With its massive scale and diverse range of responsibilities and functions, Ramstein Air Base, home to the US Air Force’s Europe headquarters, is one of America’s most important overseas military facilities.
But just outside of the air base’s gates lies the small German collective municipality of Ramstein-Miesenbach, which was formed from the junction of the two eponymous towns. The town’s population of 20,000 roughly equals the number of people who work on Ramstein Air Base daily.
Its proximity to such a large concentration of American and NATO military personnel means the town has a uniquely international feel to it — even though it manages to keep its own unique character.
Wandering through the residential districts of Ramstein, the town seems like a thoroughly German country village.
The houses are charming and well maintained, and the nearby air base is completely hidden from view.
Within the center of the town is a quaint shopping street with a variety of restaurants and a few pubs.
Across from the church is an American-style barber shop, an indicator of the tens of thousands of expats living nearby.
Signs of American cultural influence are ubiquitous in the town, ranging from English-language notices for an 'anything but clothes' party ...
The most visible reminder of the nearby presence of Americans might actually be the number of car dealerships throughout the town. The dealerships specifically target Americans -- with the promise of their purchases being tax free.
While the dealerships signify the American presence, the real estate market in Ramstein shows how Germans are expecting Americans to stay for the long-term. Americans working at Ramstein are allowed to live off-base, and a majority of them do.
Numerous apartments are built or refurbished with US citizens in mind and they feature amenities that ex-pats would love -- such as flat-rate calling back to the States.
Businesses throughout the town also proudly display their ability to conduct work in both English and German.
Ramstein is surprisingly international for its size. It has a range of restaurants including Indian, Mexican, Korean, and Thai.
During the summer, the town held free concerts every week with bands playing everything from Cuban to Irish music.
Ramstein is still very much a German town. The region even holds an annual wine festival, in slight competition with Oktoberfest in eastern Germany.
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