Frankfurt, Germany Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Frankfurt, Germany

Frankfurt, Germany 09/05/19

Background:

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

No, I've also had many others in Middle East, Africa, South America.

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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?

Atlanta. Direct flights daily. Very easy trip and Frankfurt has a modern/comfortable airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

About two years.

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

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?

US Consulate housing compound. Housing has been tight during our tour. We were given a two BR, one BA apartment for two adults and one child. No AC and temps have been near 100 this summer. Bus commute to the consulate is about 15 minutes. Many people walk and it takes about 40 minutes.

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

Anything you could want. This is a modern European city. Prices about the same as a large city in the U.S. If you're with the Consulate, you can use the PX at the base about 30 minutes away. Not much difference in prices but a good selection of American brands.

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

Nothing. Everything is available.

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

Anything is available.

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

No problem with bugs/insects.

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Daily Life:

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

Post has 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?

Few people have domestic help. It's expensive and complex in Europe.

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

The compound has a gym and tennis courts. German "baths" (indoor water parks) are also popular.

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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?

American credit cards work fine. You will need to get a German bank account to pay certain bills including internet.

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

LDS is the only one that I'm sure of but probably others.

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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 would be helpful but not really necessary.

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

They would be OK. Many ramps and elevators and marked parking spaces.

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Transportation:

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

As safe as anywhere (ignoring a recent incident of a mother and child being pushed in front of a train at the local station). Bus prices are reasonable (about $3 one way) but taxis are fairly expensive.

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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 you're comfortable with can be serviced here. Lanes and parking spaces are tight so smaller is preferred by most people but some consulate employees drive vans, SUVs and large pickup trucks.

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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 it is available. We pay about US$80/month includes cable TV and phone. It is advertised as 400mb service and often actually test at that speed.
Can be set up before you arrive but is usually done after arrival and takes 2 to 3 weeks.

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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?

We have one phone supplied by the consulate and one unlocked phone that we pay-in-advance about 15 Euro/month with Vodaphone.

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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?

I hear "yes" but expensive but have no experience with them.

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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?

Lots of consulate jobs are available and also jobs with the employee association. It is possible to get a good job on the local economy but is not easy.

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

Depends totally on the section. Jeans are common in some sections and in others, it's almost always a suit.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not very serious concerns although security incidents do seem to be increasing.

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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?

The local health care is as good as anywhere. However, people that are used to getting good health service through their embassy might be disappointed. The consulate's med section doesn't provide the same kind of service that is often provided in environments where outside services are not as available.

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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?

Very good (for a large city).

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

No experience with this but there is certainly no lack of awareness of this in the general population.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Nothing like SAD but the close quarters of the housing compound can lead to some stress - late night noisy parties, dog bites neighbor's dog, etc.
Everybody knows what everybody else is doing. A bit like living in a goldfish bowl.

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

Not unlike the middle of the US. It has four distinct seasons. Usually snows a few times in the winter and often gets above 90 in the summer. Did I mention no AC on the housing compound?

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Schools & Children:

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

Our experience with the preschool on the compound has been great. One of the highlights of the tour. We've heard that the other schools are good but have no experience. This is generally considered one of the best post in the foreign service for families with school age kids.

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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?

Preschool on the compound. A bit expensive but not outrageously so. It's tuned to the needs of consulate employees so you can usually count on holidays and opening/closing times to be compatible with a typical consulate work schedule.

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

Yes, anything you'd want but a bit expensive.

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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 and at least average morale, maybe above. Frankfurt is a very comfortable city.

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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?

Better than most any other post. Frankfurt is a large international business center. Socialization is not a problem.

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

Good for anybody.

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

Among the best.

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

Germany has a growing anti-immigrant movement but so far it's fairly low-key and non-violent. Nothing to worry about at this point but something to monitor as time goes by.

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

Can't quite say no problems but I can say as minimal as you're likely to find anywhere.

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

Living in a first world country after Africa is such a relief. You won't save money here but it is almost like being on home leave all the time. Life is easy.

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

Too many German tour guides for anything to be considered hidden.

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

Germany is noted for its Christmas markets. Make sure to visit them.

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

First world experience.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How much of a goldfish bowl the consulate housing would be.

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

It's hard to say. Most of the experience has been good but coming home to an apartment that's too small for our family and only one bathroom is always a downer. The lack of a guest bedroom for family and friends to visit has made the whole European tour experience less than it could have been.

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

Pretty much anything; you can buy it all here.

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4. But don't forget your:

Credit card as you can buy it all here.

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Frankfurt, Germany 04/01/19

Background:

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

No. This was my third. I've lived in Riga, Latvia and Baghdad, Iraq.

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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?

Richmond, Virginia is mostly home. There are direct connections from all of the DC area airports to Frankfurt. It is very easy to travel there.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I lived there three years.

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

FSO assignment.

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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 apartments on the compound are big, airy, and mostly sunny. For one adult and one child at the FS-02 level, we got three bedrooms with a separate dining room and very large living room. The compound is a thirty minute walk/bus ride/fifteen minute drive from the Consulate. There is a bike share station at the compound.

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

Availability is great. Produce is cheap and plentiful. Dairy products, eggs, and chicken in line with US prices. Beef is expensive, pork is cheap. Ordinary US brands can be hard to find and expensive, but as of 2018 we still had access to the Commissary in Wiesbaden. That may change, so if it matters check first.

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

Chili powder. Taco seasoning. Some TexMex stuff, although the Commissary does have it.

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

There's great diversity in restaurants and food delivery (GrubHub style apps are popular and work well). Sushi, Asian, and pizza carryout are all close to the compound.

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

Some folks have mold, but we did not.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is excellent here. The staff is large, helpful, and kind.

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

We hired someone through word of mouth at the consulate to clean four hours each week for 60E. I would say most folks rely on day care rather than sitters/nannies and relatively few hire cleaners, etc.

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

There is a gym on the compound, many gyms around town, and a Cross Fit box accessible by the train. The prices are similar to the US.

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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?

I would say safer than in the US. Skimming is known but rare. Credit card machines come to your table at most restaurants. Cash is still king though and ATMs are widely available and safe.

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

There are many. Google is your friend on this one.

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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?

None, but "bitte" and "danke" are appreciated. Frankfurt is an international city, so local Germans appreciate the effort, even if the resting disapproval face doesn't always reflect it. Lots of classes, some for free through the city government. Consulate has a good language program. You can probably find tutors, but I didn't know anyone who had one.

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

Not moreso than in the United States. Germany has similar accessibility laws to the US, although some restaurants and hotels are hard to get to. There is at least one accessible apartment on the Compound.

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Transportation:

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

The local public transportation is excellent and not expensive.

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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?

A relatively small, all wheel drive car. Plenty of people bring their huge SUVs though, so if you have to have it, realize that the parking spaces are small and some of the garages may be too low in clearance.

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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. Ten days to two weeks. Everyone borrows "a cup of wifi" from neighbors when they arrive, and the wifi is paid for by the community association in the Fieldhouse.

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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?

We had a local provider for my son and I used my work phone. You need to have your diplomatic credentials (Ausweiss) before getting service, so that is super annoying. Once you have it though, any unlocked phone will work great, and the service is US grade. I believe the EU also did away with roaming, but after we left.

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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 were telecommuters, but I don't know of any spouses/partners working outside the Consulate other than for the community association.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots of work with the refugee community.

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

Take the cue from your work sponsor. There is considerable variation office to office in the Consulate.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. It is a city, if a small one. You should bring your city awareness. I felt comfortable letting my 14-16 yo son out with friends as long as they kept their cell phones on.

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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?

Allergies. The tree pollen is killer. Medical care is excellent and affordable. Not aware of what might require evacuation.

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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 to excellent air quality with the exception of the pollen.

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

See above.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Not really, but Frankfurt can be pretty grey. Good news is that the RMO-P is based in Frankfurt.

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

Wet, mild summers with the exception of about two to three weeks of hot weather. Winter is chilly but not bitter (with the exception of maybe a week or two). A little snow, but more rain. Easy to find snow though fewer than 30 minutes away.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are many international schools in Frankfurt. Our experience with FIS was very good.

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

I don't have personal experience, but FIS seemed very accommodating.

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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?

There is day care on the compound and "kindergartens" all over the place. We did not use them.

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

Yes. FIS also has an active sports program. The soccer clubs can be hard to break into for US kids, but persistence can pay off.

