Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Stuttgart quality of life questions..

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Hello Everyone..

 

I am looking at DoD jobs in Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, and Vaihingen(Stuttgart).  I would like to ask for some help in comparing these 3 areas so I can get a better idea which area I’d like the best.

 

1.  Rental availability for “the nicer” homes and apartments within 25 minutes drive of their US Army installations.  By nicer I mean the fancier rentals with built-in kitchens and fairly new interiors/appliances.  I have read that it is hard to find fancier quality rentals in some German cities.  Some German cities have a shortage of rentals in general.  I think I could spent about 2.000 euros per month.

 

2.  Do any of these 3 areas seem more friendly and easier to make new friends?  I read somewhere that Stuttgarter’s can be a less friendly and maybe even pretentious compared to other German cities.  Which amongst these 3 areas have the nicer people in general?

 

3.  How does cost of living change between these 3 areas?   IE:  Does it cost a lot more for groceries/restaurants/recreation in one area vs the others? Which area is the best overall value?

 

4. Are any of these 3 areas more fun than the others?  Are any on the quiet/boring side?  I am not talking about the "bar scene", I am talking about things to do.  Frequent weekend food&beer festivals, outdoor recreation like public pools, bike trails, easy access to nature.   Would someone in their 30s be easily bored in one area but have more things to do in one of the other 3 areas?

 

5.  Which area seems best for socializing, dating, and being around other 30-35 year old people?

 

6.  Roads/Traffic:  Are any of these areas easier for traffic, commuting to work, driving around and finding parking in general?

 

Thanks for any impressions you can share with me..

 

 

 

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I've lived in Stuttgart for 15 years. So, by the number:

1. €2000 will get you a decent rental in Vaihingen if you are single. Start looking early, though.

2. Stuttgarters are friendly enough but the schwäbische Kulture is hard to penetrate. You would have to meet up with expats at first. Socializing is tight-knit either family or workplace oriented. For example, my wife often goes to social events for work but spouses are hardly ever invited. I'm not talking about weekly lunches and the like. I'm talking Christmas parties, etc. If you're single you might find a singles scene but then these are fairly tight knit too. It's not that people are pretensious. It's that there's a set of mores that are hard to join in with and you might not get invited if you can't get the hang of Schwäbisch. 

3. Stuttgart is fairly expensive but you can shop Norma and Aldi on the cheap. You can find restaurants expensive and cheap and all ethnicities (but good luck finding decent Mexican). You can look at the restaurant threads and find out more. 

Outdoor recreation is plentiful.  Lots and lots of bike trails. You'll never get bored if your into biking. And it's not too far from Lake Constance. Lots of nature and hiking trails. No problem with any of that or with pools. Some of the indoor pools are better than others but there are some really great outdoor pools with lanes for the summer. Weekend festivals are plentiful. The Cannstatter festivals here are pretty big events and the Oktoberfest is the second largest in Germany. 

5. Go somewhere else. See #2.  

6. Stuttgart is also known as Staugart. The traffic can be horrible here and it takes a while to learn your way around. On the other hand the public transport is world class. Don't really need a car although everyone has one. The only thing worse than driving in Stuttgart is parking in Stuttgart. 

 

There might be other opinions. I married a Schwäbisch girl so it worked out for me. There are a lot of younger transfers here. So it's not entirely hopeless for socializing. 

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Thanks for such a well thought out reply!   That's exactly the kind of impressions I needed.

 

It seems like Weisbadden or Darmstadt might be better options for me.. Especially since I am single and wanting a friendly atmosphere for socializing, making new friends, and dating.  I basically want to work my job, have a nice apartment, enjoy nature (hike/bike), and socialize/meet people.  

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Wiesbaden has a bit the reputation of a rich people's and rather boring place. For Darmstadt, the proximity to Frankfurt could be an asset. 

 

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I would choose Darmstadt. Not too large, but has everything you need. Good: also has a university, bad: it's a technical university, so less women.

Frankfurt airport is close by, should you decide to spent a weekend in Italy, Spain etc.

When I listen to the traffic radio every morning, I have the impression that Stuttgart is for people who like to be stuck in traffic jams.

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On 4/9/2018, 9:41:28, Leman said:

Hello Everyone..

 

I am looking at DoD jobs in Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, and Vaihingen(Stuttgart).  I would like to ask for some help in comparing these 3 areas so I can get a better idea which area I’d like the best.

 

1.  Rental availability for “the nicer” homes and apartments within 25 minutes drive of their US Army installations.  By nicer I mean the fancier rentals with built-in kitchens and fairly new interiors/appliances.  I have read that it is hard to find fancier quality rentals in some German cities.  Some German cities have a shortage of rentals in general.  I think I could spent about 2.000 euros per month.

 

2.  Do any of these 3 areas seem more friendly and easier to make new friends?  I read somewhere that Stuttgarter’s can be a less friendly and maybe even pretentious compared to other German cities.  Which amongst these 3 areas have the nicer people in general?

