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Moving to Berlin

What To Know if You Are Moving to Berlin

If you are dreaming about how to move to Berlin, you are probably not alone. Of the city’s 3.5 million population, about one million migrated there or descend from families who did. People have always found compelling reasons to move to the German capital, like its excellent standard of living, cultural offering, and, more recently, its start-up and technology community.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

One of the first things to consider regarding the relocation process to Berlin is where exactly you will live. Berlin was nicknamed “poor but sexy” by former mayor Klaus Wowereit, but it barely justifies that tag now, especially after rent prices have increased so much. Average rents have risen 129% since 2009. However, a new law could be introduced to limit how much landlords can charge renters. Find out more about housing in Berlin in our Living in Berlin guide.

Despite potential issues finding the perfect place to live in Berlin, the city has lots of attractive features, like its thriving start-up scene. Plus, Germany has the world’s fourth-largest economy, and Berlin is doing well too—if you want to join a start-up in the city, either as an entrepreneur or a worker, finding investment and job opportunities is a distinct possibility.

And there is so much life and culture to enjoy: Berlin is seen as the night club capital of the world, where you can dance to the best DJs around. Plus, there are around 170 museums, including the Neues Museum, where you can see a bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, among other spectacular artifacts.

Keep reading for more things to know before moving to Berlin, such as how to find an apartment.

Relocating to Berlin

Why Move to Berlin?

Berlin can be beautiful and green in the summer and there are lots of places to enjoy the sun outdoors, while in winter, there are lots of museums to visit and Christmas markets to enjoy. The people can be warm too and they will really appreciate it if you make an effort to Speak a little German. Having said this, the English language is used widely in Berlin, making it easier for many expats to settle. Still, knowing the local lingo will ease your transition into your new life.


Efficient Public Transportation

Bus, tram, train, and underground services will take you anywhere you want to go in the city, and they are usually very reliable, comfortable, and in excellent condition. You can also take a taxi. Look for the yellow light to find one that’s available.

You can get more information on U-Bahn, S-Bahn, tram, and bus services, such as timetables and fares, on Berlin’s route planner website.

The Art Scene

Berlin has thriving street level and underground art scenes. Each year, Berlin’s local government gives 18 “Berliner Grants” of 10,000 EUR (11,080 USD) to artists in the city, helping to keep the experimental scenes going.

The annual Gallery Weekend which takes place around the end of April in Berlin is a demonstration of everything the city’s major galleries have to offer. For three days you can sample exhibitions as around 50 galleries open.

Alongside the art, Berlin has close to 200 museums—the Schwules Museum documents the lives of queer and trans people from Germany, the Judisches Museum tells the story of Jewish people, and 1.3km of the old Berlin Wall now functions as the East Side Gallery.

Job Market

Between 2005 and 2018, the unemployment rate in Berlin was cut in half, and now sits at 8%. According to Business Location Center, a company that offers information about starting a business in Germany, there are 2,500 start-ups in Berlin, and 500 are set up each year. Berlin is a center of talent and innovation and there is sure to be somewhere you can fit in.

The manufacturing industry is also doing well with 700 companies and more than 100,000 workers. Plus, these companies are working with the city’s start-ups to make sure they remain on the cutting edge of technology. The city also has healthy tourism, creative, and education and research sectors. Berlin gets about 135 million day-visitors every year and in 2016, the city hosted a record 31.1 million overnight stays, keeping hospitality staff busy.

Cost of Living

Compared to other European cities, living in Berlin is relatively affordable. In the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Berlin ranked as only the 81st most expensive city in which to live out of 209 around the world. The survey showed it is more expensive to live in Frankfurt and Munich than Berlin.

Plus, accommodation is much cheaper than in other major European cities. You can get a one-bedroom apartment in Berlin for 550 EUR (607 USD) on average. Also, figures show that to maintain a certain standard of living, you would only need to earn 64% of what you need to earn in London, and 75% of what you would need in Paris.


Pay in Cash

There are lots of businesses that will not take debit or credit card payments, so you may need to get into the habit of having cash with you at all times. Card payments in Germany as a whole only overtook cash payments for the first time in May 2019 (209 billion versus 208 billion EUR, or 230.2 billion to 229.1 billion USD).

Berlin is Closed on Sundays

Most shops in the city are closed on Sundays, which is something Berliners and former Berliners might complain to you about. Your best bet for limited shopping on Sundays is inside train stations, such as Friedrichstraße, Ostbahnhof, and Südkreuz. In Ostbahnhof, for example, you will find Penny and REWE grocery stores. There are also pharmacies open on Sundays in some train stations.

Also, there are eight dates each year when all shops in the capital city are permitted to open between 13:00 and 20:00. Find out the next Verkaufsoffene Sonntage (sales open Sundays).

These train stations have grocery stores which are open on Sundays:

  • Friedrichstraße: Edeka
  • Gesundbrunnen: Denn’s Biomarkt
  • Hauptbahnhof: REWE City
  • Lichtenberg: Edeka
  • Ostbahnhof: Penny
  • Südkreuz: Edeka
  • Zoologischer Garten: Ullrich

These train stations have pharmacies open on Sundays:

  • Alexanderplatz: Apotheke and Rossmann
  • Friedrichstraße: Apotheke and Rossmann
  • Hauptbahnhof: Apotheke and Rossmann
  • Lichtenberg: Apotheke and Rossmann
  • Ostbahnhof: Apotheke and Rossmann
  • Südkreuz: Apotheke and dm
  • Zoolischer Garten: Apotheke
Slow Internet

Despite Berlin’s flourishing start-up community, it can be hard to find reliable, fast internet. A report by NPR in January 2019 said that 70% of the city’s businesses had complained that their internet speeds were slow or inadequate. Some companies have had to relocate or ask staff to work from home due to weak internet connections.