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Expat Life:

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

There are many many expats from all over the world in Frankfurt. I think the mood is generally good. Some folks assigned to the Consulate have never been assigned overseas before, so that can have an impact on their ability to adjust. But for those with some overseas experience, they mostly recognize that it's good living.

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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?

I was involved in local theatre, which was fun. There's comedy and improv in English. Lots of music, including jazz. Anyone touring Europe stops in Frankfurt. Street festivals are great ways to spend time with folks. Church provides a social outlet for some.

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

Yes, yes, yes. The nightlife (especially music) is great in Frankfurt. Germans are a little hard to get to know, but they like to have fun, and most like to practice their English. There is a great deal to do for couples as well and great getaways within easy distances. The compound is a great place for kids where you literally can yell at them to go outside and play and not worry about them. There's a fenced in playground on the compound and all their friends from school will be there....

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

I think so, but I have no personal experience. There are several gay bars and there is no real open hostility.

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

I think you can. I was a single dad, so didn't socialize too much. There is seemed to be some prejudice against refugees and blacks, but it did not out of line with the United States.

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

Again, the refugees are experiencing some prejudice and I think they are mostly Muslim. Gender equality is not an issue.

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

Soccer. Oktoberfest. Street festivals. Wine festivals. The Rhein Valley. Trains to anywhere. Easy flights to anywhere.

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

I loved the day cruises on the Rhein. Did them several times and never got tired of it. Experience the Apfelwein culture.

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

It's a good place to get some lederhosen that will last you a lifetime. Christmas decorations. There are sponsored trips to Poland for pottery.

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

See above. It's a really easy place to live. Great for families and single parents.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

That you can't do anything without your Ausweiss and you just have to be patient about getting it.

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

Absolutely.

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

Prejudices about Germans not having fun.

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4. But don't forget your:

Sense of humor about not knowing how to do things "the German way" at first.

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

Schlussmacher (The Break Up Man) - Beautiful German scenery and an insight to the slightly different German sense of humor.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Great tour, great post. If you are going, have fun.

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Frankfurt, Germany 09/27/17

Background:

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

Taiwan and Tunisia.

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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?

Pennsylvania.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

U.S. government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Siedlung housing has a bad reputation. If you're single and want quiet, ask to be away from the field house. If you have kids and want to be near the playgrounds, ask to be near the field house. the rooms are big, the storage is big, and GSO is very responsive to any problems.

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

Less expensive than DC by far, plus the commissary is only 30-40 minutes away.

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

None, I found everything I needed and more.

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

Tons of pizza and ethnic foods all over the city for delivery and takeout.

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Daily Life:

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

Both pouch and DPO were quick and reliable.

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

We had a cleaning person come in 4 hours per week for 50 euro per week. It was worth it.

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

The gym at the consulate is being redone, once that is complete it should surpass the Siedlung gym. The Siedlung gym is fine - tons of cardio and lifting. Also, several EFM's and employees host onsite classes like Zumba, Pilates, yoga, martial arts, etc.

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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?

Everything is safe to use. Cash is always better, and some places don't accept credit, but the grocery stores accepted credit cards as did major restaurants.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis 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?

Small cars are better, but even large vans and SUVs were fine.

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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, it can take up to a month to get internet. We didn't have any serious difficulty with it during our two years, but the equipment is outdated and it's likely that you'll have several outages during your tour.

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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?

We got SIM cards at the gas station. They worked fine for our entire tour.

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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?

Yes, tons of pets and services for them.

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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?

Most jobs were at the consulate for spouses.

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

Less formal than I've seen at other embassies and consulates.

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Health & Safety:

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

Excellent medical care.

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2. 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?

Excellent air quality year-round.

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

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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 - morale swings like a pendulum - it depends on who is in charge at post.

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

Yes - Germany is liberal and tolerant.

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

Christmas markets.

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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:

Consumables.

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Frankfurt, Germany 01/28/17

Background:

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

No. Other posts in the Middle East.

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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?

Washington, DC., USA. Eight-hour flight from IAD to Frankfurt.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I lived there for three years.

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

US government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Bigger than most Germans have. The apartments are blocky with no character. Washer and dryer in the kitchen. Commutes are great: either a) three minute car ride, b) ten minute bus ride, or c) 40 minute walk. The worst part of the housing is that there is no A/C, so the few sticky months in the summer are pretty awful.

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

Less variety but not bad. Everything but beer and wine are more expensive in Germany.

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

Your own mattress and a portable A/C unit are a must.

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

The restaurant scene is gradually getting better. Spanish tapas, Thai, Indian, and Italian in addition to some outstanding German beer halls.

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

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Daily Life:

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

APO/DPO is easy and surprisingly fast.

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

Almost impossible. Either they will charge you an arm and a leg (350 euros for one cleaning of your apartment) or are so flaky they rarely show up. We did find a cleaning lady for 40 euros per visit, but she flaked out at least half the time. Hiring an American on compound for babysitting/pet-sitting is a better bet but options are limited.

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

They are available but not cheap.

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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?

Yes and no. You can use them, but I found cash was easier. I only used credit cards to pay for hotels and plane tickets.

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

Yes, many.

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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?

You can get by with very little German, but it does help to know the language.

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

No. Most of the city and public transportation is accessible.

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Transportation:

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

One of the best parts of the town. The public transportation system is great!

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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?

A sedan or compact is best due to small streets and parking spaces. Importing a car is fairly easy.

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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, but expensive and you have to buy a whole package of TV you will never watch. Installation can take from a few days to a few weeks.

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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?

I used a USG phone. My wife used a prepaid cellphone. Any iPhones will have to be jail-breaked.

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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?

Yes, very plentiful, professional, and not too expensive. There is no quarantine.

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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?

Many found telecommuting to work well. There are some, low-level jobs at the US Consulate. No one really helps you find work.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

Depending on your job at the consulate, jeans and shirt to suit and tie. More casual than most posts.

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Health & Safety:

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

Just the normal pickpocketing and other nuisances of being in Europe. ISIS has staged attacks across Europe but none so far in Frankfurt.

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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?

Health care is great. Doctors speak English but their staff might not.

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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?

Moderate. Better than most US cities.

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

Gluten-free restaurants are starting to appear (even pizza!) In general, German customer service is poor and they act annoyed if you ask questions about the food, but this might change.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Some people have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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

Wet and cold from mid-October to the end of April. Not a lot of snow. Most people take a trip to somewhere warm and sunny during winter (like most Germans). May through early October is lovely. Average highs in August are in the high 60s.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are multiple international schools and I heard they are excellent.

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

I have heard that this can be tough.

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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, but expensive and not open for a full workday.

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

Yes, plenty. Germans love sports!

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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. Morale is surprisingly middling. A lot of not-so-nice people choose this post for some reason. Some never leave the compound and only go to the US base on weekends. They are the most unhappy and take it out on those of us who travel.

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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?

There are groups on the compound but they like to exclude people. Some people socialize through churches.

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

As an American diplomat, it is essential you have children or you will be ostracized by the American community. I do not recommend for single people, or God forbid, couples without children. My wife was refused admittance to the Mom's Book Club because she was not yet a mother. Once, we had a baby people were all of sudden nicer to us. Also, the average age at post is much higher than one in the Middle East, so if you are under 40 you will be treated like a kid.

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

Yes, no problem at all.

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

No.

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

Travel, travel, travel. Be like the Germans and take advantage of the fact that Frankfurt is the rail/air hub of Europe. We saw much of Europe and beyond.

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

The Rhine River day cruises are a must. They are many day trips from Frankfurt to pretty German towns. The spas are fun if you are not too bashful about nudity.

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

Yes, beer steins, Polish pottery, and cuckoo clocks. If you are into Christmas ornaments, you will love the Christmas Markets each winter.

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

Lots of parks, and a hub for travel.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

How cold and nasty some of the US expats are.

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

Yes, only I would have had a baby before coming.

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

Modesty bathing, impatience with bureaucracy, crummy American wine and beer.

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4. But don't forget your:

Portable A/C unit, and passports to travel everywhere!

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

None in particular.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The best way to look at Frankfurt is a base for travel. It has its nice points, but is no London or Paris (or even Berlin).

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Frankfurt, Germany 08/14/16

Background:

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

No. I've lived in six other countries.

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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?

Washington, DC. Non-stop flights from Frankfurt to DC are about 9 hours. Frankfurt has one of the largest airports in the world and has non-stop flights to many hubs throughout the USA.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A little over a year.

