Frankfurt, Germany Report of what it's like to live there - 07/07/08
Personal Experiences from Frankfurt, Germany
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
First expat experience.
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:
7-8 hours form the U.S. (DC).
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Compound living in apartments (Converted military barracks).
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Everything is available, it just costs more. Go to the commisarys on the military bases to stock up on U.S. staples, but buy your produce from the many local markets for fresh food at better prices.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
Nothing I can think of...
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
All fast food is available, but eating in local restaurant is so much more fun. Most are on par with what you'd pay at a fast food joint anyway, but vastly superior.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
I had APO access.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Expensive. The dollar isn't doing too well aginst the euro.
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 and ATM cards are widely accepted. The only place I found that dosen't take credit is the grocery stores.
4. What English-language religious services are available locally?
5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
AFN on the compound.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
Almost anywhere you'll find someone that speaks English, but try to learn some German.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Lots. Not very handicap friendly.
1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?
Right side, same as the U.S.
2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Buses and trains are very safe and affordable, Taxis are a little pricey.
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?
Any car is fine. Smaller is better due to narrow streets and ease of parking.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
US$60 a month for high speed internet.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I had a cheap, pay as you go phone. Everything's available.
3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?
I had Deutsche Telekom and it was around 3 cents a min. to call the U.S.
1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
Very high, Germans love their pets.
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?
Not really, unless you're fluent in German.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
I would say Germans dress nicer than Americans, but my opinion is most Americans dress sloppy making the Germans look better.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
This is probably the cleanest city I've ever lived in.
2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Almost none. Much safer than most American cities.
3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
The family doctor we had was the best I've come across.
4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Similar to DC.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
My oldest child went to ISF and we were very unhappy with the administration.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
Depends on the school. At ISF, not much.
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?
The preschool on the compound was very good. Our younger child attended for 2 years and graduated kindergarten there.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
2. Morale among expats:
Average. Most people do their own thing outside of work. Get to know a local and you'll have a great time.
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?
Pubs, theater, dance, anything you can think of. Germans have festivals for everything, a good reason to drink the finest beers in the world!
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Great for family and couples. Single friends tell me it's tough.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Sure. Anything goes...
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
The only problems I noticed were prejudices aginst Turks. Germans blame them for taking their jobs, similar to Mexicans in the U.S.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
It's the heart of Europe with a major airline hub. It's easy to go anywhere from here, but don't forget all the towns and castles to see within easy driving distance. There are so many parks, each with their on character. My family was never at a loss for something to do.
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Beer! Best I've ever had...
9. Can you save money?
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
I'll be back soon!