Just received orders to Germany? Well here is the place to start where you can learn a little about your home for the next few years!
Germany is Europe’s largest economy and second most populous nation after Russia. Germany’s population is predominantly Caucasian, with a significant Turkish minority. Germany has also absorbed a significant number of refugees from the former Yugoslavia. German is the main language spoken, although local German dialects can be prevalent. Germany is a fairly secular country. Even though the vast majority of the country is Christian with 38% of the population considering themselves protestant and almost 34% as catholic.
Germany has a total area of 357,022 sq km divided into sixteen states or “Laender”: Baden Württemberg, Bayern (Bavaria), Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hessen (Hesse), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Mecklenburg – Western Pomerania), Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Nordrhein-Westfahlen (Northrhine -Westphalia), Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland Palatinate), Saarland, Sachsen (Saxony), Sachsen-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt), Schleswig-Holstein and Thüringen (Thuringia)
Not nearly as many as our 50 states here in the USA! However, you can think of these “lands” just like individual states in America. Most US Installations in Germany are located in the southern states. Most installations are separated in “Garrison Commands” where each command has control of a few smaller posts in the area. A great example is US Army Garrison Stuttgart which holds Panzer Kaserne, Patch Barracks, Kelly Barracks, and Robinson Barracks. There are two US Air Force bases in Germany; Ramstein AFB and Spangdahlem AFB. At some point in your tour you will probably find yourself at Ramstein Air Force Base and its huge BX which is probably the biggest slice of “America” in Germany.
As of 2011 there were a reported 53766 military personnel stationed in Germany. Add on a spouse and a few dependents for each of those and the numbers quickly top 100000 Americans living in Germany at any given time. Due to that, Germany is probably one of the most built up overseas tour locations US service members can get. Service members are allowed to bring their own vehicles or even buy brand new American spec vehicles while stationed there. AAFES runs the gas card program so service members can buy gas at close to US prices both on and off base. There is even a system to avoid Germany’s value added tax or VAT while shopping in Germany. That is a savings of 19% on most items!
Here is a list of links to all the major military installations in Germany:
NATO Base Geilenkirchen Geilenkirchen, Germany
Ramstein Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany
Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Trier, Germany
Landstuhl Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany
USAG Rheinland-Pfalz in Baumholder, Germany
No matter where you might be stationed, each base or garrison has its own flavor. Another question many people have when moving to Germany is where to find things for their house. One of the best website networks for this is Bookoo.com. The Ramstein Bookoo is probably the largest and most popular but Stuttgart and Grafenwoehr are not far behind. On Bookoo you can create an account and buy or sell almost anything. Think of it like Craigslist but a little better. Beware of scammers! Especially when it comes to cars. It is fairly easy to tell when a vehicle sale looks too good to be true.
If you are think about living off post on the Germany economy you will have to find a house or apartment and negotiate the contract. All garrisons have a regional housing office to help you (some) but you will do most of the heavy lifting. It is highly recommended to get some help from people in your unit who have been around a while. Most landlords will attempt some english with you but not all. Find a good German speaker when you arrive and use their talents! We recommend you start with our Renting a house series before you move.
Getting stationed in Germany can be a very rewarding trip. Hopefully this article will give you a little idea of what you are getting into. If you have specific questions about living here leave us a note in the comments and we will get it answered!
For more resources like various Facebook Groups for specific areas you can visit our links page here.
What benefits discussed in this article are available to soldiers in an IRR status? Thank you!