10 Things The Germans Do Better Than The British

If you’re like me you have a lot of pride in being British.

Our little island is different to the rest of Europe. Our comedy, our food and our sense of being set us apart as completely unique.

But I’m also not too proud to admit that there are a lot of things the Germans do a lot better than us. It’s part of why I was so happy to move out here in the first place.

In fact, just looking out of my window I can see four things I don’t even mention on this list: building cars, laying tarmac, double glazing and riding bicycles.

But there are some more important elements that make living here really enjoyable and comfortable…

01: People Are Less ‘Daily Mail’ About The News

German News isn’t built on scaremongering and worst-case scenarios in the same way as it is back home.

While there are tabloids in Germany – and I’m sure the people who get excited about their front pages – I’m yet to walk past a Kiosk with a Daily Mail style front page plastered on it:

daily mail front page

There is a lot more reliance on facts as a whole over here, too. It’s a cultural difference that people of all generations stay a lot more well informed and don’t make sweeping statements based on the headlines.

People at home are also like this. But 5.5 million people read The Sun every day. So, you know.

02: They Aren’t As Fat As We Are

While Germany is still up there in terms of Obesity, they’re statistically better than Britain at keeping off the weight.

The United Kingdom is currently leading the ‘league’ in being overweight, which doesn’t quite surprise me when I still receive text’s from my local Dominoes Pizza despite living 300+ miles away:

obesity

And people are a lot more active. On any given day people are cycling, running or heading to the gym. More so than I ever saw in Salford or Manchester.

Portions in restaurants aren’t quite as big as I’ve found back home, too. Which could definitely play a part.

03: They Get Into Waaaaaay Less Debt

Germans are much more risk averse and less likely to take on debt. While people do have debt – mortgages and so on – they’re a much less, “Buy now, sort the money out later” culture like we are back home. (I can include myself in that one).

While people do have debt – mortgages and so on – they’re a much less, “Buy now, sort the money out later” culture like we are back home. (I can include myself in that one).

The average household debt in England right now is between £13,000 and £54,080 depending on which resource you look at (a number which makes all my German readers shudder). As Business Insider writes:

As Business Insider writes:

“Households in Europe’s largest economy hold less debt than the euro area average of 96.57%, but on a global scale Germans still have a huge amount of debt.”

The Germans come in at number 13 of European Countries with debt and the UK comes in at number 7.Which is quite a significant jump/

There is still debt, but on a ground-level, it’s much, much better than it is at home.

In my generation especially, I’ve known people spend all their savings and get a little credit-card debt. But nothing like the £16,000 on Finance on a car like I did when I was a stupid 20-year-old.

04: They’re A Lot Better At Languages…

My girlfriend speaks fluent German, French and English. Her friends all speak fluent English, German and up at A2-B1 in a third language.

In fact, I don’t have any friends or family here that don’t speak at least one other language.

The national average number of languages spoken in Germany is 2.0. In the UK it is 1.6.

languages in germany

Schools treat languages with a much higher importance and a second is a requirement for children at Gymnasium. You’d actually be hard pressed to find a school that doesn’t ask for a third now!

In my school, I was able to start learning French only when I was in Year 7 (11/12) and was able to drop it by the time I took my options at the end of Year 9 (14). Which, of course, many people do because at 14 who knows a second language will be really beneficial?

We’re also quite lazy because of how accessible English is. I currently speak German to a B1/B2 level and Spanish to an A2 level. That’s considered ‘a lot’ by some people back home.

05: Living Is Much Cheaper

Numerically, on the whole, Germany (at least here in Cologne) is much cheaper than it is back in Manchester/Salford, England. It was one of my deciding factors for moving here:

cologne savings

But it’s also quite normal to go days without spending here. I’d struggle to do it back home. But here, it’s quite easy. Especially when everything shuts on a Sunday and you can’t spend anything.

Combine that with the cost of food and rent and everything adds up to mean I can earn less money here, while still keeping up a good quality of life.

06: They’re a Lot More Productive

Okay, okay, I know there is a stereotype about German’s being efficient. But it’s not really a stereotype when they’re statistically the most productive country in the G7.

In fact, in comparison to the UK, they’re a lifetime away…

productivity

To give that graph a little context the Germans create 36% more per worker, per hour than the UK.

I mean, I don’t quite see it when I’m locked in my home office all day and can hear my girlfriend trying to do anything but her University work all day long. But, the numbers don’t lie.

07: They Follow The Bloody Rules

In Germany, a rule is a rule.

Of course you get the rebels, the ones that dare to walk in opposite direction to the arrows in IKEA. But on the whole German’s are rather good at following them.

Watch as James May explains his experience with a German friend on The Grand Tour:

My experience is that if there’s red tape, or a process, involved then Germans are much more inclined to anally follow it to the letter.

Unlike in England where we just decided that while we know the rules exist – like, say, the speed limit – we just pretend it never happened. Until we see a police officer or someone in a high-vis jacket.

08: They Can Talk About Emotions

Yeah, you read that right.

Well they’re not literally better at talking about their emotions. Instead the German Language has some great words to describe thoughts and feelings that we just don’t have in Britain or the English language.

For example:

  • Schnappsidee: A regrettable idea that you had while drunk
  • Fernweh: A desire to be in a far off place
  • Luftschloss: An unattainable dream
  • Fremdschamen: When we’d normally just cringe in English
  • Kummerspeck: The weight gained by emotional over-eating

This is just a handful of them. But, where we’d shout and swear and complain, the Germans sum it up in one word.

09: They Aren’t As Binge-Drinking Orientated

Picture this:

You’re in an English town centre on a Saturday night. It’s 2am, and you’re stood on a street corner looking out at the bars. What do you see?

If you answered anywhere near honestly you’ve probably come up with; people sat on kerbs, perhaps a few scuffles and fights, girls holding their heels in their hand because they can no longer walk and someone being sick in a bin. There’s always that one guy who needs to be propped up by his friends because he can’t stop swaying, too.

In Germany – while I’m sure it is there – I’m yet to experience anything like that.

People don’t seem to get anywhere near as drunk, anywhere near as often. And it’s rare you see someone chucking their guts all over someone’s trainers.

And I’ve definitely never seen the equivalent of Tracy from Broadheath screaming about how Gazza has left her on Deansgate (again).

10: They Treat Their Football Fans Better

A few days ago I went to watch the football with a few of my friends that were over from England on a Stag-Do.

english football hooligans

The ticket for the game and all the travel between cost just €14.50. That means for four trains, a bus and a full football came it cost me less than three beers at the ground.

In fact, the cost of season tickets here is so cheap too. For example, Bayern Munich start their season ticket pricing at £67. I’ve paid that for a Manchester United game-day ticket before!

The atmosphere is as good as it is in England and it’s made affordable to everyone.

PS: Can I Send You An Email?

Thanks for reading!

Each week I send an email with an update about life in Germany, tips and tricks for moving here, language learning and anything else I think will be beneficial to you.

You can join 100+ other smart subscribers right here.