The Ultimate Moving to Berlin Guide
Welcome to Berlin, the most exciting city on the planet. When you moved to Berlin, you made the right decision.
Berlin hosts an exciting art and nightlife scene and, best of all, it is very affordable to live in.
In recent years many artists and young people moved to Berlin, which is what gives the city its unique, edgy vibe.
Before making the decision to move to Berlin, however, there are a lot of things you should consider.
This site will help you find useful information about Berlin and aid you in your decision to move to Berlin.
Let us first brag a bit about this fantastic city and what there is to do before we give you some detailed information about German bureaucrazy and how to deal with this.
Things to Do in Berlin
What’s so unique about Berlin is the fact that you can explore different parts of the city for weeks without getting bored.
The obvious thing to do first is to follow all the tourists and admire some of the more famous sights in Berlin like the Museumsinsel, Brandenburger Tor or Potsdamer Platz.
But off the beaten track you will find many wonderful things, that you might not (yet) find in the Lonely Planet.
Check out our Top 10 things to do in Berlin list.
As Berlin is one of the biggest capitals in Europe, you can get easily lost in the decision of which neighbourhood suits you best.
Families might prefer to live in a quiet, family-friendly neighbourhood such as Prenzlauer Berg while students who want to party every day of the week are way better off renting a place in Kreuzberg, Neukölln or Friedrichshain.
To help you with your decision of where to move to in Berlin we put together a great overview over the most popular neighbourhoods in Berlin that should help you in making the right decision.
German Bank Account
The most important thing you need after moving to Berlin is a German bank account.
You will find out pretty fast that without a German bank account there is not much you can get.
Landlords will ask for the last 3 bank statements showing your income, mobile phone providers will ask for your bank details during the sign up process and also internet providers require you to show that you have a German bank account.
Insider tip: Sign up with N26 for a German bank account and you can do all your online banking without speaking one word of German.
The whole signup process plus their online banking interface is also available in English!
Again, we can’t stress this enough, make signing up with a German bank account your absolute No.1 priority even before moving to Germany.
Having a German bank account the moment you set foot in Berlin will save you so much stress and time.
Internet Provider and Mobile Contract Berlin
But with our help and tips this will be a piece of cake and you will be ready within a few minutes.
This will leave you with more time to enjoy this great city and to get to know all neighbourhoods.
Insider tip: 1&1 Internet has some of the best offers for both internet and mobile contracts in Berlin at the moment.
Is Berlin still a Cheap Place to Live?
No matter what you are hearing about the increase in cost of living, Berlin is still a cheap place to live in Germany.
OK, we have to admit that rents have exploded in the last 4-5 years and nearly doubled.
But compared to other European capitals Berlin is still a bargain.
Apart from the rent issue Berlin is still a very affordable place to live, especially compared to other mayor German cities such as Munich or Hamburg.
Going out for dinner with your significant other can be as cheap as 40€ together including beverages.
Find out more about how much your monthly expenses will be when living in Berlin.
Arriving in Berlin by plane
Most of you will be arriving in Berlin at the newly opened BER airport.
The old airport Tegel, which was located in the former Western part of Berlin has been closed the day that BER finally opened.
BER and the old terminal Schönefeld can be reached by S-Bahn, bus and train and a ticket costs 3,60€ (ABC).
Alternatively, you can also come to town by renting a car or via Taxi.
Car rental companies such as Sixt and Europcar are conveniently located at the main terminal.
Please be aware that Uber drivers are not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport.
For further information about transport check out our Berlin airport page.
Get used to German Bureaucracy
So now that you arrived in Berlin it is time to get used to a harsh truth: You will constantly be faced with German bureaucracy.
Germany is known for its complicated bureaucracy, which can make it difficult for foreigners and newcomers to register at the right institutions without getting confused.
But rest assured that after once you figured out what to do and where to go live will become a lot easier.
So let’s start setting you in Berlin step by step.
1. Get a German bank account
See above again for details or check our detailed page about the best bank accounts in Berlin.
We just wanted to repeat this part as it is the most important of all.
2. Find an apartment in Berlin?
Rents are still fairly low in comparison to other European capitals.
But prices for renting an apartment in Berlin started to almost explode since around 2011. Some Berlin neighbourhoods like Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg are reaching almost Munich levels.
Also the prices to rent an apartment differ heavily between the more popular neighbourhoods like Prenzlauer Berg or Friedrichshain and less popular neighbourhoods like Lichtenberg or Marzahn.
If you need to save some money on rent try to find a room in a WG (shared flat).
If you plan on spending a lot on your new home go for a roof terrace with a nice view rather than moving to a ground floor apartment with a little garden.
Continue with our guide to how to find an apartment in Berlin.
Just make sure to make finding an apartment your No. 1 priority after getting a German Bank account.
