Advice needed: Mannheim VS Munich

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Hi everyone, I have two job opportunities, one in Mannheim the other in Munich. For most people Munich would be the obvious choice, but it's complicated for me.

 

First of all, my situation: single no children, gay, early 30s, non-EU, on Blue Card, waiting for NE. Been working in Stuttgart area for a couple of years. Solid salary and benefits but no development, thus the need to change. I've been trying really hard to find something in Berlin or Hamburg, but either no offer or the salary is abysmal!

 

To many people's surprise, I actually do NOT like Munich that much. If not for the job, a move from Stuttgart to Munich would be completely meaningless for me. To further complicate the issue, the position in Mannheim is all round better than the one in Munich...

 

But in my circle of friends and colleagues (coming from around Germany and the world), Mannheim has a horrible reputation. A few Berliners and Münchners actually said: "If I can think of a city worse than Stuttgart, it's Mannheim." (I don't think S is that bad, but the snobs' advice can be useful when you choose where to live! Better safe than sorry!)

 

My last straw was the possibility of living in Heidelberg, which has raving reviews from everyone I know and I also liked, and commute to work. Then I checked but it takes half an hour by car and more than 50 minutes by public transport from the center of Heidelberg...

 

So my questions: Is Mannheim really that bad? Is it really just for old ppl or families? Is it really a super industrial city even worse than Stuttgart with nothing but jobs and all you can do there is work work work to death? How's the social life there for single ppl? Cultural facilities?

 

Oh, also, the people there should be nicer, right? I mean hey I survived Stuttgarter Schwaben, who else can't I deal with, right? Right?...

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The train from Heidelberg to Mannheim takes about 15 to 20 minutes, I think.  Frequent departures if I remember right. 

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The Milton Keynes of Germany...  Although in Milton Keynes they do actually have road names whereas in Mannheim I believe you only get a grid number as your address.

 

I was also pretty underwhelmed by Münich, but I do like the hills and forests of Stuttgart. I think Stuttgart to Mannheim is only 45 mins on the train; does it really take so long from Heidelberg?

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Tourists go to Heidelberg, not to Mannheim, which is too industrial. What's wrong with 30 minutes by car? Do you want to live opposite the office? Two positive things about Mannheim are that they have a top-notch business university and it's more central vs. Munich. In Heidelberg you have all these overpaid SAP nerds living there causing high rentals. Your call.

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I have no experience living in Stuttgart or Munich but my experience of living in and around Mannheim was very positive. Few architectural monuments but (back in the day, anyway) many high quality restaurants (several with Michelin stars), vibrant cultural life - both classical & pop and a welcoming cosmopolitan populace.  Unlike Munich or S everything highly centralized in the Quadratstadt and easy rail/autobahn connections to just about everywhere; especially Alsace & Lorraine.

 

And a shit-load less expensive than HD, M & S.

 

Check it out.

 

 

 

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I admit right away: I am biased. Lived in Mannheim for more than 15 years and really liked it. I have only been to Munich to visit and I am not a big fan. So here's my not very objective (and not complete) list: 

cons Munich 

- big 

- hideously expensive to live. Good luck finding an apartment to rent. Your commute will probably be way longer than half an hour even if you live and work in the city 

- snobbish/stuck up people 

- I had the impression that Munich is a bit of a bubble. Only certain groups can afford to live in the city or the nice subburbs so it is quite uniform. 

 

pros Mannheim 

- big enough for decent cultural life but small enough to get around on a bicycle 

- close to Odenwald and Pfälzer Wald 

- more affordable than Munich 

- very down to earth 

- some very interesting developments (cultural, leisure, quality of life) 

- if you understood people in Stuttgart, you shouldn't have a problem with the kurpfälzer dialect in Mannheim :-) 

- quite diverse 

- you have the choice of living in the city, outside of it or in the country 

- your money (assuming your offers are similar) will go further in Mannheim 

- central location for travelling (3 hrs to Paris by train, 45 min to Frankfurt airport) 

- local wine AND beer 

 

cons Mannheim 

- it ain't pretty (but has a lot of nice little corners) 

- got some not so nice areas (as any city, industrial or not) 

- people can be / appear to be a little gruff (but nowhere near as grumpy as in Berlin) 

- It is not that large. If you want that kind of urban flair, Berlin, Frankfurt or Hamburg might be a better fit. No idea how Munich is in that regard. 

 

The travelling time HD to MA by public transport or car highly depends on where you are in either town. Main station to main station is 15-20 min by train. By car can range anywhere from 20 to 45 min or more. There has been construction on the A656 for years which has led to quite a few traffic jams. 

 

I agree with @LukeSkywalker: Heidelberg is a lot more touristy. I usually take visitors there cause it is pretty, but Mannheim is a lot more "livable". 

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On 24/11/2020, 19:38:41, frontalier said:

But in my circle of friends and colleagues (coming from around Germany and the world), Mannheim has a horrible reputation. A few Berliners and Münchners actually said: "If I can think of a city worse than Stuttgart, it's Mannheim."

 

Mannheim has a very, very traditional reputation as a blue-collar city that persists to this day and that is visible in its social structures and socioeconomic outfit.

 

That mostly means that its residential quarters overwhelmingly are not "swank". Mannheim caters to a young to middle-age audience with a relatively rich cultural life, a very multicultural neighborhood (which i know, some people prefer not to have) and with cheap, but perhaps not always perfect housing. There are some gentrified areas - but only by Mannheim standards - and some of the suburbs around it tend to be pretty average middle-class.

