Why you should (maybe) consider Hamburg for your expat life – Part 2

Following-up with my nonsensical* exploration of Hamburg as a good candidate for your expat life in this post, we look today at why Hamburg might offer more stable situations for their inhabitants and how its environments improves quality of life.

Tamed gentrification & higher-paid jobs

As we all know too well, Berlin is going through a pretty spectacular transformation which in many parts of the city translates into a quick gentrification. We will not discuss here the pros and cons of such a phenomenon but the speed with which this happens is putting a lot of people in difficult situations as the wages haven’t increased as much as rents have.

Hamburgers are somehow better off here even though rents are much higher than in Berlin for 2 reasons.

  • Gentrification has happened under a tighter control from the city
    Central districts like St-Pauli & Altona have certainly become a lot trendier but they did so less recently and not so fast as in Berlin. Hamburg, unlike Berlin, has always been a rich city able to raise enough taxes to be able to keep more control over gentrification movements that started in the 1980s and 1990s in those districts. Rent & estate price did raise but slower over time thanks to city-controlled development projects like “Hafen City” & “Neue Mitte Altona” to release market pressure while trying to keep a good social mix locally. That’s definitely better management than Wowereit selling off thousands of city-owned flats to private investors.

    The HafenCity project offers a mix of offices, campus & living space in the heart of the city. (credits: wikipedia)

    The HafenCity project offers a mix of offices, campus & living space in the heart of the city. (credits: wikipedia)

  • There are more jobs, more stable jobs and more better-paid jobs
    As we learned before, Hamburg is a rich city with numerous big companies involved in retail, trading & aeronautics and successful start-ups which creates a great job market with jobs that lasts a few years instead of a few months, with higher pay-checks that are realistic compared to what the cost of living is. That is something that hasn’t been so true in Berlin for the past few years. Although i do agree that it can more difficult to land stable jobs as a foreigner.

Seaside, street-art & bike lanes

There is something about living on the sea-side that is just instantly increasing quality of life. It’s hard to know why. Maybe water has a natural soothing effect or simply the appeal of the horizon that makes you instantly more free in a way? Even though Hamburg is a busy metropolitan area, the many canals, bridges and harbors create numerous little relaxing “pockets” within the city, where you can enjoy a beer afterwork. Taking a ferry as part of your commute is also a treat. I personally love looking at the massive containers being loaded and unloaded in the bay; it’s a lovely sight. Whenever you need a break, just go relax along the water like at Blankenese for example. After all, that’s exactly what we do in Berlin when the weather allows it: going to Müggelsee (or other) or sit at the Spree with a cool beer.

Credits : Wolfgang Wildner - Blankenese (Flickr)

That is only a few minutes away from city center                                Credits : Wolfgang Wildner – Blankenese (Flickr)

We sure love to get around with a bike in Berlin, that’s often the fastest way to reach your destination or go to work. Hamburg is also doing well in that department with a great network of bike-only lanes all around the city, even if a bit out of the city center. A hire system is also in use in a system close to Deutsche Bahn’s Call a Bike; StadtRad. I’ve seen a lot more people using it than in Berlin. It seems to work well. People are equally ruthless riding a bike too, it will make you feel right at home. 🙂

I’d love your impressions on the city if you have been living there or if you visited friends. Did you see yourself living there? Any reasons that made you feel it was not the right choice for you?

*nonsensical for a blog named “settle in berlin”.

Disclaimer: This post has been made possible by the city of Hamburg & Next-Media Hamburg, who invited me to stay in the city to let SiB’s readers know more about it. I haven’t been paid to write this post but they did cover my costs to go there with the train and stay one night at an hostel in St. Pauli. Those lines do reflect my views only and they haven’t been edited by them. I thank them again for their kind time on site and their invitation. 🙂

If this post piqued your interest, here are some some things to delve into:

Why Hamburg: A blog held by a british expat exploring the reasons why internationals are choosing the city.

Welcome Center Hamburg: the official bureau for anyone settling in Hamburg.

A Master Arbeit about the differences between the local start-up scenes in Berlin & Hamburg.

Hamburg Cinemagraphs: because i love animated GIF art.

Credits title image: Carsten Franzl – Hamburg (on Flickr). Creative commons 3.0.

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  • Reply Kurt 24/09/2016 at 17:31

    So my love for Hamburg started with a funny twist in High School. I was going to be an exchange student and had requested, as most Germans know, the polar opposite of Hamburg; Munich. Well, the agency couldn’t always guarantee that you would get your desired city and I was chosen by a family in the metropolitan area of Hamburg (that process of being a child that is chosen by a family is strange and somewhat disturbing….looking back now as and adult). It was amazing and I fell in love with the city that would play a huge role in where my life would venture for the next 9 years and counting. Unfortunately, coming from a small town hick high school in the South who isn’t all understanding or embracing of the new (I was the 2nd student in the schools history to be an exchange student to a foreign country) and they would accept the one credit I needed to graduate from High School from Germany. Long story short, I had to cut my stay in half under threat of being deemed a drop out if I didn’t have an “accredited” math class. I left, but something of me stayed behind in the beautiful city of Hamburg. After many visits back and forth in 2011 I finally moved and started the next great adventure. The city has so much to offer to anyone. Yes, Berlin is an amazing city that I love to visit but Hamburg for me is truly “Die Schönste Stadt Der Welt” or the most beautiful city in the world. From crazy nights with friends out in the Kiez (Reeperbahn) with the glowing neon lights reflecting in the puddles of the miserable rains, that went on for days, and the different club’s pulsing of music that pervades the air from all directions luring their customers in for a night of fun, to the simple relaxing days of listening to the soft waves from the Elbe at the Elbstrand drinking on cocktails and Holsten in the warm summer’s sun. Hamburg has just a little bit for everyone but when the work week comes round the business of the day begins Hamburg puts on its professional face and the city hustles and bustles with the sounds of deals and trade being brought to the table, yet when 5 hits and the work day is through, you can almost feel the city sigh a breath of relaxation and relief. As the evening hours of the fall sun embrace the Colonnaden in a warm orange glow and the Binnenalster sparkles with the golden rays of the sun you hear the clink of dinnerware and the warm hum of conversations buzzing from restaurants. Now, my heaven was short lived and I needed to abruptly leave after my 2.5 year tenure in Hamburg due to personal reasons, but next month I am leaving NYC and once more heading home to the city that my heart beats and breathes for, Hamburg. I can only give you my highest recommendation to visit Hamburg for some time and let a true Hamburger Jung or Dame show you around the most beautiful city in the world, I promise you will enjoy yourself!

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