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Moving To Berlin

So, you’re fed up with crowded trains, wet weekends and the nine-to-five? You’ve decided to move to Berlin, Europe’s most exciting capital city, a Utopia of low-cost living and a legendary arts and social scene. Congratulations! Berlin may be one of the greenest and most relaxed cities, but this won’t be a walk in the park. There are a number of issues to consider and things to know before you make the break. Don’t worry, though, it’ll all be well worth it. We’ve put together this guide, based on our own experiences, to make sure your relocation is as smooth as possible, so you can get on with enjoying this wonderful city. It’s a 4 part guide covering, finding a place to live, searching for a job, where to register and health insurance.

If you're already looking for a temporary home for a while before you commit to a long term rental, take a look at our selection of apartments in Berlin that can be rented by the month, week or night. Or for more budget options we have Monthly Berlin Rentals under €1200 and Monthly Berlin Rooms under €700

PART 1: Finding a place to live in Berlin

As the capital city of Europe’s strongest economy, Berlin is still incredibly cheap, but the situation is changing scarily fast. Only a few years ago there was a surplus of living space, but now demand is so high that it’s not unusual to attend an accommodation viewing with 20 other hopefuls. That’s why it’s best to book yourself a temporary base in a hostel or a holiday apartment for the first few weeks, so you can look for suitable, longer-term places in your own time (and it does take some time - allow up to a month or so). Check out our "Where To Stay" guides to the different Berlin neighbourhoods to help you further.

Once you’ve sorted out your temporary arrangements, you really do have to be based in Berlin to start looking properly. WG Gesucht and Studenten WG on-line services are great places to start.  ‘WG’ is short for Wohngemeinschaft, which means flatshare, a room in a shared apartment with other people. Flatshares and sublets are by far the quickest and most hassle free ways to find somewhere. Ex-Berliner, an English language magazine has a small number of apartments and rooms advertised in their classified section. Craigslist advertises both sublets and flat shares, but beware the scams and do bear in mind that the prices are usually higher, although you do get the benefit of dealing in English.  If you are however looking for a permanent place of your very own, bring an abundance of patience and paperwork with you. Immobilien Scout 24 is almost ubiquitous as are Zitty and Tip magazines which have extensive accommodation listings in the classified section at the back (in German)

Here are some helpful German words to help you with your search:

- Kalt miete: Rent without utility bills
- Warm miete: Rent inclusive of water and heating bills but without electricity & telephone bills
- Kaution: Deposit - usually 3 months in advance
- Provision: Agents finders fee commission (usually the nicest apartments have a provision)
- Abschlag: The additional items the existing tenant may want to sell to you. For example the built in kitchen or some of their furniture.
-Untermietvertrag:  Subletter contract. This is usually required if you are renting a room in someone’s flat in a flatshare scenario, for example, between you and the main tenant responsible for the flat.
-Zwischenmietvertrag:  A temporary rental contract. This is for an agreed, usually quite short, period of time, between you and the person whose room or flat you are temporarily renting whilst they are away.
-Mietvertrag: A standard rental contract between you and the landlord/owner directly.

Flats that are advertised as Nachmieter gesucht means that the existing tenant or landlord is looking for the next (nach) tenant to take over the flat.  If you are looking to take over a flat on a Nachmieter basis then you will be signing a standard Mietvertrag directly with the landlord. You will probably be asked to provide the following documents:

-Last 3 payslips or letter from current employer stating how much you earn
-Schufa (this is a letter with your credit score) You can either apply for the print out online or go to the institute in person which is relatively pain free.
-Letter from your current landlord saying you are up-to-date with your rent.
-Copy of your registration, "Anmeldungsbestätigung" paperwork which you get from the town hall -(see full details in part 3).
-Possibly your last 3 bank statements

Here are some more tips to find your own permanent apartment:

- Bring a map or make full use of your smartphone’s GPS.
- Don’t expect the street numbers to be in any predictable order!
- Keep an eye on shop noticeboards, lamp posts, trees, etc. for notices advertising accommodation.
- Treat viewings almost like a job interview & dress in a way that conveys the sense you are reliable and financially secure.
- Do not be surprised if the apartment does not have a kitchen, installing a basic one is easier than you may think.
- Try not to bat an eyelid if the existing tenant wants to sell you their kitchen or floorboards they've installed!
- Go to viewings with all your paperwork so if you love the place, you can take it immediately. Otherwise, someone else will snapit up before you can say Bürokratie!