 

And yes, Mannheim is industrial. That doesn't mean Mannheim is a "place to work" - it means that in virtually every residential quarter has some sort of factory either embedded within or next to it - those factories have been there for at least a century, and among Mannheimers you'll find a lot of people who relate their family history to one of these.

 

On 24/11/2020, 19:38:41, frontalier said:

Then I checked but it takes half an hour by car and more than 50 minutes by public transport from the center of Heidelberg

 

If you would live in Heidelberg you wouldn't be living in the center. Only students do that. Literally. Only 5% of Heidelbergers live in the touristic Old Town, and it is not representative of Heidelberg at all. With a job in Mannheim you'd be choosing one of the quarters with good public transit connection to Mannheim, such as around the Weststadt S-Bahn station or the Kirchheim/Rohrbach station - if you have too much money also in the new Bahnstadt quarter behind the Hauptbahnhof. From these places you'll usually have a connection to Mannheim every 30 minutes in under 30 minutes - including walking to the station! Of course, if you chose to live in Heidelberg you also would need to be aware that for any sort of cultural or social life outside of tourist traps you'd be commuting into Mannheim all the time anyway. Heidelberg is dead. And i say that as a Heidelberger.

 

On 24/11/2020, 20:14:52, Dembo said:

I think Stuttgart to Mannheim is only 45 mins on the train

 

Virtually anyone i know who commutes daily from Stuttgart to Mannheim (and there's quite a few, statistically) does so by car. Not because the ICEs are slow - they aren't - or full - that they are - or costly but because wherever they live around Stuttgart always adds at least 20-30 minutes to their commute to just get to the Hauptbahnhof to get on that ICE, which fully negates the speed advantage over driving.

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Hi, I live in Heidelberg and commute to Mannheim by train for work (at least I did before working from home...). I need a max. of 45 mins door-to-door, which include a walk to the station, s-bahn, and then a bus/bike to my office. I have also done the other way -- lived in Mannheim and worked in Heidelberg. Having lived in Heidelberg for about 4 years now, there are a lot of things I miss about Mannheim. As others have said, Heidelberg is very touristy and rents quickly get exorbitant in many of the central neighborhoods. Mannheim certainly has its ugly areas, but so does Heidelberg. Mannheim feels much more authentic than Heidelberg and certainly has a much bigger creative scene.

Mannheim's parks are an aspect I really miss. And I think Mannheim has much better restaurant and bar offerings than Heidelberg. The Nationaltheater and the Kunsthalle are also big plusses for Mannheim v. Heidelberg. 

 

I'm also not a fan of Munich, so I understand why you might be hesitant to live there! Mannheim has a bad rap, but I really think it's a very livable city with lots to offer. Knowing what I know now about Heidelberg, I don't know if I would chose to move here again. 

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hi there,

 

i live in HD and have lived in M. 

 

MA is half the cost of living of M, easily. There are still cheap flats to be found there. There arent really any in HD anymore in places where you'd want to live a single person, ie the Altstadt, Weststadt, or Neuenheim. However, such terms are relative, too; my 110qm Altstadt Apt is 1600 warm which seems a lot to some people but depending on your budget that might not be that big of a deal. 

 

Here in HD we have a lot of natural beauty, the day trips up the Neckartal are great, hiking up the hills etc. The city itself is amazing as like the other Uni towns of DE it was spared the attention of the RAF and USAF in ww2. There are enough restaurants but depending on what your fancy is it might not be very diverse. Standard German places, standard shitty german "asian" places, tons of italian, some decent turks/doener too of course. Recently a "Five guys" opened up here, and there seems to be a limitless appetite for burgers and pizza. Its a Studentenstadt so theres lots of bikes, young people, and the altstadt has a very international flair to it, there are always either tourists or exchange students or whatever. My wife and I love it here and love raising our 2 kiddos here. I know that's not relevant to your situation but suffice it to see we love HD, altho we do wish it was a bit cheaper. 

 

By contrast, Mannheim was given lavish attention by the allies in ww2 and pounded it into powder, and so the center of mannheim is fugly, rebuilt in the 50s. There are also a lot of dodgy people in the center (none of that in HD). Mannheim is well connected from a public transportation perspective and is a very vibrant place. We find it ugly as hell but its grown on us over time, there are a lot of services and more variety. Compared to hd it certainly feels like "the big city". Its not as clean as HD or "nice" but the rough around the edges feel might be more fun to single people than to boring parents with a stroller. 

 

Munich vs Mannheim tho... if you can afford Munich its got freakin' everythign, there's a reason it keeps showing up on the nicests cities in the world... amazing public transpo, amazing nature just down south, spotless, safe, etc. Its just ridiculously expensive at this point. Also, personally, i dislike the bavarian arrogance and "alles Saupreiss" mentality that you inevitably run into. The bavarians love sneering at the rest of the germany (and the world) as being inferior and i got the feeling living there i'd be there 20 years and never be totally accepted as a native; i dont have that sense of exclusion in Nordbaden. Also as a US expat, this region had tens of thousands of GIs here until 2013, so they're used to us.

 

Munich is a world class city, Mannheim is a regional one. There's no getting around that. Munich is grander, bigger, classier... and priced accordingly.

 

Oh, and the commute... yeah you could commute from HD to MA loads of people do it. Depending on where your office is its a 15min trainride HD Hbf to MA Hbf. Whenever we Heidelberger have to go anywhere we always are umsteigening in Mannheim. :)

 

The really terrible thing about Mannheim: Eichbaum Bier. Its the local, and its arguably the WORST beer in germany, imo. Absolute pish tastes like something the Americans would make. :) 

 

good luck

 

glennsche

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