What are the items that I should bring with me because they’re not available (or are too expensive) where I am going?
Most items are available, but are often slightly different according to German standards. Flour, for instance, is mixed slightly differently than in some other countries, enough to make tried-and-true recipes turn out differently. Salsa can be found, but is generally not as spicy as in the south western US.
Americans in particular will find they miss some American basics such as peanut butter, marshmallows, salsa, tortillas and cakes and brownie mixes. These items can be found, though you might have to pay higher prices. Australians will want to bring their fair share of Marmite.
You may find these items in shops like "A Taste of Britain" on Oeder Weg in Frankfurt City.
Will anyone have particular trouble finding clothes that fit?
Most sizes are available, although one needs to be aware of slight local differences and adjust them to personal sizes. Styles and cuts will vary, depending on place of origin.
What grocery stores do expats in your city shop at?
Expats shop at the same stores as Germans. Local corner grocery stores provide a wide variety of goods. Market leader is REWE. In addition, neighborhoods often have discount grocery stores such as PennyMarkt or Aldi. In more suburban areas, larger stores have started moving in, such as Real.
Although some of these stores have affiliates around the world (Aldi in particular), they have a somewhat different, locally-targeted selection of foods and products.
Where can other household items (such as cleaning materials and home furnishings) be found?
Cleaning materials can often be found at the grocery stores mentioned above. Hardware stores and some sundry stores also sell these goods. Some names to look for would be Bauhaus, Hornbach and Obi (hardware stores), DM-Markt and Rossmann.
Home furnishings come in such a wide variety and scale in Germany that it is hard to list any specific chains to look for. Some names might include Segmüller, Mann-Mobilia and Möbel Thomas. Many of
Frankfurt’s small neighborhoods offer high-quality furnishings, although these often come in at the high end of the price bracket. Larger department stores in the center of town offer linens and some furniture. Massive warehouse stores such as IKEA are located in the west (near Wiesbaden) and in the east (near the town of Hanau).
What are factors that might affect my shopping habits in this country/city?
Hours of operation
Historically, German businesses have had some of the strictest operating hours in all of Europe.
Stores (including grocery stores) are typically open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 8pm, some supermarkets such as REWE are open till 10pm, but all stores all closed on Sunday, except for convenience stores in central railway station.
Although this is a somewhat difficult adjustment for many people who are used to a much more liberal system, one slowly gets acquainted to these shorter hours of operation. In addition, many local restaurants are not restricted to these hours, so you're not likely to starve if it's 9pm and your kitchen pantry is empty.
Living in the center of Frankfurt provides a parking nightmare for anyone who doesn’t have a designated spot let with the apartment. Although major department stores in the center of town have their own parking garages, the smaller neighborhoods fill up in the evening with anyone coming home. As such, most people shop almost daily for fresh foods that they can carry home with them.
Many people in the center of town avoid cars altogether and either rent a car or use the Deutsche
Bahn’s car-sharing program to borrow a car for a few hours for bringing home larger purchases from suburban furnishing stores. Home furnishing stores often arrange home delivery, although this can sometimes take a number of weeks, depending upon the store.
Suburban life often offers the luxury of a parking space, which can ease shopping habits.
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