What to know before moving to Berlin
Without a doubt, Germany's capital is a popular city to settle down in. Whether you want to experience the city's vibrant nightlife, rich culture or get a job in the bustling start-up scene and raise a family, Berlin seems the place to be right now.
Berlin is the ultimate habitat for all types of people, from creatives and entrepreneurs to professionals and young families. Berlin welcomes all, and in part this is helped by a lower cost of living compared to other large German cities and European capitals, as well as the turbulent past and deep history, that has shaped the 'all-are-welcome' environment. Life in the German capital is constantly changing. This city has gone through a myriad of tribulations, yet seems to come out stronger every time. Today, Berlin is one of the most liveable cities in Europe and continues to develop. Berlin represents freedom of expression through art, music, culture and politics but, before you choose the city of your new home, you need to get as much information as you can. And to help you out, we have compiled the ultimate guide for moving to Berlin in this article. Read on!
Cost of living in Berlin
As mentioned, you may be surprised to discover that the cost of living in Berlin is lower than in many other German cities such as Hamburg and Munich and even more affordable than other large European capitals. Yes! Despite being the German capital, life in this city is not as expensive as you might imagine. The average median cost of an apartment in Berlin is €6,447/m2 while in Munich the average cost is 45% higher, 50% higher in Paris and over 100% more expensive in London. However, it is important to keep in mind the fact that the cost of an apartment in Berlin does vary across the different districts. Comparing Berlin and Munich, in general, the cost of living is 15.8% higher in Munich. In Berlin, you will pay less for utilities, restaurant meals, food shopping and childcare. Find out more detail about the cost of living in Berlin here and how it compares to Munich, Paris, and London.
Where to live in Berlin
Berlin is famous for its east/west divide, and this divide still plays a role in the life of the city today. The districts in east Berlin are vibrant, multicultural and generally more affordable, while districts in the centre and west are quieter and sophisticated but can be more expensive. Let's break down some of the most popular central districts, so you know which one could be best for you.
Neukölln: If you are looking for the most multicultural and vibrant spot in the city once you move to Berlin, then Neukölln should be your #1 choice. In-between Neukölln's colourful streets and vibrant residential blocks you will find quirky bars, tasty restaurants and unique boutique shops. Neukölln neighbours the equally lively and popular districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, and is well connected to the west of Berlin. If buying an apartment in Berlin is part of your plan, you will find houses of all types in Neukölln, from modern newly-built apartment complexes to historical Altbau buildings that were built prior to 1945. The average cost of a vacant Altbau apartment in Neukölln is €6,305/m2. For more information on Neukölln, check out this detailed guide.
Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain: Want to live in the creative heart of Berlin? Well, buying an apartment in Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain could be a good choice for you. As multicultural creative hubs, the twin boroughs of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are home to all. In these neighbourhoods, the young, old, German, foreign, creative and professional all come together to enjoy a laid-back and fun lifestyle. Kreuzberg is famous for its exciting nightlife, interesting Kiezes (communities), thriving start-up scene and its proximity to some of Berlin's most breath-taking parks – Viktoriapark, Park am Gleisdreieck and Tempelhofer Feld. Friedrichshain, meanwhile, is most famous for Karl-Marx Allee, a socialist boulevard famed for its architecture, and Boxhagener Platz, the heart of this neighbourhood and surrounded by some of the city’s most exciting restaurants and bars. The average cost of a vacant Altbau apartment in Kreuzberg - Freidrichshain is €7,976/m2. Find out more about the wonders of Kreuzberg here.
Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf: Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf is a vast bourgeois borough located in the western part of the city centre. This is the ideal place to live for those looking to live in a quieter neighbourhood, but with quick and easy access to the east, to combine the best of both worlds. That's certainly not to say Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf has nothing of its own to offer. On the contrary, there are lots of special places on your doorstep, made to make your life comfortable, including the grand Kurfürstendamm boulevard, famed KaDeWe department store, Charlottenburg Palace, Tiergarten park, Tiergarten Zoo, great schools, easy transport links and some amazing Altbau apartments and architectural delights. The average cost of a vacant Altbau apartment in Charlottenburg- Wilmersdorf is €8,712/m2. Learn more about the quieter side of Berlin here.