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

Posted at the U.S. 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?

Apartment in the consulate's housing compound, known as the "Siedlung." Most consulate personnel live on the Siedlung, which is about 15 minutes from the consulate by car or bus, or about a 30 minute walk. Non-foreign affairs agencies may live off of the compound in leased apartments and commute times vary considerably.

The apartments on the Siedlung are spacious and include storage units that vary somewhat in size but are generally at least as large as a single car garage. Decor varies a bit depending on when the building was renovated. Not the fanciest or most stylish, but large and functional.

I was a bit apprehensive about living on a compound prior to arrival, having served in other posts where people were all housed within a few neighborhoods and feeling like everyone was on top one another and all up in one another's business. However, the compound here is so large that it doesn't really feel like that here. Plus, it's easier to get people together to do something, like go to dinner, because everyone doesn't scatter to the winds after work.

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

Nearly everything you could want is available on the economy or at the commissary/PX in Wiesbaden, a 30 minute drive away. Costs are similar to the USA.

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

Only a few things that aren't available locally or through online shopping, like Trader Joe's items.

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

Just about any type of cuisine is available in Frankfurt.

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

No.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO or German postal service. DPO is fairly quick, 1-2 weeks usually. German mail is reliable, too.

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

No clue. I'd imagine it's not cheap.

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

There's a tiny gym in the consulate, a medium sized gym on the housing compound, and any number of options on the economy.

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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?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted and safe to use, though Germans are more likely to use cash than Americans are. ATMs all over the place, including one at the consulate.

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

Several options, depending on your location and religious beliefs.

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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?

Basic knowledge of German will make your life easier, but Frankfurt's a very international city, so you don't really need it.

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

Some. Many buildings are wheelchair-accessible, but it's not universal.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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?

One sees just about anything on the road here from large SUVs to tiny roller skate-looking cars. I'd recommend something on the small end, as some streets are narrow and some parking garages are tight.

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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?

Sigh.Yes, but if you're on the consulate's housing compound, you're required to go through a particular company if you want internet, and in order to get internet, you have to also get cable TV. I really wish they'd get rid of this stupid contract and let people choose their own provider. Installation usually takes a couple of weeks. You have to set up your German bank account first, then order the service and make an appointment for installation.

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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?

No clue. I use a work-provided phone.

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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?

Yes, good vet service available. No quarantine needed if coming from the USA, though I'm not sure if regs are different if the animal is coming from a different country. Germany is very pet friendly.

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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 a variety of EFM jobs at the consulate, some of which are quite substantive. It depends a bit on the luck of the draw of when you arrive at post and what's available at that point in time. I would think most jobs on the economy would require German ability, but maybe you could luck into something that doesn't require German with one of the multinational companies here.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

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

The consulate trends more toward business casual. Frankfurt is a fairly conservative banking town, but also has a lot of young people so one sees the whole range of attire.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really. I feel quite safe here. Europe's been a bit more on edge in the last year or so with the recent attacks in Brussels, Paris, Munich, etc., but I haven't really noticed a change in day-to-day activities.

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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?

Post has a good medical unit for routine check ups and such. Lots of options for other care on the economy, but I don't have direct experience. My guess is that it'd take something quite serious to lead to a medical evacuation, but I'm not an expert.

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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. No complaints and minimal allergy issues.

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4. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

The winters can be long and grey. It doesn't get especially cold here, but the days do get short and the weather can be grey and gloomy for extended periods of time. A lot of people posted here travel for work more than half of the time they're here (couriers, regional IT folks, etc.) which can take a toll on them and their families.

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

Fairly temperate. Summers are warm, though not usually too hot. Winters aren't too cold (a bit of snow a couple of times per winter, usually) but can be very grey and rainy. Fall and spring are lovely.

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Schools & Children:

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

Several options, but I don't have direct experience.

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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?

There's a pre-school/day care on the housing compound. I think there are local options in German, but I don't know the process of enrolling or costs.

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

Yes, I'm aware of several consulate kids playing several sports either through school or a league.

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Expat Life:

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

Quite large. Frankfurt has a lot of expats from the various multinational companies, the European Central Bank, etc. I think morale varies depending on the specific circumstances. The consulate is a strange place, with a lot of people TDY for regional duties more than 50% of the time and a lot of agencies (i.e. TSA, GSA) that aren't usually overseas, which causes some interesting dynamics and different expectations of what life overseas with the U.S. government should be like.

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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?

There are any number of clubs one can join. There are a lots of consulate-related activities if one makes an effort.

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

I think there's something for everyone here.

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

Yes. Very open, both at the consulate and in Frankfurt.

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

Frankfurt is a very international and multicultural city, however Germans have a different sense of what it means to be German than most Americans would have about what it means to be American. The recent refugee crisis has also caused some tensions against foreigners or those who look foreign.

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

There are lots of fun festivals in and around Frankfurt. As an air and train travel hub, it's very easy to travel in Germany and internationally.

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

Lots of fun festivals. Christmas markets in December. Cruises on the Rhein. Wine tastings at any of the many vineyards in the area.

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

Christmas crafts, bembels (jugs for apple wine), etc.

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

High quality of living, great travel opportunities, easy access to a lot of cultural events.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Nothing, really.

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

Yes.

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

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4. But don't forget your:

You can get just about anything you need here.

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Frankfurt, Germany 02/01/16

Background:

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

No, previous assignments have been in the Middle East.

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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?

Frankfurt can be about 12 hours travel time to DC, depending

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

FS assignment.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Housing is good. Most of us all live in the same neighborhood. The apartments are well-maintained. One doesn't feel cramped or in a fishbowl. Nothing remarkable about the housing but there is little to complain about. I would characterize the typical apartment as cozy - neither large nor small.

The Consulate is about 40 minutes away by foot, about 10 - 15 minutes by bus and car.

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

Pretty much everything is available. Buying household supplies without a modicum of German can be a bit daunting at first, but you get used to it. The incredible variety of cheese is initially terrifying. You can't swing a cat without hitting a sausage link in this country. Cooks will love the place.

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

Shoes can be expensive, as can clothing.

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

Fast food everywhere. Decent restaurants everywhere. A bit pricier than DC but not noticeably so.

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

None. Well, our neighborhood is eaten up by rabbits. The kids like seeing all the bunnies, though, so there's that.

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Daily Life:

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

Frankfurt has a very good 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 I have heard.

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

The consulate has a workout facility. Don't know about cost.

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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?

No issue there.

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

I believe all English language services are available.

However, they don't much like Scientologists here. From wikipedia, "(Germany) views Scientology as an abusive business masquerading as a religion and believes that it pursues political goals that conflict with the values enshrined in the German constitution."

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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?

Not much. You can get by with English only but you'll feel constrained. You'll only need a little German to get by and that much is easily learned.

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

Depends. Frankfurt as a city is not known for its accomodations for physical disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

One doesn't need a car here and most don't have one. Buses and trains are everywhere and there are few places in Frankfurt that aren't near a subway stop.

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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?

Bring what you want but make sure the vehicle is well-maintained and a recent model.

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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?

Decent to quite good, about US$70 a month.

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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?

No issues with cell phones.

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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?

View All Answers


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 sure, but German labor laws will likely not favor the expat unless you have a work visa.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty but likely associated with churches, if you don't speak German.

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

Business casual at work. But for the weekend, I might leave the white socks at home. Germans don't really wear white socks ("White socks are for sport!") and will immediately mark you for an American if you do. They seem a bit better dressed than the regular American Joe, but you won't stand out (unless you wear shorts, or white socks)

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Health & Safety:

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

no

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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?

None. Healthcare is very 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?

Good

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

I have heard that Frankfurt in the spring is hard on those with allergies.

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

Wet. Wet. Wet. Occasionally wonderful for unexpected stretches then wet again.

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Schools & Children:

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

I have no experience with them but hear that they are excellent.

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

I have heard that can be a real issue. Anyone with special needs children MUST check with post very early and well before arrival.

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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?

I'm guessing, 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. Morale is good. Frankfurt is an easy place to live, work and play.

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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?

Opera (2 opera houses), theatre, movies, symphony, you name it. Young people would probably better enjoy Berlin's nightlife but Frankfurt has a little for everyone here. But not a wild nightlife. You can even find first run movies in English here. Be sure you ask for the salty popcorn or you'll get the sweet kettlecorn.

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

Great place for everyone.

