Relocating to Berlin is becoming an increasingly popular option for thousands looking to build a better life. In 2019 alone, 33,000 foreigners registered as new arrivals living in the capital, bringing the total number in the German capital to well over 770,000. Recognising the worrying lack of skilled labour in the city, the German government has introduced various immigration acts in recent years to attract workers from Europe and beyond. As a result, moving to Berlin has become more attractive than ever before – particularly as the city was the fourth largest economy in the world in 2019. If you are one of the many considering relocating to this economic stronghold, our top 5 tips will make your move a little more straightforward.
1. Check your Right to Work
Before you consider relocating to Berlin, it is crucial that you have a clear understanding of your entitled rights to work and live in the city. As is usually the case, the ease with which one can move to Germany is largely determined by nationality and employment status.
Being a major EU nation, it is no surprise that Germany welcomes EU citizens with open arms – meaning EU citizens are automatically entitled to live, work and study in the country with no requirement for a visa. For those relocating to Germany from the UK, however, things are a little more complicated. The UK is currently in a transition period of leaving the EU which is due to end on the 31st December 2020. Until that date the UK will remain an EU state, meaning British citizens can enjoy the same rights to live in Germany as any EU citizen. However, for British citizens seeking to remain in the country beyond that date, additional documentation will likely be required. The details surrounding British citizens right to live in Germany after the UK leaves the EU have not yet been finalised, but will be continually updated on the Gov UK website.
Rest of the World
Germany extends a generous allowance of 90 days’ stay with no need for a visa for citizens of: Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and the United States. To work in the country, you will require a residence permit which can be applied for once an offer of employment has been secured in the country. Citizens of other countries will require a job seeker visa to look for work in Germany, and a work visa to be employed in the country thereafter.
If you are a citizen of any other country, you will need a job seeker visa to look for work in Germany for up to six months. There are certain requirements which need to be met before applying for this visa, including certain qualification levels.
2. Find a Home
As relocation specialists, it’s well known that at SilverDoor we have an impressive portfolio of hundreds of excellent serviced apartments in Berlin. For those seeking a long-term, temporary solution to housing in the city, we can certainly find an ideal Berlin apartment. Indeed, a serviced apartment is the best choice if you are arriving into the city without a prearranged permanent residence awaiting you (especially as this cannot be secured without the necessary documentation which can take some time to acquire). But if your goal is to permanently relocate to the German capital, finding the right place to call home should be high on your agenda.
Before thinking about the best city locations and neighbourhoods, having a basic understanding of the rental culture in Berlin will make finding the perfect place more straight forward. The housing market in the city is very competitive, and rent prices have increased by 115% since 2004 due to demand. With flat rentals typically costing around €800, flat sharing (wohngemeinschaften) is very popular – particularly with young professionals new to the city – but of course, this all depends on your ability to rent or buy, and also whether your family will be accompanying you when relocating to Berlin.
Berlin is notorious for its counterculture scene, meaning many of its neighbourhoods tend to attract young adults and students. One neighbourhood that is particularly attractive to professionals and families, however, is Prenzlauer Berg. This district features many picturesque streets thanks to its abundance of pre-war architecture and cobbled streets. Having a relatively affluent population, Prenzlauer Berg has a relaxed, residential feel with many shops and leisure activities in the vicinity. Particularly popular is Mauerpark, which offers a beautiful space to enjoy time spent with family, drinks on the grass or even a good browse of the flea market.
If you prefer to be closer to the action, Mitte is the area for you. Featuring Berlin’s best known tourist attractions, such as the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate, Mitte is teeming with international visitors, a lively night scene and constant events and activities. With art exhibitions, museums and fine dining galore, Mitte is perfect for those relocating to Berlin who love city life and want to make the most of Berlin’s electric atmosphere.
3. Register Your Address
For those relocating to Berlin on a long-term or permanent basis, registering your residential address is an important first step. You must ensure that this registration is completed within 14 days of your arrival – and unlike other registration processes, the process must be completed in a designated citizen office. Once this registration is complete, you will be able to obtain a tax ID or an Anmeldebestätigung, which is necessary to apply for a residence permit and a bank account. Registering your address is free, but be aware that there is a Church tax in place in Germany meaning that if you declare a religion on your application you will be subject to an additional 8% tax.
4. Learn the Lingo
Berlin is a thoroughly international city, and as such there is very little to no discrimination towards people who cannot speak German. Furthermore, English is widely spoken, meaning it is more than possible to go for many days without encountering a single language related issue. But it is of course in the interest of anyone relocating to Berlin to have at the very least a rudimentary understanding of the German language as to gain a better understanding of your environment, form closer bonds with neighbours and colleagues, and become better integrated with the Berlin community and national identity.
When living in the city, attending regular classes to improve your grasp of German will rapidly improve your knowledge of the language. Speakeasy Berlin is an excellent language school where newcomers are made instantly welcome, and tailored classes for foreigners present a clear path to learning. Furthermore, attending classes such as these provides plentiful opportunities to socialise with others in a similar situation, and can lead to the formation of many new friendships. For more tips on etiquette and language in Berlin, read our insider’s guide to successful business in Berlin.
5. Enjoy the Culture
Your work will form an important basis of your introduction to Berlin, but it is recommended to soak up as much culture as the city has to offer when you can as to truly get a sense of Berlin’s identity and people. A less obvious choice, Berlin’s theatres provide an ideal opportunity to soak up the art scene, and language barriers aren’t a problem. With English Theatre Berlin presenting plays in English, and countless other theatres providing subtitled showings (including the beautiful Maxim Gorki theatre), there is no excuse not to attend the theatre regularly once you have completed relocating to Berlin. You can even enjoy live stand-up comedy without a grasp of German thanks to Comedy in English Berlin – these linguistically friendly options being indicative of Berlin’s welcoming nature as a whole.
To immerse yourself in the city’s history, explore the many museums found throughout Berlin. From the Museum für Film & Fernsehen Berlin showcasing the city’s love affair with cinema, to the Hamburger Bahnhof museum of contemporary art, there is a wealth of history and culture to discover in your new home city.
Continue your exploration of Germany – browse our range of excellent corporate apartments in Germany and broaden your horizons. Considering relocation opportunities elsewhere in Europe? Read our guide to relocating to Amsterdam and see which city speaks more to your lifestyle.