- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Frankfurt Guide (PDF)
Relocating to the multicultural and commercial hub of Frankfurt comes with both opportunities and challenges. Expats and visitors flock to the city from all over and, while some only stay a short while, many others make Frankfurt their permanent home. As with any stay abroad, expats considering relocating to Frankfurt should think about the pros and cons of life in this German city. We list some of those below.
Working in Frankfurt
+ PRO: Employment opportunities in industrial and financial sectors
It is no secret that Frankfurt is an economic hub and one of Europe’s key banking and financial powerhouses. The city is home to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the European Central Bank and hundreds of other financial institutions, so expats working in these sectors should have no trouble finding business opportunities.
+ PRO: Good work-life balance
There is a work-hard-play-hard approach that residents working in Frankfurt seem to embrace. As a key economic centre, professionals in the city are hardworking, with efficiency and punctuality the order of the day. To balance this, employees are afforded lots of time off work and generous leave allowances for holidays and leisure time.
- CON: Language barriers
When looking for a job in Frankfurt, it helps to speak German. While English is widely spoken and a host of international languages are also represented in the city, speaking at least basic German helps in the business world and also when going about one’s daily life. Despite potential language barriers, learning German doesn’t need to be a 'con' – it can be fun and interesting.
Cost of living in Frankfurt
+ PRO: Flea markets and secondhand stores offer cheap deals
Whether expats are looking for something on a tight budget or searching for something vintage, Frankfurt’s flea markets and secondhand shops are a great place to start. Expats can score great bargains on clothing as well as tables and chairs or antique items to furnish their new homes.
- CON: One of Germany's most expensive cities
The cost of living in Frankfurt is high, especially in terms of rent. While salaries are adjusted to accommodate this, tax on salaries is high too. Expats may be lured with what seems like a generous salary, but a large proportion of it will go to tax, and so budgeting is critical.
+ PRO: Affordable and efficient services
Despite many expenses an expat will face, the city offers extensive top-notch services, including affordable transport, schooling and high-quality healthcare. This is largely thanks to the high taxes, and many will find that it's worth it.
Lifestyle and culture in Frankfurt
+ PRO: Vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene
There’s always a fun night out to be had in Frankfurt with myriad options including cocktail lounges, local bars, nightclubs and venues with live music. Areas in the north of the city offer the best nightlife atmosphere, such as Fressgasse, Zeil and Römerberg.
+ PRO: Lots to see and do
This riverside city may be a financial hub, but it also hosts a multitude of cultural events, artistic sights, restored medieval buildings and a certain Gothic charm. The area of Römerberg is a top attraction, as is the Frankfurt Cathedral, and new arrivals can familiarise themselves with their new home by taking a walking tour of the Old Town or a cruise along the river.
- CON: Making friends may be difficult
Many expats report that it can be hard to make friends with Germans and that, particularly in the workplace, Germans may not talk about their lives outside of the job. This may not always be the case, though. If expats share common interests, it can be easy to make friends and socialise. Frankfurt is a truly global cosmopolitan city and it’s possible to meet people from all over the world.
Transport and driving in Frankfurt
+ PRO: Well-connected city for travel
Frankfurt is centrally located and well connected to other German cities as well as European countries. Its train network, busy international airport and Autobahn system make travelling for business or leisure a breeze. Getting around to surrounding towns to take in the countryside is just as easy.
+ PRO: Pedestrian-friendly city
Frankfurt’s main attractions are in the city centre, which is a hive of activity and where many expats may find themselves working. These areas are easy to reach and get around on foot or by bicycle.
- CON: Parking is expensive
While parking is available in downtown Frankfurt, it is pricey. Most residents prefer to get around using public transport and don't see the need for a car, but it does provide greater freedom and in some cases may be necessary – if expats are planning on driving, then they may encounter some expensive parking fees.
Accommodation in Frankfurt
+ PRO: Wide range of housing options
There is a wide variety of properties available in Frankfurt, from apartments, big and small, in central areas to larger houses in surrounding suburbs, and everything in between.
- CON: High demand and high rental costs
Frankfurt is a relatively small city, and the demand for housing is greater than the supply. This has driven rent up and made it difficult to secure a home. Home insurance is also a must and is an added cost. Upon finding their perfect accommodation in Frankfurt, expats must act quickly to submit a lease application.
- CON: Most accommodation options are unfurnished
Most apartments and houses have minimal furnishings and new arrivals will either need to ship or buy furniture. For tenants who prefer to put their own stamp on a place, this could be a 'pro'. That said, an expat’s stay is often short and many prefer to find a fully furnished home.
Education and schools in Frankfurt
+ PRO: Excellent standard of schools
Both public and private schools in Frankfurt offer a high standard of facilities, well-trained teachers, and aim to provide children with a well-rounded education. Public schools are better for expat children to integrate into German society quicker, while a bilingual or international school may offer the comfort of their home language and a familiar curriculum.
- CON: International school fees are exorbitant
While public schools are a viable option, many expats families choose international schools for the aforementioned reasons. Parents who go this route should bear in mind the often astronomical tuition fees at these institutions.
+ PRO: Great universities in Frankfurt
Some of Germany’s best universities are located in Frankfurt, such as Goethe University Frankfurt and Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.