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

Sure

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

Not that I have heard

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

Traveling!

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

German food initially seems rather bland and unimaginative. Sausage and more sausage. Pork and more pork. But once one starts to explore, the culinary adventures become more apparent.

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

Nothing particularly unique to purchase except the wide variety of Christmassy things at Frankfurt's, and each Germany town's individual Christmas markets. Germany is very into Christmas!

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

Frankfurt is wonderfully located and can be an excellent base from which to travel elsewhere in Europe. Germans are interesting, cultured, and friendly. There is little to complain about except the weather which is often wet.

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10. Can you save money?

Sure, if you learn to cook.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I was not terribly excited to come to Frankfurt which I had heard was an uninteresting city. That's not the case. Frankfurt is actually quite small, very, very walkable, and interesting to explore. And some great shopping (but can get very pricey if you don't watch yourself).

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

In a heartbeat. I'll be sad to leave.

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

Shorts. White socks. Bug spray.

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4. But don't forget your:

American style breakfast sausage (you can buy it at the base commissary). Bring an umbrella. Bring two.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

I might watch the German The Lives Of Others
to get an interesting insight into a time in Germany that still shapes local attitudes.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Great place, you'll enjoy it.

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Frankfurt, Germany 12/09/15

Background:

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

No, mostly in the Middle East

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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?

8 hours flight from the East Coast of U.S.

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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, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most foreign affairs agency personnel are housed in a common USG owned apartment community. This is former US Army housing built in the 50's. Walk-up apartments have been updated and are decent size. Singles usually occupy two bedroom/one bath units and families with children are allotted between 3-6 bedrooms depending on availability and family size. There is a community "field house" with restaurant, small shop, play grounds, tennis courts, and a preschool. Consulate apartment housing have 110v outlets in the kitchen.

Non foreign affairs agencies are housed throughout the community in various apartments, town houses and houses.

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

About the same if purchased at the Commissary in Wiesbaden, maybe a bit higher if purchased at German stores, though selection and prices are still good.

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

Haven't thought of anything

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

The typical McDonald's, Burger King and KFC at a little higher than American prices. Also have one Chipotle to round out the American offerings. There are many good restaurants here, though prices are probably higher than the U.S.

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5. 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 or local German mail for Amazon.de

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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?

Tiny gym in the Consulate building (free), decent size gym in the Siedlung Community (very reasonable) and many private gyms in the community.

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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?

Some smaller establishments and groceries only take cash or German "EC" (debit) cards. Using a credit card is safe but you should get a card with a chip as this may be the only kind accepted.

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

Lutheran, Catholic, Evangelical, and all services at the Base

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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?

Probably don't need any, many speak English but they appreciate your effort to communicate in German. It is helpful to know basic signs and phrases, though I know many people who haven't learned any.

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

It's probably easier than many posts. All buses are accessible and most U-bahn stations have elevators. The housing community does also have several accessible apartments. There may be some issues in certain very old buildings if there aren't elevators, but this probably isn't a problem in daily life.

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Transportation:

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

Yes to all

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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?

I would hesitate to bring a larger vehicle. There are some with mini-vans and pickup trucks, but traveling with them or parking in older areas of town or parking garages may be impossible. We have a sedan which almost feels too big sometimes.

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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, we pay about US$65 a month for cable/internet. Service is actually a bit slow and goes out periodically.

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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?

Can be purchased or service signed up for at the base. Two different providers, both which offer no-penalty cancellation with advance notice of several months and your orders.

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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?

No quarantine. Lots of good care and boarding. Also if you live on the Siedlung, there are plenty of pet-sitters around for times that you travel.

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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?

Most work at the Consulate or School. I think it would be difficult to work here unless you spoke German.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Community Outreach Group in the Consulate Community, School opportunities, many opportunities developing as a result of the refugee situation here as well.

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

Work seems to be casual to business depending on the agency. In public you will see everything as well.

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Health & Safety:

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

No

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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 unusual health concerns. People's allergies seem to be worse here. Plenty of great medical care available.

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

Seasonal allergies seem to be worse here. Allergy medicine is available locally.

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

Summers can have intense heat waves and little air conditioning in housing and hotels. Winters have ranged from 30-50F degree highs in the past few years with little snow, though the year before we arrived there was a lot of 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?

Many high quality schools. DoD children must attend the DoD school in Wiesbaden. Most of the children attend Frankfurt International School, which has campuses in Oberursel and Wiesbaden. We have had a great experience at the Oberursel campus. Many children attend International School of Frankfurt and a growing number are also attending Metropolitan School of Frankfurt. There are also children enrolled in the German Public Schools.

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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?

The Consulate Community Association runs a preschool/daycare on the Siedlung. There are also children attending many kindergartens locally.

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

Here again the possibilities are endless. Many after-school programs offered at the school and clubs throughout Frankfurt and neighboring towns. Soccer, hockey, music lessons, art lessons, circus school, cheerleading, field hockey, parkour, etc. Children can also take advantage of sports programs offered on the Army base in Wiesbaden such as football and basketball.

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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 community, morale varies. This community is not as close knit because of the size and many people are either traveling regionally for work or traveling on the weekends with their family. It is a different vibe than any post I have been at. It's not really a bad thing, just different and bothers some people. Many expat families at the international schools too.

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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?

Movies, travel, restaurants, swimming pools in the summer

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

yes for all of the above

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

I believe so

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

I haven't heard of any.

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

Traveling Europe

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

The possibilities are endless...get out and explore Europe by car, rail, or air. Many budget and inexpensive flights available from both Frankfurt and Hahn airports.

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

Steins, Bembels, Cuckoo Clocks, decorations from the Christmas and Easter Markets

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

Travel around Europe, great public transportation and all the comforts of home

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10. Can you save money?

We have

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Getting registered in Germany is a process and it will literally take 3 months before you have your ID, license plates, registration, etc. If you know this ahead of time, I think it's easier to cope. If you have US license plated for your car, bring them as you can drive with them here before you get your German ones. If you are going to buy a car here, you have to wait to get your diplomatic ID first before you can claim back the VAT paid on the car. This will take about 6 weeks so be prepared to either rent or get by on public transportation for a while. You can't claim any VAT on anything until you get the dip ID, so save all large purchases for after that.

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

Absolutely

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3. But don't forget your:

Ski gear. Incredible ski opportunities and International schools get a ski break in February.

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Frankfurt, Germany 06/27/14

Background:

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

No - Seoul, South Korea.

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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?

Washington, DC. Frequent direct flights (two nonstop daily flights on United, one nonstop daily flight on Lufthansa), only about 8 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

Foreign Service Officer on a 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?

OK this has been my one complaint about this post and it's one that almost led me to curtail - housing is TERRIBLE here. The other reviews address the available housing pretty well, and I feel that while it's old, badly designed, and poorly furnished, it is in a nice location and is maintained well.

My complaint mainly has to do with the assignment process. Post policy is that singles and childless couples get only two bedroom units without regard for size or square footage, although the layout of the apartments can vary significantly. As a result, my wife and I were assigned a tiny (approx 600 square foot) "two bedroom" apartment - so cramped, we could not open drawers and literally have to crawl over the Consulate-provided furniture (that they refuse to take back) in order to get in and out of bed each day. Meanwhile, several of my single co-workers had the larger (approx 900 square foot) two-bedroom units, and anyone with children receives even larger 3 or 4-bedroom units.

So if you have kids, you'll love it. If you're single, you'll at least find it tolerable. If you're married and don't have kids, expect to be severely disappointed.

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

There is a commissary and PX about 30 minute's drive away. The commissary isn't the greatest but does the job. Local grocery stores are plentiful, with cost similiar (or a tad higher) than DC-area prices.

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

None, everything you need you can get here.

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

Pretty much anything you could find back in the States. Cost is pretty close to DC prices for the most part.

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

Not many, although note that many buildings and apartments don't have bug screens.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO is usually fast, about 1-2 weeks to ship stuff from the States.

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

No issues, plenty of ATMs here and they seem pretty safe.

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

Not much, but Germans will appreciate it if you at least learn the basics.

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

Not at all, this is a very accessible city.

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Transportation:

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

Extremely safe. Cost is reasonable, particularly if you buy a job ticket through the Consulate.

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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?

Parking is very limited and tight, so bring something SMALL! Leave the SUV at home.

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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, about US$80/month or so for cable and internet through UnityMedia.

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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?

