Edgy Berlin is cosmopolitan and eclectic. The once-divided city lures a variety of artists and is known for its nightlife, rich culture, and most recently, the emergence of an entrepreneurial scene.
Unlike other big cities, Berlin is clean, safe, and surrounded by green open spaces. Everything is a bike ride away and you’ll never run out of things to do in one of the main startup capitals of the world.
UTC+1 (UTC+2 in the Summer)
Cost of living
The best part of Berlin is how relatively inexpensive it is to live. While salaries are high, rent is very affordable.
Most important of all, the internet. When signing up for any internet provider, you will need to wait for a technician to come to your place (mind you, it’ll take something between 2-4 weeks after you’ve signed up). Prices are around €20 and €30 depending on internet speed (maximum is usually 100mbps).
A travel pass will cost you around €80 and covers every public transport. The system is more than adequate, runs almost around the clock on weekends, and until late during the week (it can get tricky during the winter, though). You can either take the S-Bahn (train), U-Bahn (metro), trams or buses.
You can also pedal pretty much everywhere, but expect that eventually your bike might get stolen (it’s kind of a right of passage). You can buy it back at the flea market at Mauerpark, though!
It’s no shock the German people value order, privacy, and punctuality. Careful planning and preparation is essential in both business and personal lives. It’s perfectly normal to set up a coffee with a friend two weeks in advance! But don’t worry, Berliners are usually very easy-going.
Large apartment $1,241.93 Medium apartment $968.76 Small apartment $695.58
- Cost of Living5
5km taxi ride $12.00 A Cappuccino $3.30 A beer $1.10 A kilogram of Apples $2.10 Bread $1.00 Inflation [score] 0.54 Lunch $11.00 Monthly fitness club membership $40.00 Monthly public transport $92.00 Movie ticket $12.00 Price of a meal at a restaurant $58.00
Average monthly increase in number of startups 56.0 Average monthly increase in number of startups [score] 0.82 Coworking spaces [score] 0.80 Coworking spaces on WorkFrom.co 43 Meetups [score] 0.82 Meetups groups 200 Meetups members 136592 Number of investors 609 Number of startup events in the last 12 months 934 Number of upcoming meetup events 198 Startup climate scene [score] 0.92 Startup events 135.0 Startup events 156.0 Startup events [score] 0.80 Startups [score] 0.92 Total number of startups 1312
- Venture Capital9
Funding accelerator names Axel Springer Plug and Play, Startupbootcamp Berlin, Techstars Metro Number of funding accelerators 4 Venture capital [score] 0.85
- Travel Connectivity7
Airport hub 142 Airport hub [score] 0.63 Intercity train connectivity [score] 0.79
Human city page http://cities.human.co/details/Germany/Berlin Traffic handling [score] 0.82
- Business Freedom9
Business freedom 90.00 Business freedom [score] 0.97 Freedom from corruption 79.00 Freedom from corruption [score] 0.86 Lack of labor restrictions 50.60 Lack of labor restrictions [score] 0.29 Time to open a business 10.50 Time to open a business [score] 0.90
Crime rate [score] 0.65 Gun-related deaths per 100,000 residents per year 1.01 Guns per 100 residents 30.3 Lack of gun related deaths [score] 0.98 Lack of guns [score] 0.86 Lack of guns and gun-related deaths [score] 0.92
Healthcare expenditure [score] 0.88 Life expectancy (years) 81.04 Life expectancy [score] 0.86
Best university in ranking Humboldt University of Berlin Best university ranking 57 Country mean scores in PISA math test 517.09 Country mean scores in PISA reading test 507.68 Country mean scores in PISA science test 524.12 PISA math ranking (high school) 12 PISA ranking 14 PISA ranking (high school) [score] 0.91 PISA reading (high school) 16 PISA science (high school) 11 Percent of happy students 0.78% Percent of low performers in PISA math test 0.18% Percent of low performers in PISA reading test 0.14% Percent of low performers in PISA science test 0.12% Percent of top performers in PISA math test 0.17% Percent of top performers in PISA reading test 0.09% Percent of top performers in PISA science test 0.12% University quality [score] 0.53
- Environmental Quality7
Air quality [score] 0.66 Cleanliness [score] 0.70 Drinking water quality [score] 0.65 Urban greenery [score] 0.81
Currency for urban area EUR GDP growth rate 0.02% GDP growth rate [score] 0.34 GDP per capita $45,888.42 GDP per capita [score] 0.79
Effective company profit tax rate on payouts as dividends [score] 0.29 Income tax level [score] 0.50 Profit tax (% of profit) 0.23% Time overhead to file company taxes 218.0
