Foreigners and expatriates living in Heidelberg will be able to drive legally using the driving license from their home country for up to six months. Germany has one of the best road systems in Europe, which is operated and maintained through taxes collected on items like gas, and as such there are no tolls or charges for using any German roads, even the autobahn. Carpooling is popular with people living in Heidelberg, especially with people that work or live together.
The center of public transportation in Heidelberg is Bismarckplatz, which is home to the main bus station and is the end point for the tram network. Heidelberg Central Station is the main train station in the city, and has rail connections to many surrounding areas, including the Palatinate, the Saarland, southern Hesse, Mannheim and other places within the Rhine-Neckar Region. There is also a mountain railway service, the Heidelberger Bergbahn, which is very popular with tourists who want to see the castle and the communications tower on the top of the mountain.
Germany has a free public education system, but unlike many European countries it is not centrally managed, and instead each state operates their own education system. The public school system in Heidelberg is one of the best in Germany, however, many expatriates living in Heidelberg send their children to an international school, where lessons are taught in English. The main international schools in Heidelberg are Heidelberg International School and the Metropolitan International School. There are also other international schools located in nearby cities like Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, and Mannheim, all of which are of excellent quality.
Heidelberg is known for its universities, the most notable of which is Heidelberg University; founded in 1368, it is one of the oldest in Europe. Other universities include the College of Educational Science and Schiller International University, as well as many research and development centers like the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and the German Cancer Research Center.
Germany has an excellent public healthcare system that is funded by state healthcare insurance. Expatriates working and living in Heidelberg will be able to take advantage of the free public system as long as they are covered by state healthcare insurance, which can be taken out through your employer. Since 2009, public healthcare insurance has been compulsory for expatriates with a residence permit or a fixed term employment contract that runs for more than one year.
The public healthcare system in Germany has some of the shortest waiting times in the world, and is one of the best equipped in Europe. However, should you wish to opt for private healthcare, then this is also possible. Expatriates living in Heidelberg can take out private healthcare insurance with a number of different providers, which would allow them to go for treatment at one of the private facilities in the city.
You can take a look at our Extended Guide on Health and Insurance in Germany for more information.