Members can add their own events to the calendar (such as seeing a movie, going for drinks, book club etc.) which everyone is welcome to attend. They also regularly update their archives with a wealth of advice – e.g. for English speaking doctors, decent hair dressers, safe places to go running, how to deal with German land lords – the topics are endless. There are also posts advertising jobs, apartments etc. which generally go out to the community before the general public. Lastly – it’s a great place to find friends – there’s always someone looking for a gym buddy, or to go out to a club/concert with – or just for a walk around the city! I can’t speak for the other chapters, but the Berlin group is an informative, safe space where women lift up other women. I’ve had a good experience with the advice and tips offered in the group, and enjoyed the events I’ve been to. In Germany pretty much all major bases are covered by GGI: Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Hamburg, Hannover, Munich and Stuttgart.
Meetup is essentially a catalogue of invitations to participate in various group activities. Anything and everything is possible: cup-cake making, casual football kick arounds, Quidditch, writing workshops, book clubs, LGBTQ support groups, hackathons, community breakfasts, Dungeons and Dragons, BBQ’s in the park – these are all things I can see right now on the home page, just by initially logging in to the site. However obscure it may be, you can almost always find a group of people to share it with (or create an event yourself so people can find you). The site is categorised and user friendly (as is the app). All you need to do is click on the event or meet-up that interests you (which will have a description, location and any cost required), and select ‘attending’ to receive the details and connect with the other members. An advantage of Meetup is that any events you attend often have a good mix of both locals and expats, so it’s a great way to integrate into the local community as well.
- Couch Surfing
This one is out a little left field – a lot of people just use couch surfing to find free accommodation as they travel. However, even though this may not really be your thing (I’m not 100% convinced it’s mine), the community forum comprised of travellers and expats is a great way to discover events, find new people to connect with over a beer – and get advice from registered locals about wherever you’re going (like good areas to live in, where to find the best cake (v important) etc.).
- Toytown Germany
Toytown operates in a more traditional forum style, and is directed at expats – you essentially have a vast archive of questions and their respective answers at your disposal, or if you can’t find what you’re looking for – you can post a question and expect to receive your own flurry of answers from other expats. Topics range from requests for replacement baking ingredients (just you wait), advice on residence permits, why your German colleague doesn’t speak to you – literally everything is up for discussion. You can expect to receive advice back not just from other expats, but locals as well. I’ve found this community helpful, and the range of advice immensely vast – but don’t expect as much politeness as the communities above, forums tend to encourage an expression of a wide range of opinions which is both a blessing and a curse. This site is more for resources and advice (it’s particularly good with legal stuff), rather than making friends.
- Reddit: r/Germany
Super similar to Toytown, Reddit is quite helpful in terms of advice, and all questions are in English. This forum is also good for those staying temporarily as well as long term – international students, work placements, tourists and visitors – more so than ToyTown which is geared towards long term stayers. In addition to advice, Reddit is nice in that it also discusses politics and pop culture (and there are German memes galore – it is Reddit after all). So if you are after a more general, open discussion, Reddit is also a good place for that.
And of course as the added self-explanatory bonus, there’s good old Facebook. Search ‘Expats/Kiwis/Aussies/Brits/Americans/Whatever in Germany (or your city)’ – there’s bound to be a group for you.