Housing will be arranged by the relocation office (Time Agentur), chosen by Shell Deutschland, but you can always check the local newspaper or Internet site (, or under “Immobilien” oder “Wohnungssuche”.

Property Market

It's important to know German practices and terminology when you set out to find a house or apartment here. If you want two bedrooms with a living room and dining room, you will actually be looking for a four-room (Zimmer) home in Germany. Bathrooms, WCs, kitchens and halls aren't included in the number of rooms. Furnished apartments are rare, and will cost a great deal more than an unfurnished place.

Unfurnished apartments here are just that: completely unfurnished. They don't have built-in cabinets, closets or even lighting fixtures. You'll often have to buy everything, perhaps even the proverbial kitchen sink. Stoves, refrigerators, kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, bookshelves, tables, beds, chairs, curtains, curtain rods, lights and everything else are your problem.

Some extra information for reading the advertisements in papers is:

Even if you speak good German, the newspaper ads offering house and apartment rentals may throw you for a loop, what with their abbreviations and "in" terminology. What if you were offered an "80QM 3Zi BJ 96 DG BAD WC" apartment? It might not be as unfathomable as you think.

A number followed by the initial QM or M2 tell you how big the apartment is in square meters (Quadratmeter) and a number followed by "Zi" tells you how many rooms (Zimmer) the place has.

The term BJ followed by a number means year built (Baujahr). The initials WC, Bad and Du tell you about the sanitary facilities, and mean, respectively, "water closet," "bath" and "shower" (Dusche). Bath means only a tub, and a WC is a room with a toilet but no bathing facilities. The initials EG, OG and DG tell you how high up in the building you'll be; respectively "ground floor" (Erdgeschoss), "upper floor" (Obergeschoss) and "attic floor" (Dachgeschoss).

The initials Ka, Kt and Kaut all stand for the "security deposit" (Kaution) that you must lay down over and above your rent. The abbreviation is usually followed by a number, which tells you what the security deposit is in euros. Gepfl means "well cared for"(gepflegt) and Ruh means "quiet" (ruhig). NK means "incidental expenditures" (Nebenkosten) that may not be included in your rent; such as trash collection, stairwell cleaning and water. If you happen to be looking for a fully furnished apartment, keep an eye peeled for the abbreviation Möbl (möbliert), and if you are looking for such comfortable amenities as central heating, a balcony, a garden or a garage look for ZH (Zentralheizung), Balk (Balkon), Gart (Garten) or Gge (Garage).

Estate Agents

The company provides accommodation of a size and quality which takes into account family size and seniority. Please refer to the Notes for Guidance for entitlements.

Time Agentur is the preferred Relocation Agencies used by Shell. You will get the contact through HR. However be aware that much of what is shown may not actually be available as it is just put (or kept) there to attract new customers. On arrival a relocation agent will be allocated to find out your needs and show you a selection of homes based on your priorities and price range.


When you have children as an expatriate in Germany there are several ways to educate them. Because school obligation in Germany starts at the age of 6, we can roughly divide between childcare at the ages 0-6 and education from the age of 6. (In Germany, the child is obligated by law to go to school in August 1st in the year that the child is 6 years of age at 30 June that same year.  The obligation lasts 10 years from that point on.)

You have always the possibility to choose between the German and the international school system for the education of your children.


Playgroups and Childcare (ages 0-6)

Hamburg there is simply very little good all-day childcare. This particularly poses a problem for families where parents work. Childcare institutions often have long waiting lists. Check conditions on site.

German Childcare

  • German childcare age 0-3

To have your child in German day care before the age of 3 you can go to a ‘Kinderkrippe’ or ‘Kindertagesstätte’. Some are public and some are private initiatives. You can get information at the following websites:, , and Note that there is a shortage of childcare under 3 in Hamburg and in the rest of Germany. Another, often used, form of childcare is to find a local childminder or ‘Tagesmütter’ who takes care of the children at her or in your house (ütter). Or you can find a ´Kinderfrau´ who will come to your house. Information about this type of day care you can find in the local newspaper, advertisements in the supermarket etc.

