Thinking about living in Berlin? You're in for a real treat. Berlin can be hip or historic, with the energy of a bustling metropolis, always on the brink of something extraordinary. Fortunately, Berlin’s neighborhoods also model this range of personality, offering residential areas that can be trendy, artistic and extremely welcoming to the ever-growing expat community. If you want to feel truly alive, Berlin definitely offers an inspiring backdrop!
Whether you have chosen Berlin for a semester abroad, to take on an opportunistic internship or to begin your role with a promising young startup, Berlin’s neighborhoods will supply appealing options for your new base. However, it’s very important to understand the residents, communities and amenities that each of the 12 basic neighborhoods provide, so that you can make the most informed decision. You won’t want to find yourself in a quiet suburb, when you’re dying to be in the middle of things, or surrounded by history when you want a more modern locale.
When you’re getting organized to relocate to Berlin, you’ll want to be sure of what you’ll need to do before your move to Germany. In other words, there are a few legal things you’ll need to get out of the way before you can start planning your weekend visit to Munich and Oktoberfest!
Most importantly, you’ll need to register your address with the Bürgeramt. You may also need a student visa or a work permit. Additionally, you'll need to be covered by health insurance, but the good news is that you may be able to use your home plan if you’re coming from a country within the EU, EEA or Switzerland.
While you’re living in Berlin, you’ll want to spend a good portion of your free time exploring the numerous attractions and activities within Berlin’s neighborhoods. Depending on where you decide to stay in the city, you may even be within walking distance of the area’s top museums and sites of historical significance.
Of course, many expats are relocating to Berlin for the sole reason of attending one of its prestigious universities. With so many to choose from, a few to look at include:
Berlin is now world-renowned for its startup culture, with the most successful ventures in all of Europe’s capital cities. This makes Berlin the perfect breeding ground for digital nomads, entrepreneurs and students about to take the next step into the modern workplace.
Some up-and-coming startups offering plenty of opportunities for internationals include:
Many young professionals and even students enjoy working in co-working spaces, which are typically large, shared offices rented in areas of town that are popular with young professionals, offering workspace, Wi-Fi and the priceless opportunity to be able to network with other like-minded people. So, be sure to check out:
Now, let’s take a look at Berlin’s exciting neighborhoods, so you can begin your search to find a room in Berlin!
Mitte is the historic center of Berlin, and made up of both the East and West districts. However, its modern history is also very interesting, and it’s a prime example of how Berlin is in a flux of constant change.
In Mitte, you’ll find important sites such as the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Memorial and Potsdamer Platz, along with a host of museums and innovative galleries. There’s always something to see and do, that’s for sure!
But when you’re coming to Berlin to begin your professional career, you’ll find that opportunities are abundant, especially with startups. The area around Torstrasse is so full of tech industries that it’s called Silicon Allee, and it’s also home to recognizable names like Volkswagen and Microsoft.
If you’re in Berlin for a semester to broaden your horizons, Mitte also boasts the impressive Humboldt University. This means that you’ll find a great student crowd and nightlife scene in this neighborhood as well.
Transportation options are plentiful, and many people simply buy or rent a bike to get them from A to B. However, due to its “center of it all” location, rent prices may be a little higher here than in some outer-lying areas.
Offering a sometimes quirky, alternative lifestyle, this neighborhood definitely appeals to young people. A portion of the area was once an airport until a little over 10 years ago, and now it has been transformed into a trendy place to live and work. With its chilled vibe and variety of vegan eateries, vintage shops and markets, this is definitely where the cool kids hang out.
Many expats really like this area because it has a large Turkish and Arabic community, providing a real international touch and some of the best restaurants in Berlin.
It offers easy connections across the city, and while the pricing has risen in recent years, it still offers many benefits.
If you want to have a healthy mix of work, school and partying, then Friedrichshain may be the obvious choice. This section of Berlin was one of the most damaged in all of the city after the bombing in World War II, but now it has been rebuilt and is filled with residents who are just as creative as the city itself. Co-working spaces are popular here, as the entire neighborhood seems to pulse with innovation, and you can also find the Hertie School of Governance.
Needless to say, Friedrichshain has one of the youngest overall populations in all of Berlin, and it is ideal for someone looking for a lively setting. Plus, the housing prices are low, and you can get just about anywhere in the city in a matter of minutes.
Kreuzberg is full of diversity, with many immigrants calling it home. Kreuzberg is also known for its large Turkish community, hosting a large Turkish market, where price haggling is encouraged!
You’ll also find a large student population, who flock to the Kollwitzplatz for the bustling nightlife scene. Two major learning institutions are also located in this area, including the Macromedia University of Media and Communication and the Berlin campus of ESMOD, an international fashion school.
The prices in Kreuzberg are on the rise, especially with its proximity to Mitte and its viable public transportation options. It also boasts a “hipster vibe,” so this neighborhood is generating more and more demand.
When most Berliners think of Charlottenburg, their minds probably go straight to shopping, as the retail mecca of Germany is situated squarely on Unter den Linden. However, this also affords numerous work opportunities with big names like Apple and fashion legends Gucci and Chanel. If you’re here to study, then this area might be your best bet, especially if you enroll at the nearby Technical University, University of the Arts or the ESCP business school.
Charlottenburg is also popular for its Asian eateries, so if you love noodle houses, you’ll have a number of options from which to choose.
The Charlottenburg Palace is right in the center of the neighborhood, but it still has several residential areas. However, you’ll need a larger budget to find housing here.
