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Is Frankfurt as boring as I think it is?

(34 Posts)
boringornot Fri 06-Oct-17 12:52:24

DH is flirting with the idea of moving to Frankfurt, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

We live in London, have 2 DC, 7 and 5. They were both born here, so they never moved cities, schools or language. They are already bilingual, but they don't know any German. DH and I are from South America and have been here for over 10 years.

I'm worried not only about the disruption, but what kind of life we may have in Frankfurt. Nothing has been decided yet, so I'm trying to gather information.

I know Berlin has an interesting cultural life, as does London. I'm a journalist and writer, but in the last few years I've been mostly a SAHM, and I'm already bored to tears. I thought that now DC2 is in school, I would finally have a chance to get back to having a cultural life, working, and meeting interesting people who have similar interests.

In this context, the idea of moving to a city famous by its banking is a bit scary. I have no affinity with city types (I live near Canary Wharf). I was looking forward to finally be able to meet like-minded people, after all those years as a SAHM.

Of course the move is not only about me. We have the interests of 4 people to think of. I'm aware of that.

The other point is that this move would be temporary. For 2 or 3 years, and then another move, either back to London or elsewhere, meaning the DC will go through disruption at least twice.

Professionally, it's a good opportunity for DH. A bigger salary and a good position. I'm just trying to weight pros and cons and make up my own mind.

Any input will be very welcome! Even if you want to flame me for my opinions, that's ok smile

Thanks in advance.

Flomper Fri 06-Oct-17 13:01:50

id have thought the types of jobs available in Frankfurt would be fairly similar to whats available in London ? (Banking, finance, IT). I know with Brexit some companies are trying to incentivise their staff to move to Frankfurt etc. But could he not get a similar promotion in London or move to a different employer? then you could have the best of both worlds.

I dont know Frankfurt well btw, it did seem very corporate.

TowerRingInferno Fri 06-Oct-17 13:13:12

Yes it is! We lived there for a year. It might be better with children as you wouldn't have so much free time to fill and might have a social circle through their activities.

The great thing about Frankfurt though is that it is very easy to leave. We used to go somewhere (fly, train or hire a car) pretty much every weekend. We did a monthly drive to Strasbourg to have lunch and do a big shop at one of the supermarkets there (was much nicer than the local supermarkets).

boringornot Fri 06-Oct-17 13:15:49

Flomper, I guess they offer a bit more in Frankfurt because they have to attract people to move there. They could get someone as good in London for a lower salary - I guess.

I would love if he could get the same promotion here, but it feels like he has reached his "glass ceiling" - and his confidence is not very high at the moment, also.

boringornot Fri 06-Oct-17 13:36:32

Tower thanks lot! smile

It means I wasn't so wrong after all.

Having a social circle through children activities is exactly what I have here in London, and I find it very boring. I was looking forward to breaking free from it, now that both DC are at school.

Why did you stay only one year in Frankfurt? One year sounds very tolerable. I'd love to do that if it was just DH and I, but I worry about moving both DCs to a different country for such a short time. Are you back in the UK now?

TowerRingInferno Fri 06-Oct-17 15:28:59

We only stayed for one year because we were bored to tears! We could have stayed for another couple of years (but probably not more) as it was an open secondment with dh's job. Plus we'd just bought our first house when he was sent there (then left empty because it wasn't in a good enough state to rent out) and we were desperate to go back and live in it.

Our free time on weekdays was spent at the gym, the English language cinema, or eating out (at the same 3 restaurants).

I did make some friends there through my work (v dull office job) but they were all people in the same boat - partners of non-Germans who'd moved there temporarily for work.

TowerRingInferno Fri 06-Oct-17 15:30:15

And yes, back in the UK. Well, I am - dh works mainly abroad coming home at weekends.
We also had a year in Paris and that was much more fun.

CarolineMonaghan Sat 07-Oct-17 09:32:57

Frankfurt is fantastic for people with children! I've been living here for way more than a decade after moving here from London and my 3 kids basically grew up here. The schools are high class, and getting around and keeping those three entertained was as simple as it gets, if there is such a thing with kids smile

It's green and secure, I never felt I had to worry about them in the slightest. We live right in town, and there are plenty of beautiful parks etc. and I feel it is just such an improvement for all of us!

It was quite a step for us, having moved here from London, but things turned out so wonderfully, and now the three are fluent German speakers, although their education was mainly in English. Their French is coming on, too....

