Frankfurt - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We are in the US housing complex, the Seidlung. It consists of several mid-sized apartment buildings situated in the same area.The guards are attentive and vehicle access is restricted to Consulate-related vehicle traffic, including POVs. Positives include many Consulate friends nearby for our children, bus service to FIS Oberusel and Wiesbaden campuses, playgrounds, and a relatively safe environment for bike riding and outdoor play. It's a 30 min walk or a 20 min bike ride to the consulate. So that's a real plus. For us, even with kids, negatives far outweigh. The biggest negative, for us, is that we're in a little America and it's easy not to experience Germany living in a place like this and instead have the full people-of-Walmart experience. The housing is dated and lacks A/C. The consulate only provides two units for the bedrooms so you should plan to purchase one (it's needed in the summer). The lack of central air also makes the homes dusty. Our electrical is wonky (lights turn on and off somewhat randomly with switches meant to control other lights). Sound travels down in the buildings so if you don't have a ground floor apartment expect that your colleagues can hear all your conversations, even those held in normal voices. Across the board, on the Seidlung, in my opinion, housing is improperly/inadequately cleaned prior to move in. Sponsors seem to be relied on to clean and unpack welcome kits. Pets are a problem on the Seidlung. Dog fights in the dog park are a regular occurrence. There is a dog that poops inside our building and no one cleans it up. Children who can't control their family pets are regularly charged with walking them. We're dog people but there seems to be a real issue with responsible pet ownership here. There are no restrictions on pedestrian traffic including large bags. With the attractiveness of the grounds for picnicking or playing sports, it sometimes feels a little uncomfortable/crowded in the summers. - Aug 2023

We lived on the "campus" ( I would say compound, however the grounds are open to the public with a public playground for locals and a private playground for residents.) We had a large flat with two floors, and it was a walk up. Not an elevator in sight, which was fun with strollers, groceries and pets. The campus was walking distance to the consulate, which was awesome. There were many who would brave the bike ride in, however the walk was less than 30min and good exercise so I preferred the walk (and during covid, I loved the walk in). - Oct 2022

Housing was a good size. In the States we always rented apartments in large metro areas; this was the largest apartment we've lived in, and we don't have any kids so our place was actually considered on the smaller end. - Feb 2022

We live on the large apartment complex known as the Siedlung. Some lived off the complex it nice/modern places, but it would easy to feel isolated there if you didn't speak German. Most of the community events are based around the assumption that "everyone lives on the Siedlung". Apartments were adequately-sized with generous storage/closets, on compound street parking, indoor and outdoor bike parking, and decent size storage in the basement. The interiors felt a bit cheap but were well-maintained with a very response facilities to repair things. We had a fridge die, and they replaced it the next day. Walk: 40-60 minutes Drive: 8-20 minutes Bus: 15-20 minutes Bike: 8-11 minutes (my preference) - Oct 2021

Many employees live on the compound although by 2020, the consulate had 100 off-compound leases. From the compound, it's just over a mile to the consulate. It's much longer from other parts of the city. - Sep 2020

Housing is primarily on the Siedlung (neighborhood). The apartments vary in size. Larger families live on the top floor with a 2 level apartment or they may be in housing around town. They range from 2 bedroom to 6 bedrooms in size. They are all furnished and the Consulate does not like to remove furniture. So if you bring things plan to store what they provide in the basement storage room you are provided or in other rooms you may have. We've been happy as a larger family with the apartment. You get your exercise going up and down the stairs with groceries and their is a lovely park near by. I've heard of a couple families living closer to one of the more popular schools. Travel to work, 15 min drive from the Siedlung, 30 min walk, 10-15 min bike ride maybe 15-20 min on the bus. You have LOTS of options. - Mar 2020

Housing is predominantly on the Siedlung for most Foreign Affairs employees. The Siedlung is USG owned and are old, walk-up apartments of three floors. In my opinion, housing is terrible here. It seems to me that grade/rank have little, if anything to do with your assignment. Those with young children (and typically lower ranking), seem to end up with the big two-level apartments, with senior officers being assigned directly under them in small apartments. The walls are very thin and you can hear everything that is happening in your building, from toilets flushing to babies crying to dogs walking to very personal conversations. In addition, there is no A/C in the apartments. Last summer we had four weeks of over 95 degrees. The apartments were unhealthy to stay in. By far, the worst housing we have had worldwide. We delayed this tour hoping to enjoy Europe later on in our careers, but instead, whenever home we're subjected to non-stop noise from young children. It's a bit depressing. The Siedlung is not for anyone that wants a quiet home life. - Mar 2020

