Frankfurt used to advertise itself as “better than its reputation.” And it was. Connoisseurs praised the high quality of suburban life in the Taunus hills, and the nearby wine regions. Strasbourg for dinner was always a possibility, by barreling down the eight-lane autobahn with no speed limit. These days, however, Frankfurt no longer needs to advertise to get people to move there, because the UK care of that by voting for Brexit.
Perhaps 10,000 bankers may move from the City of London to Frankfurt in the coming years, as the likes of America’s Citigroup and Goldman Sachs and Japan’s Nomura and Daiwa send at least part of their London staff to the Germany city by the Main River. The bankers, moreover, are expected to draw 80,000 other jobs with them – lawyers, accountants, PR flacks, programmers and so forth. Most of these expats will be English-speaking and high-income. And they will demand nice apartments and good international schools for their kids. Is Frankfurt ready?
Some longtime residents are worried. “The influx of newcomers that [Brexit] brings with it will exacerbate the notorious shortage of apartments and drive certain renters out of attractive places,” said Jürgen Lutz at the “Renters Help Renters” organization. Frankfurt has already been stretched by the expansion of the European Central Bank there. Rents have risen 40 percent in the city over the past 18 years. Supply can’t keep up with demand as there are only 557 residences for every thousand jobs. One member in his renters’ association told Mr. Lutz that he feels like the only one left in his block in the tony Westend neighborhood who doesn’t work for the ECB.
The 17 international schools and 200 private schools in the metropolitan region also have to do some planning. The Association of Private Schools estimates that 20,000 further students will be seeking a place in the next one to three years. Paul Fochtman, the head of the Frankfurt International School (FIS), the largest international school in the area with 1,800 students, said one bank wanted to reserve 100 places in his school. However, the school, which has hardly any room left to expand, plans to limit each institution to just 10 new students per year. “We can’t be and shouldn’t be a purely Brexit school,” he said.