With a population of around 600,000 people, Essen makes up an important part of Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia region - which is one of the largest urban areas on the European continent. Historically a coal and steel center, it has always attracted workers from all over the country. The city has now developed a strong tertiary sector, an attractive prospect for many expats.
With close proximity to the Lake Baldeney reservoir on the River Ruhr, there are many opportunities for recreation as well as employment. The main language spoken in Essen is German, however many residents also speak English.
It was named the European Capital of Culture in 2010 and is known as one of the greenest cities in the whole of Germany.
With a temperate oceanic climate, Essen benefits from relatively mild weather all year round. It tends to have mild winters and cooler summers, with the warmest months being July and August and the coldest being January and February. Year-round, the average temperature is around 10°C. As with any country, extremes are possible - the highest recorded temperature is 36.6°C, while the record low is -24°C.
The cost of renting an apartment in Essen can exceed 1,000 EUR per month, especially in central areas. Listings can be found in local newspapers, but it is also well worth checking search engines. For shorter stays, vacation rental websites may be worth a look.
The city of Essen is divided into 50 districts, and the one you choose to live in will depend on your personal preferences. For foreigners looking for easy access to shopping, dining and nightlife, central distracts are teeming with life. The trade-off for this, however, is higher rent for relatively smaller spaces - for example, apartments instead of stand-alone housing.
Northern Essen holds the 10th largest university in Germany, the University Duisburg. There are also museums and theaters nearby.
Those seeking greener areas may be interested in Borbeck and Schoenebeck to the west of the city. Here you'll find larger houses with more land available.
The south of Essen is where many national and international companies are based. This area is therefore popular for those who want to get an apartment close to work as well as cultural attractions, cafes, restaurants and bars. The east of the city is also suitable for those wanting to live close to work, with neighboring residential areas containing inexpensive living space - including both stand-alone housing and apartments.
For more general information on houses, the German rental market and so on, pleae refer to our dedicated section on Housing and Accommodation in Germany.