Poor Airports

Berlin Tegel Airport is the main airport in Berlin, however, it is relatively small and can become very crowded, with travelers sitting along corridors as seating is difficult to find. Plus, there is little variety in terms of eating options, with Burger King and Starbucks the main recognizable outlets, joined by typical German offerings, such as Hermann’s sausages and Kamps’ bread products.

Things to Know Before Moving to Berlin

You Must Complete the Anmeldung

If you are planning to move to Berlin permanently, you must register your Berlin address within two weeks of arriving in the city. You can do so at a Berlin citizen’s office. There are more than 40 citizen’s offices in Berlin where you can register your address—and you must complete the process in person.

You must register an address to get a tax ID or an Anmeldebestätigung, which you need to get a residence permit, a bank account, and a cellphone contract.

Affordable Housing

Although rent prices have more than doubled in the last decade, they are still reasonable compared to prices in other major Western European cities. For example, a one-bedroom place in Berlin could cost around 550 EUR (607 USD) while, in, it is considerably more expensive, at 1,080 EUR (1,200 USD) per month for a studio flat.

The Housing Market is Competitive

There are lots of people moving to Berlin and most of them are looking for a place to live. That is why it may be a good idea to secure a property before you move to the city. However, visiting Berlin and the property before signing a contract to live there also has its benefits.

Note that Berlin plans to stop landlords increasing rents in the city until 2025, which might positively impact the market.

Tips and Advice for Moving to Berlin

Visit first

Before you make a permanent move to Berlin, you should visit the city to see if it is really where you want to live. Maybe the reality will not live up to the ideas you have in your head or what you have seen on the internet. This will also give you a better idea of the layout of the city and you might be able to decide where you want to find a home or where you do not want to live.

Research Real Estate

Read our Living in Berlin section to find out more about Berlin’s most and least expensive neighborhoods to give you a better idea of what you can afford and where you should be looking for a new home in Berlin.

Get Expert Help to Move

If you are sure you want to move to Berlin, you are in luck, because InterNations GO! provides expert relocation services, such as international moving, home-finding, and visa support. We will help you start your life in Berlin on the right track.

Moving with Pets

Berlin has been voted the best city in Germany for dogs. However, there are certain rules dog owners must abide by:

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash no more than one meter long in public places, apart from inside designated dog areas.
  • Certain breeds (sometimes known as “fighting dogs”) must wear a muzzle in public. These include the pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and bull terriers. Importing these breeds into Germany is banned.
  • Most dogs, apart from small “lap dogs” should be muzzled on public transportation.
  • Owners must clean up after their dogs or face a fine of at least 35 EUR (39 USD). There are Ordnungsamt officers who patrol for dog owners violating such laws, so it is best to play by the rules.
  • Dogs must be registered with the local tax office, microchipped, and insured for liability (Hundehaftpflichtversicherung) as soon as they arrive in Germany. There is a 120 EUR (133 USD) per year tax for one dog, and 180 EUR (199 USD) per year for each additional dog.
  • Written permission is required from landlords to keep a dog in their property.
  • Certain restaurants refuse entry to dogs.
  • Certain public spaces, like supermarkets and museums, are no-go areas for dogs.

Find more information on importing animals to Germany in our Moving to Germany guide.

Is it Hard to Move to Berlin as an Expat?

As you will have seen from this guide, there is a lot to consider when relocating to Berlin, such as the language, weather, and jobs available—and overall, rent and real estate prices are at an all-time high, despite the promise of a five-year rent price freeze. However, the rise of start-ups in the city and the innovation they bring is just one of the factors that have helped create fantastic opportunities for expats to come and thrive.

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Visas and Work Permits

One office you will need to become familiar with if you move to Berlin is the Bürgeramt or Einwohnermeldeamt (registry office). There is one office in every borough of the city, so you should have no problem finding one close to where you live. You will have to go there to register as a new resident. Before you go, collect your passport and rental contract or sales agreement showing your new home address. You will need these documents to get your residency registration certificate. Find out more about visas and work permits in Berlin in our Visas and Works Permits in Germany guide.

Living in Berlin

Read our Living in Berlin guide to find out more about healthcare and transportation in the city. We explain what it is like living in Berlin, and how to find an apartment in the German capital.

In addition, there’s tips and advice on how to live in Berlin, including how to get your tax ID. And you can usually rely on public transportation so consider getting a monthly ticket for the train before you arrive—you can buy a Deutsche Bahn card (BahnCard) with which you can enjoy 25% off super saver, saver, and flexible fares.

We also suggest where to live based on different personal needs and how much accommodation costs in different neighborhoods, plus mistakes to avoid when renting. It is the essential guide to living in Berlin.

Working in Berlin

Working in Berlin could be a fantastic opportunity to further your career, and there are roles in all sorts of industries available. For example, did you know there are more than 100,000 people employed in manufacturing in Berlin? And that is not the only thriving sector there.

Getting a job in Berlin could be that bit easier once you have read our Working in Berlin guide. There you can find out which are the most required jobs for the city’s companies, and which are the most in-demand skills. We also give you a helpful list of the city’s co-working spaces and information on average salaries in Berlin in euros and dollars.

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

Updated on: October 21, 2021

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