If you're looking for a temporary home for a while before you commit to a long term rental, take a look at our selection of apartments in Berlin that can be rented by the month, week or night. 

PART 2: Job opportunities in Berlin

If you’ve googled ‘jobs in Berlin’, you’ll have probably come across at least one forum thread full of negative comments about the work situation here. True, there is still relatively high unemployment in Berlin, but as with every other aspect of the city right now, things are changing rapidly and it’s an exciting time to be in the thick of it.

Not speaking German is a disadvantage, of course, but it doesn’t completely rule out opportunities. In the last couple of years Berlin has become the startup capital of Europe, and with a focus on technology and web-based products, English is the first language for many of the jobs in this burgeoning scene. If you’re a web developer of any description, you’re laughing. These startups also need online marketers, copywriters and community managers, among other diverse roles.

Along with big international names like Ableton, Native Instruments and Soundcloud, there is an ever-expanding list of cool, Berlin-based companies, from 6Wunderkind to Changers to Amen, Readmill, Betterplace and ResearchGate. New online magazine, Venture Village, is an insightful resource for news, features and jobs at Berlin’s hottest firms. Toytown Germany’s job page is an excellent resource, as it aggregates listings from some of the most popular local and national websites. Berlin Startup Jobs is also a great place to look.

In addition, there are English-speaking job opportunities in the fields of teaching (English) at one of Berlin’s many Language Schools, tour guides, hospitality, retail, journalism and music (promoting, life performances etc.). If you’ve got a bit of money saved, there is a big internship culture in Berlin. Though not for everyone, these minimally paid placements can sometimes provide valuable new skills and/or a foot in the door.

Learning German is not strictly necessary, and you’ll bump into expats who’ve been in Berlin for the long haul without picking up even the basics. It’s a far from ideal scenario, however, as there are a surprising number of situations where the phrase “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” won’t get you anywhere. A visit to the doctor’s for example, or the vet, along with any official business (and this is Germany, so there’s a lot) - the civil servants are not allowed to speak English to avoid any misunderstandings or discrepancies on their side -  will need to be conducted in German. In any case, just being able to interact with your fellow citizens in their native tongue is an important part of making a new city really feel like home. Read our "Language School" guide to help you decide which school to enroll with.

If you're looking for a temporary home for a while before you commit to a long term rental, take a look at our selection of apartments in Berlin that can be rented by the month, week or night. 

PART 3: About registration in Berlin, and where to do it

If you plan to stay for more than three months, you will need to register (anmelden) yourself with the local Bürgeramt (Town Hall) to get your Anmeldungsbestätigung (confirmation of registration) document. You’ll have to do this every time you move to a new house within Germany, and deregister (abmelden) if you leave altogether. The Bürgeramt with whom you register is dependent on the area in which you live. Don’t forget to take your passport and a copy of your rental contract. If you are living in a flatshare and you don’t have a rental contract, a blank contract (Mietvertrag)  can be bought from the local newsagents. Just fill it out and kindly ask the flatmate who has the main contract with the landlord to sign it.

If you're looking for a temporary home for a while before you commit to a long term rental, take a look at our selection of apartments in Berlin that can be rented by the month, week or night.

PART 4: Health insurance

If you decide to live in Germany full time rather than just visiting as a tourist, it is apparently compulsory to have health insurance. Moreover, you need to make sure that your insurance company is accepted in Germany, otherwise you risk having to pay backdated charges for all the time you were with an unauthorised insurer.  If you are moving with your company or are employed full time, you will need  tell your employer which insurer you have chosen and the monthly payments will be automatically deducted from your pay. If however you are a freelancer or self employed, then standard health insurance can be terrifyingly expensive. If you are are looking for a basic, no frills expat low cost solution, then try IMG or ALC Health.  Alternatively, if you work in the creative industry (artist, PR, musician, writer, filmmaker etc) , there is a special low cost German health insurer called Kuenstlersozialkasse, which offers comprehensive cover. This article in the Telegraph is very useful as a starting point for health insurance in Germany

Questions about re-locating? No problem! Let us help you find a great place to stay - contact us here

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