Rules of Living in Germany and Recycling

QUIET TIMES (Ruhezeit): 8 p.m. until 7 a.m & all day Sundays/holidays

·        House and garden appliances/machinery are off limits. (Quiet time includes lawn mowing, car washing/repairing, loud children, stereo or radio (loud)–if it can be heard outside your dwelling or vehicle it is too loud.)


·        As long as your neighbors are ok with it and you are using dish soap, it is not a problem. You will want to wash with a bucket and soap and then rinse quickly with the hose as you do not want to waste and it is not permitted to use chemicals that may seep into the ground. (We watched our neighbors wash their cars a few times to see what they do.)


·        Ensure that the smoke and smell does not bother your neighbors. Try to place the grill in a place where the smoke will not float into the neighbors open windows.

·        If you live in an apartment building, you cannot grill on the balcony, you must be at least 8 feet away from the building; depending on the direction of the wind, maybe further.

·        Parties are acceptable so long as you only have a few a year. (I believe that less then 4 is considered a few!)  Also I understand that noise outside is permitted till 10, however I have heard parties in my neighborhood much later then that. The noise is permitted however, it may not be excessive.


·        Tenants are responsible for  the sidewalk and street in front of the house.

·        You need to pull out the weeds in the sidewalk.

·        SNOW: You must shovel and sand/salt your sidewalk between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. If someone slips & breaks their leg in front of your house during this time, you are liable.


SOFA (definitely good to know!):


My opinion has always been: If your not 15 minutes early, you’re already late.

·        Germans are very punctual and are often displeased if you do not arrive in time for an appointment or a social gathering. The first thing we learned though is that they are not early and they are not late. I make my husband be 15 minutes early everywhere we go. Even if we sit in the car at someone’s home until the party starting time, we are there 15 minutes early. Here though, you will wait. They are punctual to perfection and so you should be as well!


·        You are expected to generate only a small amount of trash. Generally the recycling is picked up bi-monthly and the trash is picked up either bi-monthly or monthly depending what you choose (you will pay based on the weight of the trash in some areas, and in other areas you pay a set amount for monthly pickup with more cost for bi-monthly pickup.) The recycling bin, grass bin, and paper bin are usually the size of an American bin. The trash bin is typically smaller.

·        Paper bins are generally collected monthly. These are only for paper and cardboard. Grass bin (Bio bin) can be for yard waste such as grass, weeds, branches and also can be used for some kitchen waste such as fruit, veggies, flowers, or egg shells. You cannot throw these items in there in a trash bag. Only bio bags are usuable and these are optional. The Bio bin is collected based on the time of year. In the summer it is collected more often as the plants grow more.

·        The GK Housing Office or your landlord can give you specific information about your collection schedule & how to sort waste.

·        Glass must be taken to special collection centers or back to the store where you bought it (some bottles you pay a fee for and the fee is returned when you bring back those bottles). Most communities have receptacles set out for you to sort your glass–clear, brown and green.

·        Batteries must be thrown into dispensers at stores. There is a dispenser at the Schinnen commisary. Larger electronics can be taken to Media Markt. I know the store in Heerlen (Corio Center 9, Heerlen) has several recycling drop off boxes.

·        Each city has special days for collecting bulk items like furniture and carpets. Check your trash calendar for the dates. You can also use the postcard sized cards in the trash calendar to schedule a bulk pickup.

Gk city posted a pdf in English to explain the trash

Online Trash Calendars


·        Weekdays the shops may stay open until 8 p.m. On Saturdays, they will probably close around 4 p.m. Few places are open Sundays, however, most restaurants are open Sundays and closed Mondays. Many cities in the Netherlands will have late shopping on Thursdays and be open Sundays once a month. A schedule can be found here.

·        Most towns have an open market and on different days of the week.


·        In most towns, there are a couple days a year where everything that is no longer of use or not wanted (if it won’t fit in the regular trash) is put out on the street for pickup (furniture items, etc). However, if someone else wants it, they are free to pick it up and take it.

·        Clothing can be placed into donation bins. These are in located in many surrounding towns and can often be seen near the glass bins.

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