Get an unlocked phone and a pre-paid SIM, way cheaper than signing a contract. I have service through Blau.de, and pay only ~15-20 Euros/month for data and a basic call plan.

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Health & Safety:

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

No, this is a very safe city.

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2. 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?

Very good, better than most major cities I've been to (including DC). Germans take green technology and emissions controls pretty seriously, the rest of the world could learn a thing or two from them.

That being said, seasonal allergies are a BIG issue here. For whatever reason, Frankfurt (and particularly the Siedlung) seems to have extremely high levels of pollen. Not terrible, but definitely bring some medication if it's an issue for you.

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

Very nice! Summer days are generally mild, with low humidity and lots of daylight. The occasional heat streak does hit but it's a dry heat and usually doesn't last more than a few days. Winters are not terribly cold but very dark - cloudy all the time, and dark by 5pm at the latest. Consider bringing a SAD lamp.

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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?

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Expat Life:

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

Great for all except for the housing issues mentioned above. Also, the housing compound seems to have a very mommy-club/family vibe as well. Expect to look for entertainment elsewhere if you don't have kids.

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

Germany is much more forward-thinking on LGBT rights than the U.S., no issues whatsoever.

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

No.

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

Touring old Rhine valley castles, checking out the frequent street festivals, weekend trips to France, Switzerland, Prague, Munich, etc. Cheap and plentiful beer, and pretzels sold almost everywhere :)

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

Frankfurt is a great (and under-rated) town, lots of good cultural events, museums, shopping, etc. Quite a few international corporations and banks are based here, so the expat scene is pretty diverse. If you get tired of the city itself, there's plenty else to see within a two-hour drive: Mainz, the Rhine Valley, Heidelberg, Cologne, etc. Transit connections are frequent and not terribly expensive, making it a great base to explore the rest of Europe.

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Frankfurt, Germany 03/30/14

Background:

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

I've also lived in Bucharest, Milan, Singapore, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, and Port Moresby.

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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?

Portland, OR 10-12 hours with connections in Houston sometimes. Or, you can fly direct as well.

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3. How long have you lived here?

I have lived here for two years in a three-year tour.

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

Foreign Service Officer.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We are all put up in very lovely, large apartments on a huge housing complex. It is accessible to all so it feels like you live in a big city housing park. It is remarkable to me that people complain about the housing here. There is no way that the average FSO salaried person could afford to rent places this big in Europe for even a night, much less live in them for three years! People are respectful of one's privacy and space. It is great to live in big apartment in a European city. We have had more visitors at this post than any other in the 16 years I have been overseas. Commute by bus is about 15 minutes but you can walk or bike as well. Great location and centrally located to everywhere.

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

Very cheap because of the ability to use the Commissary. Great local grocery stores as well. We have not found it too prohibitive at all. Just have to be a smart shopper. You can also order stuff through Amazon and other vendors on-line. Costco, etc.

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

Nothing. You can get everything here.

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

Loads. McDonald's, Burger King, Chilli's, etc. All expensive, of course unless you go to the ones at the Commissary/Exchange.

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

None. I have never seen an insect here except for butterflies.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and sometimes dip pouch.

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

Available but expensive. A lot of Croatian women work as domestics for approximately 12 Euro per hour.

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

There is a perfectly adequate gym in the housing complex that his relatively inexpensive. There are loads and loads of public pools as well.

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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 not used as much as one would think for a fully developed economy. Make sure yours is "chipped" or it may not work at all. ATMs can be used everywhere and the Consulate is moving to an ATM based cash system.

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

Lots. Seems like every denomination has an English speaking service.

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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?

I don't speak a word of German and do fine BUT lots of folks that speak German have a much richer cultural experience and the Germans DO appreciate you trying to communicate in German. They all learn English in school but loath to speak it unless they can do it well. They are a proud people.

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

Yes because there are lots of cobble stoned roads and sidewalk. None of the housing complexes are very accommodating. I think there are only a couple of ground floor apartments that have ramps.

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Transportation:

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

Trains, buses, trams all cheap and safe. Taxis safe but expensive.

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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...A lot of middle aged men bring their "muscle cars" because you can drive as fast as you want to on the Autobahn. So if you have always wanted a Corvette but never bought one because the speed limit in New Jersey is 55 miles per hour, now is your big chance! There are buyers incentives through the military card holder program for FORD and BMW and lots of folks buy them here. We have a small SUV and love it. Owning a car here is like owning one in America except that you can drive WAY faster. You cannot wash your car here though as you will be fined. You MUST go to a car wash.

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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 and moderately pricey. Like the USA I think.

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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?

I use my work one so no. Every European carrier is here though: from T Mobile to O2.

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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?

No. Good pet care is available locally but expensive. Forget about grooming! Minimum is 100 Euro for a dog grooming.

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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?

Not sure. There are a lot of jobs at the Consulate it seems. I think you have to be able to work in the EU to work on the Economy. I know one college-aged kid whose mother is Swedish and father is an FSO and she is working at Urban Outfitters for example. There are loads of multi-national corporations here, pharmaceutical companies and banks so there are opportunities I think but maybe not for those with a Dip Passport.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots. Unlimited really.

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

Business casual is how I would describe it. It is a Consulate and not an Embassy after all!

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Health & Safety:

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

No. The German Police are very effective at keeping the crime in check. My kids go everywhere on their own by train and public transportation. You can see 6-8 year old kids on the buses alone all of the time. There ARE pick-pockets though. I did get pick-pocketed by a Roma but if you are aware of the Roma pick-pockets and are not stupid about it (like I was when I bought earrings from a Roma silver dealer only to have them stolen a few minutes later without knowing about it until much later!!)...anyway...just use common sense.

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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?

Lots of serious allergy and asthma problems. Local hospitals are good but very different from American hospitals. Lots of people deliver their babies here and complain about the lack of pain medication. There is an excellent Family Practice Clinic at the Consulate that can do everything you can get done at a doctors office in America. Plus more because they have a psychiatrist as well as two American doctors: one woman and one man. I go there all the time and love the nurses there who are great with shots and helping get appointment to dentists, etc. We are fortunate to have such a great clinic and it is free! They are very busy all of the time but you can still get an appointment the same day, in my experience. I haven't used places on the local economy but I have friends who do and local care seems good too.

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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 BUT everything blooms at once causing very heavy pollen concentrations. Everyone who has a history of asthma or allergies WILL have problems here. It's best to get loaded up on your allergy drugs before you come.

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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?

Winters suck. Lots of darkness, dampness and cold blowing snow. BUT last year, the winter was fabulous! Mild and virtually no snow. It is a blessing and a curse because there was no snow in the Alps either.

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Schools & Children:

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

My kids are at the Frankfurt International School which we have liked. Good education but not much school spirit so if they are athletes, as mine are...they may be disappointed in the lack of school spirit. They play other schools in Europe which is great fun for them and the tournaments are a blast. I hear that FIS has a fantastic Drama and Music program as well. One word of warning, NONE of the International Schools in Frankfurt will accept ANY LEVEL of special needs! DO NOT come here with a Special Needs Child unless you and your kid are fluent in German. Seriously. You will be up a creek without a paddle as the DOD school no longer accepts Consulate kids due to over-subscription of military families and construction restraints on space.

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

ABSOLUTELY NONE! Do NOT even think about coming here. NONE of the International Schools in Frankfurt will accept ANY LEVEL of special needs! DO NOT come here with a Special Needs Child unless you and your kid are fluent in German. Seriously. You will be up a creek without a paddle as the DOD school no longer accepts Consulate kids due to over-subscription of military families and construction restraints on space.

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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, in fact, right on the Housing Compound.

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

Lots. There are many clubs and school-based activities.

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Expat Life:

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

GIGANTIC! There are many Americans married to Germans who stay here forever. There are a lot that work in the Consulate as Local Hire Staff and a lot of those have HUGE chips on their shoulders about having an FSO boss when "I have worked here for 14 years>>>>blah blah blah". Most don't have the education to join the Department of State as a Direct Hire and/or don't want to leave Germany to travel around the world...but they will complain endlessly about the benefits FSO's get ("free housing, free schools"). Meanwhile they get three years off for maternity leave as well as unlimited sick leave....So it is an issue. For FSO's, it is great to be able to live in Europe so those that see the glass as half full will love it here and the pessimists will not.

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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?

Anything and everything you would find in any big Western Economy city.

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

Great for all and this housing complex is wonderful for those with little kids as there are great playgrounds and lots of space to run around.

