Frankfurt, Germany Report of what it's like to live there - 11/07/13

Personal Experiences from Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany 11/07/13

Background:

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

No, I have lived in Geneva, Oslo, Buenos Aires, and Stuttgart, Germany.

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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?

Miami, FL. The trip from Frankfurt to Miami, FL takes between 10-12 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2.5 years.

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

Foreign Service Officer on a three 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?

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.

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

Everything you may want is available here but it may cost more than in the USA. The brands are European as well.

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

Nothing.

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

All sorts of fast food restaurants but why eat there when you can get a nice meal at local restaurant for about the same prices (10 - 20 EUROS)?

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

Very few insects because of the cold weather and short summers.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO mail is used by Consulate personnel. The German post is very good as well.

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

Domestic help available but very expensive.

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

The Consulate has a small gym. There is also a gym on the housing compound which requires a membership.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere but always double check.

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

All religious services are available in English.

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

Some German is needed because when visit a local doctor, the staff may not speak English.

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

Someone with physical disabilities may have some difficulties living here but the German government is improving access every day.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, all transportation is safe and affordable.

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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?

Any vehicle will do fine here but if you plan driving through the countryside and small European towns, a small car or station wagon is better than an SUV.

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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?

It is expensive but works very well.

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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?

A cell phone is provided by the Consulate.

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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?

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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?

Have no personal experience on this topic but I have heard that job opportunities are available if someone really wants to work.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are some opportunities to volunteer.

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

The Consulate dress code is business attire. In public it's better to fit in so you should dress casually but not in a sweat suit like we could do in the USA.

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Health & Safety:

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

Petty theft and other usual big city problems.

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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?

Medical care is wonderful here and cheaper than in the USA. Health concerns - allergies and asthma.

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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?

Air quality is moderate. Individuals with allergies or asthma will most likely have problem here.

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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?

Nice summers, but they are short. Winters with a lot rain and snow.

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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?

Have no experience with the preschools/daycares here but I do know that the Community Association manages a daycare center located on the housing compound.

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

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Expat Life:

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

Very large expat community. Morale at post is low.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Touring throughout Europe; going to the movies (English); hiking and attending local festivals.

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

Yes, this a good city for everyone (families, singles, and couples).

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

Yes, this is an excellent city for gay and lesbian expats. The Consulate has an excellent support system as well.

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

I have not experienced any problems but I have heard of others who have experienced racial prejudices.

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

Some of the highlights have been attending the Oktoberfest in Munich, visiting many castles, and trips to Budapest, Paris, and Rotterdam.

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

Everyone should visit Wiesbaden, Germany and attend the Oktoberfest in Munich at least once.

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

German beer.

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

Touring many other cities throughout Germany and Europe.

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10. Can you save money?

If you don't travel.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

This is my third time in Germany so there were no really surprises.

Everyone should note that Germans follow rules and regulations to the letter so they are not good about making exceptions.

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

Absolutely, I loved my tour.

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

Suntan lotion.

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4. But don't forget your:

Don't forget your hobbies, camera, and hiking shoes.

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