Berlin City Guide

By Adrian Wagstaff


Berlin’s always been on the map. These days, its popularity is more about the businesses opening their doors there, than about the fact it has more canals than Amsterdam or even Venice. With over 180km of Serpentine waterways, Berlin is a beautiful city, but the reason for its popularity is the dramatic increase in rapidly growing technology start-ups disrupting the market and making Berlin their home.

As is typical with tech start-ups, the right candidate isn’t always on a client’s doorstep. Sometimes we need to look further afield and when we find the perfect candidate, we will help them to relocate and start their new adventure in Berlin. We’ve learned a few things about living and working in Berlin along the way.  So, we’ve put together this handy guide, to take the stress out of settling in to Berlin life - whether you are relocating your family due to work or taking up an opportunity by yourself.

Things you didn’t know about Berlin

Berlin is aesthetically pleasing with many churches, monuments and even swimming spots. Its 180 plus kilometres of serpentine waterways are all linked together and are crossed by a staggering 1,700 bridges. As for green-space, Berlin alone has over 2,500 parks! This coupled with the exuberant Berlin outdoor lifestyle (made possible by well-planned cycle path networks in every city, for leisure and commuting), its rich history (Including the Berlin Wall), high octane lifestyle and of course a diverse range of cuisines, makes Berlin a popular place to live and work in.

Housing in Berlin

Compared to cities like Paris, London and New York, Berlin is the perfect mix of affordable housing, open green spaces and quiet suburbs close to the city centre. It’s both walkable and easy to cycle, so owning a car is a matter of choice, not a necessity.

Types of accommodation in Berlin include:

Renting your own apartment in Berlin

Due to Germany having one of the lowest rates of housing ownership, renting is much more common. However, the norm is unfurnished flats, therefore costs can quickly mount up depending on what furniture you buy and how you want to furnish your rented apartment in the long term.

WG/flat share

WG (Wohngemeinschaft) is a popular German term for ‘flat share’. This is a favoured option amongst those who are new to Berlin. The flat share includes having your own room and sharing common spaces. It is great if you don’t mind sharing and are looking to meet new people.

Temporary/furnished accommodation

This option is also great if you are new to the city, however, can be a little more expensive. Whether you are looking to stay for a month or a year, having a place that is already equipped with the essentials will give you more time to look for the right permanent place. It will also mean that you can spend more time and money roaming Berlin and exploring the city, without having to worry about furniture shopping and the costs that that involves.

Berlin’s visa requirements

Berlin’s visa process is as follows: all visitors arriving at a Berlin airport from a foreign country need a passport. EU nationals do not need a visa, however visitors from outside of the European Union may need one depending on the length, frequency and purpose of their stay. UK Nationals do need a visa to work in Germany. More information on Visas can be found here.

The cost of living in Berlin

Overall, the cost of living in Berlin is a little lower than living in London.

Some statistics for the cost of living include the following: A basic dinner out (for two) in a neighbourhood pub would cost you €31, whilst 2 tickets to the movies would be roughly €21.

Monthly rent for an 85 m2 (900 Sq. ft) furnished accommodation in an affluent area would be €1,423. Whilst monthly rent for 85 m2 (900 Sq.ft) furnished accommodation in a non-affluent (normal) area would be roughly €1,077.

As for groceries, 12 large eggs would cost you €3.10, 1kg of apples would be €2.42, 1kg of potatoes would be €1.81. More importantly, a bottle of good quality red wine would cost you €6.00. That’s about £5.38 at the time of writing, so a little lower than in London.

Salaries in Berlin

In Berlin, the average salary is €46,378. The most popular occupations in Berlin are Sr. Software Engineer, Software Developer and Software Engineer which pay between €47,078 and €60,352 annually.

The most in-demand industries include e-Commerce, Information Technology (IT) Services, Software Development and Business to Consumer (B2C).

Looking at creative roles, Web Developer roles start at an average salary of €39,257, whilst Senior UX Designer roles start at an average salary of €54,618 per year.

Commuting and Public Transport around Berlin

Berlin is well connected. Travelling by train from Berlin to Amsterdam, would take less than 7 hours. If you were to travel by car, then it would take you approximately 6 hours. Berlin to Munich is roughly 5 hours by car and 4 hours 10 minutes by train (via Berlin Ostbahnhof).


Primary School (Grundschule)

There are three types of primary schools in Berlin. These include:

  • Open schools: Offer academic study between 07:30 and 13:30 with tutor support as well.
  • Compulsory all day schools: Offer a combination of mandatory education, tutoring and day care from 08:00 and 16:00 - four days a week.
  • Part compulsory all day schools: Offer a mix between compulsory and open schools, switching every two days. Voluntary or even mandatory afterschool support is also provided.

Secondary Schools (Oberschule)

There are four types of secondary schools in Berlin. These are: Grammar School (Gymnasium), Occupational Grammar School, (Berufliches Gymnasium), Comprehensive Schools (Gemeinschaftsshule) and Integrated Secondary Schools (Integrierte Sekundarschule, ISS).

Private Schools

There are a variety of private primary band evensecondary schools in Berlin that seek to offer traditional German, bi-lingual and multicultural education. More information on Berlin schooling can be found here.

Global Companies in Berlin

As for global companies, Berlin is home to BMW,, Ikea, Ernst & Young, Hello Fresh, Zalando and Wayfair LLC. Whilst homegrown tech talent includes:

AgTech start-up PEAT (founded by Bianca Kummer, Charlotte Schuhmann, Korbinian Hartberger, Pierre Munzel, Robert Strey and Simone Strey) looks to help farmers all across the globe by providing specific advice on crop damage. With just one click of your smartphones camera you can take a picture of a damaged plant in no time, and the Plantix app will determine the cause using image recognition software, so it can advise the right treatment.

N26 (which was founded in 2013 by Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal) is an app-only bank with more than half-a-million users across Europe. N26 looks to provide debit card, international money transfer, investment services, and overdraft protection, along with cash withdrawal and deposits at selected outlets. Its key selling point is that it supports easy borrowing via your smartphone.

In your spare time

Aside from exploring Berlin by bike, Berlin is also home to The East Side Gallery (which is 1.3 kilometre section of the Berlin Wall). It is painted by artists from 21 countries and includes 101 images all drawn by them, making it the longest open-air gallery in the world.

Berlin is also home to one of the largest constructions in Europe, the Berliner Fernsehturm (Berlin TV tower) is 368 metres high with its panoramic viewing floor at 207 metres, offering fantastic 360-degree views of the city and attracting almost 1.2 million visitors each year.

If you’re considering moving to Berlin, we recommend beginning with a detailed checklist of things to get in order before you leave; here are a few we recommend.

If you would like to discuss opportunities in Berlin or a potential career move don't hesitate to get in touch with one of our consultants today.

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