Wouldn't even consider moving back to rainy Britain, to be honest.

CarolineMonaghan Sat 07-Oct-17 09:38:36

Just found this bit here for some information:

Welshcake77 Sat 07-Oct-17 17:32:06

I've lived in Frankfurt for 18 years (well I now live in the Taunus but still work in the city) and I love it! Definitely not boring. There is lots to do whether you're interested in culture (opera house, one main theatre house and numerous others including a fantastic English theatre, lots of concert venues, art galleries and museums) plenty of sports clubs, great restaurants and bars. Lots of parks and there's the Taunus for hills, walking and castles.
It's a really international city with a great mix of cultures, lots of festivals throughout the year.
I've lived the single life here which was great fun and now married with two kids and think it's a great place to bring up children. There's international schools if you want to go that route but also very good primaries and secondary schools.

Oh and I used to work for a media company and know a few journalists, admittedly in the financial sector ;) but I think you'd find like minded people. The main industry here is obviously banking but there are lots of more creative companies around.
Are you able to come over for a visit? Get a feel for the place?

Katsite Sat 07-Oct-17 20:09:18

It's definitely not as interesting as Paris, London or Berlin, and, in fact, quite ugly, but the quality of life is not so bad. Very international and there is a big university.

I second what Welshcake said: come over for a visit and look for yourselves.

verybookish Sat 07-Oct-17 20:28:03

Frankfurt is one of the most underrated cities ever. Yes, there are prettier or more exciting cities but the quality of life is very high. I would not dismiss it out of hand.

Welshcake77 Sat 07-Oct-17 20:31:06

It might also be useful to point out that it is very small compared to the other cities mentioned here...Frankfurt only has 730,000 inhabitants with something like 300,000 commuting in every day. So it is a very different vibe (and much nicer commute!) to London, Berlin or Paris.

CarolineMonaghan Sun 08-Oct-17 06:19:46

I second everything Welshcake77 said, it it a very good, diverse and indeed interesting place, and in fact a LOT safer than the other cities mentioned above, notably Berlin and Paris.
The greater Frankfurt Area is about 8 million, but the city itself is easily manageable in terms of getting around, since the public transport (with prams or/and toddlers etc.) is rather splendid.

I can do nothing but recommend Frankfurt!

Welshcake77 Sun 08-Oct-17 17:39:29

So nice to hear other fans of Frankfurt!! I love it!

boringornot Tue 10-Oct-17 12:36:07

Hi all, sorry for being away for a few days! Thank you very much for your answers!

First of all, safety is not a concern for us. DH and I are from Rio, so we feel very safe in London, and will probably feel the same in any city in Europe ;)

TowerRing thanks a lot for your opinion!

Caroline that's an encouraging story! smile Would you mind telling me which neighbourhoods are good to live with family in the town?

Thanks for the link about the schools! Do your children go to one of the International Schools? We won't be able to afford one, so I'm looking into the bilingual and public ones. Are the state schools any good?

PrettyLittleBrownEyedMe Tue 10-Oct-17 12:41:11

That's really weird, there's a whole two-page spread in this week's Sunday Times entitled 'Banking on Frankfurt - Hugh Graham visits the 'boring' financial hub and discovers a family-friendly, cultured city with well-priced homes' - see if you can get hold of a copy! Lots of useful info!

boringornot Tue 10-Oct-17 12:42:28

Welsh It's great to know there are things to do in Frankfurt. I've only lived in Rio and London in my life, and the idea of living is a much smaller place is a bit scary! (funny, usually people think that living in a megalopolis would be a scary thing, but that's all I've known my whole life, and feel quite comfortable in my mega cities...)

You mention creative companies, would you mind telling me which ones? It would be good for me to start looking into that, as at some point I might be looking for a job as well.

Katsite and Welsh DH and I are planning to come over for a few days and have a look at the city (I've been there very briefly years ago). And visit some schools.

bookish quality of life is one of the reasons we are considering it, definitely.

CarolineMonaghan Tue 10-Oct-17 12:54:25

@PrettyLittleBrownEyedMe... and all the others:

This is indeed a good article you've mentioned there, here's the link to it, in case you cannot get your hands on the paper in time:

boringornot Tue 10-Oct-17 12:54:34

I'm happy to see lots of Frankfurt lovers here! As I mentioned, we're going for a visit in the next few weeks. At the moment, my main worry is the schools.

