Frankfurt, referred to as "the world’s smallest metropolis" and Europe’s financial hub, is famed for its literature (think Goethe), its book fair, its skyline, and of course, its sausages.
A city with "savoir-vivre," multilingualism is an accepted way of life, paving the way for an easy expat transition to the continent. At once global and cozy, the city’s individual districts have a charming village atmosphere that envelops its citizens.
An abundance of theatres playing foreign language productions, galleries and restaurants make for a city that is stimulating and accessible for those who live there.
What is special or unique about your city?
Frankfurt is unique as a German city (and as a European city) in that it boasts a modern skyline. This helps give it a distinct cosmopolitan flair.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Frankfurt's airport and main train station are two of Germany’s largest transportation points. This can lead to a rather seedy look around certain parts of the airport and around the main train station, which surprises people when they first arrive.
To many - without closer inspection - Frankfurt can feel like a big, unwieldy city.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Yes. When one takes a closer look, the city parks, diverse restaurants, international feel and small-town charm will enchant.
Frankfurt is made up of a number of small towns that have grown together over the centuries. These neighborhoods still feel like these little towns. Each features a quaint main street that provides easy access to shopping during the day – from bakeries to meat markets and corner grocery stores. Most parts of town have their own local markets once a week, featuring fresh vegetables, eggs, breads, cheeses and other items directly from the farmer. These neighborhoods come alive at night with sundry restaurants, pubs and cafes that make a night out an easy walk from the front door for the city dweller.
In addition, the towns surrounding Frankfurt provide old-world charm with easy commutes to the city.
The air is clean and the local Taunus hills (to the northeast of the city) provide easy areas to hike, bike and enjoy nature.
What is the local language?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Frankfurt is one of Germany's most international cities. Walking through town on a Saturday, any number of languages can be heard – from English, French and Spanish, to Turkish and Russian.
Shopkeepers speak basic English and are often willing to offer any kind of translating help if needed.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Frankfurters come from every corner of Germany. Although most people are hard to offend, some easy ways to quickly put off the neighbors include:
- Not knowing how to drive according to local rules (although this frustration is probably not Germany-specific).
- Failing to understand etiquette. This is a big deal throughout the entire country. Understanding some of the social rules at dinnertime or while out for drinks with friends is the rule. For example, when toasting with a beer, note what kind of beer you have (when toasting, two Hefeweizen glasses always meet at the bottom of the glass; a Pilsner glass will be toasted at the top of the glass) and always look the person opposite directly in the eye.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Local weather can be rainy or sunny, but it is typically mild in either direction. Winter rarely produces massive amounts of snow (and the once or twice a year when it does snow can make driving throughout the region treacherous) nor does summer provide too many hot days.
Air conditioning is not prevalent in Germany, so wearing layers is a key for daily life.
It rains quite a bit in the winter as well, so a small umbrella for the briefcase or purse is highly recommended to avoid getting wet in drizzly weather.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Frankfurt has a hard edge to it. Although tiny in size (walking from one side of central Frankfurt to the other takes roughly an hour), Frankfurt has the social feel of a big city. One greets neighbors, but generally does not invite them over for coffee.
As with all other major cities, making friends takes time. Getting involved in local activities and networking functions will introduce you to a key person who can help you make steps toward a local social group.
In addition, speaking the language is rather critical for making friends with quite a few Germans, as limited English prevents them from closer social contact.