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Living in Germany: Annoying your German neighbours and the death of the fax machine

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Living in Germany: Annoying your German neighbours and the death of the fax machine
A Panasonic fax machine from the 1990s. Photo: Panasonic KX-F90.jpg: Pittigrilliderivative work: Georgfotoart - own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In this week's roundup we write about getting on our German neighbours' nerves by accident, fax machines being phased out in the Bundestag, strikes and differences in life expectancy across Germany.


Living in Germany is our weekly look at some of the news and talking points in Germany that you might not have heard about. Members can receive it directly to their inbox on Saturday.

Getting on your German neighbours’ nerves 

We love living in Deutschland. Whether moving for work, love or just to have a life change, embracing German life has been a fulfilling experience. Many of us at The Local (and our readers) have put roots down in Germany, making German friends and perhaps even marrying a German. But one thing that is also true is: we as internationals will still annoy our German neighbours, even if we don’t mean to.

For example, perhaps you’ve arranged a gathering with friends and forgot to put up a note to say you’d be louder during Ruhezeit (quiet time) only to receive a telling off from your neighbour or a passive aggressive note on the stairwell the next morning. Speaking of Ruhezeit, perhaps you’ve cleaned a little too hard during the period when things should be peaceful. Maybe that involved vacuuming on a Sunday or putting the washing machine on too late. As Imogen Goodman wrote in her story on ways you might annoy your German neighbours, “German neighbourhood laws enforce certain ‘quiet periods’ in which your cleaning, music practice and DIY plans will unfortunately have to be put on hold. You can fall afoul of these if you take out the hoover between 12pm and 3pm on weekday afternoons, or in the evenings after 10pm.” 

These are understandable grievances and we have to adapt to the German way of life. But some just go a little too far. For instance, we’ve heard of neighbours in Germany complaining about balconies that have too many fairy lights turned on late at night, and even complaints about the smells of cooking. And two of our friends were repeatedly told off by their downstairs neighbours in Berlin for walking around in their apartment too much. Our advice? Try and forge a good relationship with your neighbours as soon as you move into your flat - consider getting them bread from a nice bakery as a gesture - so you’re less likely to get under their skin in future. 

Tweet of the week

Germany may be moving into the 21st century. That’s right, we found out this week that the German parliament is pledging to phase out fax machines by mid-next year! Miracles do happen. 

Where is this?

Bremen main station

Photo: DPA/Sina Schuldt

A warning strike by the GDL train drivers’ union took place this week, resulting in disruption for travellers. Here, a rail customer with a suitcase makes their way to Bremen main station early on Friday morning after the industrial action ended on Thursday night. The GDL has warned that more strikes could happen - including during the holiday season - if their demands for better pay and conditions are not met. 


Did you know?

New figures released this week show how long Germans are living. Figures from the Federal Institute for Population Research showed an average life expectancy of 82.9 years for women and 78.2 years for men. But did you know that there are strong regional differences? The state where people tend to live the longest is Baden-Württemburg. Women in the university city of Tübingen take the top spot, living up to 84.7 years, and the men up to 80.2, according to the figures. Meanwhile, the region of Germany with the lowest life expectancy for both men and women is the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, with men living to 75.4 years and women to 82.1.

Life expectancy in Germany is slightly above the EU average but is lower in comparison to countries like Switzerland and Spain. Out of the 16 countries in Western Europe, Germany ranks 15th for men and 14th among women.




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