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

Absolutely. Lots work at the Consulate both Local Staff and FSO's.

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

Not that I can see. I am Asian and I haven't experienced any.

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

Travel opportunities, great biking trails and beautiful outdoor cafes.

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

Bicycle trips with stops to small cafes and bars. Walks downtown and up to the Galleria to see the panorama view of Frankfurt, day trips to small villages and towns and the Rhine River.

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

Cuckoo-Clocks from Bavaria, every type of beer known to man kind, and all the trinkets and dust collectors you can purchase at the endless Christmas and Easter Markets as well as festivals.

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

Gorgeous city with walks along the river, great bike trails and access to about anywhere in the world. You can save money due to the availability of the USG Mil Gas card allowing one to purchase gas at U.S. prices AND access to the Base Commissary where food is often cheaper than it is at Safeway or Giant. So if one is thrifty and careful, you can break even or perhaps squirrel away some pennies.

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10. Can you save money?

If you are really thrifty and frugal....perhaps you can....but I haven't.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Wish I knew that there are ZERO services for Special Needs. Also, we have had more visitors than any other post EVER. I wish I had known how popular it would be for folks to come here and I would have started a "Visitors Book" to record the dozens of friends and family who have come through. I regret not having that as we have had at least 20 visitors thus far.

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

Absolutely! When can an American actually live in Europe?? It is a blessing and a privledge to be able to live and work here.

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

Car washing supplies. Cannot wash cars outside due to strict environmental controls.

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4. But don't forget your:

Bicycle and all the attachments: You will need a front and back light and a bell/horn to be legal here!

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

Watch movies. There are a ton of them and all good. Hitler's Children
, The Book Thief.

Lonely Planet Germany (Travel Guide) is excellent and every restaurant in there is fantastic.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

This is a great post for everyone and you WILL have lots and lots of visitors!

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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, 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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Frankfurt, Germany 04/04/12

Background:

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

No.

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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?

East-coast direct flight to Frankfurt from DC. 8 hrs.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2008 to 2011.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Most everyone lives on the housing compound. It is a 10 min drive to the Consulate or a 40 min walk.

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

Pretty cheap if you shop on base.

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

More clothes. Clothes on the local economy are expensive and the base has very limited selection.

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

Yes, a bit more expensive since it is the Euro.

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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?

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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?

APO and pouch.

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

Yes, not too bad, but not cheap either.

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

Yes.

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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?

Safe to use anywhere, but your credit card must have a chip in it for most places to accept.

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

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

Very cheap.

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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?

None.

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

None.

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Transportation:

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

Yes.

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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. Smaller cars are better for driving and parking in the city.

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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. 20 euros a month.

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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?

Get a local phone with prepaid cards.

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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?

No.

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

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?

Yes.

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

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Health & Safety:

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

No.

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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?

Great.

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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?

Mild winters with only a few hot days in the summer. Lots of rain.

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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?

Yes, if you can get in to the one on the housing compound. If not, your child must be 3 before enrolling them in the German system.

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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?

Huge.

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2. Morale among expats:

Great.

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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?

Lots.

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

Yes.

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

Yes.

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

None.

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

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

Lots.

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

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

Touring, culture.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you don't shop on the local economy.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

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3. But don't forget your:

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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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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?

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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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Frankfurt, Germany 10/03/11

Background:

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

No - Shanghai and Phnom Penh

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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?

California.12 - 17 hours depending on whether you take a direct flight or not.

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3. How long have you lived here?

For one year.

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

Government (U.S. Consulate General)

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments and houses. If you are affiliated with the U.S. Consulate General then chances are (with the exception of a few senior staff members) you will live on the same compound as everyone else. The compound is nothing to write home about, especially if you have livedoverseas before in USG providing housing. If you are single, you will probably only get one bathroom. If you have a family, you will get multiple bathrooms, but from what I have seen, they are almost like afterthoughts and not designed well. There is no air conditioning, and while it doesn't get too hot most of the time, there are days and nights during the summer that you'll wish you had it due to the humidity (especially if you live on the 3rd floor).This compound is old, and quite unattractive from the outside. The insides are OK, but tend to be smaller than what most people are used to. If you live on the economy, I understand that the rents are quite expensive due to the presence of large numbers of bankers and other expats. From what I have been told, an approximately 1000 square foot apartment in a decent neighborhood would cost around 3000 Euro a month. Commute times vary obviously, but from the Consulate housing compound to the Consulate, it's about a 30 minute walk, 5 minute drive, or 12 minute bus ride. People complain that traffic on the autobahns around Frankfurt is bad, but compared with other major cities in the world and the US, it isn't that bad.

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

Everything is available, again, it's Western Europe. If you are affiliated with the Consulate the you will be able to shop at the base which is much cheaper than German stores.

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

A very nice car.

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

I think Germans like fast food as much as or more than Americans do, but somehow don't seem to suffer from as high of rates of obesity. A full meal at McDonald's would probably cost around $12.

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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?

I think everything.

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

Yellow jackets seem to be endemic during the summer, otherwise it's Western Europe - so no problems.

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Daily Life:

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

I use the APO/DPO.Of course, the German post is reliable and efficient. But they have been known to pull out a ruler and actually measure your envelopes to see if they meet "regulations."It's more trouble than it is worth.

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

Forget about it.

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

Yes. The Consulate housing compound has one, and the equipment (especially the tread mills) isn't that great; however, it's convenient. I have friends that go to gyms downtown, and they seem happy with them.

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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?

German banks charge ridiculous fees to use their ATMs. You can open a German bank account, but again the maintenance fees are preposterous.

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


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

TV - if you are on the consulate housing compound then you will have a number of options. I pay $100 a month for cable and internet though.

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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?

I didn't think I would need much (I didn't receive language training).I have been surprised though at difficult I find not knowing German is when you live here. It seems that educated Germans who work in specific professions speak English quite well. However, people who do manual labor jobs, who work in stores, gas stations, bus drivers, tend not to speak it - or at least they don't want to.

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

Yes, some. While much of Frankfurt was rebuilt after WWII, there are still a lot of older buildings that are not convenient for someone with a physical disability. For whatever reason, almost all of the bathrooms are located in the basement down a narrow flight of stairs. The consulate apartment buildings all have stairs just to get inside, and none of them have elevators.

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Transportation:

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

Safe definitely, affordable, not necessarily. If you are affiliated with the US Consulate you will get a subsidized "job" ticket that you can use any day at any time - which is a good deal if you use public transportation every day. A one ticket on a local bus or train will cost roughly $3.50, which isn't that cheap. Tickets on high speed long distance trains are often more than $200 round trip. I find renting a car to be cheaper.

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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?

Bring whatever you like, but make sure it is in good condition and not that old. All cars must be inspected, and must pass in ordered to be able to be registered (you will have to pay for the inspection).If you are going to be in Frankfurt for more than two years, and you have diplomatic status, then you can buy a new car on the economy tax free. I would recommend something that is fast enough for the autobahn.

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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, depends on how fast you want it to be. It will cost at least $50 a month.

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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?

My office provides me with one, so I don't have much experience with the matter. The rules and regulations seem to be complicated, but you may be able to get out of your personal contract if you have orders.

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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?

Probably. It is Germany, you need official papers for everything.

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


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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?

Maybe if you have some specialized skill or degree, but anything outside of a high profile banking job, or some other similar position at an international company; and you will definitely need German.

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

Business to business casual. The bankers all wear suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Not really that I can think of. Frankfurt is ranked as having one of the highest crime rates in Germany. This is not entirely true since those crime statistics include the airport which: a) isn't in Frankfurt, and b) are crimes such as smuggling that wouldn't affect the day-to-day life of the ordinary citizen.

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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 very 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?

Much better than most major US metropolitan areas;although, people with allergies seem to have problems.

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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?

Cold and colder?Damp and damper? To be fair, the weather this fall has been exceptionally nice, but it's only been for about two weeks. Most of the summer it was warm, but this last summer it rained almost every day. The winters are long and gray, and this last winter there were higher than normal snowfall, and below average temperatures.

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Schools & Children:

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

No personal experience. Most kids go to FIS (Frankfurt International School).Recently some kids have gone to Stradhoff (Sp?), and from what I hear it's not really an international school,but more of a school for rich German kids with an international curriculum. It seems that it may be better for younger students, and not as good for teenagers. There is always the Department of Defense school in Wiesbaden, which is great for students who excel in sports, but terrible in academics.

