Dusseldorf, Germany Report of what it's like to live there - 12/02/08
Personal Experiences from Dusseldorf, Germany
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
Sydney, Australia; Choon Chun, South Korea.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
Nine hours from Atlanta and NYC. Five hours by train from Paris. Two hours by auto from Amsterdam.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Townhouses in the suburbs; flats in the city. Most expats with school-age children live in the suburbs of Kaiserswerth, Wittlaer, and Angermund due to their proximity to the international school.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Great selection of groceries, priced about 15% above U.S. averages.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
German post. Fast, but more expensive than in the US.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Comparable to the U.S.; however many domestics don't speak English. German is usually their second language.
3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?
Credit cards not as readily accepted as EC card (chipcard from a EU bank); ATMs are everywhere.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
Catholic and Protestant services available in English; Jewish services with headseat translation.
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
Three times the cost of a U.S. edition.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Shopping, tradespeople, postal workers, and public transportation all require basic German.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
Same as U.S.
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Excellent, safe, usually punctual public transport. Affordable.
3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
Recently implemented pollution-reduction guarantee stickers required for driving in some urban areas.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, comparable to the U.S.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Use a pay-as-you-go plan until you determine how much you actually will use it. Cell phone calls are only charged to the person making the call. If you receive the call you are not charged. But if you make a call from your home phone to a cell phone, your home phone is charged.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
Calls to the U.S. are inexpensive with dialing codes (.6 cents per minute).
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Good to excellent.
Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:
1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?
Yes, if they speak German and seek full time employment. Not many part-time opportunities or flexible work situations exist.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
More formal and fashionable than a comparable US city. Duesseldorf is the fashion capital of Germany where most fashion houses maintain showrooms, and therefore many resident keep on top of the trends.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Low crime rate. Low terrorism risk.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Good to excellent.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Drizzledorf is the nickname! A relatively mild winter with little to no snow but daily grey skys and windy rain.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
International School of Dusseldorf (follows the International Baccelauriate Curriculm); Neuss International School; St. Georges British Academy.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?
Montessori German programs are popular.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Fvie hundred plus household members of American/British Women's Clubs
2. Morale among expats:
Good to very good, considering current financial situation in the US.
3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Great city for families due to safety and educational system.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Biking/strolling along the Rhine River; many charming biergartens to enjoy. The Altstadt offers cobblestones and almost every variety of ethnic restaurant. Shopping on the Koenigsallee; watch the well-heeled shoppers while enjoyed a coffee canal-side.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Shopping at the fashion houses' sample sales. European wine and beer are excellent bargains.
9. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
3. But don't forget your:
Books, wool sweaters, raincoats and boots.