Hamburg, Germany Report of what it's like to live there - 06/10/21
Personal Experiences from Hamburg, Germany
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, we have also lived in Caracas,Venezuela; Banjul, the Gambia; and Berlin, Germany.
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?
Germany, easy trip to my family in Bavaria. DC - flights through London. Easy travel.
3. What years did you live here?
4. How long have you lived here?
5. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Huge apartment living and short easy commute.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
German groceries are among the cheapest in the world. Nearly everything is available.
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?
Tons of great restaurants and lots of food delivery.
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
DPO, pouch, and German mail is also very reliable.
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
Availability and cost comparable to the US (a little cheaper probably).
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Plenty, not very expensive.
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?
The German EC card is used more. Many stores don’t accept credit cards.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
There are a few.
6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
I speak German and it’s been super helpful to integrate, but most younger Germans speak English.
7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Not too many. Some apartments don’t have elevators and are four floors or higher.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Safe and very affordable public transport.
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?
Bring a smaller car as parking garages and parking spots are generally on the smaller side. Best some fuel efficient car as gas is very expensive in Germany (gas is heavily taxed).
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes. A couple weeks.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
I used T-mobile.
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?
Great vets and kennel service available.
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?
Plenty of full-time or part-time jobs available, decent local salary with great benefits. You will need German health insurance if you work on the local economy.
2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?
Plenty of charities, American Women’s Club of Hamburg and Deutsch-Amerikanischer Frauenclub.
3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
Business at work. Hamburg society dresses up for the occasion.
Health & Safety:
1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Great medical care. You will be treated as a private patient with American insurance and get preferential treatment compared to the public health system.
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?
4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?
Plenty of food choices.
5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?
Winter blues is real in Hamburg. It gets dark a little after 4:00 pm in the winter. And the sky is grey, grey, grey for many weeks.
The summers are incredible. It’s light out until past 11:00 pm.
6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
It rains a lot (liquid sunshine as Hamburgers call it), moderate climate. Warm summers, cold winters.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
There are three international schools around Hamburg. They are all far from housing. I wasn’t overly impressed with the school.
2. 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?
Daycare is free from age 3-6 including lunch. You need to get a Kita-Gutschein from the City.
3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
Plenty of clubs (Vereine). Very affordable activities.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
Big expat community. Morale is great.
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?
American Women’s Club and the Deutsch Amerikanischer Frauenclub.
3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
It’s great for everyone though as a family I prefer a house with garden to apartment living.
4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?
It was easy for me, but Hamburgers generally are considered cooler than southerners.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
Yes, very tolerant.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
Hamburg is a very diverse city.
7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?
Being close to family. Beach time at the Baltic Sea. Travel to Denmark and Poland
8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
Plenty of nature
9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?
It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world in sunshine.
Words of Wisdom:
1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?
How far the school is from housing.
2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
4. But don't forget your: