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Moving to Frankfurt

Located in central Germany on the River Main, Frankfurt boasts not only beautiful vistas and wonderful architecture, but is also a global financial powerhouse. The city is a major draw for expats from around the world who are attracted to the buzzing, confident and international character of the city. Frankfurt manages to combine effortlessly its role as a leading modern business centre with a charming cultural character.

Living in Frankfurt as an expat

Besides being a major economic hub in not only Germany but Europe, the city is also an important industrial metropolis and a key transport centre, attracting professionals from all over the world. And while it is predominantly the economy that entices expats to live in Frankfurt, the city is nonetheless beautiful and enchanting, brimming with history and culture, and expats living in Frankfurt enjoy a wonderful lifestyle.

There are superb opportunities for shopping, and myriad sightseeing attractions such as museums, historic spots and world-class opera and theatre to enjoy.

Getting around in Frankfurt is easy with the city's excellent rail connections, river transport and the Autobahn system. The city is home to the third busiest airport in Europe and is the natural hub for anyone wanting to explore the surrounding towns or the German countryside.

Accommodation in Frankfurt can be expensive and contributes to the fairly steep cost of living, but salaries are generally raised in order to afford residents a decent standard of living. While there are many different types of property available in the city, demand for affordable housing in Frankfurt is high and expats need to act quickly to secure a home.

Expat families and children

Expat parents moving to Frankfurt with children will have a number of different schooling options. While public and private schools in Germany offer an excellent standard of teaching, most expats prefer to have their children educated at one of the many international schools in Frankfurt.

There is also plenty for expat families to get up to in their spare time. More than 50 parks and green spaces grace Frankfurt, most of which are suitable for walkers, runners and picnickers. Some parks in the city even have designated areas for roller-skating, ping pong, football and basketball. 

Cost of living in Frankfurt

Negatives are few and far between, but it's important to weigh up the pros and cons before relocating. Certainly one of the cons is Frankfurt's relatively high cost of living, especially in comparison to other areas like Berlin. Indeed, it is the second most expensive city in Germany after Munich, and the price of accommodation is particularly high, especially in the city centre.

Climate in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is blessed with a temperate continental climate, and new arrivals will be pleased to know that temperatures are never too extreme, though the winter can get cold, stormy and often snowy. 

Ultimately, the advantages of living and working in this cosmopolitan city far outweigh any negatives, and these continue to entice expats. Crime is virtually non-existent and the unemployment rate is relatively low. With its eminently central location, business trips to surrounding cities in Europe are made easy, explaining why Frankfurt is so favoured by the expat community.  

Weather in Frankfurt

Expats moving to Frankfurt can look forward to a temperate continental climate. New arrivals will be pleased to know that temperatures are never too extreme, but the winter months can often be stormy with snowfalls. Summers are sunny and warm but are usually sprinkled with rainy days and quite high humidity. 

The average temperature in mid-winter (January) is 34°F (1°C), and in mid-summer (July) the average temperature is 66°F (19°C). Although summer is lovely in Frankfurt, expats should be aware that it is also the most popular time and it can get busy, crowded and expensive. Spring also serves up pleasant weather, plenty of sunshine, and fewer crowds.

 

Pros and cons of moving to Frankfurt

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. 

Working in Frankfurt

Frankfurt has been a popular expat destination for decades. Its major drawcard is its thriving economy, and the opportunities it provides for ambitious professionals. 

The workplace in Frankfurt is certainly not for the faint-hearted. New arrivals are expected to work hard and efficiently and to prove their worth. Their hard work is usually rewarded with great salaries and the excellent standard of living that Frankfurt is known for. 


Job market in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is the financial, commercial and industrial capital of Germany and, along with Paris and London, one of the major banking and financial centres of Europe. The city is home to more than 400 banks and financial institutions as well as the Frankfurt Stock Exchange – the largest in Germany.

Major names in finance with large operations in Frankfurt include Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, UBS, Royal Bank of Scotland, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte. The city is also home to two important central banks, namely the European Central Bank and the German Federal Bank.

The aviation industry is another prominent employer in Frankfurt. Frankfurt International Airport is one of the world's busiest airports and the single largest place of work in Germany, employing more than 70,000 people. Other major employers in the aviation industry include Lufthansa, Condor and Fraport. 

Frankfurt is also home to Germany's highest concentration of lawyers and, as a result, most of the world's large international law firms maintain offices in the city, including Allen & Overy, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklalters and Norton Rose Fulbright. 


Finding a job in Frankfurt

Such a high-profile work environment means expats should prepare for a competitive, professional and fast-paced experience. Most expats work in the financial, banking and business industries, and most often for international employers that are building their presence in Germany. It is important to note that many of the expats in Frankfurt are relocated by companies they have worked for previously, or are headhunted, so it is important to be well qualified when applying for positions in the city. 

Expats trying to find work in Frankfurt can start by using online sources for some useful insights into the types of jobs available in the city. Those looking for work in niche industries will benefit from networking and making contacts with those already in their field in Frankfurt. 

Speaking German is not a prerequisite for many jobs in Frankfurt, but some knowledge of the local language will certainly be beneficial to new arrivals hoping to pursue a successful career in the city, both to better business interaction and to smooth out social dealings. Ideally, German lessons should be taken before arrival in Frankfurt.

Expats from non-EU countries and some newer EU-member states are required to have a work visa to commence employment in Frankfurt. This can be applied for at the German consulate in an expat's home country. EU nationals have the considerable advantage of not requiring a work permit in Frankfurt.


Work culture in Frankfurt

The work culture in Germany's commercial hub is somewhat conservative. Expats will need to understand and incorporate elements of German business culture into their practices if they wish to be successful and make a good impression in the local workplace. 

Business culture in Germany is generally formal, while efficiency in the workplace is paramount. Time is money, so being punctual is important. Once the meeting begins, Germans get straight down to business and there's little room for small talk.

Punctuality and appearance are important, so expats should dress well and arrive at meetings fully prepared and on time. It's best to avoid humour, especially at first, as it can be misconstrued. One should expect to be asked detailed questions and have facts and figures on hand to back up what is being presented.

Although most Germans speak good English, many prefer to speak their own language when it comes to business negotiations. Expats who don't speak German should consider hiring a translator for important meetings. Newcomers to Berlin will find that Germans are generally private and maintain a strict separation between work and home life, so it may take some time to forge more personal relationships with colleagues.

Cost of Living in Frankfurt

According to Mercer’s 2021 Cost of Living Survey, Frankfurt is the second most expensive city in Germany, after Munich. Frankfurt was ranked 54th out of 209 expat destinations worldwide. That said, expats will find that there are a number of ways to save money while still maintaining a good quality of life in this highly industrialised city.

Just like in anywhere else, an individual expat’s cost of living is dependent on their lifestyle. While Frankfurt allows residents to indulge and live the high life, it is also a city where it's possible to get by affordably and comfortably.


Cost of accommodation in Frankfurt

There is a wide range of accommodation in Frankfurt and the price will depend on a number of factors, including the area an expat chooses to live in, the size of the property, and whether it's furnished or unfurnished. The city centre is rather expensive, but a lot of young expats who want to be close to the action opt to do house shares. Of course, the further from the city centre, the more affordable housing becomes.

Remember that when renting property in Germany, ‘warm’ rent includes certain utilities. 


Cost of transportation in Frankfurt

Getting around in Frankfurt using public transport is fairly inexpensive. There are plenty of money-saving programmes available to choose from. For expats who will use public transport to commute on a daily basis, it is wise to invest in a monthly or annual travel pass. Expats moving to Frankfurt will also be pleased to know that these passes cover the cost of travelling with children in the evening or at weekends.

Generally, most people do not need a car to get around Frankfurt, but those who do wish to drive will need to factor in the cost of parking fees and petrol.


Cost of groceries in Frankfurt

The cost of grocery shopping varies depending on the outlet. Supermarkets operated by Galeria or Karstadt tend to be more expensive. Most expats tend to shop at Rewe. 

For those on a tighter budget, there are Lidl and Aldi. Unfortunately, bulk-buy offers isn't common in Frankfurt supermarkets.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a bustling, cosmopolitan city and there is plenty to keep expats entertained here. It has a seemingly endless supply of excellent restaurants offering traditional German food and a slew of eateries serving cuisines from all over the world.

Tipping is expected in Frankfurt. The general practice is a 10 percent tip.


Cost of schooling in Frankfurt

While public schools in Germany are of an excellent standard and fees are low, for most expats this is not a viable option. Unless expats plan on relocating to Germany in the long term or have children who are young enough to pick up the local language, international schools are usually the best option, but these come at a hefty price.

Those relocating to Frankfurt for a lucrative job offer should try to negotiate an allowance to cover school fees for their children.


Cost of living chart for Frankfurt

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices for June 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 2,100

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 1,600

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

EUR 1,120

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

EUR 890

Shopping

Dozen eggs

EUR 2.70

Milk (1 litre)

EUR 1

Rice (1kg)

EUR 2

Loaf of white bread

EUR 1.70

Chicken (1kg)

EUR 8

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

EUR 7.10

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

EUR 9

Coca-Cola (330ml)

EUR 2.85

Cappuccino 

EUR 3

Bottle of beer (local)

EUR 4

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

EUR 60

Utilities/household

Internet (per month)

EUR 38

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

EUR 0.10

Utilities (average per month for standard household)

EUR 330

Transportation

Taxi rate per km

EUR 2

City centre bus fare/train fare

EUR 2.75

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

EUR 2.20

Accommodation in Frankfurt

Most expats relocate to Frankfurt for a fixed period of time and renting accommodation in Frankfurt is therefore more common than buying. The city has a variety of accommodation options for every type of expat, although newcomers should note that rent in Frankfurt is relatively high compared to other German cities.


Types of accommodation in Frankfurt

Apartments are commonly found in the city centre, while families can look towards the suburbs for larger homes. There are plenty of apartment units in historical buildings built in the 1900s that have been modernised by landlords. The majority of expats choose to live in the city, and therefore typically rent apartments rather than houses. Flatsharing is a popular option among young expats as it is a great way to save money and meet new people. 

Housing in Frankfurt is generally unfurnished, and we recommend that expats consider investing in some basic items of furniture. It may come as a surprise to some that unfurnished properties in Frankfurt are typically empty, often without carpets, light fittings or white appliances. The advantage of this is that tenants are allowed more leeway in terms of decor. While many people do paint their apartments, tenants are required to repaint in white or neutral colours at the end of a lease. 


Finding accommodation in Frankfurt

Expats who are transferred by a company are usually assisted by their employer in securing suitable housing. For those without such luxury, the best place to start the search for a home in Frankfurt would be online. While some sites and accommodation portals may provide listings, it is always beneficial to have some knowledge of German terminology. 

While rental costs are generally cheaper in Frankfurt than those in other major cities such as London, New York and Paris, expats should beware of false advertisements online. If rent is really low for a huge apartment, there are no agency fees involved, and the only way to contact the 'landlord' is via email, the advertisement is more than likely a scam.

Another efficient and stress-free way of finding accommodation in Frankfurt is by using the services of a reputable agency, which usually has intimate knowledge of the city's property market and can assist new arrivals in finding a home that meets all their requirements. It is important to note that estate agents in Frankfurt do charge a fee for their services.


Renting accommodation in Frankfurt

The demand for property in Frankfurt is high among both expats and locals. Upon viewing an apartment that meets a house hunter's requirements, they shouldn't hesitate to put in an offer. Haggling is not an option in Frankfurt as the landlord is likely to have other potential tenants interested in the property. Unfortunately, securing a rental property does not work on a first come, first served basis. The landlords usually have a handful of applicants to choose from.

As tenants are well protected in Germany by the Tenants’ Protection Association, landlords will only rent their place to someone they trust and get along with.

Before expats start renting a property in Frankfurt, they should note that it is mandatory to purchase home insurance. There are plenty of home insurance service providers in Germany ranging from banks to private insurance providers. It is also fairly common to purchase Third Party Liability insurance in Germany, which can be quite extensive. The type of cover one requires should be discussed with a professional advisor, especially if the rental property includes assets belonging to the landlord.

Making an application

Once expats have found a property they like, they will be expected to complete a detailed application form and provide evidence of their income and legal status in the country. In some cases, they may be asked for a reference from a previous landlord or a certificate (Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung) indicating they have no outstanding rent due.

Leases and deposits

Most landlords ask for up to three months' rent to cover the security deposit on a place in Berlin. The deposit is refundable and is usually returned at the end of the tenancy, provided there are no damages to the property. Otherwise, cleaning or repair costs will be taken out of the deposit before the balance is refunded. It is advisable to obtain proof from the landlord that he has kept the security deposit in a separate account from the monthly rent.

Most contracts do not have a specific end date. Expats need to notify the landlord if they wish to terminate their rental contract and this should be done in writing, three months in advance. As rental contracts are in German, expats are advised to consult someone who knows the language to go through each clause to fully comprehend the terms and conditions.

Utilities

New arrivals should note that there is 'cold rent' and 'warm rent' in Germany. The ‘warm rent’ includes heating and miscellaneous costs but excludes electricity. ‘Cold rent’ excludes the cost of all utilities.

Mainova is the main service provider in the Rhein-Main region of Germany and most expats living in Frankfurt will use this company as their utility supplier.

Utility bills are based on an approximate rate, which is dependent on the size of the apartment and the number of people living there. The monthly repayments can be adjusted accordingly and the company issues an annual invoice stipulating the actual amount used and if there are any outstanding payments to be made. If one has paid more than the amount used for the year, they should receive a refund from the company.

Areas and suburbs in Frankfurt

The best places to live in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a vibrant cosmopolitan city that attracts expats from all over Europe and the world. One of the biggest decisions facing new arrivals is where to live.

Choosing which neighbourhood to live in is determined by a number of factors, including price of accommodation, facilities available, and proximity to workplace, good schools and transport links. Luckily, there are areas and suburbs in Frankfurt to suit every expat's accommodation and lifestyle needs.


Young and trendy areas of Frankfurt

BornheimBornheim

Bornheim provides a lively atmosphere to young professional expats with a selection of pubs, bars and restaurants in the area. With an active nightlife scene, most of the best entertainment spots are located along Bornheim’s main street, Berger Strasse, which is also home to some of Frankfurt’s best cider houses. Bornheim is well served by public transport and is on a number of bus routes and two underground train lines.

The majority of accommodation in Bornheim comes in the form of apartment units in modern complexes. This is a popular area to live in because of its vibrant entertainment scene and close proximity to the city centre, so accommodation costs are naturally quite high.

Sachsenhausen

Sachsenhausen is a highly sought-after area for expats, especially those interested in the arts. This is a well-populated area of Frankfurt, with loads of activities on offer to keep the residents of this neighbourhood entertained, including great flea markets and some of Germany’s best museums.

Located on the south side of the river, Alt-Sachsenhausen is famous for its cobbled streets. For those preferring Frankfurt’s cafe culture, Schweizer Strasse is also located in Sachsenhausen. Apartments are relatively affordable and many properties have great views of the River Main. 


Family-friendly suburbs of Frankfurt

KronbergKronberg

Kronberg is an ideal place to raise children as properties are spacious and there are lots of open spaces and leafy green parks in close proximity. Kronberg is also home to a number of good international schools.

Public transport links that connect Kronberg to other parts of Frankfurt are fairly good. The neighbourhood is located on two S-Bahn lines and average commute time into Frankfurt’s city centre is approximately 20 to 30 minutes. 

Property can be quite pricey here, so expats interested in the areas should negotiate an accommodation allowance with their employer.

Nordend

Nordend is a relatively peaceful part of Frankfurt, which is particularly popular with young couples and families as there are a number of good schools in the area. Nordend residents have a strong sense of community and regularly organise small-scale events within the neighbourhood.

Nordend is centrally located and well served by local buses. Being so close to Bornheim allows residents of the area easy access to some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. The area is also well loved by those who enjoy upscale wine- and cocktail bars. Property prices are more reasonable here than in Kronberg.


City living in Frankfurt

NiederradNiederrad

Niederrad is a convenient place for commuters. It is close to Frankfurt International Airport (specifically Frankfurt Main station) so it is well connected to the city centre by public transport. Rent costs vary considerably in Niederrad as there is a range of different accommodation options.
 
A number of people choose to live in this area because of its excellent location and good amenities. Plus, those living in Niederrad have no shortage of activities to keep themselves entertained: there is an abundance of restaurants and bars in the area, which tend to be frequented by an international crowd, as well as a number of great outlets, coffee shops and lounges.

Westend

Westend is another area that attracts expats. Grüneburgpark and the Palm Gardens are located in the area, which provide residents with a great place to relax. This is a beautiful part of the city to live in, with stylish and architecturally stunning historic buildings lining the streets.

The neighbourhood is home to some of Frankfurt’s top legal firms and financial companies, and it is particularly popular among expats who are employed in these industries and don't wish to travel far for work. 

The area is an upmarket part of Frankfurt and accommodation costs are some of the highest in the city. Westend has an abundance of luxury living options and most apartments are located in converted historical buildings.

Healthcare in Frankfurt

Expats moving to Frankfurt will enjoy an excellent standard of healthcare and a culture centred on healthy living.

Both public and private hospitals in Frankfurt meet international standards, and expats with specific health problems can find comfort in the fact that there are a handful of specialist hospitals in the city.

All the leading hospitals that are accessible to expats in Frankfurt accept major health insurance policies. Private hospitals in Frankfurt offer state-of-the-art medical technology, first-class facilities and access to top doctors and specialists.

Expats moving to Frankfurt will also be pleased to know that almost all medical staff at hospitals in Frankfurt speak fluent English, and waiting lists are short.  

Pharmacies, or apotheken, are easy to find in Frankfurt and are usually located on main shopping streets or inside malls. Pharmacies in Frankfurt tend to be closed in the evenings, on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and holidays. Some even close early on Wednesdays. While there are laws in Germany that prevent the growth of pharmacy chains, there are a number of reputable pharmacies in the city.


Hospitals in Frankfurt

Below is a list of the most prominent hospitals in Frankfurt. Expats can expect to receive a good standard of treatment at these facilities.

Clementine Kinderhospital

www.clementine-kinderhospital.de
Address: Theobald Christ Str 16

Bürgerhospital

www.buergerhospital-ffm.de
Address: Nibelungenallee 37

The University of Frankfurt Hospital

www.kgu.de
Address: Theodor Stern Kai 7

St Katherine's Hospital

www.sankt-katharinen-ffm.de
Address: Innenstadt, Seckbacher Landstrasse 65

Education and Schools in Frankfurt

The standard of educational facilities in Frankfurt is on par with the rest of Germany. German public and private schools in the city offer an excellent level of teaching, and Frankfurt is home to a number of Germany’s top universities. 

While the German school system is highly regarded globally, most expats opt to send their children to international schools in Frankfurt. These schools offer expat students the opportunity to continue studying the curriculum from their home country. Continuing studies in their native tongue plays a significant role in allowing children a smoother transition into expat life in Frankfurt.

Generally, all schools in Frankfurt will break for holidays in April, July/August and October, with an additional break in December for Christmas.


Public schools in Frankfurt

Expats who have children young enough to pick up the language quickly, or who foresee themselves relocating to Frankfurt on a long-term basis, should consider standard German public schools. There are no tuition fees attached to these institutions, but there may be registration fees or minimal extras that will need to be financed.

Expats may initially find the system complicated, but it is ultimately based on achievement and is tailored to the abilities of each student.

Children attend kindergarten at the age of three and start grundschule (primary school) at age six. From this age, students learn a standard set curriculum.

After this point, they attend one of three types of secondary schools: hauptschule, realschule or gymnasium. German education is thus not divided according to age from this point forward, but rather according to what direction a student chooses to take their education.

A child's academic ability usually determines which school they attend, but the final decision also often rests with the parents. Bear in mind, though, regardless of which school a child attends, all students are required to complete at least nine years of education. 

Hauptschule, while offering the same subjects as realschule and gymnasium, teaches children at a slower pace and includes vocational courses. During grade 10, students study at a vocational training school and then attend berufsschule, where they receive further education and apprenticeship training up until grade 12. 

Realschule, on the other hand, is attended up until and including grade 10, after which students go straight to berufsschule. Depending on their academic progress, realschule students can go to a gymnasium upon graduation.

Gymnasium is generally accepted as the type of school for top students. Subjects included here are mathematics and natural science, as well as classic and modern language studies. It covers grades five through 13 and successful scholars receive a degree called an Abitur, which offers university and college preparatory classes, or combined academic and vocational training. 


International schools in Frankfurt

There are just a handful of international schools in Frankfurt. Expats moving to the city will not have as much choice as they would in the German capital, Berlin.

Most of the international schools in Frankfurt are English speaking and follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. There are also those that follow the American, British and Japanese curricula, among others.

Expats should note that tuition fees at international schools are expensive in Frankfurt, and those moving to the city as part of an international transfer should be sure to negotiate an education allowance into their contract. 


Bilingual schools in Frankfurt

Public bilingual schools are a good alternative and worth considering, especially if there is no provision for the payment of school fees within an expat’s employment package.

There are nominal fees attached to bilingual schools in Frankfurt, and they're a great option for those planning to spend a good few years in Frankfurt and who are keen to have their children integrate with the local German population.

In these state-sponsored schools, there are usually two streams of curricula based on a child's mother tongue and German. In Frankfurt, there are currently bilingual schools that teach in German and either French, English, Greek or Japanese.

Bilingual schools are a popular option for Germans who want their children to experience a broader education. For this reason, spaces fill up quickly, and expats preparing for a move to Frankfurt would do well to make arrangements as far in advance as possible.


Special-needs education in Frankfurt

Children in Germany, regardless of disability, have the right, according to the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), to early childhood education, and primary, secondary and tertiary schooling. Children with disabilities are supported as far as possible in mainstream schools and there have been recommendations for increasingly inclusive educational practices in general education and vocational schools.

The goal is to enable children to be educated together regardless of ability and to guarantee and develop the standards achieved in special-education teaching, advising and support services. Ultimately, the government tries to ensure that those with special needs can comfortably attend their nearest school, have access to the same standard of education as their peers, learn and play in a safe environment and be able to make good academic and social progress.


Tutoring in Frankfurt

Education is extremely highly valued in Germany, and tutors are widely used to improve and assist children's schooling. Tutors might be employed to assist in specific subjects such as maths or science, or expat parents will often hire a tutor to improve their child's German language proficiency. Tutors are further used in preparation for important exams or for university entrance exams.

Newcomers to Germany might also find that their child may benefit from having a guiding hand in navigating a new school system or just to build some confidence. Top private tuition companies include Lernwerk and Teachers24 Network.

International Schools in Frankfurt

International schools in Frankfurt are generally excellent. These private institutions offer education based on foreign curricula. Popular options include the British curriculum (including the Cambridge IGCSE and A-levels), the American curriculum (including SATs and AP subjects) and the International Baccalaureate.

International schools in Frankfurt are known for having superb facilities, highly-qualified teachers and small class sizes. Parents may find that there is a school in the city offering their home country's curriculum – if so, their child's education can continue with as little disruption as possible. If one's home curriculum is not available in Frankfurt, international schools remain an excellent choice as they provide a high standard of education leading to globally-respected qualifications.

Unlike in larger German cities, there is a relatively small selection of international schools available in Frankfurt. For this reason, international schools in the city often have waiting lists, so it's always a good idea to start applications early to secure a spot. 

See below for a list of international schools in Frankfurt popular among expats.


International schools in Frankfurt

European School, Frankfurt am Main

This prestigious school is one of 13 schools across Europe overseen by the European Union. Four different streams are available: German, English, French and Italian. In preschool, there is also the option of a Spanish stream. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: European
Ages: 4 to 18

Frankfurt International School

More than 1,800 children of over 60 nationalities make up this prestigious school's diverse student population. As an International Baccalaureate founding school, Frankfurt International School is well-qualified to offer this prestigious academic programme. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Japanische Internationale Schule Frankfurt has decades of history of providing an excellent Japanese education in a German context. A short train ride away from central Frankfurt, the school is centrally located and easily accessible. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Japanese
Ages: 6 to 14

Lycée Francais Victor Hugo

With more than 1,000 students, Lycée Francais Victor Hugo is a prominent school known for its high standard of education. Students have a choice of two streams: French or bilingual (French and German). Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: French and German
Ages: 3 to 18

Metropolitan School Frankfurt

Students at this well-respected school earn the Cambridge IGCSE in Grade 10 and graduate with the International Baccalaureate Diploma in Grade 12. Extra-curricular options are plentiful and include everything from saxophone and mask making to fitness club and dance aerobics. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: Cambridge IGCSE and International Baccalaureate
Ages: 3 to 18

Strothoff International School

Strothoff International School offers all three International Baccalaureate programmes. There are numerous after-school clubs available, including sport, academic, creative and science-related activities. Read more

Gender: Co-educational
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate 
Ages: 3 to 18

Lifestyle in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and prides itself for being one of the largest financial centres in Europe.

Famous for its breathtaking skyline along the River Main, Frankfurt is one of the most international cities in Germany and attracts many expats in search of high salaries and career advancement.

The city is charming and brimming with history and culture, complete with sought-after shopping outlets, impressive museums, interesting historic sites and world-class opera theatres to enjoy.

Frankfurt offers working professionals an attractive work-life balance – employees can expect to receive 30 days of annual leave every year. This allows expats to not only discover nearby towns and cities, but also the chance to travel to neighbouring countries, given that Frankfurt has excellent rail connections and one of the busiest airports in Europe.


Eating out in Frankfurt

One is always spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in Frankfurt. The restaurant scene reflects Frankfurt’s multicultural nature. Like many cities in the world, eating out can be expensive so it is essential to know where to look if budget is a concern.

The Fressgasse pedestrian street is the place for traditional German food, while the Westend and Nordend boast a great range of stylish and upmarket restaurants. For those who seek more of a cafe or pub atmosphere, Berger Strasse in Bornheim are both brimming with options.


Nightlife in Frankfurt

Despite the city's financial reputation, the nightlife in Frankfurt is not dominated by swanky hotel bars and upmarket establishments. Indeed, the city's nightlife scene is incredibly diverse, boasting every kind of entertainment imaginable, from casinos, bars and cocktail lounges to live music venues and dance clubs. Jazz clubs are particularly popular in Frankfurt and there are regular performances taking place all over the city.

Much of the city’s nightlife is centred in the north of the city in Fressgasse, Zeil and Römerberg, while Sachsenhausen is a good place to find Latin, Irish and local joints.


Shopping in Frankfurt

Frankfurt’s main shopping street is Zeil. Here, shoppers will find their regular high-street stores such as H&M, Zara and Promod, as well as department stores such as MyZeil, Galeria, Karstadt and Parfümerie Douglas. The Apfelwein district in Sachsenhausen is the place to find traditional German buys, while Goethe Strasse sells top-end designer goods and is packed with jewellery stores. Schweizer Strasse has beautiful boutiques and independent stores aimed at a trendier clientele. 


Outdoor activities and sport in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is among Germany’s greenest urban cities and, as such, it offers a wide variety of outdoor pursuits for residents to get involved in. The city is cyclist friendly, with plenty of urban bike paths in addition to mountain trails. There is also no charge for taking bicycles on board public transport.

More than 50 parks and green spaces grace Frankfurt, most of which are suitable for walkers and runners. Some parks in the city even have designated areas for roller-skating, ping pong, football and basketball. Expats who enjoy water-based activities will be pleased to know that Frankfurt is home to a number of water parks, large indoor swimming pools and open-air pools, all of which are extremely popular during the summer months.


See and do in Frankfurt

Expats moving to Frankfurt will be pleased to discover that the city boasts a multitude of exciting attractions and activities for just about every taste and budget.

Eschenheimer Turm

Dating back to the 15th century, the Eschenheimer Turm is one of the few remaining medieval portions of the wall that was built to encircle Frankfurt. Expats new to the city should climb to the top of the 154-foot high (47m) Gothic tower to admire the spectacular views of the city.

Well of Justice (Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen)

Built in Frankfurt’s central square of Romerberg in 1541, the Well of Justice has changed a lot over the last few centuries and the original sandstone statues were moved to the Museum of Local History. Still, the historical site is worth a visit for anyone new to Frankfurt.

Botanical Garden (Botanischer Garten Frankfurt am Main) 

Spend a day strolling through the beautiful Botanical Garden in Frankfurt and enjoy the journey through its different sections of flora and fauna. This is a great spot to enjoy a picnic while relaxing in the sun during the summer. A perfect outing for the whole family.

German Film Museum (Deutsches Filmmuseum)

One for the film buffs, this museum is constantly screening old films from its collection, and expats eager to learn about the country’s movie history should head to the Deutsches Filmmuseum to look at the exhibits, models and images.

Städel Gallery

This is Frankfurt’s most important gallery and contains some exquisite European works of art. The institution features everything from 19th and 20th-century German painters, to French impressionists such as Renoir and Monet. The most impressive piece in the museum is Jan van Eyck's Madonna (1433).

Frankfurt Zoo

Nearly destroyed in World War II, with only 20 animals surviving, this ethical sanctuary has added more than 3,200 furry and feathered friends. Today the zoo features the popular Big Cat Jungle and the Exotarium, a collection of exotic and aquatic animals, as well as some uber realistic replicas of many of the creatures' natural habitats.


What's on in Frankfurt

Expats thinking of relocating to Frankfurt can rest assured they won't ever be bored, as the city has a slew of activities, festivals and events to keep them entertained in their free time. Below are some of main events and festivals on Frankfurt's calendar.

Fasching (February)

Fasching is a Mardi Gras-style festival celebrated throughout Germany each February. A lively parade takes place in the Frankfurt city centre and there are plenty of outdoor activities for residents and visitors to enjoy, accompanied by good food and music.

Spring Dippemess (March)

This started out as a traditional market of household crafts and is now a giant fair that attracts some 500,000 visitors who come to enjoy fairground rides, great food, wine tasting and games. The fair ends with a giant fireworks display that is certainly not to be missed.

River Main Festival (August)

This annual event sees spectacular fireworks launched from the bridges crossing the River Main. It also includes a variety of other activities to keep attendees entertained such as a regatta and the roasting of oxen.

Frankfurt Marathon (October)

With more than 10,000 participants ranging from professional athletes to average joes, the Frankfurt Marathon is a great opportunity for expats to hit the streets and support the runners and cheer them on as they cover the 26.2 mile (42.2km) distance.

Frankfurt Christmas Market (November to December)

The Frankfurt Christmas Market is probably one of the most celebrated Christmas markets in Germany. The creative stand decorations and the scent of gingerbread cookies, candy floss and hot mulled wine will definitely get expats in the Christmas spirit. 


Family and kids in Frankfurt

Expats moving to Frankfurt with a family may discover that the city is not necessarily Germany's most child-friendly locale, but nonetheless, there is still plenty to see and do with the little ones.

An ideal attraction for kids is Eissporthalle Frankfurt. There are two ice-skating rinks here in winter, which are used for inline skating in summer, so it's a fun outing for the whole family.

Parents can take their children to explore the Frankfurt Zoo or devote a day to the Children’s Museum, where kids can learn about geology, biology and architecture in an interactive and fun way.

For those who are a bit older, the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a wonderfully fascinating place to visit.

On warmer days, pack a picnic and head to the Palmengarten to enjoy the wide open spaces, or take a trip to the Rebstock Bath to take advantage of the slides and pools – the little ones will certainly be cooled off and tired out.

Frequently Asked Questions about Frankfurt

Expats will likely have many questions about life in this bustling German city.
Below are answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions about Frankfurt:

What is the cost of living in Frankfurt?

Frankfurt is the second most expensive city in Germany. Although, when compared to some of the world's most noteworthy cosmopolitan centres, such as London or Paris, Frankfurt offers good value for money and a decent cost of living.

How safe is Frankfurt?

Frankfurt is a relatively safe city and incidents of crime are low. But it is advisable not to walk around in poorly lit areas after dark, especially for women.

What is the closest getaway destination from Frankfurt in the countryside?

Drive out of Frankfurt along the Romantic Road and meander through Bavaria. The German countryside is beautiful and dotted with small towns offering bed and breakfasts for overnight stays. The road officially goes between Würzburg and Füssen before it ends up at King Ludwig's famous crazy castles, and is busiest during the summer.

What is the weather like in Frankfurt?

Frankfurt is known for having a temperate continental climate. Summers are warm and mild and are punctuated with the odd rainy day. Winters are bitterly cold, but temperatures are never severe.

Getting Around in Frankfurt

One of the advantages of living in Frankfurt is its inexpensive and efficient public transport system. For those who live and work in the city, a car may not be necessary. With a good city map or Google Maps, expats will find that getting around Frankfurt is quite easy. The city's bus, train and tram services are always reliable, and there are a variety of different ticketing options, depending on how often a person uses public transport.

For those who enjoy a good walk, it is certainly possible to get around on foot in the city centre, and cycling is a popular mode of commuting too. 


Public transport in Frankfurt

The Rhein-Main Transport Association (RMV) operates the S-Bahn lines, while the Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt (VGF) operates the U-Bahn lines, trams and buses in Frankfurt. Given the city’s bustling nightlife, especially on the weekends, there are night buses that run till the early hours, allowing Frankfurt residents to save on taxi fares and to get home safely late at night. 

Trains

Frankfurt’s Central Station is possibly the most important transport hub in Germany. More than 1,000 trains connect Frankfurt with other cities in Germany, as well as with international destinations. All the S-Bahn services stop at the Central Station. Trains are usually highly punctual and there is a timetable of all trains.

The S-Bahn connects Frankfurt with the densely populated Rhein-Main region. When the S-Bahn leaves the city, it travels above ground, covering the main areas in Frankfurt (such as Konstablerwache, Hauptwache and Frankfurt Central Station), and also provides access to the trade fairs and airport. The S-Bahn trains also travel to nearby cities, including Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg, Mainz, Darmstadt, Kronberg, Friedburg. The U-Bahn serves Frankfurt and the larger suburbs of Bad Homburg and Oberursel in the north. 

Trams

Frankfurt has an extremely efficient tram service too. The trams travel over ground and usually run on tracks laid down the middle of roads. Trams serve even more stops than the trains do in Frankfurt.

It might be a shock for some people as passengers might have to walk onto the road to get on or off a tram at times. While it is perfectly safe to do so, be very careful to check that cars have stopped before crossing. It is mandatory for drivers to stop behind the line and give priority to tram passengers. However, there may still be reckless drivers on the road who don't always obey this law.

Trams stop at every designated stop so passengers do not need to press the bell to request a stop.

Buses

A number of buses serve Frankfurt. Each stop has a name which is announced and displayed onscreen prior to the stop. Buses in Frankfurt cover a greater area and serve more distant suburbs that are not covered comprehensively by Frankfurt's train network.

All night-bus services start and end at Konstablerwache.


Taxis in Frankfurt

Taxis are readily available in Frankfurt. If a passenger knows the street name and postal code of their destination, the driver should not have any problem finding a place. Passengers can hail taxis off the street, grab one at one of Frankfurt's taxi ranks, or order one over the phone. 

Just like any other city, Frankfurt taxis can be expensive but are a viable option when travelling short distances within the city centre. Travelling by taxi also becomes cost effective when a number of people travel together to the same destination.

Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Free Now are also a super convenient way to get around. Expats can simply download the app, link their credit card and start riding.


Cycling in Frankfurt

Frankfurt is a fairly safe city for those who wish to cycle. There are dedicated bicycle lanes in most parts of Frankfurt.

Although it is not compulsory to wear a helmet while cycling in Frankfurt, we recommend doing so at all times. 


Driving in Frankfurt

While most people living in Frankfurt opt to use public transport to commute in and out of the city each day, driving does have its own benefits, such as increased independence and ease of access, which cannot be replicated by other modes of transport. Having a personal vehicle is especially useful for expats with children as well as those who wish to explore the outskirts of Frankfurt and its surrounds more freely.

The standard of road infrastructure and signage in Frankfurt are excellent, so expats will find that driving in the city is a pleasant experience. Local motorists are generally patient and courteous. 

The major downside of driving in Frankfurt is the lack of parking in the city, which is not only hard to find but expensive. Rush hour traffic can also be a problem for commuters.