Moving home. The great adventure! The Housing Anywhere family is made from individuals who have travelled, lived and permanently emigrated abroad. We’ve shared in the excitement, broadened our horizons and benefitted hugely from our adventures around the world. Sadly, we’ve also endured the hardships. Whether it’s being struck by a hidden charge, being refused a flat because you didn’t know about registration or just failing to activate your public transport ticket, it’s frustrating, and some essential information isn’t easily found online. That is, until now.
Our guide will have you familiar with all the relevant do’s and don'ts of moving to Berlin - from finding accommodation in Berlin to obtaining national health insurance - so that you don’t have to endure the hassle. You’re spending a year, or maybe a few months, abroad exploring a whole new world - you deserve better than to waste your time fretting and panicking about what you have to do!
Use this guide, benefit from it and share it with anyone you think needs pointed in the right direction. Oh, and one last thing - have a great time in Berlin!
As the capital of such a powerful nation as Germany, you won’t be surprised to hear it holds around 3.5 million people within its limits. For such a massive city, full of gigantic buildings, it feels incredibly spacious. You are probably familiar with parts of its turbulent and emotional history, but there’s so much more to the fine city than meets the eye - spend a few months living in the capital and you’ll learn so much about its roots and atmosphere that you may not want to leave!
Incredibly, a third of the city is made up of parks, forests, rivers and lakes. You’ll like it here.
The official language is German. It accounts for over 95% of the population and is definitely the language you should try to learn if you’re preparing for your trip. There are other dialects, but in Berlin you’ll be speaking traditional German the whole time, so best to stick to that. English is almost exclusively taught as the first foreign language at schools, and a substantial number of Germans (especially younger generations) are fluent. If you don’t know any German yet, a good grasp of English should get you quite far.
Berlin is not exactly a summer holiday destination, but the summer temperature can reach around 25oC in July, the hottest month of the year, and that’s more than enough to get a strong tan. Ironically, June is the wettest month of the year, so you need to tolerate a month of downpours to get your sunshine. In winter, it can drop marginally below freezing, so you’ll need a summer and winter wardrobe in your baggage.
There are 9 official public holidays during the year in Berlin, made up of secular and Christian festivals. Christmas Eve (December 24th) isn’t a public holiday, but most retail outlets and supermarkets will close early to get home that evening. On the actual public holidays, these places will almost certainly be closed.
Virtually all business will be closed on a Sunday, including supermarkets, so it’s important to get all your shopping done either side of the sabbath. Fortunately most restaurants will not bar their doors, so you’ll still be able to eat out.
For the month leading up to Christmas Day, most Germans celebrate Advent, a time of merriment and optimism which often involves delightful Christmas markets! The markets will sell an assortment of hand-made toys and crafts, candles, foods and all the usual fare at quality markets. The Christmas markets are not to be missed, as they are some of the finest in Europe. They’ve come a long way since their first appearance in 1393!
Like the estranged German cousin of Mardi-Gras, this crazy festival sets the area alight with costumes and parades right through the centre of the city. It takes place about a week before the start of Lent (i.e. six weeks before Easter) and is one of the most memorable events in the calendar. Be sure to take a day off from studying (not that you’ll need much convincing…) as Karnival is quite unlike anything else.
Probably the best-known German tradition and most popular beer festival in the world, Oktoberfest is a must-attend event. It lasts a whopping 16 days, right in the centre of Munich, and plays host to over six million visitors. It is estimated that over 1.3 million gallons of beer are drunk every year, along with half a million roast chickens. It’s crazy, and it’s great fun.
List of official public holidays in Berlin (2017/18):
Incredibly, there is more than 1.5 times as many museums as there are rainy days in Berlin each year - 180 to 105 (more or less).
Berlin has a lot of bridges. In fact, it’s got more than Venice. Way more! There’s around 1,700 in total - it’s amazing people don’t get lost more…
Six US presidents have made major, historic speeches right in the middle of the city.
If you’re ever itching for a beer at an unsociable hour, fear not - there are 1,000 Spätis dotted across the city, which are late-night stores where you can buy alcohol.
A 2015 study showed that 50% of Berliners are single - maybe good odds on finding a lovely gent or lady out there?
Only 25% of Berliners were actually raised in Berlin - there are over 494,000 foreigners from 185 nations!
The city is also massive - nine times the size of Paris.
You know how Turkey is the kebab capital of the world? Well, there are more doner kebab eateries in Berlin than Istanbul, numbering at least 1,600!
The city spends around €35 million per year on cleaning graffiti from its streets - the number stays consistent because the artists (vandals?) always resurface to replace the old work with new pieces.
Berlin is famed for its nightlife, and every weekend there are around 50,000 people dancing their hearts out at the capital’s clubs - a pretty incredible number, really.