 

3.  How does cost of living change between these 3 areas?   IE:  Does it cost a lot more for groceries/restaurants/recreation in one area vs the others? Which area is the best overall value?

 

4. Are any of these 3 areas more fun than the others?  Are any on the quiet/boring side?  I am not talking about the "bar scene", I am talking about things to do.  Frequent weekend food&beer festivals, outdoor recreation like public pools, bike trails, easy access to nature.   Would someone in their 30s be easily bored in one area but have more things to do in one of the other 3 areas?

 

5.  Which area seems best for socializing, dating, and being around other 30-35 year old people?

 

6.  Roads/Traffic:  Are any of these areas easier for traffic, commuting to work, driving around and finding parking in general?

 

Thanks for any impressions you can share with me..

 

 

 

 

I live close to Wiesbaden so I know the area, although not all the specifics that you want to know (like the dating scene!).  

 

Wiesbaden is nice city to live in, it is big enough but not too big.  There are things to do in the city, and it is on the doorstep of the Rheingau and Middle Rhein area which is great for weekend trips and getting out of the city.  The Rhein-Main area (Wiesbaden, Mainz, Frankfurt, Darmstadt and maybe out to Aschaffenburg) is a large urban area so this means that there is always something going on around here with lots to see and do.

 

Certainly in terms of getting out for hiking, cycling, doing things on the River then Wiesbaden is very good.  The lower Taunus Mountains are all around, the Rheingau gives lots of possibilities.  Mainz is just the other side of the Rhein also offering more possibilities to do things.  But a bigger city like Stuttgart would offer more bars and restaurants and probably a better socialising scene. In fact Wiesbaden is probably quiet in this area, but Darmstadt would be worse.  And even Frankfurt is not great (although I hear it has gotten much better recently).

 

Socialising and making new friends in Germany is anyway difficult, and there are plenty of threads on this forum about how the Germans are different in this regard.

 

There are also great links to the rest of Germany.  Munich, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin, Rhein-Ruhr area are all easily reachable by Train, plane and car.  And Frankfurt is the largest airport in Germany (although it also has the highest prices!).

 

Wiesbaden is also very used to American army personal, so you find places that are more open to this and more willing to speak English.  And even local places which have special offers for army personal.

 

Traffic is always an issue in urban areas so you cannot avoid it.  But I hear that Stuttgart has some of the worst in Germany.  This is difficult to say how you will be impacted, because it depends on what roads you will commute down at what times.  You could live is a light traffic area but have to drive down the most congested road in the whole region, or vice versa.  I suggest once you start searching for a place to live that you use google maps to check out the traffic at peak times between there and your place of work (Monday mornings and Friday evenings are the worst).  But the A643 and A66 are both very busy around Wiesbaden in rush hour.

 

The cost of living is going to be basically the same for most items, it will only be rent which varies.  Food and drink in Germany tends to be very good value for money when compared to many other places in Europe.  So you can eat as cheap or as expensive as you want.

For real estate then Stuttgart will be the most expensive, followed by Wiesbaden and Darmstadt will be much cheaper.  In this index:  https://editionf.com/Hoechsten-Mieten-Deutschlands-Ranking

Stuttgart is the second most expensive in the whole of Germany, Wiesbaden is no 10 and Darmstadt no 16.  Mainz is no 30, and it is just across the river from Wiesbaden, but then if you commute from here you will have traffic issues.  Of course the further out of town you go, the cheaper the rent becomes.

 

For looking for apartments then you can use this website:  https://www.immobilienscout24.de/ to get an idea as to what is available.  If you download the app onto your tablet/phone then this is actually available in English.

 

 

Although it is not far away, I have not been to Darmstadt (other than a shopping complex on the outskirts).  So I can't tell you what it is like as a city (although maybe that says enough already, because I have been to many other places in the area).  But it does have a good university and many colleagues of mine went there and still live there.  So I don't think it is bad, just unspectacular. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have been in traffic jams on the motorway at Stuttgart at midnight.

 

Not saying any more than that.

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Of your choices, and based on your criteria, I think Darmstadt would be the best choice.

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3 hours ago, optimista said:

I have been in traffic jams on the motorway at Stuttgart at midnight.

 

Not saying any more than that.

Reminds me of the Frank Sinatra song:

"Stuttgart, Stuttgart
I want to wake up in that city
That never sleeps "

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I don't know which is a more fitting name for Stuttgart: Staugart or Blitzerberg. 

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Another thing to note about Stuttgart that finding an apartment is a nightmare. It's not just affordable apartments, it's apartments in general. I'm part of an expat group on Facebook and almost everyday someone is asking if anyone knows of anywhere to live, even if it's with room-mates in a WG (shared flat). It's so bad, there's a spillover affect in places like Ludwigsburg and Vaihingen that are seeing a shortage as more people have to search the surrounding cities/towns. The apartment I'm currently in had three other people besides me interested, and we live outside the city, in a small village! 

