We are officially residents of Frankfurt, Germany! It has been almost a month since our expatriation from the United States. In some ways it feels like we’ve settled in, and in others, it still feels like a giant trip. There is so much to see, do, learn and explore. While we will constantly be exploring and learning during our three years here, it is also important to us to establish roots and make Frankfurt our home. That means balancing our giant bucket list of travel destinations with learning the German language and becoming part of the community here.
We are currently in a temporary apartment in Bockenheim, which is a city district of Frankfurt about 3.5 km outside of the city center (like what Lincoln Park or Lakeview is to Chicago). At the end of June, we will move into our permanent apartment in the Westend, another city district that is a bit closer to the city center. Living in temporary housing with limited belongings has its challenges, but overall, it makes you realize how many things you do NOT need. And by that I basically mean, I shipped way too many clothes (even after purging my closet)! In our move, we were provided two different shipments: an air shipment of up to 500 pounds, and a 40 foot container shipment to arrive by sea. We thought we did quite well, as our air shipment only ended up around 300 pounds and our sea shipment fit in a 20 foot container. After about three weeks of living in Frankfurt with only what we could carry in two large suitcases, our air shipment arrived. At this point, I could not remember what we even put in that shipment aside of a massive amount of clothes for me. Goes to show you how important those items really were, huh? Granted, our temporary apartment is outfitted with all of the basic living essentials…but clearly, we weren’t missing (or needing) much from home. Our container shipment will arrive here soon (typically, they take 6-8 weeks), but we will not see anything from it until it is time to move into our actual apartment at the end of June. However, I already know that we packed too much. Good thing we have a storage area in the basement of our apartment building…
Expat Tip: What you think you “need” is definitely too much. Cut it in half. Use the move as an opportunity to purge all of the unnecessary things and clutter from your life! Donate/sell/store…or just buy in your new city, if you really need to! Focus more on experiences, and less on “stuff.”
Since we have been here, we’ve accomplished the basics: how to navigate the U-Bahn (subway), set up a German cell phone, use the washer and dryer and somewhat navigate the grocery store. We’ve obtained all of the necessary residency and work permits (including a dog permit for Charlie). Luckily, Justin’s company provided us with relocation specialists who have assisted with all of the permits and have helped us set up our bank account and Internet (which I’ve read are both challenging endeavors for expats). We’ve also located several parks for Charlie, as well as hired a dog sitter and selected a doggie daycare in the area.
We’re both getting settled into work. Justin’s work is about 30 minutes outside of Frankfurt. I am working in the city center at our Frankfurt branch office, only three U-Bahn stops from our apartment. I am fortunate that I have been able to keep my role with my team in the U.S. and have a place to work remotely here in Frankfurt. The office is in a very convenient location in the city, and my Frankfurt colleagues have been incredibly welcoming!
We have even managed to do a bit of travel in our first month here! Separate blog posts coming, but we have taken trips to St. Goar and Rothenburg, Germany and Bruges, Ghent and Brussels, Belgium. Charlie has accompanied us on all of these trips (follow his adventures on Instagram)!
Currently, I am working on developing my new fitness routine. If you know me, you know how important The Barre Code was in my life. I discovered early on before we moved that Frankfurt does not have the same fitness options as we do in the United States. Justin and I joined a gym close to our apartment, and I have been exploring the group fitness options in the area. I have found some English speaking classes, but will be trying my first class in German tonight…will let you know how that goes!
Next up, we will both begin our German language training. Justin’s company provides us with 100 hours of tutoring, and we are both looking forward to learning the language. We have picked up certain things here and there, especially when it comes to reading a menu or finding items in the grocery store, but we are both ready to start learning more. I am sure we will have some great stories as we embark on this part of the adventure.
We have a couple of short trips we are planning for June, but summer in Frankfurt is a great time to immerse ourselves in the culture. There are festivals every weekend, and we definitely want to make sure we are around to experience them!
So, this blog is our way to share our lives as expats – what we’ve learned, where we’ve traveled, what we wish we knew. We cannot wait to share this journey with you!
Meghan, Justin & Charlie