- Internet Access6
Download speed (Mbps) 47.54 Internet access (download) [score] 0.77 Internet access (upload) [score] 0.42 Upload speed (Mbps) 8.13
- Leisure & Culture9
Art galleries 86 Art galleries [score] 0.75 Cinemas 81 Cinemas [score] 0.54 Comedy clubs 64 Comedy clubs [score] 0.85 Concert venues 108 Concerts [score] 0.73 Historical sites 204 Historical sites [score] 0.95 Museums 153 Museums [score] 0.84 Performing art venues 104 Performing arts [score] 0.68 Sport venues 57 Sports [score] 0.67 Zoos 25 Zoos [score] 0.88
Homosexuality acceptance (percent of the surveyed population in favor) 0.87% LGBT Equality Index 85.92 LGBT Equality Index [score] 0.88 LGBT adoption rights ✖ Step-child adoption only LGBT age of consent ✔ Equal LGBT blood donation regulations ✖ Banned (indefinite deferral) LGBT conversion therapy regulations ✔ Banned LGBT discrimination legality ✔ Illegal LGBT employment discrimination legality ✔ Sexual orientation and gender identity LGBT gender changing rights ✔ Legal, surgery not required LGBT homosexuality rights ✔ Legal LGBT housing discrimination legality ✔ Sexual orientation and gender identity LGBT marriage rights ✔ Civil unions Tolerance towards minorities [score] 0.76
Urban area elevation (meters) 44.00 Water access [score] 0.92
Visa & permits
EU citizens can enter Germany freely and are entitled to live and work in Germany without a visa, but still need to get a residency permit. Non-EU citizens planning to live or work in the country will need to get the necessary work or residency permit (it’s essential to have it approved before arriving!).
There’s a place for everyone to feel at home in Berlin, be it a junior tech pro looking for their first big break or a senior tech pro with their family. Berlin is divided into 12 different neighbourhoods, each with its own vibe.
Most of Berlin’s fast-growing startup scene is located around Torstrasse. Prenzlauer Berg is the most family-oriented neighbourhood, filled with organic food shops and vegan cafes. Kreuzberg is ideal for those who love being a part of a varied culture scene; it’ll never be boring. Friedrichshain is also great for those who enjoy a lively lifestyle; the neighbourhood offers affordable housing and all sorts of restaurants, cafés, clubs, and shops.
First you need to decide if you want to settle in an Untermiete (a sub-let) or a Wohngemeinschaft (a flat share). Then, prepare to wait and fight for a place. Most rentals involve going through a Hausverwaltung (a Property Management group) that schedules a viewing of the property. Show up well dressed and queue until it’s your turn to go inside for a look. Be friendly and polite, shake the estate agent’s hand, and provide copies of a working contract, bank statements showing proof of salary for the last 3 months, a valid Schufa (a credit report), and if possible, a letter from a guarantor. After, remember to follow up by emailing the agency as soon as you get home. If house hunting in Berlin feels like you’re doing job interviews all over again, you’re doing it right.
The cost of rent is cheaper than most capitals, and accommodation is certainly more affordable than in other European capitals. Expect your rent and utilities to cost around €550 per month.
Taxes + Salaries
The German IT industry is both enormous and in desperate need of employees. Even though German salaries are one of the highest in the world, German taxes are also very high, and depending on salary, you can have as much as 45% deducted from your monthly earnings. To compensate, employers usually offer incentives like performance bonuses and contributions towards private health insurance policies.
Opening a bank account in Germany is easy and online banking is commonly used to make transactions and manage accounts. To open an account, you will need to provide your residence card, proof of address, and an ID card. Once opened, you’re issued a Eurocard (EC) which can be used to withdraw cash, print out bank statements from ATMs (Geldautomat), and make purchases — note that withdrawing money from another bank’s ATM will incur extra charges!
Berlin has a culture created around healthy living and prevention. It’s compulsory for all residents in Germany to have health insurance, so you will have to sign up for some form of it.
There are two types of health insurance in Germany: private health insurance through a company or statutory health insurance provided by the state. You can only take advantage of statutory health insurance if you’re formally employed by a company in Germany.
Employers share the cost of health insurance every month, regardless of whether you have chosen private or statutory health insurance.