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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Expats in Hamburg Are Unhappy & Have a Hard Time Making Friends

Hamburg ranks 47th for overall happiness, making it the city where expats are least satisfied with their life in Germany. But is life in Hamburg really so bad?

Hamburg ranks 45th out of 50 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2022. More than one in four (26%) say they are unhappy with their life abroad, which is twice the global average (13%).

This might be due to the lack of a social life: Hamburg holds the next-to-last spot in the Ease of Settling In Index (49th), which is the worst result among all German cities. Only expats in Vienna (50th) find it even harder to get settled. Hamburg places last worldwide in the Finding Friends Subcategory (50th). Only 19% find it easy to make local friends, compared to 42% globally. Unsurprisingly, Hamburg also finishes last in terms of expats’ satisfaction with their social life (50th), and 39% do not feel at home there (vs. 21% globally). “It takes very long to be accepted as a ‘friend’ of any order,” says an Australian expat.

Together with Munich (49th) and Frankfurt (50th), Hamburg (48th) also ends up in the bottom 3 of the Expat Essentials Index. After Tokyo (50th), it ranks second to last in the Language Subcategory (49th). Almost one in two (49%) say it is difficult to live in the North German metropolis without speaking the local language (vs. 32% globally). The Housing Subcategory (42nd) is another lowlight for expats, as 66% have a hard time finding accommodation in Hamburg (vs. 27% globally).

In terms of Quality of Life (24th), expats are a bit more satisfied. While the city ranks second to last for climate and weather (49th), it does very well for the availability of green goods and services (3rd). And while 28% are unhappy with the affordability of public transportation (vs. 15% globally), 95% are happy with its availability (vs. 73% globally). Expats also rate the infrastructure for cars positively (8th), and 94% find it easy and safe to get around Hamburg on foot and by bicycle (vs. 77% globally). “Things tend to work — healthcare, infrastructure, public transportation. I also appreciate the international aspects of my city,” says a US American expat.

Hamburg ranks mid-field in the Working Abroad Index (25th). Expats in Hamburg highly appreciate their job security and the state of the local economy (10th for both). In terms of working hours (9th), Hamburg does even better (74% happy vs. 63% globally). However, 15% do not see a purpose in their work (vs. 9% globally), and 24% do not feel paid fairly (vs. 20% globally). The latter may also be reflected in the city’s mediocre result in the Personal Finance Index (29th). Just about two-thirds (66%) say that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life in Hamburg, compared to 72% globally.

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