Frankfurt, Germany Report of what it's like to live there - 06/16/24

Personal Experiences from Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany 06/16/24


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

No, this is my third overseas posting.

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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?

Texas. Easy flights home for the summer.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Three long years.

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4. What years did you live here?


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

Work at the Consulate

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

In my opinion, housing is awful. Words cannot describe living on the Siedlung, which is where most Consulate employees are put. Off-compound housing I've heard is not much better, as those people are put on the edges of the city and have a long drive to work (almost an hour in some cases).

The compound is like living in an American bubble but with none of the pleasantries (which, it's not a real compound, locals go on and off the compound all the time). Your coworkers are your neighbors and they are just there all the time and there is no privacy. You can hear everything your neighbors are doing. There is constant construction on the compound, and you would think they would add privacy measures or at least air conditioning! Nope. Neither. If I were bidding again, I would not choose Frankfurt because of the horrible compound housing situation.

Speaking of horrible, the local neighbors that come into the playground areas are just too much. I feel they bully our kids (and other American kids), and nothing is done about it.

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

The base has everything and is a short 30 minute drive. Some local stores you can walk too as well.

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

I get everything on base or DPO.

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

There used to be a nice Filipino family that ran the compound restaurant, but they left a short while ago and it's going downhill since then.

There is a Pizza Hut and a Dominos, but they don't taste like the American version, but they do okay in a pinch.

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

The constant construction dust is unbearable! Plus pollen all year round it seems really makes everyone suffer. If you've never had allergies before Frankfurt, you sure will after a tour here! If you already suffer from allergies, it's not a good place to be.

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Daily Life:

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


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

Probably too expensive, and the apartments are so small why get help?

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

There is a beat-up old gym on the compound. It's not that expensive, but it's too much for what it is, which is a dilapidated gym. There is nicer stuff off-compound, you just have to go into the city more.

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4. Do you feel that it is safe to walk, run or hike outside? Are there areas where bike riding is possible? What is the availability and safety of outdoor space for exercising? Are these easily accessible?

It's mostly safe. Not downtown at night, but no different than any other big city.

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

Some places take credit cards, but if you are going out to eat, you must take Euros in bills, as not all places take credit cards.

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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?

Everyone at the Consulate speaks English, same with waiters.

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

Oh yes, this would not be a good place for someone that can't walk a lot. There are steps in every building on the Seidlung, so even if you are first floor, you have to go up a flight of stairs first. If you sprain or twist a knee or ankle, you'll be home-bound until you recover.

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

Yes. Taxis are expensive but easy to get. Local metro and buses are okay.

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2. What kind of vehicle(s) including electric ones do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, infrastructure, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car or vehicles do you advise not to bring?

Do not bring an electric car nor buy one in Frankfurt, there is no where to charge it. Otherwise you can bring anything. It is Europe so parking spots are smaller, but otherwise it's easy for my minivan to get around.

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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's awful and in my opinion, another frustrating thing about the compound. You have to pay for their internet/TV package, and then pay extra fees on top of that to the Community Association. The internet is pretty slow, and goes out a couple of times a month. It's also very expensive due to the extra fees and the fact that you have to buy the bundle.

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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?

Google Fi works great.

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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?

There are the typical jobs at the Consulate, in the Community Liaison Office (CLO) or escorting.

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

Dress code at work is pretty relaxed.

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Health & Safety:

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

It's pretty safe, just stay away from downtown at night.

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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?

Pollen, construction noise/pollution. Medical care I hear isn't great, but luckily we have the med unit at the Consulate. I've heard the hospitals here aren't good.

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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?

See above, bad.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Pollen is awful.

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Schools & Children:

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

The schools are great, except if your kid has any kind of special need, then off to boarding school they go. The schools around here will not deal with any kind of special need.

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

None. I wouldn't bid here if my kids had special needs.

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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?

Yes, it's about the same cost as DC. It's right on the compound. It's okay from what I hear.

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

There are some but all in German, except out at base you can get them in English.

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Expat Life:

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

Morale is pretty bad here due to everyone working and living together. There are a lot of Americans so it will feel a little bit like home.

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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?

The CLO has a lot of things on the compound, book clubs and such.

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

No idea for singles. For couples without children, it's probably bad, because it is non-stop kids running around the compound all day and night. For families, it can be okay, as long as you don't mind living next to your boss and having no privacy from your co-workers.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I didn't make any local friends.

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

No idea, but I think it's friendly?

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

Not that I've heard.

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

You can fly anywhere. The airport is a 30 minute taxi ride away. Flights to just about anywhere, so starting saving those miles!

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

Frankfurt is pretty boring, but you can drive to see castles and take a flight to somewhere better, like Berlin or Paris.

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

No, I wouldn't buy much locally. Some pottery though.

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

It has a big airport and it's pretty safe.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Just how bad the compound would be.

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

No. Not a chance.

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

Private conversations.

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4. But don't forget your:

you must buy several portable air conditioners for summer. It gets HOT here for a couple months, and the cheap ones the Consulate gives you don't even cover one room (as you have to stick these vent tubes out of each window which really doesn't do much).

You can buy those on base and anything else you need though, so it's like having our own Walmart here.

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