Hamburg, Germany Report of what it's like to live there
Personal Experiences from Hamburg, Germany
1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?
No, I have lived in France for 2 years before.
2. How long have you lived here?
3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?
Working as an expat for an international company.
4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:
Hamburg is well located in Europe but offers of flights are not great. Easy Jet, for example, just flies to London and Basel.
Housing, Groceries & Food:
1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Center areas apartaments and houses in towards the suburbs.
2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?
Germany is the land of Discounters, so you will can find very good offers at Aldi, Lidl, Penny.
3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?
4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?
Hamburg has very good prices for food that you really wouldn't need to go to a fast food (but you will find all them here).
5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?
No problems, actually I haven't seing many since I moved here.
1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?
2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?
20 Euros per hour in general.
3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?
Yes, in several locations and for different price ranges.
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?
Forget Credit cards. ALWAYS HAVE CASH with you or a EC-card (debit card). Germans are not extensively using cc. ATMs are very easy to find in the other hand.
5. What English-language religious services are available locally?
6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?
7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?
You can get buy without German, but of course you will understand more of the culture if you learn at least a minimum. It's a hard language, so be patiente.
8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?
Some buses are adapted to wheel chairs, but not all the subways are. I would say there is room for improvement.
1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?
Yes, public transport is great. Taxis are affordable. Subway runs in the weekend around the clock.
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?
Honestly if you are well located don't bother about having a car, as in many big cities of Europe.
Phone & Internet:
1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?
Yes, around 30 Euros (ALICE) you could have internet + landline.
2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?
Of course, have one. I wouldn't imagine a big city in Europe where otherwise would be recommended.
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?
2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?
I imagine so, there are lots of peopole.
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?
In these times of economy crises might be harder but in general Hamburg is a very wealthy city, with the habour there are lots of economical acitivites. If you don't speak any German the might be difficult.
2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?
In German companies dress code tends to be much more formal than international ones, but in the streets, people are rather informal and I have the impression people don't really look at how you dress.
Health & Safety:
1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?
Good quality of air, it's a very green city with not too many cars.
2. What immunizations are required each year?
None that I know.
3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.
Not really, but worth be carefull in the Reeperbahn (red light district) area. I have heard some cases of purses being stolen in restaurants, but rare.
4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?
Get a PRIVATE insurance if your income allows you. Fun enough public healthy plans can be more expensive than private. You will get doctors faster if you have a private one.
5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?
Really annoying in winter: foggy, cold and rainy and lovely in spring and summer. All year around, anyway is worth carrying an umbrella with you.
Schools & Children:
1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?
I know there are (as per other collegues) but don't know that much.
2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?
I don't know.
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 I have heard there are long cues to get a place.
4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?
I think so.
1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?
I would say there is a big group. International companies as Beiersdorf, Unilever and Airbus provide a lively community.
2. Morale among expats:
High, those I know. Though lots of complains about the weather there a lot to do.
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?
High point. There endless bars, restaurants and shows (concerts specially a high) in Hamburg.
4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?
Yes, all of them.
5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?
I think so, people are quite open and there are many gay/lesbian bars in the St. George area.
6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?
I would say there a lot of prejudice against Turkish people. I don't think integration was great so far.
7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?
With a good weather (spring/summer): parks, beach clubs, cannoying in the Alster, sports, cycling etc. Winter or bad weather: museums, bars, restaurants, cinema, friends houses...
8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?
Local beers, for those who like German food, it's a paradise, wine (white)...
9. Can you save money?
Depends on what you earn. Housing can be expensive but for everything else you can really manage low budget.
Words of Wisdom:
1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?
Definitely. I actually find it hard to leave.
2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:
Prejudice against German people, they will surprise (positively) in all the senses.
3. But don't forget your:
Umbrella, good humor.