Moving to Berlin? Here are 8 things you need to know (part 1)


Thinking about calling Berlin “home”? Here are 8 things you need to know before moving. Some apply to Germany in general, but others are particularly applicable to the capital city – part 1 and 2.

Always Carry Cash 

In a land praised for their efficiency, innovative development and engineering you would think that paying with a card would be the optimal choice. No change to fumble with, no bills to unwrinkle – simply a quick swipe and you’re on your way (especially helpful when the cashier at Lidl is whipping items down the conveyer belt 50 times faster than you can put them in your reusable shopping bag – but will get to that at another time).

You can’t depend on places taking cards, and many won’t allow you to pay with a card under a certain amount – usually €5 or €10. Make sure you always have some cash on hand and if you see your bank’s ATM – take advantage, they are typically few and far between.

Standing in line is a Darwinian experience

Coming from the US, I grew up accustomed to the notion that when you’re standing in line, for example at the grocery store, and a new register opens up, the person who would be the next to go to the cashier goes first to the new register. When moving to Germany, be prepared this is not the case. It’s literally whoever can get to the open cashier the fastest – and there is nothing rude about it. Only the strong survive.

You really should learn German

Yes, you don’t have to learn German to live in Germany – even for a few years at least. Most people speak very good English and you may find when you do try to speak in German, they will respond in English. However, it becomes really clear once you start learning the native language that it is much appreciated. People can be a bit friendlier – perhaps because they feel a better connection to you now that you’re making the effort to speak their language. As well, new opportunities – especially for making local friends will open up.

If you plan on moving to Germany to live full time, learning German is a necessity. Dealing with bureaucracy, finding a job, handling your visa applications – these all must be done in German. Find a cheap class at the local Volkhochschule or enroll in a more intensive one at a local private academy. You can also join international meetups and meet other foreigners just like you looking to improve their skills.

Techno music is king

Unlike many other German cities – where you can find a variety of music choices on a night out – techno reigns supreme in Berlin. It’s made the city world famous, but if it’s not your cup of tea, you’re sorta outta luck…

The biggest clubs are where you want to get the true techno experience in Berlin, but there are also more then enough small places scattered throughout the city that pride themselves on blasting beats all night long.