Moving To Berlin in 2015
This guide will be regularly updated when the author can distract himself from his new found Berlin lifestyle.
Berlin. Who doesn’t want to live there? It seems that almost all young, cultured people that I talk to nowadays have visited the German capital recently and expressed an interest in moving there. I’m no exception, having visited Berlin twice in the past year I never wanted to leave and upon arrival both times I got a sense of arriving back at home when I stepped off the plane at Schonefeld. I’m well traveled but very few places give me that feeling in my stomach that Berlin does.
Back in November 2014 I decided that I needed to scratch the itch and at least attempt to live in Berlin for a short while less I regret it for the rest of my life. In this guide I’ll be covering my experiences of moving as they happen from finding a room to getting a sim card and a bank account, hoping to create an up to date account of the arduous task of moving to Berlin.
As a bit of background, I’m 24, male and moving from the UK, this guide will be most useful to those moving to Berlin from within the EU. I will not be covering aspects such as visas in too much detail as I’m luckily enough to be able to basically just turn up in Germany and tell them I live there now and visas scare me.
Finding A Room
First things first it’s going to be competitive no matter what. Berlin doesn’t just appeal to an international crowd, it’s a very popular place for nationals to move to from within Germany so bare in mind you will be competing against German residents as well as people from all over the world.
Finding an apartment is going to be significantly harder than finding a room in a shared flat with other people. To get an apartment you’ll need all the official documents, resident status, employee status, references and more, the chances of you having these when arriving to Berlin are slim unless you have been employed by a company that help you with the moving process so for the sake of this guide we’ll focus on finding a room in a shared apartment, a Wohngemeinschaft or WG as you’ll see it referred to on lots of flat sharing web sites.
I used WG-Gesucht as my main source of searching for a room and had a budget of around 400 Euros per month “warm” (bills included). Craigslist also had a few bits posted amongst the scams and there are some good Facebook groups to browse as well. I started messaging the advertisements that were written in English as my German was too poor to converse in and for every 10 messages sent I heard back from 2 or 3. Bare in mind that I was making it clear I was still in the UK at this time, I wasn’t moving over till January time. After a few weeks and a few empty trails I started to get some more concrete stuff, I think the messages I sent helped, I was honest, friendly, up-front about my situation and more than anything I was myself, after all I’d be living with these strangers for at least a few months. Fast forward to the start of December and I had two offers based off of Skype calls and Facebook chat sessions and a week later I was offered a room for a month in Neukolln by someone who had expressed interest in writing for Shlur. With the success that I had I’m hoping to portray that yes, it’s still difficult to find a room in Berlin but it’s by no means impossible, I got three solid offers from the comfort of my Cheshire based home in England.
I went for a room with a lovely couple in Friedrichshain for €400/month all in as well as as a €200 deposit. The room is for 3/4 months so gives me enough time to settle in and find my next place should I choose to stay.
A few tips and tricks:
- Don’t give anyone any money until you meet them and you have the keys to your new place. Don’t. Do. It.
- Be yourself in messages, maybe add a little quirky touch but try not to come across as desperate.
- Be persistent. Start looking at least a month before you want to move.
- Be prepared to move here without a room and stay in a hostel for a week whilst still searching. Being able to actually visit apartments will help a lot.
- Utilise and friends or contacts you have in Belrin, they may know someone who’s moving soon.
- Expect to pay around €400 for a decent sized room in a popular area. Berlin’s not as cheap as it used to be however I still consider it very affordable compared to English cities.
19.2.15 Edit: I want to add that some friends of mine recently moved over here from England after a short two week stay at family friends were able to acquire all the documents needed to rent their very own apartment in Neukolln. Their experience sounded a lot less intimidating than a lot of people seem to make it out to be and proves that it’s not that hard to get your very own apartment in a short time scale.
SIM Cards and Mobile Phones
I make a living off the internet and within my first day of arriving in Berlin I was already scouting out potential mobile phone providers to give me some sweet, sweet data. You may notice that there is not a “Bank Account” section to this guide yet and that’s due to the fact that I still don’t have a German bank account and thus I will be here telling you about the best way to get connected as soon as you arrive without a German bank account.
I originally posted the following on a Reddit post that is still very relevant when looking into setting up your mobile in Berlin:
After a bit of research I found the best solution to be Lidl Mobile. You can buy pre-paid Lidl Sims in all their stores but most of them still need you to have a bank account to register. The Classic sim is the one you want, you can register online without entering any bank account details and be set up within an hour. You’ll see it by the checkout next to all the other sims in store. I think it’s 10euros and comes with 10euro credit on it. After registering you can change your tariff to any of the ones listed here. I opted for the Internet-Flatrate which gives you 500mb flatrate for just 6.95/month. Texts and calls are at 9c but I hardly use them. They have a great website that you can log in to and check your usage, change your tariff and top up. Top ups can be bought at all Lidl stores and you just whack in the number online when your month runs out.
This is by no means the best package you can get but it is ideal to get you started if you have just arrived here and don’t have a bank account yet.