New in Hamburg: The Natural Order

It’s exciting starting in a new city. You wander the streets of your new home eager to dive in. It’s almost overwhelming – there is a huge desire to do. You start noting all the little shops and places you want to go, you must visit, you must greedily experience, as if the fact of your new home feels like a holiday and you need to soak it all up before the newness wears off. 

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The Binnenalster (“Inner Alster”) in the morning of a summer day. Ooh Hamburg you are pretty in the sunshine.

Of course, I’m still in the exhilarating period where it all feels new and shiny and I don’t have to worry yet about the fear setting in. There will be plenty of time to visit the little Japanese supermarket, the Swedish candy and crisps shop (honestly I’m not even sure what that’s about), and the Konditorei which is a mere 20 minutes’ walk away and which frankly would need to be around 20 hours’ walk away to justify the calorie load. 

What there won’t be plenty of time for, however, is getting life sorted. If being in Hamburg is truly to be more than just an extended holiday, it’s important to start forging an identity – actual and bureaucratic – in this most bureauphile of countries. 

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Now I is German pleez let me German with u! (Me to German govt)

So how does one go about getting yourself established in Hamburg? There are a few steps, some more essential than others, but often there’s a matter of dependency on other things being in place first. I’ll be writing about these as separate subjects in the next few weeks as I complete each of these steps, but as a starter I’ve noted a few of the most crucial and those which matter to me – whether or not they are as essential for you is for you to note. I’ve set out the relevant order in which they probably rank in terms of what each depends on – and noted accordingly. 

Tier 1 – Must Do

  • Anmeldung “Registration”
  • Schufa “credit check”
  • Health Insurance 
  • New account for everyday banking 
  • Language lessons

Tier 2 – essential but depend on some or all of Tier 1 being completed 

  • House hunting – will need all of Tier 1 bar health insurance completed. 
  • Phone – needs Schufa and usually Anmeldung and account
  • HVV travelcard – account required 
  • Healthcare – doctors, dentists and specialists – requires Anmeldung and health insurance
  • Job-hunting (usually depends on language and tax registration flowing from Anmeldung)

Tier 3 – Non-essential but pretty useful

  • Bicycle rental scheme 
  • Social clubs
  • Sports clubs
  • Where to get your essentials – what you can’t find in Hamburg so easily – including brown sugar, lamb, large chickens, bagels, halal meat etc.

I’ll be updating the list as I complete blogposts on the above as I reckon it’s useful stuff. Any comments, questions or thoughts, do let me know! 

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