K. D. Jennings - Expat in Frankfurt, Germany
We’ve had the chance to talk to K. D. Jennings, 45, a Swiss expat who has moved to Frankfurt with her husband. Mrs. Jennings who has been living there for seven years, now works as a freelance writer, blogger, and a marcom consultant.
Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.
Q: Where are you originally from?
Q: What made you move out of Switzerland?
A: A long chain of events, love being the catalyst.
Q: Where are you living now?
A: In a village close to Frankfurt-am-Main.
Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?
A: I decided to join my then boyfriend, now husband, in his home country.
Q: How long have you been living in Frankfurt?
A: Seven years.
Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in Frankfurt?
A: I think it was harder at the beginning for my children, having to change their environment and to go to school with a different language.
Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in Frankfurt? What was your experience with these?
A: Being Swiss, the process was quite smooth. I did not need a visa or a work permit and getting my residence permit was very straightforward. Once we were married, my husband's health insurance covered us all. Prior to this happening, I had organised international health insurance for my children and me before moving and did not encounter any problems.
Q: Are you living alone or with your family?
A: I came with my two children and married my boyfriend the year we moved.
Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?
A: My eldest daughter went back to Switzerland to live with her father after two years, but her sister loves it here. Since my home country is not very far, we still manage to see each other very regularly.
Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Frankfurt? How did you manage to find a social circle in Frankfurt?
A: My husband being German, I had a "ready-made" social network when I arrived. I also joined an English-speaking Meetup group soon after my arrival, to expand my social circle without having to wait for my German to improve. I now have many German friends too, especially since we moved last year. We have lovely neighbours and socialise a lot with them. I have a French friend too, and it is nice to converse in my mother tongue from time to time!
Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?
A: Frankfurt and its surroundings have a lot to offer in terms of culture. We go to concerts, love the English Theatre and always find interesting exhibitions (next will be the Hessisches Landesmuseum and the Deutsches Filmmuseum).
For nature lovers, the Bergstrasse is the perfect place. It offers many beautiful walks and interesting old castles. It is a wine region too.
Q: How does the cost of living in Frankfurt compared to your home?
A: The cost of living is definitely much higher in Switzerland. Now when I go back, it really shocks me how much I have to spend for a meal out or a drink.
Q: What do you think about the locals?
A: Germans often have the reputation of being cold and unfriendly. I do not agree, by and large, people have been very nice and helpful, and I have made some good friends here. I have also lost count of how many have told me how much they love my French accent!
Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Frankfurt?
A: Germany is not that different from my home country, really, so there is not much to compare.
Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?
A: Switzerland is close enough for me to visit my family and friends when I want to, so I am fortunate. I do not miss the country as such.
Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?
A: I have no plan to move back home and as for a different country, who knows? If you had asked me ten years ago, I would never have said: "One day I will be living in Germany". I am happy here right now, but there could be more adventures down the road for us.
Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
A: Starting my freelance business, not easy without a professional network in my host country. It has taken a long time and quite a few disappointments for my business to finally take off.
Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?
A: Personally I could not live in a country without being able to communicate with native people. I would therefore recommend learning the language as well as possible.
Also, if you have children and decide they should attend a German public school, be prepared for the fact that they will most likely only be at school in the morning. This was a big surprise for me, and it does require some organisation.
Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Frankfurt?
A: I mostly read German news websites. As for blogs, "A Bavarian Sojourn" is my favourite.
Photo: Jaytee Van Stean