I wanted to share what I have gone through to move to Berlin. Yes, it is a tricky situation, and if you are not persistent, there are others who will take your spot. If you manage to find a spot, and you’re in, now what? Welcome to one of the coolest cities in the world. Here’s my little guide about moving to Berlin.
Transportation to Berlin
If you’re coming from the west coast of America, you should look into plane tickets from LAX, flying into Berlin or Paris. Using Google Flights, you can get round trip tickets for about $400/each, flying out of LAX to SXF/CDG. The train from Paris to Berlin is cheap, too. You also get to see the countryside of France and Germany, depending on the route you take. You might also see some of Belgium! Sometimes, it’s even cheaper if you only book the one-way ticket now, and a return ticket later. This is what we did, coming from Sacramento. Greyhound down to LA was $20/each, so all together it was still cheaper than flying from SFO, SMF or OAK. Expect a gnarly 10 or 11-hour flight. They should feed you twice, but bring some PowerBars or something similar.
Staying in Berlin: Visa
Fun fact: the German passport enjoys the most visa-free travel of any passport in the world. As an American or a citizen one of many other countries, visas are not required if you are a tourist and plan to stay for less than 3 months. If you want to stay in Berlin for more than 3 months, you’ll need either a work visa or a student visa. There are countless other websites which explain the nuances of getting these, so I won’t go into those details now.
If you are staying in Berlin outside of a hostel or hotel, you may need to register (“Anmeldung”) with the local registration office (“Bürgerämter”). It is advised that you make an appointment very early, as the slots fill up. You will likely have to go at some odd early hours in the morning. Keep refreshing from the beginning of each day to see if any slots open up.
Living in Berlin: Housing
Welcome to the 21st century, where the distribution of wealth has broken affordable housing in nearly every city. Berlin plans to combat this by 2030 by building 200,000 new affordable units, but until then, you are stuck with the rest of us. It is VERY hard to get a place in Berlin.
My wife is a native German speaker, and I accredit that to being the only reason it was easier for us to find a place. Even with this help, we’re only really finding temporary spots, as in, a few months here and there. Now that I have a well-paid job, we can get our own apartment in a few months, after saving up. Our first bout in Berlin was spent in a flatshare in Prenzlauerberg, which is an up and coming hipster neighborhood. Frankly, I’ve never seen so many young people pushing strollers, or as the Europeans call them, “baby carriages”.
Living in Berlin: Transportation
Become a friend of the BVG, which is the massive public transportation network that Berlin offers its citizens. I was simply blown away by how many buses, street trams (like light rail), subway stops and connections they have out here. sbahn.berlin has a wonderful interactive map of the entire network, which I highly recommend you bookmark for later.
In Berlin, the U-Bahn is the subway, which has 10 lines and 174 stations. About 1.5 million people per day ride the U-Bahn, so it is very busy! Remember that Berlin is sized up like LA, in terms of overall footprint. It is a huge city, with wide streets and huge green spaces. Maybe not as big as the entire sprawl of the greater metro LA, but without the U-Bahn, you could be biking for easily 4 hours to go from edge to edge. Walking is almost impossible from one side of Berlin to the other.
Supplementing the U-Bahn is the S-Bahn, which is a network of aboveground trains that service alternate routes from the U-Bahn. The most important S-Bahn routes to learn are the S41 and S42, which are clockwise and counter-clockwise lines around the city center, affectionally referred to as the “ring”, sometimes also called the Ring-Bahn.
eats and room mate/flat share websites