Frankfurt City Guide
For many, living and working in Frankfurt is no more than a longed-for pipe dream. But with a good recruitment team on your side, it can become a reality. And it does for thousands of ex-pats every year. Frankfurt regularly features on the ‘Economist’s Most Liveable Cities’ list and has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Germany. It may be the 5th largest city in Germany but, as home to all of the key players in international banking, Frankfurt holds a lot more clout on the economic stage than you might expect. And it isn’t just international banking that puts Frankfurt on the map. It has an impressive start-up ecosystem, with many of those start-ups technology-focused.
Housing in Frankfurt
Many ex-pats living in Frankfurt choose to rent an apartment in the city to be close to work and the abundance of restaurants, bars and bistros that the city has to offer. Rental accommodation in Frankfurt tends to be unfurnished, and some properties don’t even have carpets or light fittings, so check what is included in a property before you lease it. You can typically expect to have to provide washers, dryers, and even cookers in your rented apartment.
Rent is typically either ‘cold rent’ – rent without the cost of utilities covered, or ‘warm rent’ – rent that also includes the cost of all utilities (although sometimes not electricity). The average cost of renting a one-bed apartment in the city centre is around €1,000 a month. However, for 2-bedrooms you’ll need to set aside €1,500 to €2,000 per month. Out in the suburbs, accommodation is much cheaper a general rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay €15-€20 per square meter and, the further you are willing to commute, the cheaper rent becomes.
UK’s visa requirements for working in Frankfurt
To live and work in Frankfurt, you’ll need a visa if you’re from outside of the EU. If your visit is for less than 90 days, you may be able to secure a visa-free stay, but this won’t allow you to work. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a job lined up, your employer may help you to secure a work permit and visa. For more information, you can check up to date migration and residence requirements here.
The cost of living in Frankfurt
The cost of living in Frankfurt isn’t cheap, it’s more expensive than Munich [link to Munich case] if you exclude rent, but it is still around 12.6% cheaper than in London. Average living costs tend to be just under €1,000 excluding rent. Dining out for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost you around €55 for a three-course meal, but for food on the go, you can grab a McDonald’s or its equivalent for around €8.64. A draught beer will cost around €4, whereas a local beer will set you back around the same amount for a 0.5 litre. A loaf of bread is typically around €1.06 and a litre of milk costs about €1.06.
Salaries in Frankfurt
As to be expected in a city brimming with global tech companies, each battling to get the skills and experience in the local labour market, salaries in Frankfurt are very generous. Unfortunately, as a taxpayer, you’ll have to be generous too as income tax starts at 14% and rises incrementally based on earnings up to a potential 45%. A typical package, including salary and benefits, for someone working in Frankfurt is around €4050 per month but can range anywhere from €1020 to €18,100. A C-Level Executive can earn a salary of around €142,000 per year whereas a Software Engineer can expect to earn around €49,419 or a data scientist around €44,129.
Commuting and Public Transport in and around Frankfurt
For those living and working in Frankfurt, the subways, trams and commuter trains and busses make getting around Frankfurt extremely easy. The main transport operator is the Frankfurt Transport Authority (VGF), with over 350 rail vehicles on nine metro lines and ten tram lines. There are even night buses that run between 1 am and 4 am to get you home safely on those late nights out. If you prefer to drive yourself around town, Frankfurt is relatively easy to get around, and you’ll find plenty of Park and Ride car parks where you can leave your car with confidence and take a bus into the centre of the city.
The Education system in Frankfurt
Children in Frankfurt start Kindergarten at the age of 3. Then, after Kindergarten, the children go to Grundschule (Primary School) for the next 4 years. The child’s performance at their primary school determines whether they get to choose a ‘Gymnasium’ or whether they have to do a trial for a couple of days to see if the Gymnasium will accept them. Not all students go to a Gymnasium though. Roughly 25% of students attend Realschule, which provides a less academic focus. After that, they will usually go on to start an apprenticeship or attend a vocational course. Another option available to them is to go to Mittelschule (which used to be called a Hauptschuhle). This prepares students for an apprenticeship, teaching basic skills including one foreign language.
Private schools are available, including those that teach primarily in English and others that are bilingual. These tend to cost between €2,500 and €25,000 per year. The school day starts between 7.30 and 8.15 and finishes at 1.30 pm, which can be tricky for working parents who need to find wrap-around care.
The thriving technology sector in Frankfurt
Frankfurt has a wealth of start-ups, but it also has a substantial number of established tech companies that are always on the lookout for new talent. Some of the companies that have offices in Frankfurt include IBM, Infosys, Amazon, CapGemini, SAP, Cisco Systems, Dell Technologies, Oracle, HCL Technologies, Salesforce, Fujitsu and Sage to name a few.
Life in Frankfurt outside of work
If you enjoy browsing museums, you’ll be spoilt for choice with Museumsufer (Museum embankment) which is a cluster of 12 museums covering film, art, architecture, communication, and ethnography to name a few. On the last weekend of August, there’s Museumsuferfest which brings later opening hours, outdoor music, dance performances and a two-day dragon boat race on the Main. Of course, Frankfurt is also the home of the Städel museum which is home to more than 7 centuries of art.
For a birds’ eye view, you can take a trip to the top of Main Tower, which at 200 metres high is the fourth tallest building in the city and offers a view over Altstadt and the Main.
Or you can see the Frankfurt Cathedral, where ten kings have been crowned and which still displays its 14th-century choir stalls, a Baroque Assumption Alter and the 15th Century Fresco of the life of Mary in the Southern Transept.
For those who enjoy their outdoor space, there’s a botanical garden ‘Palmengarten’ which, stretched across 22 hectares, displays plant species from around the world, including a sub-Arctic landscape in one glass pavilion, and a tropicarium for rainforest species, and a further two separate structures showcasing desert environments.
You can also find beautiful parkland on the banks of the Main with planted lawns, flowerbeds and pollarded trees, perfect for picnics and drinks with friends on long summer evenings.
The popularity of Frankfurt among ex-pats is testament to the fact that there is so much to see and do in this up-and-coming technology hub. And with so many exciting technology opportunities, Frankfurt is likely to continue to be recognised as one of the most dynamic start-up and technology hubs in the world for a long time to come.