Welcome to Expat Interview Series. In this interview, you will get to know what’s it like to live in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat. You can see Reutlingen from an expat’s viewpoint. Also, this interview covers the cost of living, wanderlust inspiration, tips, and advice for living in Reutlingen, Germany as an expat.
Where is Reutlingen?
Reutlingen is a city in the southwest of Germany and about 45-minutes by train to the state capital Stuttgart. This is a small city in Germany with the number of the population around 100,000 people.
The city is traditionally famous for its textile industry and today is a home for Bosch, who is the biggest recruiter in the region. The biggest university in the city, Reutlingen University (in German: Hochschule Reutlingen) offers many programs for international students so each semester there will hundreds of international students coming to the city.
I am currently a senior in the major of biomedical engineering in Vietnam. Besides my study, I love reading books, hanging out with my friends and traveling. Last spring I spent a semester in Reutlingen, Germany as an exchange student.
My exchange semester in Germany has brought me to another 4 countries, namely Netherland, France, Switzerland, and Italy. I love meeting people in everywhere I go and getting to know about the culture as well its people.
1. Why did you choose to live in Reutlingen?
In my third year, I decided to have some abroad experiences, so I applied for the exchange program at my university. After the admission and scholarship selection, I started my summer semester at Reutlingen University, Germany. I love Germany so I want to experience the life and study in this country. My university has only one partner in Germany, so I applied for it without any hesitation.
2. How did you prepare to move to Reutlingen?
This was the first time I lived in a foreign country so there were many kinds of stuff I had to prepare beforehand. I had to do research about the city I live, some cultural aspects and of course learn the local language (i.e. German). Finding a place to live was my most concern as the dormitory is not owned by the university and the rooms are extremely limited. Hence, I had to apply early to make sure I can have a room in a dormitory, otherwise finding houses in the neighborhood is really difficult and also much expensive.
3. How to overcome difficulties in Reutlingen?
I think the most difficult thing is the language because I live in a small city and not many people can speak English well. There are things like banking and residence registration which you can better go through procedure if you know basic German.
As I learn some German beforehand, I find it somehow not difficult but I strongly suggest to know German to avoid misunderstanding and at least you know what you are reading before signing any documents.
4. Did you experience any discrimination in Reutlingen?
Not at all. The people are really friendly and helpful. There was a time when I had a problem with online banking and the lady who worked with me at the bank, though speaks little English, tried her best to explain me the procedure and helped me get through that as fast as possible, which I really appreciated.
5. What do you like about Reutlingen?
This is a peaceful city with beautiful landscapes and architectures.
6. Is there anything that you don’t like about Reutlingen?
The city is a bit boring in the evening, especially after 8 pm when all the businesses close. Also, there are not many options for entertainment.
7. What are your favorite things to do in Reutlingen?
Jogging and climbing the mountains, also shopping in the city center.
8. Where do you recommend to visit in Reutlingen?
One can come to the city center (German: Stadtmitte) for shopping and see houses with middle-aged architecture or explore the narrowest street in the world, for which the city is famous.
This is the city center (Stadtmitte) with different shops and restaurants around.
9. Cost of living in Reutlingen
If you rent a house, the cost will be around 300 euros a month or cheaper if you live in a dormitory. For other expenses, I believe 200 euros a month will be sufficient. In total, having at least 500 euros a month will secure your stay in Reutlingen.
10. Is it easy to make new friends in Reutlingen?
Yes, of course. As I have said earlier, the people are super nice but you have to be the one who breaks the ice. If you keep waiting for them to talk to you, there’s no chance you can make friends with people there.
Moreover, as the German love beer, so having a beer together in a beer garden, for example, can bring people easily together.
11. Where are your favorite spots in Reutlingen to hang out with friends?
As we are students, the bars are super cool places to chit and chat. There’s a student bar on the school campus, which is quite cheap compared to the others and it often holds many parties throughout the semester.
12. What are your advice and tips for moving/ living in Reutlingen?
Be well prepared by researching carefully about the city. There can be practices like no plastic bags used in stores and trash separation that does not exist in your country or different types of renting houses you have to understand before looking for places to live.
Another tip would be to learn basic German beforehand as there will be people who cannot speak English and you will have trouble working with them.
Trash separation in Reutlingen, usually there will be bins for bioproducts (Bio), paper (Papier) and the rest (Restmuell).
13. Would you recommend others to live in Reutlingen?
The city is an excellent choice for students but if you are job-seeker, I suggest moving to a bigger city.
14. What have you learned from living abroad?
Being more independent and always showing up on time. The German is strict about punctuality.