  • German Kindergarten (nursery school) age 3-6

Only children three years of age or older are accepted. Generally children attend kindergarten in the mornings from 8:00 to 13:00 and/or in the afternoons from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Lunch is usually provided. For admission you have to contact the “Jugendamt” of your borough and get a so-called “Kita-Gutschein” (see info under Admission is by date of birth. Mainly you can chose between Roman-Catholic, Protestant (‘Evangelisch’) or public Kindergartens (‘Städtische’).


International childcare

  • Early childhood centre (3 to 6 years)

Holmbrook 20, 22605 Hamburg (Othmarschen)

English playschool “lucky kids”

Petzolddamm, 23, 22175 Hamburg, Tel. 040-6452022


  • Lady Birds

Alsterdorfer Strasse 68, 222989 Hamburg, Tel. 040-5114256

You will find more information on the website of the University of Hamburg and search for the word “Mehrsprachigkeit”.


The German schoolsystem (6-18)

The German education system is different in many ways from the ones in Anglo-Saxon countries, but it produces high- performing students. Although education is a function of the federal states, and there are differences from state to state, some generalisations are possible.

Efforts are being made to make the system more democratic, though some feel that the changes don't go far enough. It's nevertheless possible for a child with the right academic ability to study right up to the university level regardless of the financial status of the family. The main advantage to choose a German school is that your child learns the German language and can make German friends who live in the neighbourhood.

Information about German schools in Hamburg you can find at, and at (school information centre).


The international schoolsystems (3-18)

Many English-speaking expatriates are educating their children at Germany's international schools, and an education at such a school has also some advantages.

There is, of course, instruction in the English language, which can be an advantage when you get a new assignment in another foreign country. And, since the student body is usually quite international, they expose the young people to a variety of cultures.

In Hamburg there is one International School:

  • Hamburg Internationale Schule
    Holmbrook 20
    22605 Hamburg, Germany
    Tel.: +49 40 883001-0


Expatriates resident in Germany and employed by one of the companies of the Royal/Dutch Shell Group will have access to a mutual medical benefit fund called BUPA. The health care in Germany is extremely good and there are a lot of specialized hospitals and university-clinics. A lot of specialists practice outside the hospitals. In Germany it is common for all women, with or without kids, to have your own gynecologist besides your GP. And with the children you go to a separate pediatrician.  

In Germany you do not need a referral of the GP to see a specialist. There is a relatively large difference between “privat “ (private) and “gesetzlich” (publicly) insured people. As a BUPA member you are private insured, it can be helpful to mention this at your first visit. 

Important to know is that on Wednesday afternoon, Friday afternoon and during the weekends different times apply. You will have to consult timetables to know which medical service is on duty.



For prescription medication from your doctor or over the counter medicines you will need to look for an ‘Apotheke’ sign, which will also have a green cross sign outside the shop, or alternatively a large red ‘A’. During the weekend as well as on Wednesday and Friday afternoon you will find that only certain pharmacies will be on duty. The address of the nearest pharmacy on duty can usually be found on the front window of any pharmacy or in the local newspaper.



Down below a few of the hospitals of Hamburg are listed:


Universitätsklinik Hamburg-Eppendorf

Martinistr. 52

20246 Hamburg

Tel: 42803-0

Internal medicine, gynecology, Obstetrics, surgery, ENT, ophthalmology. Etc.


EV. Amalie-Sieveking-Krankenhaus

Haselkamp 33

22359 Hamburg

Tel: 644 11-1


Altonaer Kinderkrankenhaus

Bleickenallee 38

22763 Hamburg

Tel: 88 908-0


This is the largest clinic for kid’s diseases.


There is a brochure available which shows all the hospitals in and around Hamburg under or Behörde für Soziales, Familie, Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz (BSG) Tel. 428 37-2024.

Outpost Hamburg

Office hours: By E-mail
Languages: English
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