Most Consulate families are assigned to the Siedlung (settlement), a former military housing compound that was signed over to the city when the military left and then leased back to the State Department. As an 02 with a child, we had three good sized bedrooms, two baths, a large living room, a decent sized dining room, and a serviceable kitchen. Some kitchens have a more open design, but ours was a separate room. Larger apartments have two levels, but are on the third floor. The apartments get good light and cross breezes, but can be hot in an extended heat wave (there is no central air). The Siedlung can be a little loud and a little fishbowl-ish, but if you have kids, it's great to be able to shoo them out the door and not worry about them. The Siedlung is a 30 minute walk, 20 minute bus ride, or 10 minute drive or bike, to the Consulate. - Feb 2020

US Consulate housing compound. Housing has been tight during our tour. We were given a two BR, one BA apartment for two adults and one child. No AC and temps have been near 100 this summer. Bus commute to the consulate is about 15 minutes. Many people walk and it takes about 40 minutes. - Sep 2019

The apartments on the compound are big, airy, and mostly sunny. For one adult and one child at the FS-02 level, we got three bedrooms with a separate dining room and very large living room. The compound is a thirty minute walk/bus ride/fifteen minute drive from the Consulate. There is a bike share station at the compound. - Apr 2019

Siedlung housing has a bad reputation. If you're single and want quiet, ask to be away from the field house. If you have kids and want to be near the playgrounds, ask to be near the field house. the rooms are big, the storage is big, and GSO is very responsive to any problems. - Sep 2017

Bigger than most Germans have. The apartments are blocky with no character. Washer and dryer in the kitchen. Commutes are great: either a) three minute car ride, b) ten minute bus ride, or c) 40 minute walk. The worst part of the housing is that there is no A/C, so the few sticky months in the summer are pretty awful. - Jan 2017

Apartment in the consulate's housing compound, known as the "Siedlung." Most consulate personnel live on the Siedlung, which is about 15 minutes from the consulate by car or bus, or about a 30 minute walk. Non-foreign affairs agencies may live off of the compound in leased apartments and commute times vary considerably. The apartments on the Siedlung are spacious and include storage units that vary somewhat in size but are generally at least as large as a single car garage. Decor varies a bit depending on when the building was renovated. Not the fanciest or most stylish, but large and functional. I was a bit apprehensive about living on a compound prior to arrival, having served in other posts where people were all housed within a few neighborhoods and feeling like everyone was on top one another and all up in one another's business. However, the compound here is so large that it doesn't really feel like that here. Plus, it's easier to get people together to do something, like go to dinner, because everyone doesn't scatter to the winds after work. - Aug 2016

Housing is good. Most of us all live in the same neighborhood. The apartments are well-maintained. One doesn't feel cramped or in a fishbowl. Nothing remarkable about the housing but there is little to complain about. I would characterize the typical apartment as cozy - neither large nor small. The Consulate is about 40 minutes away by foot, about 10 - 15 minutes by bus and car. - Feb 2016

Most foreign affairs agency personnel are housed in a common USG owned apartment community. This is former US Army housing built in the 50's. Walk-up apartments have been updated and are decent size. Singles usually occupy two bedroom/one bath units and families with children are allotted between 3-6 bedrooms depending on availability and family size. There is a community "field house" with restaurant, small shop, play grounds, tennis courts, and a preschool. Consulate apartment housing have 110v outlets in the kitchen. Non foreign affairs agencies are housed throughout the community in various apartments, town houses and houses. - Dec 2015

OK this has been my one complaint about this post and it's one that almost led me to curtail - housing is TERRIBLE here. The other reviews address the available housing pretty well, and I feel that while it's old, badly designed, and poorly furnished, it is in a nice location and is maintained well. My complaint mainly has to do with the assignment process. Post policy is that singles and childless couples get only two bedroom units without regard for size or square footage, although the layout of the apartments can vary significantly. As a result, my wife and I were assigned a tiny (approx 600 square foot) "two bedroom" apartment - so cramped, we could not open drawers and literally have to crawl over the Consulate-provided furniture (that they refuse to take back) in order to get in and out of bed each day. Meanwhile, several of my single co-workers had the larger (approx 900 square foot) two-bedroom units, and anyone with children receives even larger 3 or 4-bedroom units. So if you have kids, you'll love it. If you're single, you'll at least find it tolerable. If you're married and don't have kids, expect to be severely disappointed. - Jun 2014

