Posted to Germamy

I am about to be posted to Germany when my Regiment Disbands in March 2004. As I have never lived in Germany before it will all be new to me and a bit of a culture shock. To that end I am after a few answers if anyone can help me?

1. Do I have to buy a sky TV dish ect in the UK or can I get that out in Germany now, I have had different reports from different people?

2. Is the cost of living very expensive compared to the UK?

3. What is the best ferry crossing to Dortmund from the north of England?

4. Is it cheep to fly to Germany?

5. Are the Tax free cars really worth buying?
After 6 and a half years in BFG (British Forces Germany) - TLA for your new life, I returned in July.

1. There is no easy way to get a Sky dish in Germany. Use your UK address or a family or friend's UK address to get it order and maintain it. Take the hard wear to BFG, and get the Sky card sent to your UK address and then forwarded to you. If you keep a UK bank Account, you can make any direct debits through that.

2. Not too expensive. Living overseas allowance (LOA) was pretty good when I came back (single, eight years' service) and was about a tenner a day. If you are married with kids, it is masses more. One of the many things that influences the rate of LOA is the exchange rate. The pound had just gone a bit bad against the Euro so the rate had gone up. If you smoke or drink, tax free status is pretty remarkable. Not much more than 30p for a bottle of Becks or a pound for 20 cigarettes (some nutter still choose to buy L&B) though they are rationed reasonable so you can smoke yourself to death cheaply but not set up an export business. These prices are only on camp. You pay pretty much UK prices in pubs and tobacconists. Garage and house repairs are cheap if you get in with the local net. Dealer servicing is a bit cheaper but can be got tax free anyway.

3. Zeebrugge or Hook of Holland (can't remember which) do a crossing to Hull. There is one that seems to run in the summer from Scotland to that area of Holland too. Check with a travel agent as a alot of these services are seasonal.

4. Fairly cheap to fly. Quite an explosion of cheap airlines. Air Berlin may be easiest for you. Ryanair if you are desperate but it only goes to Hamburg and Frankfurt - though its Belgium or Holland services may be worth a look if you can be bothered to drive. Overall, British Airways and British Midland can be good a price and much more convenient if you book far enough ahead or are lucky.

5. Tax free cars are great. Unless you can be bothered to really read into it and work out what is best to buy, just enjoy having a brand new car for a year and being able to sell it for not much less than you paid for it. If you can spend £25 - £50 grand on a Merc or BMW, you can make something but it is a gamble and against the rules - and most of us peasants have to borrow if we want to spend that much. The safest bet are the VW Golf Diesels or Audi A3 Diesels. Saying that, Fords are about half the price. Some dealers will offer you a buy back promise where they will give you a brand new, identical car a year later for free or for a nominal fee.

Enjoy Germany. I didn't want to go andeneded up loving it. Don't go back to UK all thetime. Get out and go to Prague, Munich, Copenhagen, Berlin. Dortmund is a pretty good place - you are lucky as most British Units are right out in the sticks.
You can buy lots of stuff in German shops with VAT exemption - just get a form from your RAO/PRI/Mess. You can also get VAT exemption forms for UK and all other EU countries - slightly different system but can be worth it for buying, say, a laptop with UK keyboard.

Tax-free cars are great but do shop around. Tax free doesn't mean profit free and quite a few BFG dealers charge list price less tax; you can sometimes get a bigger discount from a UK dealer and then buy the car for personal export. Make sure you know who you are buying from - there are lots of brokers who don't provide any after-sales service. Make sure everything is included - UK spec, both sets of lights, delivery etc. You'll have to register the car with the BFG Licencing Office - possibly the most unhelpful organisation in BFG.

The Hull/Rotterdam ferry is excellent, but quite expensive. There is also a Newcastle/Amsterdam (Ijmuiden) ferry which is very good and has some excellent offers. Most ferry companies do 'Forces Fares' but it's worth checking their offers too as they can often be cheaper.

Many firms will do mail order to BFPO (sometimes tax-free), and so the internet is very useful. Not sure if phone lines are in all barracks and messes but many units have internet cafes (often run by completely barking WRVS).

If you have a mobile phone you can buy a pay as you go SIM card on a German network. Contract phones there are 2 years minimum.

As Thruster says, get out and explore - I can never understand the people who sit on camp or go back to UK all the time.

Have a look at for lots more info.

Enjoy Germany!
If your unit is getting disbanded in March 2004 it is likely you will to be getting posted to Sennelager another unit of the same capbadge (unless you are an attached arm). Dortmund is fairly closes about an hour away (70 miles). Paderborn is only 5 miles away and another army base area. Hannover airport is just over 90 miles away and served by train. Flights from here are quite frequent to various UK destination the earlier in advance you buy tickets the cheaper they are and can cost as little as 60 euros.

Time is much better spent doing road trips round Europe. Get your UK mates to come to you because you can show them a better and cheaper time than back on the mainland. Get in with the more adventurous crowed in your new regt. Prague is a cracking weekend and cost less than a good night out in London.
Check out for cheap flights to stanstead from dortmund, paderborn, hannover, Munster/Osnabruck, Dusseldorf, etc. Wait for the page to load then go to the english version. My parents are coming out for less than £80 all-in, compared to £256 for BA.

As others have said, get out and see europe. Take the train (they work over here!) the German ICE is excellent. Me, wife and brat just spent weekend in Berlin, hotel to home 4 hours inc changing trains and a bus to suburbs where we live all for 105 euros and that include pre booked seats. Visit for info.
Most Reggies have a travel agents on camp pop in and chat the girls up.

Oh, and when you've finished ask them about what travel deals they have on. It might be a cheap flight home or a flight to Italy.

P.S most of them are wives so don't touch.
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