Our idea of Frankfurt is, after all, that there is a constant coming and going here. People from all over the world moving in for relatively short periods of time and then moving out again. Which on the one hand is true. I experience this very vividly in my English courses at the VHS: Japanese who, after six years of residence, are transferred to another European country or move back home. Or South Americans who spent a few years in Egypt and have now been transferred to Germany and know that in three years another country is waiting for them. Or native Hamburgers who are drawn back to the Hanseatic city by homesickness after a two-year job episode at the airport, for example.
Yes, it's true, there's a constant coming and going here on the Main. We experience this every morning on the street as in our daily commute in and out of the City. When I was still part of the gaggle of these commuters, I wondered where I belonged as a newcomer - where am I at home? At the dormitory in the Main-Taunus district or in the city of the workplace?
Living in Frankfurt as a newcomer
After moving from MTK to Frankfurt/Bornheim, something quite exciting happened: In our house there is a bakery on the corner, a hair salon and a small beauty salon. On the opposite side of the street, a small corner shop offers its magazines, sour candies and parcel services in Pakistani-friendly hands. Within two days, everyone greeted me delightedly and with a sign of recognition; within a month, it felt like I'd lived in "my hood" forever.
That's one of the things I love about Frankfurt. I hadn't managed anything like that in seven years in the small suburb. Why. There are so many train travelers here on the Main who need or want to make and find new contacts - that creates openness to others. In 2018 alone, more than 10,000 people moved in, the population grew by 1.6 percent - which is double what it was in 2016.
In my Hood
When the couple from the house next door started packing boxes recently and the furniture truck pulled up, I got really anxious. For almost ten years I had witnessed virtually every morning what was served on their balcony, when they turned off the lights in the evening and turned them on again in the morning.
(Not that there is any impression here that I am like the New Yorkers permanently with binoculars and spy on people). No. But in the courtyard, a glance out the kitchen window is enough to know what the neighbor is up to. The people across the street are gone now. Who do you think would move in? A lady from my home in Lower Saxony has moved in. With the strange habit of lowering the blinds at night. How are you supposed to get to know each other there, I wonder? ;-)
Frankfurt is constantly on the move.
And then there's the other side of the city. The constant. Very good to read this is also in my house. Out of a total of eight parties in the old building, four have been squatting in place for over ten years. Two of them even live over twenty-five years in one and the same apartment.
It is not now that we did not like to change. It's just that where to get something affordable if not to steal it? Our neighbors feel the same way. And so nothing changes.
My friend in the North End has made it permanent in a condo. So have acquaintances in Eschersheim, one of whom commutes regularly to Mannheim. Frankfurt keeps moving.