Believe us, these two things taken care of will save you a lot of hassle.
3. Get your Anmeldung (registration of your flat)
You have 14 days after moving into your new flat to register with the Bürgeramt of your area.
What is funny about this (well not really funny, but you will learn this harsh truth soon)?
Most Bürgerämter only have appointments in 2-3 months time.
So a classic Catch-22. But do not worry, with Corona and all the Bürgerämter are more relaxed about things.
All you need to do to get your Anmeldung is to book an appointment on the Berlin website, download the file “Anmeldeformular” and bring this document, your passport and the letter of your landlord that confirms that you are renting this appartment and you should be set up.
4. Have a health insurance in Germany
Depending on whether you have an employer or you plan to work freelance you need to have a German health insurance.
Your employer will cover half of the monthly costs and usually signs you up with a health insurance the moment you start working.
However, sometimes you might need to do this yourself, especially if you are unemployed or are a freelancer.
Now that you have taken care of the most important tasks it is time to enjoy your life in Berlin a bit. Continue reading about the best food in Berlin.
Best Food in Berlin
Berlin is without any doubt a paradise for food-lovers.
No other city in Germany, and probably Europe, offers a wider choice of different cuisines.
Thanks to the many different cultures living together in Berlin you will find very authentic restaurants that offer dishes you haven’t even heard of.
Best of all somehow food is still unbelievably cheap compared to other German cities.
Expect to find the best restaurants for low prices around Prenzlauer Berg, Neukölln, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, while restaurants in Charlottenburg or Mitte are more upscale and more expensive.
If you feel hungry already we recommend you visit our Top 10 Things to Eat in Berlin list.
Weather in Berlin
The weather is a topic that many people fear, but rest assured that Berlin has the most beautiful spring you will ever see and the most fun summer you will ever experience.
It is hard to put into words the inner happiness you will feel when you go for a stroll on a beautiful summer day in Berlin, stopping to have a freshly pressed juice and soaking up the sun sitting outside a cafe, watching the crowds of happy people walking around simply enjoying the atmosphere.
And best of all Berlin is surrounded by many clean lakes.
Why not taking the S-Bahn for 30 mins and leave the busy city behind you and rent a kayak and enjoy yourself?
Berlin a Green Capital?
Berlin is very environmentally friendly; recycling is taken very seriously and every home has a recycling system in the building.
Thousands of people cycle to work, making Berlin traffic seem like a dream compared to the chaotic mess on the roads of other European capitals.
Plus if you feel the need to escape the city chaos there are countless places to go for you.
In and around Berlin you will find hundreds of nice lakes that you can also swim in in summer.
Plus there are nice parks to go for a walk in every neighbourhood.
This is also something else for you to right under the Pros side of your list to move to Berlin – riding a bike is cheap, cuts down on travelling time and keeps you fit and healthy.
And those of you that don’t want to miss the comfort of a car should definitely try out carsharing in Berlin.
Moving to Berlin with children
Many capital cities around the world are not kid friendly.
Imagine your 2 year old toddler trying to learn to ride the bike next to a 4 lane highway – what a nightmare.
But rest assured, Berlin is a great place to raise your kids.
Every child is entitled to have a spot at a Kindergarten (called Kitas) – for free!
You read that right, you do not have to pay horrendous monthly fees to have your kids taken care of (in Munich monthly costs of a Kita can be around 500€ per kid!).
Almost all cafes and restaurants have chairs for kids, kids menus and things to play.
The only slight issue we have heard of so far is that once your kid is old enough to visit a German school (again free of charge) it can be that there are too many applicants per school and therefore you need to visit a school further away from your home.
Move to Berlin – Now!
Berlin, unlike any other big city, is very clean, safe and best of all, surrounded by green space and fresh air.
People are very active, you will never be stuck at home without ideas of what to do.
And if you’re wondering how people afford to always be on the go, it’s easy – Berlin has a steadily increasing business market, it is the start-up capital of the world after the Silicon Valley and new job opportunities in Berlin are always knocking at your door.
Berlin is the city where you can make all your dreams come true, where nobody will judge you for being yourself, whoever you are. Don’t wait any longer, move to Berlin as soon as you can!
Table of Contents of this Article
- The Ultimate Moving to Berlin Guide
- Things to Do in Berlin
- Berlin Neighbourhoods
- German Bank Account
- Internet Provider and Mobile Contract Berlin
- Is Berlin still a Cheap Place to Live?
- Arriving in Berlin by plane
- Get used to German Bureaucracy
- 1. Get a German bank account
- 2. Find an apartment in Berlin?
- 3. Get your Anmeldung (registration of your flat)
- 4. Have a health insurance in Germany
- Best Food in Berlin
- Weather in Berlin
- Berlin a Green Capital?
- Moving to Berlin with children
- Move to Berlin – Now!