I feel in a pretty good position to judge the relative quality of living in Frankfurt now after a couple of years here. Particularly as this is the 5th country I have lived in in the last 20 years on a number of continents. I have also had the pleasure of travelling extensively to many others and so got at least a fleating glimpse of their quality of life.
I was a little concerned before I moved here because, as many of you will already have heard, Frankfurt has a bit of a reputation both in and outside of Germany. I almost called off the move at one point due to the flood of warnings about unfriendly people, crime, difficulties working with Germans, poor services, poverty and immigration issues, lack of English speaking services… just to name a few ;-).
But here I am. And for the reason that I also had many other people telling me what a wonderful place it is, the locals are warm and open, the city is busy with expats, a great cultural centre with loads happening, really well networked with extensive underground and an excellent airport hub.
Well, now that I am here, they were both right in some respects. It can be a mixed bag ;-).
To prove a point. For some reason Frankfurt pops up in city rankings regularly:
– #1 for crime in Germany (German government)
– #7 worldwide for quality of life (Mercer quality of living)
– #7 most unfriendly city in the world (Business Insider)
– #14 most desireable place to visit in 2014 (New York Times)
I am sure you can find more. I have seen the best and the worst of this city and I can understand why it divides opinion so drastically. There is so much happening both socially and economically in this relatively small city of less than a million people. There are so many work opportunities and so much money in the over sized financial district that it attracts a lot of people from across Germany and overseas. This puts a lot of pressure on housing, schools and basic services that they are always in short supply. People with money pay to get what they need, and others suffer.
There is a massive student community and social life here thanks to three universities and a number of big unis in satellite towns.
There are some beautiful commuter towns stuffed full of highly paid execs, Bad Homburg for example which has the highest number of millionaires in Germany. And there are immigration, asylum and crime hotspots like Offenbach and the train station quarter both of which newcomers are warned about on arrival.
But on the other hand, it is still Germany. In comparison to any little Swiss town (read: Zurich) it will always lose out, but it is definitely a big step up in life from many UK or US cities. Crime is high for Germany, thanks to the immigration issues, the airport and the train station, but crime is still low on international standards.
So as I said, its a mixed bag. Once you find a home, a school for the kids, a job with enough disposable income, you will have as much if not more fun than many other cities. But if you can’t get the balance right you’ll hate it.
So just like pretty much anywhere else, right? 🙂