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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, but I do not know the details.

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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.

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2. Morale among expats:

Medium to apathetic. Most people are only here because they have to be, they don't hate it, but they definitely don't love it either.

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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?

Depends on what you want to do. I actually don't care for the night life here, so I tend to go to house parties.

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

Definitely not bad for families and couples. I wouldn't suggest it for singles.

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

There is no discrimination, again, it's Western Europe. Compared with other major cities in Europe, the night life isn't that great. Definitely an older crowd as well. One has to understand that Frankfurt's population is only about 660,000.The surrounding area has a another million or so, but they all seem to stay in their local areas on weekends. It just isn't a big enough city to support a thriving gay scene.

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

Nothing overt.

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

Traveling around Europe, and driving on the Autobahn. Compare with its neighbors, I don't find Germany to be that charming, and Frankfurt as a city is very dull.

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

A lot of old castle towns, wine tours, hot springs.

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

A lot of beer mugs, and other such handicrafts. I don't have much of an interest in this stuff though.

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

Traveling from Frankfurt to other (more interesting places) is quite easy. Frankfurt International Airport has flights to many places in the world, especially far flung locations that you may have never heard of. If you are willing to drive or take a bus for about two hoursyou can fly out of "Frankfurt" (it's practically in Luxembourg) Hahn Airport - many cheap flights from here to destinations throughout Europe. If you have a car, or you like to take trains, there are many places within Germany and Europe you can get to in less than 5 hours. If this is your first time in Europe, then Frankfurt is a great place to use a base to travel from.

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11. Can you save money?

Depends on how you live, but unlikely. If you have access to the bases, and you don't go out on the weekends, then you can probably save a little bit. With that said, unless you have children and a car, shopping at the bases isn't really practical. The COLA doesn't reflect the real cost of living here. In a recent survey I saw, Frankfurt was ranked in the top ten of most expensive cities in the world. If you live on the economy, then I hope you have a generous expat package with a nice six figure income (in Euro), and a generous expense account. Then and only then should you expect to save money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely not.

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

Sunscreen lotion.

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3. But don't forget your:

Winter clothes.

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

Who would write about Frankfurt?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Schindler's List? Actually, that didn't take place in Frankfurt.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

An assignment to Frankfurt is not the end of the world. There are far worse places to be sent to. With that said, it feels a bit like purgatory to me - neither here nor there. It of course depends on what you like to do, but even when you read the guidebooks there is hardly anything about Frankfurt. This is due in large part to the fact that Frankfurt is a city for commerce, and commerce only. It's a huge transportation hub, and it's a commuter city, so people come and go because they have to, leaving the city to feel void of life. It is a functional place to sleep and do business, but it lacks any real soul. If you end up working at the US Consulate General, then you will be forced to spend hour on an end at a former Luftwaffe hospital, which later became an Army hospital, and then the Consulate. This is by far one of the worst US diplomatic facilities I have ever been in. It's ugly, it feels like an insane asylum, and it looks like a prison from the outside (oh and it still smells like a hospital).I have talked to many expats (not associated with the USG), and the general sentiment seems to be that while Frankfurt is a tolerable place to live, they all plan on leaving as soon as they get the chance. It simply leaves a lot to be desired, and it never feels like home. I'll be happy to leave.

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Frankfurt, Germany 07/15/10

Background:

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

2nd expat experience.

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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?

DC. It's a short, 7 hour direct flight from DC. Frankfurt has a huge airport and it's great for getting to anywhere in Europe and most major airports in the States.

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3. How long have you lived here?

6 months.

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

US 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?

One word sums it up: awful (for anyone working on the Consulate that is). Most, if not all Consulate staff are put on a housing compound about a 30 minute walk from the Consulate called "Little America". The apartments are 3 story, ugly, old military style housing units. Although the insides of the units have all been renovated recently, they did the renovations cheaply, and most of the items (especially in the bathrooms) are already falling apart and breaking. Mold is another problem here as well. GSO tries to fix things, but these units are so old and there are so many of them (400+), that they have a hard time keeping up. Also, the ovens here either take 5-10 minutes to light and/or turn off randomly. Don't expect to bake or use the oven much here. I've had GSO over 5+ times to repair it, but they just shrug their shoulders and say deal with it. Also, the compound has a lot of hard partying, noisy and unfriendly military and quasi-military families here. They let their kids run amok on the compound, while they pound Budweiser beer and bottles of Jack Daniels. If you’re not on the top floor either, you can hear everything above and below you. The walls have little insulation, so be prepared for the fishbowl experience. My ex-pat friend came over to the compound for the first time, and thought it was Germany’s section 8 housing (due to the uglyness and amount of trash). She isn’t far off…Overall, until they get new housing, I would NOT recommend bidding on Frankfurt. Housing is horrible, and they need to fix it at some point soon (which will probably never happen). I will never bid on a place with compound living again, especially one with so many military families living on it. Morale is at a huge low here, and it’s almost 99% to do with the housing and everyone living on top of one another. If you’re an expat, there are some great neighborhoods in Frankfurt and some beautiful places to live. If you’rewith the Consulate, you’re in a rundown neighborhood in run down buildings. Again, I can’t stress this enough, the housing here is awful and is only getting worse.

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

Grocery shopping is good here. It's expensive, but their are two grocery stores within a 10 minute walk. They have everything you need. There is a commisary for Consulate and military folks, but it's a 40 minute drive each way. Not very convienent.

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

Nothing. Germany has everything the US does, it just costs more. I guess if you like those certain US brands, you could/should bring them. But then why are you becoming or are an expat?

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

German restaurants are plentiful, along with Turkish and Thai as well. There are only a couple within walking distance, so you'll have to travel on the metro to nicer parts of town to go out to most restaurants. Costs are bit higher than the States. Fast food meals are around 8-10 euro. Good meals start at 20-30 Euro and work their way up from there.

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5. 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?

APO/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?

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

There is a small, rundown gym on the compound. It's affordable. Any on the local economy cost too much though.

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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?

It's fine here.

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

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

Yes. Cost isn't too bad: 25/month for AFN.

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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?

A little German won't hurt. But most people speak a little English.

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

Not too many. It's a little more difficult than DC, but not as much as some other European cities.

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Transportation:

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

Safe, yes. Afforable..eh. It's about 2-4 euros for a one-way train ride. In most other cities it's not that much. You can get a job pass from the consulate, which reduces the cost, but it's still pricey.

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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?

Small. I see so many people with big trucks and SUVs, but those are mostly military families. Bring a small 4 door car, or get one here. Plenty of used and new cars to buy (especially if you're eyeing a German one).

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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, but speed isn't as good as you would think. It comes bundled with a home phone, for about 50 euros/month plus a 200 euro activation fee.

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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?

Cell phone plans are very expensive here. You can get a sim card with minutes on it, though.

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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?

Nope, just get the paperwork needed and it's easy.

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

Pet care is available here, just about twice as much cost-wise as in the US, though.

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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?

Yes, tons.

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

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Health & Safety:

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

Nope. Germany is very safe, especially compared to most US cities.

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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 great here. Better than in the US.

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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?

The air quality is great.

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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?

Cold, long winters. Summer is nice. It's a very green city and as long as you don't mind winter, it's fine.

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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?

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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:

Awful if you're working for the US Consulate (see housing above). If you are military or an expat not associated with the consulate, it's pretty high.

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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?

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

Yes, the city is. The compound seems to be fine with families, especially for parents that are fine with letting their kid(s) run around on their own. The city is safe over all, and I believe has enough for couples, singles and families alike.

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

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

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

Traveling. Although it's expensive, you have to get off the compound and travel.

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

Tons. Parks, downtown, castles, traveling. Tons to do.

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

Various items. Christmas markets are a big thing here.

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

Frankfurt is a great hub for travel. It's also a small city, so there are some great places to explore downtown, but tons of places driving or flying to as well. Germany is a great country to live in, and Frankfurt is a great city (except fot the housing). The weather isn't too great, but summer is nice, and the short spring and fall are okay as well. Winter I've heard is long and hard, but there are worse places weather-wise.

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11. Can you save money?

Ha! That's a good one. You'll be VERY lucky to break even here.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No, no, no. Not with the compound living. If I was downtown or in a nicer suburb (there are tons of nicer suburbs with townhouses all over Frankfurt), then yes. But with the compound, I will never come back.

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

American products, propane grill (not allowed on compound, but everyone else in Germany has them), gardening tools (no yards).

