Rafael Reißer: Incredibly versatile – education, sports and recreation in Darmstadt


There are many good reasons for people to live in Darmstadt: they were born here, they study here, for the love of it, the central location, they like it here, or they work here. Darmstadt offers a minimum of 120,000 jobs. That is above average for a city with a population of 146,000. Darmstadt is the job engine in the region.

If you have a choice between several employers in various locations, you might take a closer look at where living is pleasant, children are well taken care of and educated, sports facilities are good and you feel safe. That is particularly true for the so-called Generation Y or those born after 1980, for they do not see work, private life and recreation as polar opposites.
According to the results of a representative survey by the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) about family friendliness as an entrepreneurial engine, the family friendliness of an employer plays a decisive role already starting with the recruitment of young skilled labour. It is therefore a great advantage to companies as well if, besides taking their own family and job-promoting measures such as flexible working hours, they are embedded in an environment that offers family-friendly structures and a high level of work-life balance or balance between work, recreation and family. In modern company structures, those factors are already a permanent feature of corporate philosophy and human resource
management, so that they can assert themselves in the competition with other locations and prevent skilled-labour shortage.

A recent study by the trade directory “Auskunft.de” analyses the quality of life in German cities. The quality of life index derived from four million data entries in 100 different areas, ranging from health to education to culture, reflects the level of accommodation of the inhabitants of districts, independent cities and metropolises. Besides the winning cities of Kempten, Koblenz and Passau, Darmstadt comes in eighth among the top ten. The study puts Munich in tenth place.
However, above all, it is the citizens of Darmstadt who confirm that life is good in Darmstadt. In a citizen survey of 2009, three quarters of respondents gave a positive answer to the question about the quality of life in their city.

Darmstadt is science, Darmstadt is culture, and Darmstadt is life. Beacons of science (over 30 research facilities, one university and two universities of applied sciences) and culture (from the Mathilden­­höhe to the state theatre) shine for Darmstadt. Other than that, Darmstadt is also a lively and active city. Two examples of superlatives: Heinerfest is the largest city-centre summer festival with carnival rides, attracting more than 600,000 people every year. Großer Woog is one of few German bathing lakes that are right in the city centre.
Darmstadt is also a sports city. Darmstadt athletes bear their city’s name throughout the world. One example is Andrea Petkovic, who happens to be carving out a world career in tennis right now. Many famous swimmers, world record holders, European champions and Olympic athletes do their laps here. Darmstadt is currently drawing attention beyond its borders with the SV 98 club in the third Bundesliga and established supra-regional events. The TCB International Ladies Tennis Tournament, stepping stone into world rankings, takes place in Bessungen every year. Darmstädter Lauftreff is among Germany’s oldest and largest running clubs, and the sport and game festival attracts more than 10,000 visitors to the Herrngarten every year.

In the future, we will continue to support sports and exercise in Darmstadt, also in the sense of holistic preventative health­care. The Nordbad swimming pool is going to be renovated and modernised in the coming years. Darmstadt’s citizens and visitors have access to four more swimming pools. There are over 1,500 weekly possibilities to do sports. The future of Darmstadt’s 100 something sports clubs is planned to have a solid financial basis.

It is, amongst others, its favourable location in the region that gives Darmstadt a high recreational value. Thanks to good traffic connections, the cultural and re­creational offerings of neighbouring cities are within easy reach as well while the Odenwald range and Bergstraße region represent attractive nearby re­­­­creational spaces.

Extensive school lunch offerings, sufficient daycare and after-school care centres as well as renovated school buildings are also among the important aspects of a resident-friendly feel-good city. People who work in Darmstadt or are taking a job here often have a family or plan to start one, and they inform themselves of the local offers and conditions.

With a varied school landscape, we are reacting to the requirements of not only the modern educational system but also modern families. We offer individualised solutions: 42 public schools with about 30,000 pupils, including six vocational schools, as well as a variety of privately operated schools are making a fundamental contribution to the educational system of Darmstadt. That must remain the same in the future. For instance, we are investing tens of millions in renovating the vocational school centre in the coming years.

In order to ensure compatibility between work and family for parents, numerous facilities in Darmstadt offer childcare. In cooperation with the family alliance “Bündnis für Familie”, the women’s support group “Frauenbüro” of Darmstadt, the City of Science, offers an exemplary database of free care centres: www.fami­­­lien-­­willkommen.de.

We are further putting an intensive effort into raising the feel-good quality of residing in the city centre, especially for families with children. Safety and cleanliness are prevailing factors in that regard: for, residents must be able to move about safely and without fear in order to feel truly at ease.

Shopping is a part of Darmstadt and makes our city centre unique. In a compact commercial area of 130,000 square metres, approximately 400 shops invite people to shop, from owner-operated speciality shops offering personal advice to famous brand-name shops with international flair. Between department stores, boutiques and bookshops, there are cafés and restaurants inviting people to relax. That, too, is part of Darmstadt’s charm.

All the assets of geographic location, science and economy combined with excellent living conditions make Darmstadt an attractive place for family and work.


01_Reißer,-RafaelThe author was born in 1958 and studied business management at the University of Applied Sciences Mainz. From 1994 to 2004, he operated a photo shop. From 2008 to 2009, he was public affairs manager at Merck KGaA. From 2009 to 2011, he was a member of the Hessian Landtag. In June 2011, Rafael Reißer was elected mayor of Darmstadt, the City of Science.