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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Off to the "Kur" again

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Off to the "Kur" again

I just talked to one of my German relatives.  Yet again, she is off to her KUR.  You'll hear Germans talking about that quite often.  Can you imagine your doctor writing you a prescription to spend a week relaxing at a health spa and your health insurance paying for it?  That is a KUR....literally translated "cure".  Gotta love the Germans and their social system.  Look what other benefits they get that we don't.

Before you get all excited though and want to move to Germany, let me preface all this, that Germany has a very high tax rate....just over 50%....not as high as the Scandanavian countries, but if we were taxed this high in the US, I think we would all riot!  So keep that in mind as you wonder (like I do sometimes) how the Germans can be so super-efficient and orderly, have all this time off and then STILL get their work done...when all is said and done at the end of the day or week.

Here are some things that I find quite nice:

  • 37 Hour Workweek.  Or less!  Many offices get this done by closing early, or having a break in the day between noon and 2 pm on Fridays.  It's rare to see overtime and unions are very strong in Germany, always pushing for less hours.
  • Minimum 4 weeks paid vacation.  I don't care if you work at McDonald's...you are entitled to this as a German worker.  Also don't forget to add the 12-15 legal holidays to that and if you have good seniority, your vacation time is typically 6 instead of 4 weeks.  Germans also like to take their vacation all at once, unlike us Americans who do weeklongs and four days.  This is why many shops will close for a month, mostly in the summer.  Of course, ski week is popular too...a vacation that typically happens in March.  The schools are even out for that one...and of course around two weeks for Easter.
  • A Kur visit every two years.  Didn't you ever wonder why Germany had so many health spas?  Yes, to handle all these Germans going on Kur.
  • Six weeks paid sick leave.  Yes, you don't have to use your vacation time as sick leave like we sometimes do.  Health insurance can also kick in up to 90% of your pay after that period, until he/she recovers or retires...wow!
  • Generous maternity & paternity leave.  Yes, both parents!  Before you even have the baby, moms can take six weeks of fully paid leave and then eight weeks after the birth.  Then on top of that, you can take three years of unpaid leave, knowing your job will still be waiting for you when you return.
  • A 13th month salary.  Companies typically also pay housing subsidies, travel to and from work...also subsidized or free lunches in the company cafeteria.  The government also provides Kindergeld (for each child you have).  All these extras are sometimes called the 13th month salary because it many times equals one months' pay and gets paid at the end of the year.
  • Many social benefits.  The government gives tons of unemployment benefits, assistance...pensions and even allowances for certain industries.  Can you believe the government will chip in and add to your salary if your company has to shorten your work hours?  This is the shortened work hours benefit or "Kurzarbeitergeld".
Wow, huh?  Are there any readers in another European country willing to share what they do?

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3 Comments:

Anonymous susanna said...

Aaah, yes, those were the good times!
LOL "back in the days" my dad would go EVERY YEAR to Kur! The health insurance has become stricter now and now they can go 'only" every 2 years? However, then there is Kinderkur and Kindererholung (childrens' convalesence, Mutter(Vater) und Kind Kur, Mutterkur...ALL paid. Chiropractor, Massages, therapies - paid.
That said, sometimes when Germans visit overhere they do come across a little delicate. Had a 17 year old girl visit who insisted on going to the doctor when she had an eyetwitch 2 days in a row....could tell you more stories....
(Disclosure: I am German ;-)

The paid vacation days are NOT just 30 days of vacation, they are actually 30 business (!) days - it was an art, to plan your vacation in such a way to get the most off days out of your 30 days allowance.

And yes, deductions are awefully high. If you earn 3000/m you'll get 1500 of it but your employer most likely pays more to 3500 or more for your work. At 37 h/week, I am not sure how they are able to compete...

March 6, 2011 at 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we were stationed in Germany, I used to wonder why all these town had spa names and all these spas. And here I was PAYING for the service!

March 6, 2011 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

I enjoyed your post. I am an American and we recently (last year) purchased a medical/spa clinic near Frankfurt. I appreciated your comment about how with all of the Kur, vacation, sick days, etc. the Germans get their work done! We are currently working on a new website, but you can visit our old one at www.stgeorg-gesundheitzentrum.de.

May 16, 2011 at 1:32 PM  

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