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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Digitalization, Administration & Language: It’s a Struggle in Frankfurt

Frankfurt ranks 49th out of 50 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2022, only ahead of Johannesburg (50th).

Frankfurt even comes in last in the Expat Essentials Index (50th). All German cities perform poorly in this index, but Frankfurt is the only one to land among the bottom 10 in all four subcategories: Digital Life (47th), Language (46th), Admin Topics (45th), and Housing (43rd). Close to two in five are unhappy with the administrative services available online (39% vs. 21% globally) and the options to pay without cash (37% vs. 8% globally). What is more, housing in Frankfurt is considered too expensive (70% unhappy vs. 43% globally) and too hard to find for expats (61% vs. 27% globally). “The lack of clear instructions is insane when it comes to admin topics like taxes, TV license fees, or citizenship,” says a French expat.

High costs seem to be a general issue in Frankfurt. Although 38% of expats work in a senior/specialist position (vs. 29% globally) and 23% earn 75,000–100,000 USD (vs. 11% globally), Frankfurt is the only German city that lands in the bottom 10 of the Personal Finance Index (41st). More than half (51%) find the general cost of living too high (vs. 35% globally).

The Ease of Settling In Index (48th) is another one of Frankfurt’s weakest points. As in all the German cities featured in the ranking, expats have a hard time making local friends in Frankfurt (55% unhappy vs. 37% globally). Only 36% are happy with their social life (vs. 56% globally), and 30% find it difficult to get used to the local culture (vs. 19% globally). More than three in ten (31%) lack a personal support network in Frankfurt, compared to 24% globally.

Frankfurt performs somewhat better, but still below the global average, in the Working Abroad (35th) and Quality of Life (31st) Indices. For example, it is rated second to last for Leisure Options (49th), and 28% say it is difficult to access all the healthcare services they need (vs. 17% globally). While the city ranks well for its infrastructure for cars (10th), it is rated the worst worldwide for the affordability of public transportation (50th). In terms of working abroad, expats in Frankfurt lack personal career opportunities (44th) and are unsatisfied with their work-life balance (41st). The city also ranks among the worst worldwide in the Work Culture & Satisfaction Subcategory (47th). Expats agree that the local business culture does not encourage creativity (46% unhappy vs. 26% globally) or independent work and/or flat hierarchies (41% vs. 28% globally).

Not surprisingly, overall job satisfaction in Frankfurt is low (48th): 23% rate it negatively (vs. 16% globally). Even worse, expats in Frankfurt are among the unhappiest in general (46th). Only 61% are happy with their life abroad (vs. 71% globally).

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