Wilmersdorf is known for its restored buildings, offering space that’s a favorite among young expats. It also offers theaters and a cabaret, so the performing arts crowd spend a lot of their free time in this neighborhood.
This primarily residential area is very popular with young families and professionals, but it’s also clean, safe and has a thriving health scene comprised of vegan cafes and organic food shops. You’ll also find KulturBrauerei here, which was once a brewery but now is a huge draw for people looking for nightlife and dining all under one roof.
Immigrants also like to settle in the section of Prenzlauer Berg, close to Mitte, and it is consistently voted one of the prettiest areas in all of Berlin.
Countless artists, writers and thinkers also populate the area, as studio space is much cheaper than in other European capital cities. Plus, it’s also a good place to find co-working space, if you’re a digital nomad or just like to get out of the office or library for some fresh ideas.
Because this area is so popular with families, you can expect to pay a premium for housing. However, if Pankow offers the amenities and the conveniences that you crave, it may be worth the additional funds.
Lichtenberg is one of the most well-known neighborhoods in East Berlin, partly because it is a prime example of the architecture of its post-Cold War days, primarily made up of block-style concrete structures. Other reminders of the city’s history exist here in the Stasi Museum, filled with spy memorabilia, and a former prison, now the Hohenschönhausen Memorial. Depending on your point of view, some young people see this area as hip, but others note that it’s beginning to border on outdated. As you’re on the hunt for housing, this can definitely work in your favor, with low prices.
When you’re not browsing the popular Dong Xuan market, Lichtenberg also offers a wealth in business and internship opportunities. Many private companies are taking advantage of the budget-friendly pricing and are setting up shop as a result.
When you need to get around quickly in Berlin, the Berlin-Lichtenberg station offers a variety of links all across the city and beyond, so transportation is always fast and reliable.
This section of Berlin is typically noted as being quite similar to Lichtenberg, with its familiar Eastern German architecture as well. However, Marzahn offers the Gärten der Welt park, which is the ideal place to get away to for a little rest, relaxation or even exercise. It’s no wonder that this area is very popular with young people who like to walk, run or just experience a little bit of nature in a big city like Berlin.
Housing prices are considered moderate, and transportation options are plentiful, so you can easily get into the city center or Charlottenburg for work or to the universities.
Like so many of the cities in Berlin, Tempelhof played an important role during the Cold War with its now defunct airport, where American planes would land to bring supplies to the people of West Berlin. Today, this area is known for sports, which is why many young people enjoy living in this active environment.
Schöneberg was once a hot spot for culture in Berlin. In fact, many musicians lived here and even recorded albums in the neighborhood’s studio space, including the likes of David Bowie. It’s now known as the hub for alternative lifestyles in Berlin, with a myriad of gay bars and a pulsing nightlife scene.
The University of Economics and Law has its home in Schöneberg, so you can also expect a thriving student area with inexpensive housing options.
This neighborhood’s claim to fame is the Berlin Tegel Airport, so it offers excellent transportation options stemming off the airport and its surrounding area. The housing is inexpensive, and it offers a relaxed feel that many young people enjoy.
The area was once mostly industrial, but as of late, numerous large companies have moved into the area, so many work opportunities are now available.
Reinickendorf is also home to Lake Tegel, which is the second largest lake in all of Berlin.
It may be true that some people in Berlin refuse to acknowledge that Spandau is truly a part of Berlin, but if you’re looking for a good price on housing, you’ll want to give this neighborhood a chance. This region also boasts a lot of green space and even a couple of lakes nearby, so it’s also ideal for people who love being outdoors. If you want some peace and quiet after a long day at work or your least favorite course at the university, Spandau absolutely delivers.
But never fear, because the cosmopolitan city center is never far away, and convenient trains can take you into Friedrichstrasse in less than 20 minutes. You’re not far away from the action, but you’re also removed from the middle of it – a perfect blend for some.
If you’re into live music, then you’re also going to like living in Spandau, as a former 16th-century fortress now hosts regular open-air concerts, and even has a history museum.
Treptow and Köpenick are very popular neighborhoods for young people and families, providing both safety and moderate housing prices. The older industrial buildings are also being repurposed into office space for startups or co-working, so you can expect a young, hip crowd. Windsurfing, sailing and cycling are favorite pastimes in this region, but so is late-night dancing and the inspiring art scene.
Treptow is in close proximity to Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Neukölln, and frequent trains make it simple to get around. The popular Treptower Park offers a great place for picnics and is also popular with outdoor sports, along with being home to Archenhold Observatory, a favorite stop for science and astrology students. Plus, it’s a great place to see Berlin’s skyline.
Köpenick is actually even more low-key than Treptow, with more options for outdoor socializing. It’s a little further away from the center of Berlin, but, like Spandau, it’s a quiet retreat close to the city via public transportation lines.
This beautiful district was once comprised of seven villages, but now they have come together to create a diverse neighborhood that offers numerous amenities and attractions for young professionals and students alike, situated right along the outskirts of Berlin. You can expect an array of shopping centers, historical sites and recreational areas.
Freie Universität Berlin, home to the new Philological Library, makes this a dynamic center for students, along with the Botanical Garden, which is a frequent stop for scientists and naturalists.
Most importantly, consider working with a trusted housing platform, whether you’re moving to Berlin or other exciting destinations, such as Rotterdam. Apartments and private rooms are in high demand in Berlin, so you’ll want to begin your search early. Berlin is a hot spot for internationals, so dive in and find a neighborhood full of like-minded people who share your passions. Willkommen in Berlin!