We are all put up in very lovely, large apartments on a huge housing complex. It is accessible to all so it feels like you live in a big city housing park. It is remarkable to me that people complain about the housing here. There is no way that the average FSO salaried person could afford to rent places this big in Europe for even a night, much less live in them for three years! People are respectful of one's privacy and space. It is great to live in big apartment in a European city. We have had more visitors at this post than any other in the 16 years I have been overseas. Commute by bus is about 15 minutes but you can walk or bike as well. Great location and centrally located to everywhere. - Mar 2014

State Department personnel must live on compound consisting of apartments with 2-6 bedrooms. Other agency personnel can choose to live in a local apartment or house. The commute is 15 minutes by local transportation; by car its about 10 minutes when there's no traffic. - Nov 2013

Most everyone lives on the housing compound. It is a 10 min drive to the Consulate or a 40 min walk. - Apr 2012

The Seidlung is where 99% of the diplomatic community lives, and it is not as bad as everyone makes it out. Nice green spaces, a five-minute walk to amazing large park and restaurants and bakeries. Much nicer than Oakwoods in DC. Large, clean, great storage the size of a double car garage, but clean. A ten-minute commute by bus, life is easy. - Mar 2012

Apartments and houses. If you are affiliated with the U.S. Consulate General then chances are (with the exception of a few senior staff members) you will live on the same compound as everyone else. The compound is nothing to write home about, especially if you have livedoverseas before in USG providing housing. If you are single, you will probably only get one bathroom. If you have a family, you will get multiple bathrooms, but from what I have seen, they are almost like afterthoughts and not designed well. There is no air conditioning, and while it doesn't get too hot most of the time, there are days and nights during the summer that you'll wish you had it due to the humidity (especially if you live on the 3rd floor).This compound is old, and quite unattractive from the outside. The insides are OK, but tend to be smaller than what most people are used to. If you live on the economy, I understand that the rents are quite expensive due to the presence of large numbers of bankers and other expats. From what I have been told, an approximately 1000 square foot apartment in a decent neighborhood would cost around 3000 Euro a month. Commute times vary obviously, but from the Consulate housing compound to the Consulate, it's about a 30 minute walk, 5 minute drive, or 12 minute bus ride. People complain that traffic on the autobahns around Frankfurt is bad, but compared with other major cities in the world and the US, it isn't that bad. - Oct 2011

One word sums it up: awful (for anyone working on the Consulate that is). Most, if not all Consulate staff are put on a housing compound about a 30 minute walk from the Consulate called "Little America". The apartments are 3 story, ugly, old military style housing units. Although the insides of the units have all been renovated recently, they did the renovations cheaply, and most of the items (especially in the bathrooms) are already falling apart and breaking. Mold is another problem here as well. GSO tries to fix things, but these units are so old and there are so many of them (400+), that they have a hard time keeping up. Also, the ovens here either take 5-10 minutes to light and/or turn off randomly. Don't expect to bake or use the oven much here. I've had GSO over 5+ times to repair it, but they just shrug their shoulders and say deal with it. Also, the compound has a lot of hard partying, noisy and unfriendly military and quasi-military families here. They let their kids run amok on the compound, while they pound Budweiser beer and bottles of Jack Daniels. If you’re not on the top floor either, you can hear everything above and below you. The walls have little insulation, so be prepared for the fishbowl experience. My ex-pat friend came over to the compound for the first time, and thought it was Germany’s section 8 housing (due to the uglyness and amount of trash). She isn’t far off…Overall, until they get new housing, I would NOT recommend bidding on Frankfurt. Housing is horrible, and they need to fix it at some point soon (which will probably never happen). I will never bid on a place with compound living again, especially one with so many military families living on it. Morale is at a huge low here, and it’s almost 99% to do with the housing and everyone living on top of one another. If you’re an expat, there are some great neighborhoods in Frankfurt and some beautiful places to live. If you’rewith the Consulate, you’re in a rundown neighborhood in run down buildings. Again, I can’t stress this enough, the housing here is awful and is only getting worse. - Jul 2010

Compound living in apartments (Converted military barracks). - Jul 2008

Compound living for State employees, some of the employees live on the economy in decent house (townhouses) generally in the Taunus area. - Feb 2008

There are mostly apartments for government employees. Commute is 5 minutes by car (limited parking), 15 minutes by bus. - Jan 2008

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More