Living in Frankfurt
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Frankfurt, etc.
I am originally British but have lived overseas for quite a few years now, first in Asia, then Switzerland, and now Germany. I’ve gone long enough now that the idea of moving home to the UK is a little weird!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I first started blogging when I lived in Switzerland and the overwhelmingly positive response I got meant that as soon as I moved to Frankfurt I set up a new blog. I realized that each time I moved to a new city, I had the same set of problems in setting up a new home and would have to learn by trial and error. My first point of call was always to go online and search for the answer. What I realized was that there was always lots of national information and help but rarely city specific help in English. And many of the blogs that were written were personal experience and lifestyle based rather than practical information.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favourite blog post is easy. It was something that is really specific to Frankfurt. Frankfurt has a very mixed reputation and people seem to either love it or hate it (the Marmite effect?). So I wrote about the conflicting views and it obviously struck a chord as lots of people shared it. I was even surprised that the Stadt Frankfurt official social media team liked it enough to share it with their Twitter followers!
Tell us about the ways your new life in Frankfurt differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
There was something of a culture shock but not too bad. There are a lot of similarities to Switzerland where I lived for a number of years and to England. Germany is a little bit of both and feels like it is midway between the two.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Frankfurt? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I was pretty well prepared for the move, but the only thing that would have helped more would have been better German. I don’t think I would have ever been as good as I hoped, but I should probably have done more.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
My biggest surprise here was the number of people who have no curtains in their apartments. At night you can see right through the apartments. I complained to a few German friends about this and their first reaction was: ‘Why would you look? Just don’t look!’ Next, I asked advice on where to buy curtains and rails. First reaction was ‘But why?’ My explanation of the need for privacy at home was met by big smiles and then: ‘Just wait until you move to Holland – they are even more open there!’
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Frankfurt?
- Learn German, and then learn some more…
- Find an English speaking tax advisor quickly.
- Get a German speaking friend to help you find an apartment.
How is the expat community in Frankfurt? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
I have to say that I found it really easy to meet other expats here in the city and most of my friends are foreign. That is both good and bad as it helped me feel at home very quickly but also didn’t help me to speak German! The best place was actually InterNations (and they didn’t ask me to say that!). I signed up for a few events when I first arrived and immediately found a group of like-minded people to meet up with. It was a really important network as it helped me socialize outside of work.