Music lovers who want to settle in Europe might want to retire in Leipzig, Germany for a time. This place is like Memphis is to the United States. Johann Sebastian Bach lived here from 1723 to 1750, as well as Richard Wagner and several other composers, who all studied at the musical conservatory in the 1840s. The biannual Bach Festival hosts competitions in three changing genres of music. Leipzig has, for 20 years, hosted a modern musical festival where tens of thousands of fans of electronic music gather every summer. This is music city and you can hear several different types of music while strolling the square in the summer.
Leipzig is a fun place! Located just 93 miles southwest of Berlin in East Germany, Leipzig is a town of about a half million people. With several rivers transecting the area Leipzig has been a major port for hundreds of years. The city’s architecture beautifully blends the old with the new. Since the reunification with Germany, Leipzig has restored many of its historical buildings and has become an important economic center in the region. Recently touted as “the most livable city in Germany”, Leipzig has an elegant opera house, a modern zoo, a shopping mall in one of Europe’s biggest train stations, a great farmer’s market, dozens of beautiful churches and museums, and of course the Leipzig University, founded in 1409. (That’s 90 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue!)
You won’t have any trouble getting around in Leipzig. The city is connected to the A9 and A14 autobahns. The city is pretty flat and many people ride their bikes instead of driving. The huge train station is at a major rail junction and a ride to Berlin is about an hour away. There are a number of airports in the area. The tram and bus network will take you all over the city and weekly/monthly passes are available.
Housing in Germany is interesting. You can find homes for sale in the $225,000+ U.S. range and listings may include apartments for sale (which we call condos) in multi-unit buildings and these are much lower in price. There isn’t a word in the “For Sale” listings about association fees or owner’s fees – but you can bet those costs are expected. Rentals in the suburbs can be had for $900+ U.S., but beware! Rentals (homes and apartments) that are listed as unfurnished come without appliances or sometimes without kitchen cabinets. A ‘furnished apartment’ can mean there is only a bed. It’s a really good idea to get an English speaking rental agent to help you wade through exactly what you expect. If you are just going for a season or two, we recommend making a long term arrangement with a hotel or bed & breakfast. Then you don’t have to deal with furnishings, utilities, complicated contracts. If you decide to purchase property, the contracts will be in German, so you might want an English speaking real estate attorney.
In addition to its music venues of all kinds, Leipzig is also know for its wonderful farmer’s market with stalls of local produce, artists, and food. This is a big weekly event during the summer months and the square is full of people, colorful umbrellas, and street performers. We loved the lady with the big bubbles that drew kids from all corners of the market to pop her creations. The square’s backdrop is the Old City Hall and other old interesting buildings.
Take the time to learn 100 words and phrases and it will help immensely. The major hotels and tourist attractions may have English speaking staff – but do not expect it. We’ve found that most Germans are happy to help you learn.
Enjoy your time in Leipzig!