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3. But don't forget your:

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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?

Until they get rid of the compound, morale will always be low, and they will always be hard to try to fill positions here. It doesn't help that the COLA is low too, considering the costs of everything. But housing is the big morale issue that is not being addressed.

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Frankfurt, Germany 07/07/08

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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2. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

7-8 hours form the U.S. (DC).

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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).

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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.

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

Nothing I can think of...

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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.

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Daily Life:

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

I had APO access.

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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. The dollar isn't doing too well aginst the euro.

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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.

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

All here.

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

AFN on the compound.

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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?

Almost anywhere you'll find someone that speaks English, but try to learn some German.

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

Lots. Not very handicap friendly.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right side, same as the U.S.

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

Buses and trains are very safe and affordable, Taxis are a little pricey.

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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.

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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?

US$60 a month for high speed internet.

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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?

I had a cheap, pay as you go phone. Everything's available.

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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.

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Pets:

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

Very high, Germans love their pets.

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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?

Not really, unless you're fluent in German.

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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.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

This is probably the cleanest city I've ever lived in.

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

Almost none. Much safer than most American cities.

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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.

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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?

Similar to DC.

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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.

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

Depends on the school. At ISF, not much.

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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?

The preschool on the compound was very good. Our younger child attended for 2 years and graduated kindergarten there.

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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:

Average. Most people do their own thing outside of work. Get to know a local and you'll have a great time.

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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?

Pubs, theater, dance, anything you can think of. Germans have festivals for everything, a good reason to drink the finest beers in the world!

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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.

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

Sure. Anything goes...

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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.

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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.

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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...

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9. Can you save money?

Not really.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

I'll be back soon!

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

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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Frankfurt, Germany 02/23/08

Background:

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

No. I have also lived in Paris and Bucharest.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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

I work for the U.S. Consulate.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Frankfurt is a true hub - one of the major European airports.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Compound living for State employees, some of the employees live on the economy in decent house (townhouses) generally in the Taunus area.

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

Everything is available. The military bases have all the products one might need.

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

None, we have everything we need here.

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

Yes to all.

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Daily Life:

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

We have APO privileges.

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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 is available but it's expensive - 10/12 Euros/hour.

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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?

Both are available and easy to use.

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

Yes as far as I know.

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

Yes, there is SKY, AFN, local German cable, etc. For consulate employees living on the compound satellite is out of reach due to restrictions.

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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?

Knowing German is quite helpful. I recommend getting a Rosetta Stone and learning a little to save the frustrations when dealing with locals.

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

Public transportation access would be challenging as there are not too many elevators or ramps.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, like the U.S.

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

Yes and affortable when it comes to public transportation. Taxis tend to be expensive.

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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 type is fine although there are plenty of narrow streets. Germans are embracing more and more the SUVs.

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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, but is's quite a hassle to get connected; people complained all the time about this.

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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?

If bringing one to post, make sure it's one of those with a sim card. They are available.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Vonage, 10-10 type calling numbers, phone cards, etc. Deutsche Telekom offers a flat rate package to the U.S.

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Pets:

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

Germans love their pets. Vets are available and the services are 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?

If you are fluent in German yes, if not, not so much. The consulate has admin type positions available all the time, but the pay is low compared to the DC area.

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

Informal, relaxed.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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

It's similar to any major city. A bit safer than DC for example, less crime, break-ins but more demonstrations.

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

Medical care is 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?

Rainy and cold.

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Schools & Children:

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

Plenty, FIS and ISF are the most utlized schools, FIS is more project-based with lots of extra curricular activities, ISF more testing-based. DODDS can accomodate students, less lately due to concentration of military employees around Wiesbaden. There aren't any special needs options. There is a new school founded the past year, the Metropolitan School which is just as good as FIS or ISF and much closer to the compound.

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

None. DODDS offers special needs care for consulate families, on a space available basis as opposed to space-required basis for military families.

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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?

There are plenty of options but register early. Carl Schurz has a decent facility but it wasn't run as well as it could have been due to poor management from the past school directors.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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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?

Plenty of clubs, jazz bars, etc.

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

Yes, for all.

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

Yes.

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

Not that I know of.

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

Everything in Germany and Europe: plenty of castles, churches, amusement parks, historical sites, scenic routes, etc.

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

Great food items, travel, travel, travel.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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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:

Truck.

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3. But don't forget your:

Allergy medicine.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

We've been here for a year and we love it. There are plenty of things to do on your own or in group. The CLO does a superb job with activities, trips, etc.

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Frankfurt, Germany 01/04/08

Background:

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

Previous posts include Asuncion, San Jose, and Tel Aviv.

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2. How long have you lived here?

This is our second tour here and we have been in Frankfurt for 3.5 years now.

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

The author is a spouse of an Officer employed by the U.S. Consulate.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There are mostly apartments for government employees. Commute is 5 minutes by car (limited parking), 15 minutes by bus.

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

We buy most of our groceries at the base because of our tastes and the euro/dollar rate. We sometimes buy a few things at the nice market nearby, but they are more expensive.

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

Children's chewable OTC medicines (can't always find at base). For people without APO privileges, send clothes and especially shoes as they are very expensive..

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

MANY kinds of restaurants. For American tastes, Pizza Hut delivers, McDonalds, etc.

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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?

We haven't had any help but many people do. It's probably about the same as the D.C. area.

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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?

There's an ATM at the nearby REWE market (with fee) and the mall five minutes away. They take VISA at most places although not everywhere.

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

Yes, for most denominations.

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

Stars and Stripes is about $1 per week delivered.

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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?

A little German is helpful. If you at least try to speak their language, Germans usually become very nice and helpful.

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

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right, same as the US.

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

They are safe but a little expensive - two euros for a one-way ticket on train/bus within the city. Taxis are expensive.

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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?

Lots of us have minivans but don't try to drive in the old part of Heidelberg with them! Service for major problems can be a problem, so bringing a new or newer vehicle might be a good idea. Traffic jams happen on big autobahns. I've never been in a country where they obey the traffic laws as well.

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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, about 30-40 euros/month.

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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?

Wide available and not too expensive - we buy time cards since we don't use ours constantly.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Best to call through the internet or using a discount number (we use 01081 - this costs 3 - 4 US cents/min; dial this number before you dial the 001)

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Pets:

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

Yes. Our puppy had surgery here and it went very well. Book kennels in advance.

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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 seem to be some.

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

Germans like to look well-groomed but not flashy. Dress code is much like the U.S. but maybe a bit more formal.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good to moderate.

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

Most consulate employees live in same apartment complex which is not walled off but has roaming guards and the central street is only open to residents with an ID. Police aren't too concerned with drug use (just drug dealing). Violent crime seems low.

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

Medical care depends on the provider. Not quite like the U.S. (Germans believe in much less agressive treatment generally) but can be very good (or not), just get detailed referrals from a variety of people before you make an appointment. Dental care definitely not up to U.S. standards.

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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?

April through June can be gorgeous. September and October are usually reliably nice but summers can be anywhere from hot to quite cool. Winters are overcast but with little snow in the city.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are two international schools and the DODDs school -all are about 30 minutes away. Our kids attended FIS, a fine school for academically inclined kids (with no learning problems). It is not an American school (IB). If your child is not getting many A's in his/her present school (especially high school), s/he might struggle a little at FIS. If you're very sensitive to many European's anti-American feelings, you might want to choose another school (not overt, but present, mostly among some adults). We love the zero tolerance for drugs and weapons, and the excellent attitude regarding parent involovement.

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

The international schools probably won't accept the child. If the child's special need is discovered after getting here, they have very limited services. DODDs will be able to accommodate them.

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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?

The preschool/daycare on the American housing premises is very good but you need to register early.

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Expat Life:

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

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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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?

Lots to do, lots of expats to socialize with.

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

Good for all.

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

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

No overt prejudices that I've seen.

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

There is something for everyone: hiking, skiing, English movies, festivals, castles, travelling a few hours to get to another country. For government employees, there are lots of activities and trips that are organized. For private industry, social life is often centered around school contacts. FIS has lots of activities.

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

Nutcrackers, smokers, steins, traveling.

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9. Can you save money?

That can be difficult!

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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:

Sunscreen and big pick-up truck.

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3. But don't forget your:

Snow sled, skiis, and camera.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

My kids love the American housing area because their friends are so close. Even when their best friends aren't around, they can go to the playground and often find someone to play with.

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