Düsseldorf is an exciting and vibrant city filled with amazing people, incredible culture and delicious restaurants. It is also quite a popular relocation destination for many internationals around the world. There are plenty of international companies hiring English speakers, and a number of events and festivals throughout the year, which makes Düsseldorf quite an attractive city for expats. The hardest part is getting settled. You’ll have to take 5 steps back in order to take 1 step forward for a little while, but trust me, it’s worth it.
There are a few things that might help you get settled a little quicker/a few things that I wish I had of known when I first arrived.
My name is Jenna Davis, I am a Canadian expat who has been living in Düsseldorf, Germany for the last 3 years. I am constantly learning new things, each and every day. I run an online community called Life in Düsseldorf which is aimed at supporting expats like myself to get settled into their new lives in the city a little easier.
The Coolest Places in Düsseldorf
Besides all of the errands you’ll need to run, paperwork you’ll need to fill out and furniture you’ll have to buy, it’s important to take a little “me time” to explore the city. You can head to the tourist information center and explore like a traveller, or you can jump right in and explore like a local. Here are a few neat little hidden gems that I wish I had of known about since day 1.
- Kiefernstraße: an incredible road filled with graffiti and street art
- K21 “In Orbit”: an exhilarating art installation that dangles you 25 meters above the K21
- Flea Markets: one of my favorite things to do in the city on a weekend
- Wildpark Düsseldorf: a perfect place to unwind in the nature
The Easiest Ways to Make Friends in Düsseldorf
Don’t forget about the power of having people around you who understand you and who will simply sit, chat and enjoy an afternoon coffee. Settling in will become a lot easier if you put in a little bit of effort to meet some new faces.
The Vast Cultural Differences
Adapting yourself quickly to the cultural differences will save you a lot of hours pondering why things work the way they do here in Düsseldorf and perhaps not in your old hometown. Here are a few cultural differences you might like to learn about (coming from a Canadian perspective):
- If you’re driving while you’re in Düsseldorf, make sure you keep an eye out for bikers and always drive in the right lane on the Autobahn (unless you’re passing).
- Restaurants will not serve you water before the meal, and if you ask for water, be prepared to ask for still or sparking (and to pay likely the same as you would for a bottle of beer).
- Don’t expect to be able to pay with a credit card everywhere you go, many shops and restaurants won’t accept creditcard payments (get use to carrying cash on you).
- All shops are closed on Sunday’s so always make sure you stock up on groceries before the weekend comes.
- The Rhineland people aren’t unfriendly, they just don’t smile at everyone who passes them on the street. If you take the time to get to know a local, you’ll see just how friendly they can be (Düsseldorf locals are quite open and friendly compared to other cities in Germany)!
The Websites That Will Help Get You Started
You’re not alone, there are thousands of us in the city who have been there. There are also a number of websites I wish I had of known about when I arrived that would have helped me settle in much quicker.
- Life in Düsseldorf: Of course, this wasn’t around when I first moved here, but it will certainly help you get started
- Düsseldorf Expat Meetups: This is a Facebook group primarily focused on meetups, but also a great forum to ask questions, find secondhand furniture and look for apartments
- NRW Tourism (English): There is plenty of English content on NRW Tourism to inspire you to explore your new home
- Expat Service Desk: A governmental run program and office in Düsseldorf that you can visit (free of charge) for any questions you have as an expat (Ernst-Schneider-Platz 1, 40212, Düsseldorf).
Already started to learn some German? Have a look at our tips about more great places in Düsseldorf (auf Deutsch)!