• Berlin
  • 4 Things to Know in Preparation for Your Move to Berlin


4 Things to Know in Preparation for Your Move to Berlin

Take a look at our guide to what you need to know before you arrive. Are you thinking of moving to Berlin? We don’t blame you. It’s a beautiful city steeped in modern history, art and music, and a thriving night scene. For these reasons, it’s a popular pick for expats and travelling students. Anyone looking to indulge a creative side, or gain some culture that their hometown doesn’t afford, heads to Berlin. If that interests you, take a look at our guide to what you need to know before you arrive.

The famous Brandenburger Tor. Photo: Florian Wehde/Unsplash

Get your job in order

Moving to a foreign country can feel a lot like putting the cart before the horse. You could fall in love with a city or country and decide you’re moving there. Meanwhile, that country’s government website usually says, “Sure. Sounds good. What’s your job?”

Depending on the country and its foreign exchange policy, you’ll have a better chance of getting a visa if you have a job that the country is lacking, so it usually becomes a requirement. You can get working holiday visas, but they only last six months, and most of the time they still say you should have your job lined up before you apply for your visa. The main difference there is that there is more leeway with what job you can get and there is an age limit.

The German government allows you to gain a long-stay visa if you: already have a job in Germany, wish to establish a business or work as a freelancer, if you want to look for a job once you arrive in Germany, working as an au pair, or are looking for a working holiday visa.

However, the “How to apply for a Germany work visa?” category outlines the first step as “Get a job offer in Germany”, so you can either go hunting, or ask about any overseas transfers in your country. The good news is that there are a lot of English-speaking jobs in Berlin, since most Europeans are taught in English for the sake of tourism.

Get your accommodation in order

In order to get your German Employment Visa, you’ll have to get your residence set up. On the list of required documents, which includes application forms, passports, health insurance, and employment contracts, you will need proof of residence.

So, it’s time to go house hunting. Berlin is a beautiful and big city but doesn’t have the reputation for being so crammed or metropolitan as say, New York or Tokyo, or even London. Don’t get us wrong, we’re talking about the city, so expect a lot of apartments, but they aren’t as small or expensive as you would find in London, Amsterdam, or Paris.

Typically, a 1-bedroom apartment can be rented for around €950 a month, and if you want to look into getting a roommate you can lower that down to around €450. Depending on the area, buying a property in Berlin, which again, is likely to be an apartment, will set you back an average of €5,400 per square meter. The lowest of all the major cities in Germany, including Munich, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and Cologne.

However, if you are looking to buy, you’ll have to add homeowners’ insurance to the list of paperwork to handle on this move. Before you make a Google search using the search term “liability insurance Germany” take a look at this blog.

Check the crime rates

Crime is everywhere. Especially in any major city, so it shouldn’t put you off, but it doesn’t hurt to be aware of it. Berlin is generally pretty safe but isn’t free of petty crime. There’s a large population of cyclists in Berlin so one of the top crimes is bikes getting stolen, so invest in a bike lock. A lot of European major cities also have a level of pickpocketing going on, so start sitting with your purse in your lap.

Berlin’s unfortunate history, has made it pretty liberal since the 90’s, so it’s actually very safe and accepting for everyone, which might be a surprise to some.

Read up on the culture/history

As you are likely to have deduced, Berlin is steeped in history. It’s a German city, so the scars of WWII are still felt. This has resulted, perhaps ironically, in a violent swing in the other direction politically.

Berlin has been known for its more liberal views for decades now and understanding why is integral to understanding its people. There is the war, but also the Berlin Wall and the suppression there. Entering into a conversation without at least a basic idea of what was going on is not advised if you want to make friends.