Where to live in Germany

Where to live in Germany

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Moving to Germany? Find out which German city will give you a quality of life that’s rated amongst the best in the world.

People living in Germany enjoy the highest quality of life not just in Europe but in the entire world. In the Mercer Quality of Life Survey 2012, an annual survey covering 221 cities worldwide, seven German cities were ranked in the world’s top 30 for quality of living – and three of those were in the top 10. German cities scored even higher in terms of infrastructure – quality of public transportation, traffic congestion and airport effectiveness – with four in the top 10 places. According to Slagin Parakatil, Senior Researcher at Mercer, this is partly 'due to their first-class airport facilities, international and local connectivity, and a high standard of public services'.

So if you're moving to Germany, read on to pick which German city would best suit your lifestyle and needs.

Berlin

Laid back Berlin comes in at number 17. Much of Berlin was destroyed in the Second World War, and later, after the reunification of East and West Germany, there has been much rebuilding. The city is very green, with parks, forests, lakes and rivers covering an amazing third of the city. The districts within it are varied, each with their own distinct atmosphere. Charlottenburg is an upmarket – somewhat sedate - area in the west of the city with beautiful 19th century townhouses but there are students here too. Kreuzberg, traditionally a major centre for the city’s Turkish and alternative residents is a fashionable, multi-cultural area. Traditional working class Wedding is up and coming. Prenzlauer Berg has up and come – a gentrified area that still attracts artists and students. Expensive Wilmersdorf, with its beautiful 19th century buildings, borders Berlin’s most prestigious area: Grunewald.

Where to live in Germany


Düsseldorf

Ranked 5th in the world for quality of life and infrastructure, Düsseldorf is a beautiful cosmopolitan city straddling the Rhine river, and home to banks, industry, media companies, multi-national HQs, museums, restaurants and markets – and great international schools. There are 49 ‘stadtteile’ across the city: Where to live in GermanyStadmitte is mix of cultures with rich and poor side by side. Houses are rare, apartments expensive but for some it’s the place to be. Pempelfort, with its diverse cultural scene, and up-and-coming Hafen are both popular with singles and younger people. Bilk is a densely populated area filled with foreigners and students who enjoy its thriving nightlife and lots of green open spaces. Close to the river, Oberkassel is perhaps the most attractive part of the city with its art nouveau architecture – with prices to match. Niederkasse is a sought-after area – and home to over a quarter of the city’s Japanese population.


Frankfurt

Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt, may look a little like Manhattan with its skyscraper skyline and, similarly, most of the 600,000 people who work here chose to commute in from the suburbs rather than live right in the centre. This is partly because of the cost, partly because of availability. There are new-builds in Reidberg, the West and East Harbour, Rebstockpark and Friedberger Warte, while older mansions (and consulates) fill leafy Westend, Holzhausen Quarter, Poets' Quarter (Dichterviertel), and the Diplomatenvierte. Singles enjoy the restaurants and bars in Sachsenhausen and parts of Nordend. Lots of executives live in towns in the Vordertaunus, a wooded area 45 minutes north-west of Frankfurt. Frankfurt is ranked 7th in the world for quality of life, and joint 2nd with Munich for infrastructure.

Where to live in GermanyWhere to live in Germany

Hamburg

Hamburg – or to give its full name – the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany with 1.7 million inhabitants, 3.5 million of whom live in the metropolitan area.Where to live in Germany It’s also one of Germany’s 16 states of the federation and is ranked 16th best for quality of life and 9th for the high quality of the city’s infrastructure. Although it’s a vast city, people have more living space than all the other major cities in the world, there are loads of green open spaces and many rivers and canals crossed by over 2,000 bridges (more than Venice and Amsterdam combined!). Altona is a popular residential district, with beautiful old architecture, restored old factories and large, expensive villas with river views. Eimsbüttal is a mix of upmarket, trendy and where you’ll find the University. Wandsbek, in the far north-east of Hamburg has the highest number of residents and is a mainly suburban area divided into precincts and quarters. Hamburg Nord is traditionally working class with a few wealthy enclaves. Bergedof, to the south of the city, was once an independent town and still has its own castle in the middle.

Munich

Munich may be ranked very high in the Mercer Quality of Life Survey - 4th in quality of life and joint 2nd for infrastructure – but you do pay for it: Munich is one of Europe’s most expensive cities. Close to the universities, Schwabing is popular with students and young people. The area segues into the Maxvorstadt with its trendy shops and cafes. Isarvorstadt is the city’s gay area with lots of nightclubs. Haidhausen, in the right bank of the river Isar, is popular with professionals. Lehel and Bogenhausen are both extremely expensive: the former consists mainly of apartments lived in by the city’s stylish ‘in-crowd’; the latter are grand villas lived in by the city’s old money.

Where to live in Germany
 

Where to live in GermanyNürnberg

Nürnberg (or Nuremburg in English), in a beautiful city in the state of Bavaria (the second largest after Munich) situated on the Pegnitz river and Rhine-Main-Danube canal. It’s got a high percentage of foreigners living there, a reputation for being urban yet relaxed – and ranked 24th in the world for quality of life. There are apartments in stunning art nouveau buildings and converted factory loft spaces. Moegeldorf, Rehof, Laufamholz and Zerzabelshof are among the most desirable areas in the city.

