Frankfurt is the #2 most commuted city in the country, with around 370,000 commuters moving in and out of the city on a daily basis. The city is a well-connected hub that is easy to reach by car, train or plane. It's also one of the most expensive cities in Germany, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that not everyone can or wants to live in the city itself.
So, is commuting an option for expats too? What are the best commuter towns and what is the most efficient means to commute into the city? Let’s find out!
Commuting by car is quite common in Germany as it goes hand in hand with a relatively strong car-culture. And with Frankfurt having high living costs, it's not uncommon to see people from nearby towns and cities commuting to Frankfurt for work or study. Especially now that remote working is becoming popular, commuting to Frankfurt is a solid option.
However, owning a car in Germany comes with higher costs and considerations. With Frankfurt being a major city with a high number of commuters, parking is tricky and expensive if you don’t have a parking lot or designated parking space provided by your employer. It's also highly likely that you'll be stuck in rush hour traffic, even on the Authobahn's (motorways).
Having said that, if you can easily convert your license to a German one and you’ve a family with children, then the additional costs for fuel, insurance, etc. are worth it for the utility and mobility that a car brings you.
Investing in a car can be a costly endeavour that not every expat can afford. This is especially true if you're only planning to stay in Frankfurt for a few months or years.
The good thing is that you might not even need a car to travel to Frankfurt. Frankfurt has an excellent public transport system, the crown of which is worn by the city’s S Bahn train system.
The S-Bahn network connects Frankfurt to the rest of Germany. The S-Bahn will take you to many of the nearby towns on the agglomerate edges of Frankfurt, where you’ll trade a 20-30 minute commute for a more affordable housing situation. So you can freely search for rental apartments in Frankfurt's suburbs or nearby cities.
If you’re looking for housing a little further away, you can use the ICE high speeds trains, which can take 30 minutes for a trip to Frankfurt. This makes cities like Mannheim or even Giessen a viable option for Frankfurt commuters.
So, if you’re looking to work in Frankfurt, but you’re not looking to live in one of Frankfurt's neighbourhoods itself, what are some popular options that are within 30-60 minutes of the city? Here’s a list of nearby towns that are within commuting distance:
Wiesbaden is a city around 45 kilometres west of Frankfurt, north of the Rhine bend, which has an excellent train and autobahn connection to the city. Wiesbaden is the biggest city in the Hessen area (after Frankfurt) with around 280,000 inhabitants.
Across the river Rhine from Wiesbaden, you’ll find the slightly smaller city of Mainz, which has just over 220,000 inhabitants. Mainz and Wiesbaden share a similar route to Frankfurt, with the commutes from Wiesbaden being slightly shorter.
Hanau is a smaller town 30 km northeast of Frankfurt, counting around 100,000 inhabitants and is known as the birthplace of the Grimm brothers and footballer Rudy Völler. It’s also quite close to Frankfurt, which makes it popular among commuters!
These cities would be the top 3 commuter towns, as they're large enough to have a city atmosphere themselves, without being as expensive as Frankfurt proper. Honourable mentions would be Mannheim (by ICE), Darmstadt and Bad Homburg, a smaller town surrounded by other car commuter villages known as the Taunaus commuter belt.
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