I live in SE London, both DC go to a local primary school, that is outstanding. The staff and the school are amazing, the children are very diverse.

We have another outstanding primary closer to my house which is impossible to get into as people rent houses near it so they can guarantee the place for the first child and all subsequent siblings and then move away. This school is very middle class and the catchment area is about 150 metres.

The other schools in the area are not as good and I was very lucky to get places in the school my DC are.

My point is: here in London people use all sorts of tricks to get their children in the good state schools, and if you don't know the tricks (and can't pay for a good private one), your child may end up in a not-so-good school. (as I said, I was very lucky, because DC's school became outstanding the year DS1 was in Reception. The catchment area is much smaller now. After being lucky in London, I definitely don't want to count on luck if I move to Frankfurt! ;) )

We wouldn't be able to afford the International Schools, so apparently the options are: bilingual schools, and state ones. Any opinions?

How are the state schools, compared to the ones here?

Thanks a lot, you have no idea how much you are helping! flowers

cestlavielife Tue 10-Oct-17 13:01:09

Why isnt the job company paying for.schooling if it s ex pat job ?

CarolineMonaghan Tue 10-Oct-17 13:01:17


The town is safe for kids, I cannot really think of any part where it would be unsafe to live / raise kids.

The best and most sough after parts would be Westend, Nordens, Sachsenhausen, or a more quirky Bornheim... but anywhere else is good, too.

If you prefer to live a bit outside of the city I would recommend (not so)Bad Homburg and environs, notability Friedrichsdorf which has an excellent connection into the city, is very green, and not too expensive yet.

We live right in inner city, and have had no problems whatsoever though, in all those years, ever.

Hope you'll find something lovely for you and your family smile

Welshcake77 Tue 10-Oct-17 18:39:11

We've only just started the school journey and live in Bad Homburg so don't know much about Frankfurt schools tbh. Have you looked a Phorms? Not sure if it's an international but is bilingual and fees are income based so can be a more affordable option.
How old are your DC? They do start school later here so that's something to bear in mind. State schools especially in this area are very used to and well equipped to dealing with non-German speakers, there's extra language help etc. There are 24 kids in DD's class one of whom had no German at all when she started and I think nearly 50% are growing up bilingually.
One big difference is school hours...they start earlier and finish a lot earlier. Anything between 12-1.30.

Re creative companies, there's a number of design/advertising agencies (Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicon) media companies like RTL Hessen, ARD is in Mainz and Deutsche Welle is also here (probably the most interesting for a journalist with an international background!), lots of PR agencies. Have a look at that should be a good starting point.

Re areas to live, agree with everything caroline said. Do you know where DH would be working? It's pretty easy and quick to get most places but there might be some areas that you would be better/worse commute wise. We moved from the city to Bad Homburg 6 years ago and love it. Great connections to Frankfurt, 25 mins on train, loads of parks and playgrounds, good childcare and schools. But city life is great too and not as hectic in Frankfurt as other places!
Great that you're coming to visit that will definitely help.

disahsterdahling Thu 12-Oct-17 10:34:50

I lived in Frankfurt (Sachsenhausen) about 20 years ago. It's not boring, and there are some lovely places near it, eg Bamberg or Marburg,

Given the chance though, I'd probably choose Hamburg or Berlin if I was going to live in Germany, especially Hamburg.

boringornot Thu 12-Oct-17 11:23:57

Caroline and Prettylittle It's funny that the article you mentioned uses precisely the same words I used (about Frankfurt being "boring" and the "cultural" stuff). However, I promise I'm not a journo for The Times and I'm not doing research for an article (as journos do in Mumsnet)! smile

I can't read the whole article because of the paywall... Can someone send me the full text by message, please?

cestlavie it's not exactly an expat job. He's not being transferred, but offered a position that's open in there. He may be able to negotiate some things, but I doubt they will pay international schools for our 2 DC. The person who would be DH's "boss" in Frankfurt pays his DC schools fees himself.

Thanks for the help, I've looked at the neighbourhoods you mentioned and they look very nice.

Thanks for the creative hub link, Welsh! I'm a bit more confident now about the move. So now I have to find out about the schools. It seems they are on holiday now, so I'll have to wait...

I'll get in contact with Phorms. I've used their fees calculator and the fees for DH's salary are affordable, so it's an option.

Any more recommendations? Anyone know anything about the Montessori schools? Thanks!

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