Monday, May 12, 2008

Frankfurt: the other Mainhattan

Frankfurt is much different than I had anticipated. What I expected to be a quintessential German town, turned out to be a very modern city, which strangely reminds me of Charlotte, North Carolina. Although it is a much smaller city than London or Paris, Frankfurt has the tallest buildings in Europe and because it sits directly on the Main River (pronounced Mine) it is often referred to as the other “Mainhattan. It also has an un-proportional amount of investment bankers, giving the town its other nickname “Bankfurt”.

There seems to be lots of advantages to working in Frankfurt. Because most of the companies operate in several foreign countries, most business is conducted in English. So if you don’t speak German, you can still get by okay. That said, you would be much better off working for an American-based firm, rather than one of the three large Frankfurt-based firms (Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, and Dresdner).

Another advantage is that the city is very affordable to live in. Euros spent on rent go much further than they do in any of the other major financial city centers; you also have the convenience (and luxury) of being able to drive your Mercedes or Porsche to work around town without having to worry about finding a place to park. Compared to Paris or London, prices for everyday goods are nearly half the price in Frankfurt. The public transportation is excellent (you don’t even need to swipe your card to use the subway, trolley or bus), but since Frankfurt is a small, clean, and pedistrian city, you can pretty much walk anywhere you need to go.

Clearly one of the downsides to living in any small city is the dearth of nightclubs, restaurants, and cultural centers. Although Frankfurt seems to have many of these things, one thing it does lack is diversity.

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