Mitte: Mitte is located in the centre of Berlin and is truly the historical heart of the city, packed with beautiful architecture and fascinating history that effortlessly blends tradition with modernity. Mitte is a hotbed of activity and is surrounded by everything you will need, such as exciting museums, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping areas, and the famous Berlin State Opera. You are never far away from any attraction Berlin has to offer when you live in Mitte, and areas such as Moabit and Wedding, located just north of Mitte, offer affordable apartments and living options. The average cost of a vacant Altbau apartment in Mitte is €7,982/m2. Find out more about the sought-after Mitte here. To read more about all Berlin’s neighbourhoods, check out our neighbourhood guides.
How to find your dream apartment
Buying an apartment in Berlin is not always a walk in the park. Like most large cities across the world, Berlin property prices have been increasing over the last few decades and gentrification is taking place. But Berlin, as we know, is still an affordable option compared to other cities, and buying now could also turn out to be an excellent investment for the future if house prices continue to rise as they historically have done. It's also possible to buy real estate in Germany as a foreigner. One of the easiest ways to find the ideal apartment before moving to Berlin is working with a reputable real estate agent, and we have got you covered. A good real estate agent will not only show you how to buy apartments in Berlin, but they will also arrange for notarisation and even a power of attorney, and make the process as simple and quick as possible. Buying an apartment in Berlin does not need to be a complicated process. As long as you work with the right real estate company, you will certainly get the best place to call your new home. You can check out our current portfolio of exciting apartments here.
What is the purchase process to buy an apartment?
- Reserve a property you like for up to 3 weeks, so you have time to seek further information and financial approval
- If necessary, you can find an independent solicitor, and they can help with all legal matters
- Obtain financing
- The draft contract is drawn and requires approval
- Notarisation - the purchase contract must be certified by a notary
- Final property purchase. At this point transaction and commission costs are due. At EverEstate, all properties are commission-free.
Find out more about the buying process here.
Types of housing in Berlin
When moving to Berlin, you might not be sure about the type of housing you will find available. To help you out, we have outlined the most common housing types in this city and their benefits.
Altbau: Altbau apartments are older apartments that were constructed from the mid-19th C. through to 1945. Altbau apartments are elegant, historical, well-built, and highly sought-after.
Neubau: Neubau apartments are modern, newly-built apartments blocks that benefit from a range of modern amenities but often lack the style of an Altbau.
Studio apartments: These are the smallest housing units in Berlin and the cheapest living options. They are ideal for single people and young professionals, and usually are one-room apartments.
Healthcare in Berlin
Healthcare in Berlin, like the rest of Germany, is excellent. It is worth noting, however, that it is required by law for everyone to have some sort of health insurance in Germany. Therefore, don't forget to count the cost of health insurance when calculating your expenditure once you settle down. There are several different healthcare providers, and your employer will cover 50% of the cost that automatically comes out of your monthly payslip.
What are the top hospitals in Berlin? Some of the best hospitals in Berlin include:
- Charité Universitätsmedizin - Mitte
- Park-Klinik – Weissensee
- Schlosspark-Klinik – Charlottenburg
- St. Joseph Krankenhaus – Tempelhof
- DRK Kliniken Berlin Westend - Westend
Public transport in Berlin
Berlin has one of the best public transport systems in Europe. It has a vast subway network as well as buses, trains and trams. An annual AB-zone ticket will cost €63.42/mo. Apart from public transport, there are various car, bike and e-Scooter sharing companies that can provide you with convenient ways of moving around, plus plenty of bikes lanes throughout the city.
Opening a German bank account
After moving to Berlin, one of the first things you should do is to open a German bank account if you have not got one already. Remember, not having a bank account can stop you from getting certain things such as financial credit or even paid by your employer, so it's best you get a bank account as soon as you can. You don't need to go to a bank to get a German bank account. The whole process can now be done online with a bank such as N26, or you can choose a traditional bank such as Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank or Volksbank.
Things to do in Berlin
A unique aspect of living in Berlin is the number of things to do and see across this city, throughout the year. Each area has its own attractions, vibes and cultures to explore. Some of the famous attractions in Berlin are, of course, the East-side Gallery, Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower and Museum Island. But when living in Berlin you can go beyond the usual tourist spots, get to know the city, and enjoy the quieter and lesser-known spots, that really help make Berlin a thriving city. Its own attractions, vibes and cultures to explore. Depending on the season we have compiled what to do in this amazing city:
- Your guide for long and sunny summer days is here
- Tops things to in spring time
- Enjoy the autumn with these top activities
- How to spend the cold but magical winter weekends
Regardless of what you love doing for fun, Berlin will provide it for you!
If a move to Berlin is pulling at your heartstrings, we would recommend making the plunge, and if you need any more information regarding Berlin or purchasing a property just get in touch, we are the experts.