Stuttgart

It might come as a surprise to discover that Stuttgart, despite its strong association with the automobile industry, is set out across a number of hills, valleys and parks. Some of the city’s most desirable homes are on the steep hillside and have awesome views. Where to live in GermanyAccommodation in the very heart of the city is limited but Stuttgart-West is an attractive area not far from the city centre with shops, markets, cafes, theatres and parks all within easy walking distance. Stuttgart-Ost and Stuttgart-Süd are also very central. Killesberg and Dogerloch are fairly exclusive areas. Sindelfingen, Böblingen or Vaihingen are all further out but you’ll stand more chance of finding accommodation with a garden if that’s important to you. Stuttgart is ranked 28th place in the world for quality of life.

 

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Photo credit: Philippe AMIOT (Berlin), erix! (Düsseldorf), ND Strupler (Frankfurt skyline), *Debs* (Frankfurt), Metro Centric (Hamburg), Prc74 (Munich), rs-foto (Nürnberg), khawkins04 (Stuttgart), Sven Lindner (head/hot Berlin).

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8 Comments To This Article

  • venus posted:

    on 16th March 2016, 20:46:44 - Reply

    thanks for the posts about cologne. how about the rates of apartments? i plan to work there.

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Elise posted:

    on 17th October 2015, 06:40:47 - Reply

    Peter,

    Thank you for adding your comment about Cologne to the list. I am currently looking into moving to live abroad with my family. Have tried to live in a Latin American country but the security issues and lack of educational opportunities are too difficult to get used to. I am professionally fluent in 5 languages and am a journalist & moderator, though have not worked as such using the German language (could of course!)... So, I am really very keen on finding access to relevant information that should make our decision to where to move to easy. My husband is thinking mostly of Spain. Yet, the unemployment rates there are terrifying. I wished there were some sort of oracle to put questions in and get the best answers out... Can anybody relate? How did you compare criteria and were able to make a choice that you are happy with?

  • adnane posted:

    on 18th October 2015, 03:21:00 - Reply

    thanks for the advice.what about the tourisme sector in koln i'm studying hotel management are there plenty of jobs?

  • bussy posted:

    on 15th September 2015, 01:11:42 - Reply

    i fell in love with koln the moment i touched the city so much of historic sights and very peacful and relaxing i look forward to my next visit.

  • Shirin posted:

    on 1st July 2015, 20:52:36 - Reply

    Hello Kim and Peter,
    Thank you for sharing those notes. I'm moving from Chicago to Cologne, and I agree that people of Cologne are the friendliest Germans I've ever met. I myself am also in the business, I'm an actress that speaks six languages. Feel free to contact me, as I'll soon be moving to Cologne.
    Have a nice evening!

    Shirin
  • Kim posted:

    on 12th May 2015, 14:37:37 - Reply

    I produce and host a show called It's Rainmaking Time! and am coming to Cologne in June. I would like to contact you directly. I am in the media. Kind Regards,

    Kim Greenhouse
  • Juan posted:

    on 2nd February 2015, 17:23:25 - Reply

    Thanks for your comment, I am thinking to move to Koln on July and I had many doubts about to choose the "right" city... Your post help me a little bit to continue with my idea.

  • Peter posted:

    on 20th January 2015, 14:09:04 - Reply

    I add Cologne (Koln) to the list.
    Conveniently located in North Rhine-Westfalia it's a great choice! Dusseldorf is a 20 minute car ride away.
    Plenty of jobs, the clubs/bars/nightlife is great, by far friendliest people in Germany and a cultural hotspot: From roman times up to contemporary art.
    And if you work in the media industry (like me), and especially television, there is no other choice than Cologne. Period.

    One thing about the Berlin hype in recent years: Let's get this straight, Berlin is a great city, but apart from some areas that really look urban and like big city live Berlin in general is just a bunch of small cities glued together so you get your 4 million inhabitants in Berlin metropolitan area.
    Culturally its top notch, but honestly it is hardly anything there I couldn't find in Cologne.
    Plus Cologne is embedded in a 10 million people metropolitan area (Rhein-Ruhr), wich is located right next to two other metropolitan areas (7.5 million inhabitants in Randstad region in Holland, and 5 million in Rhein-Main region). And it's a breeze to go to all these regions as there are so many connections.
    I mean, take 2 hours of travel time from Cologne and you could party in Amsterdam, buy Diamonds in Antwerps, see Europe's biggest Harbour in Rotterdam, drink Coffee in Paris, watch the EU Parliament in Brussels. And if you go on a plane at one of the several airports in or around Cologne you can be in 45 minutes in London for example.
    Berlin in contrast: 2 hours: Maybe Dresden and Leipzig wich are bloated with Nazis and Hamburg wich is really nice, though. As for planes: Berlin has shit connections and you have to change planes pretty often for a lot of destinations even in Europe.
    Other than that it's just woods and forest around Berlin.