 

I know a lot of Germany has housing shortages, but it's a big problem in the Stuttgart area. With a 2000 euro a month budget you will definitely get something nice, the trouble might be competing with several other people for those nice apartments. 

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4 hours ago, Arctic Circle said:

Another thing to note about Stuttgart that finding an apartment is a nightmare.

 

Do you still live in Stuttgart?   Is the Stuttgart rental situation currently a nightmare? 

BTW:  When researching Stuttgart as a possibility, I decided I would want to live in one

of the villages like Vaihingen, Sindelfingen, or Filderstadt and go to downtown Stuttgart

strictly by SBahn after work.

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The competition for flats in Stuttgart and surrounding suburbs is intense. So is finding a school for your kids (if you had any). People regularly offer rewards listed on phone number strips taped to light posts at key intersections and bus stops for flats. Start early, start fast, or know somebody. 

As soon as one of the flats is open in our building new tenants are moving in the same day. Except for the flats that haven't been renovated. Those go a month later for a little over a €100 more because there's now fake wood on the floor instead of linoleum. Vaihingen, Sindelfingen, and Filderstadt aren't villages, well maybe Filderstadt.  They are now a part of urban sprawl. Personally, I would try to get a flat on the West Side instead of riding downtown on the S-Bahn.  (which is on strike today - so prices are going up again). Might be more difficult but worth it in the long run.

https://www.nestpick.com/stuttgart/

Scroll down and you can see some offerings. 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'd personally go for Darmstadt. It doesn't have a lot of character but the large student population gives it a bit of a buzz. Wiesbaden is very nice but it feels like a playground for the trophy wives of rich old dudes. Stuttgart is a big traffic jam during the week. I also don't like about Stuttgart that it sits inside a depression. You notice it in some parts of town and it makes the city darker in the winter.

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11 hours ago, Leman said:

 

Do you still live in Stuttgart?   Is the Stuttgart rental situation currently a nightmare? 

BTW:  When researching Stuttgart as a possibility, I decided I would want to live in one

of the villages like Vaihingen, Sindelfingen, or Filderstadt and go to downtown Stuttgart

strictly by SBahn after work.

 

I'm not in the city itself, but fairly close. It's only a 20 minute train ride from my area to city center, so Stuttgart is very accessible, and it's the closest big city to me. And yeah, competition for apartments in the city itself, and in the surrounding suburbs is fierce, as Trr said. Because of how easy it is to get down there by S-Bahn, you have a lot of newcomers going into areas like mine to commute to work, and so even beyond the Stuttgart suburbs into places like Ludwigsburg, Boennigheim, etc, are seeing low vacancy rates. 

 

I'm not saying it's impossible to find somewhere in Stuttgart, people do it all the time. I'm just saying it's something you have to keep in mind. If you decide Stuttgart is where you want to live, start looking now, and it might be prudent to live in a WG for awhile until something better opens up. 

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8 hours ago, trr said:

People regularly offer rewards listed on phone number strips taped to light posts at key intersections and bus stops for flats.

 

I think you have convinced me not to apply to the jobs in Vaihingen.   I looked at rentals online and can't believe how high the prices are.  With the average Stuttgart salary being 52.000 Euro (before extremely high income taxes), how do the people afford to rent in the Stuttgart metro area ?

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22 minutes ago, Leman said:

With the average Stuttgart salary being 52.000 Euro (before extremely high income taxes), how do the people afford to rent in the Stuttgart metro area ?

 

Simple: They aren't newcomers, they have old rental contracts (or are owners for a long time already) and avoid moving. They simply stay where they are and pay much less rent. Or they are - unlike newcomers – well connected in Stuttgart, I know of many flats that never go public when their landlords look for new renters.

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1 minute ago, someonesdaughter said:

Simple: They aren't newcomers, they have old rental contracts (or are owners for a long time already) and avoid moving. Thy simply stay where they are and pay much less rent. 

 

That make's sense...  For home ownership, it sounds like most US larger cities like LA, San Fran, Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Boston.  If you didn't buy a home 10 to 20 years ago, you have no chance of owning now with all the houses approaching or passing 1 million.

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"Or they are - unlike newcomers – well connected in Stuttgart, I know of many flats that never go public when their landlords look for new renters." 

I saw this first hand. My wife had a friend moving out of a nice 3 bedroom flat.  She gave us first shot at the lease before it went public. We just took her lease over at the same rent. That's why looking at a WG situation makes sense. Save your money and make connections. 

Like AC said, people are doing it every day. If you really want the city vibe you could do a lot worse than Stuttgart. 

 

 

 

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With all I am reading it seems like I might want to target Darmstadt and take the S-Bahn to Frankfurt for socializing and dating.  Stuttgart is looking like expensive rent, hard to find rentals, ostracizing social culture for newcomers, with bad traffic/parking issues.   The comments suggest Darmstadt is a good choice except that it may be dead for socializing with single people.   I wonder if I should consider living in Frankfurt and commuting to Darmstadt?  Is Frankfurt to Darmstadt a tough daily commute?

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