Expat communities in Germany: socialising during covid

Bas

Updated on Oct 23 • 4 minute read

Germany has been a popular destination for expats for decades, building up various expat communities across the country. If you look for it, that’s exactly what you find: loads of expat information. But what if you want to improve your expat life in Germany by attending an expat club or expat meetup? And, more importantly, what’s the best way to get started in times dominated by Covid? Let’s take a look at a number of major German cities and zoom in on expat communities and resources for you to attend, both in real life and online.

Why join an expat community?

You’re not the first expat, and you certainly won’t be the last! This means you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Many expats are very happy to help a young international student or young professional find their way through the hoops you find yourself jumping through in the process of migrating to Germany. On top of that, there’s the social aspect. These people are literally in the same boat: they left their home country and culture and are settling in a new one. You can find a little comfort in talking through your new life and experiences with people who are from your home country or, at least, wearing the same culturally shifting goggles you are. Making new German friends is super important to your success (in happiness, at least) as an expat in the country, but having some expats in your social circle will certainly accelerate your acclimatisation to your new environment. And, it’s just a lot of fun to meet people from all over the world!

Covid: online communities

One of the most fun things to do is to actually go out and meet new expatriate friends. However, due to global Covid restrictions, travel bans and working from home, that might not be an option for some time to come. Thankfully, there are plenty of communities available right from your phone or computer!

Reddit for expats

Reddit is a thriving online image and message board, popular among millennials and zoomers alike, that is a hidden treasure trove for expats. Reddit revolves around subreddits (indicated by /r/) focused around certain topics. So, it’s a great place to pass some time on /r/Memes or get a little smarter by browsing /r/LifeProTips. These are massive ‘subs’ with thousands of visitors and posts a day, but, for us expats and international students it’s actually the smaller, local subreddits that offer some serious value. So, if you’re looking for information on a specific city, heading over to, for example, reddit.com/r/Berlin will allow you to communicate with locals and expats in the city. Though mind you, anyone can reply to your posts or questions.

Expat community forums & social media groups

Another useful hub to come into contact with other expats in or near your new German home city is to visit a forum. Forums are the simple HTML message boards that dominated the 90s! Simple post your request for friendship and there will surely be someone willing to show you the ropes in your new hometown. The forums usually also have a large archive, so you can go back and see if there are already any clubs or meetups originating from a forum. A good example of a forum like this would be Expatforum.com, which has plenty of active members to this day.

If you’re more into something a little faster paced and you’re not looking to be completely anonymous, then dust off your Facebook account, update your privacy settings and have a look around for some of the larger expat groups. A quick search for Expats Berlin leaves me with a group with close to 70.000 members and over 70 new posts a day.

Penpals in Germany

If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, like coming into contact with a local before you move, you could join a penpal site! These sites are designed to stimulate international interaction, but the cool part is that you actually exchange contact information and send each other physical letters or even exchange products like candy that is a staple in your area. This is great for international students or expats who are still in the early phase of moving to Germany, so you can start building up a serious friendship before you even set foot in the country.

Expat groups and events in major cities

Almost every major German city has an active group of expats who are looking for people to share activities, experiences and advice with. Let’s take a look at some of the local groups in Germany’s major expat hubs.

Expat communities in Berlin

Berlin is a very international city, full of tourists and visitors from all over the world. It’s also a major start-up hub, so you’ll find many expats and nomadic freelancers flocking to the city as well. Let’s take a look at the possibilities for you to socialize with others!

where can I find expat communities in Berlin?

If you’re looking to meet fellow expats or locals in Berlin, Reddit is a good place to start once again! The subreddit /r/berlinsocialclub is a very active subreddit full of people looking to take part in activities. You’ll find almost everything, from people looking to go for a run, to language practise sessions, study groups and board game sessions. Of course, due to Corona you should make sure you take part in any kind of in-person even safely or not at all. In any case, it’s a nice place to see what people are looking for!

If online isn’t your thing, then perhaps you could take your work to one of Berlin’s many coworking spaces, which are filled with freelancing professionals and expats just like you! Who knows, contacts like these could even help you at a later point in your career.

Expat communities in Frankfurt

where can I find expat communities in Frankfurt?

Unfortunately, the social club trick doesn’t work for every city! The last post in Frankfurt’s socialclub was over a year ago, but thankfully Frankfurt has alternatives in every part of the city! If you’re looking for expat events, there are a number of local papers and magazines you can keep an eye on, such as the Frankfurter Journal or Strandgut Culture magazine. You can also join the Frankfurt Hash House Harriers, an international social club that combines running and drinking. If you’re into social meetups as well as fancy racing down the mountains on a pair of ski’s then the Frankfurt Ski, Snowboard, Sports & Social Club has events and outings for every budget! And finally there’s the English speaking Pickwicks club, which has been organising a variety of trips and events around Frankfurt since 1976. The club welcomes anyone who speaks English at a functional level, so it’s a good way to get in touch with fellow anglophones.

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