Friday, May 26, 2017

Sống ở đâu tốt hơn: Đức hay Pháp?

Is life better in France or Germany?
Ivan Stephen, studied at Lycee Marie Curie


First of all, I am neither French, nor German, nor American, but have been living in France for over 10 years and prior to that, another 10 years in Germany.

There is no general answer as to which country offers you a better life, since they differ very much in the lifestyle and also in the opinion of what is considered “good” and “bad. Germany adheres closer to the “American way of life”, meaning one strives to achieve a lot materialistically, earn a lot of money, be able to buy fancy things, rent a fancy apartment. Your status if often based on where you work and how much you earn. Cities are pleasant to live in, clean, well organized, safe (well maybe less so with the influx of the certain refugees), people friendly unless you break a law (any law that is, even parking your bicycle against the wrong wall :-) In that case they will teach you about what law you have broken, as almost every German is a closet police officer.

It is easy to get a well paid job and although taxes are high, there are legal ways to diminish them. However; rents and utilities are expensive (houses and apartments are even more expensive so that buying is reserved only for the rich), so you will live in a smaller, rented apartment most of your well-cared-for life.

Infrastructure is excellent as is anything that has to do with technology. You feel the high-tech everywhere you go. Both the cities and countryside makes you feel like you are living on a very advanced planet.

If you work hard and obey the rules, you will be happy. You will never have problems with loud neighbours in the middle of the night. Authorities may be a bit bureaucratic, but at least the law works and if you fill out all the papers properly, you get all the permits in a very efficient way. Once you understand the system you will navigate easily through it.

However; I always lacked the sense of personal freedom, even though I am not a rebel that would try to break all the laws there are. Especially in the last few years I also feel there is a kind of censorship and people accept it. Maybe the Germans are just too scared of authorities of any kind.

Now France. A very unique country. First and last country I really feel sense of personal freedom (I have lived and worked in 6 countries). The word “Liberté” is engraved in everything. If you speak French, you never need to be scared bring forward constructive criticism. This freedom, however; has its price too. Disorder, chaos is everywhere, authorities are dysfunctional (which in the long run may work towards your advantage too), cities “less clean than Germany”, laws of any nature so complicated that it is not only very difficult to start your own company (just finding which flavour of company registration could work for you is a nightmare without some sort of legal help), but to get a reasonable and well paying job as well (social security costs are incredibly high and this makes any potential employer think many times before they hire someone full time). However; France adheres to the “French way of life”, which puts spirituality over materialism. People do not care about a fancy car or apartment, they spend more of their time outside, talking and discussing different matters with their friends and strangers. One does not need that much money, as utilities and rents are cheaper than in Germany, lots of cultural activities are offered for free. Infrastructure is not as good as in Germany, but it much cheaper and more people walk. Instead of high-tech, you feel history and culture everywhere. Both cities and countryside makes you feel like this is the planet where the culture and beauty came from. French Rococo was the worship of beauty, in architecture, furniture, clothing, musical instruments, in all things cultural and technical.

It is much easier to acquire a property, just because the prices (especially outside Paris and the coast) are much lower than in Germany and the purchase conditions easier.

If you love fun, want to work less and enjoy life more, are not too tied up by the rules, you will be happy. However; be prepared not to be able to deal with loud neighbours in the middle of the night, or someone starting their moped at 4 am, right below your bedroom window. Never try to understand the system, because no matter what, you will never be able to navigate through it.

To sum it up, Germany is about rules and order, safe and organized life, political correctness over common sense. More money, less freedom.

France is about freedom and chaos, less safe, less organized life, common sense over political correctness. More freedom, less money.

Last, but not least, the best secret may be working for a German company in France :-)