Meet Mark. The 21-year-old Irish medical student is a new arrival in Berlin who has recently begun an internship at Charité Hospital. He’s well aware that Berlin is in most ways a student paradise – young, inexpensive, culturally diverse, full of universities and great nightlife – until you have to find a flat in a booming city where the population is growing by 50,000 per year. Like many of Berlin’s youngest and most ambitious newcomers, Mark had a set starting date for both his work and his studies, meaning he didn’t have a few extra weeks to devote to sleeping on friends’ couches while visiting WGs (aka Wohngemeinschaften, flatshares) with throngs of other housing-hungry students.
Until very recently, however, such an on-the-ground housing hunt was the only option for new arrivals, especially out-of-towners. Luckily for Mark, not only did he find a way to rent a fully furnished apartment (almost unheard of among WGs) before his arrival, he also landed in a community where he feels at home among countless other open-minded international students.
Mark had the luck of discovering Neon Wood online. The student apartment complex is smack in the middle of the city, right by the Frankfurter Tor transit hub in Friedrichshain. Here, the impressive former Cuban embassy has been refurbished to house almost 500 students in single and double studio apartments, starting at €635 per month including access to the community areas and events, as well as wi-fi and utilities (no need to sign confusing contracts with German companies!). “It’s super modern and stylish, and everyone here is really friendly,” Mark says. “I like the international community and the neighborhood.”
The studios already contain everything students need: furniture, closets, kitchen cabinets and appliances, blinds and curtains, lighting (a lot of regular Berlin flats don’t even come with a fridge or single light bulb!). No need to buy a washing machine and lug it up to your apartment – all you need to bring is kitchen stuff, cutlery, towels and bed linens, a potted plant or two and some decorations. When you add up the time and money you save, Neon Wood easily competes with apartments and flatshares currently on the market. As for Mark, his search for a decent, fairly priced WG room was hopeless. So he chose Neon Wood as a first option, thinking he would maybe later move into a WG. Now he is staying because he really loves the place.
Easy to rent
Mark found that signing up to rent a student apartment at Neon Wood couldn’t be easier, thanks to the app-like efficiency of their online interface. Everything can be done in German and English. There’s also no Schufa credit check, which removes a massive hurdle facing many foreign students. All someone has to do is send in a scan of their passport, a copy of their certificate of enrolment (Immatrikulationsbescheinigung – Neon Wood only accepts verified students!) and basic bank account details. Tenants pay between one and three months’ rent as a deposit, depending on whether they’re from the European Union or elsewhere. Housing requests typically get approved within hours. Combine that with an inclusive and highly international community and there’s probably no easier way to start a dynamic student life in Berlin.
The uni years aren’t just about hitting the books! Which is why Neon Wood is all about helping students get socially embedded in Berlin. The complex has a large ground-floor common area with a gaming room, study area, pool table, air hockey, table football (Kicker), a TV, and a large living room-style laundrette in the basement. Regular events – a weekly yoga course, Kicker contests, talks about the practical aspects of life in Berlin – help new arrivals feel comfortable and integrated into city life while mingling with fellow residents from around the world. They also put on events at the beginning and end of each semester in order for fellow students to connect with each other. Neon Wood is all about residents feeling like they’re part of a community as soon as they arrive.
Mum and dad are going to love this: Security is a serious concern in any large city, and Neon Wood has responded to this concern admirably. The building and common areas can only be accessed via key cards. Additionally, security cameras watch over the corridors and common areas. The reception is also staffed till late, and a security firm monitors the building 24/7.
For Mark and many others like him, Neon Wood was a stroke of good luck: moving in helped him feel like part of the city and student community from day one. As housing becomes harder to come by, Neon Wood is keeping Berlin’s central neighbourhoods young, diverse and within reach for students.
More information at neonwood.com