Frankfurt, Germany Report of what it's like to live there - 03/04/12

Personal Experiences from Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany 03/04/12

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

New Mexico, 12 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Foreign Service Officer assigned to two year tour.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Thirty percent more than DC, but you can shop on the base 20 minutes away.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything, but why go to any?

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Lots.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Expensive.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, cheap and on the apartment complex where everyone lives.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Many restaurants do not take credit cards. The best exchange rate is at the consulate.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. Unitymedia is sole provider of cable, internet, etc. US$70-$90 per month for package. Can't order just internet, which is a hassle.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by without German, but not as readily as everyone says. Really helps in small towns to speak the language.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Not much.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

A bit expensive, but all safe and well run.

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2. 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?

Anything, but Autobahns are fun, so bring a fast German car!

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, see above.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Everything is available.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Don't know.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

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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?

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dressier than U.S. to go out, same as DC at work.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Germany is very safe.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No, and equal to USA.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Good.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Variable. Not as cold and grey as I had thought, but the winters are dark and grey. The rest of the year in the 60's and 70's. Really nice.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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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?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

High, but some ridiculous complaining that Frankfurt is not the real Germany.

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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?

Unlimited.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, one can find everything here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Pretty good I think.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No. I was not sure about being Jewish in Germany, but there is a vibrant community here.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

See above. Moselle Valley, Alscace Region, Munich, Hamburg, cheap travel. Great parks within Frankfurt.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

See above, plus great skiing within 2-4 hours, hiking and mountain biking in nearby Taunus Mtns. Pretty good food, lots of restaurants, travel, travel, travel.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Food and travel.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Incredible, inexpensive travel opportunities throughout Europe. Easy living in a culture not that different from the USA. Great castles and other historical sights. Germany is as good of a tourist destination as the rest of Europe. Amazing cycling infrastructure. Can cycle for hundreds of miles, through cities, through farmland, through wine country and never compete with a car.

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11. Can you save money?

No.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Preconceived notions about Germany.

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3. But don't forget your:

Warm clothes and rain gear (and bike).

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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