Living in Berlin
Berlin’s appeal lies in its relaxed approach to living and an infrastructure to support this, including an abundance of green spaces and a straightforward and efficient public transport system, making it one of the greenest and uncongested capitals in the world.
The city is a feast for those looking to absorb the flavours of other cultures. Since the fall of the wall a young, global, artistic and cultural elite have moved and are moving to Berlin, helping to create a truly diverse and cosmopolitan capital.
Berlin in a nutshell
For families looking to move to Berlin who are concerned about the language barrier, there are several private international schools offering diverse extra-curriculars including: IT, cooking, orchestra, digital music, ballet, horse riding, judo…etc. There are also non-fee paying bilingual schools, including the Nelson Mandela School and the JFK School. Most of the schools offer courses in English, some offer also Russian or French. Families with German-speaking children or those young enough to pick up the language are free to choose from standard German state schools, which are notorious for being of a high standard.
Germany's state universities boast no tuition fees, students pay an administration fee every term, which includes entire Berlin public transportation card and miscellaneous expenses. The top four universities are:
Humboldt University of Berlin – founded in 1811, associated with 40 Nobel Prize winners and is considered one of the best universities in Europe as well as one of the most prestigious universities in the world for arts and humanities, currently 39,546 students enrolled
Free University of Berlin – founded in 1948, known for its research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as in the field of natural and life sciences, currently 36,674 students enrolled
Technical University of Berlin – founded in 1879, the university is known for its highly-ranked engineering programmes, especially in mechanical engineering and engineering management. The TU Berlin is a member of TU9, currently 34,428 students enrolled
Berlin University of the Arts – founded in 1696, the largest art school in Europe. 4 colleges specializing in fine arts, architecture, media and design, music and the performing arts, currently 3,500 students enrolled.
170,000 students enrolled in Berlin; 25,000 international students. 50% of foreign students remaining in Germany after graduation
Activities and Entertainment
Over the years, artists, filmmakers, musicians and creatives of all kinds have flocked to the city to participate in its thriving avant-garde scene. There is never a shortage of installations and photography exhibitions to see or cafés, nightclubs, cinemas and pop-ups to visit.
Outside of the cutting-edge art scene, there is plenty to see and do, from visiting a whole island and UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site dedicated to five museums to taking a stroll through verdant Grunewald Forest.
Look out for the Holocaust Memorial, which was conceived in 1993 but not opened until 2005, and comprises a field of concrete slabs taking up the size and area of a city block. The breath-taking memorial is arranged in rows of different heights on different levels of ground, inviting you to walk round and absorb the shifts in light and dark, space and dimensions.
Art and Culture
Berlin is a world-ranking cultural metropolis boasting 440 galleries, 180 museums, three opera houses, eight symphony orchestras, 150 theatres and 130 cinemas.
From haut-cuisine in basement bars and shops selling hand-made marzipan to Texan BBQ sessions and dim sum stands, Berlin’s dining scene is now widely-considered one of the most diverse in Europe. Over the past decade, in particular, the city has benefitted from the inflow of people from across the globe and the gastronomic traditions they have brought in their wake. But there are plenty of old school ‘kneipes’ (pubs) where traditionalists can enjoy a frothy beer and a blutwurst (blood sausage) and other German dishes.
Viticulture flourishes on steeply terraced hillsides across the region. The quality of wine produced is high and very little leaves the local market – the quality of its wine is one of Switzerland’s best-kept secrets.
Berlin’s excellent and efficient local public transport network is used by 2.7 million passengers daily but few complain of congestion or discomfort.
There is still much confusion and controversy surrounding the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER), which has now been pushed forward to 2018 at the very earliest. Until then, Berlin remains served by two airports: Tegel and Schönefeld.
Looking for a property to buy in Berlin? Begin your property search here
Berlin’s area guide, extracted from Berlin’s Condominium report, produced by our associates Ziegert Immobilien
A neighbourhood for lasting values
Most Berliners connect Steglitz-Zehlendorf with what is probably the most well known of Berlin’s lakes. Early last century, the largest public open-air swimming pool opened at Wannsee, and has since been the delight of thousands of swimmers. The Small Wannsee, the Havel, the Schlachten and Nikolas lakes, and the Krumme Lanke are all waterways that have put their imprint on this neighbourhood. Back in the Kaiser’s day people would build their villas directly along the water way, but almost all the streets in this neighbourhood are among the most in-demand locations, according to Berlin’s Rent Index. This means that property in this neighbourhood is not only particularly stable in value; the values are also consistently rising. This applies to single-family homes as much as it does to condominiums. The level of rents is also unusually high for a location at the edge of the city. In Lichterfelde-West, spacious condominiums have been in development for years in a number of building phases. Further large-scale building plans are not scheduled, in spite of the great demand.
Tempelhof – Schoneberg
All Berlin's diversity
The days when David Bowie and Iggy Pop took in the morbid charm of West Berlin every night are long past but the aura of constant change remains. Besides the residential locations around the Winterfeldtplatz that have always been in demand, the Potsdamer Straße is once again developing into the place to be. Last year, a number of flagship stores for international brands opened, as well as a diverse number of galleries and a handful of trendy restaurants between the fast-food joints and 1970s style buildings. It is little wonder that the residential market is also following suit and the last commercial spaces in the area are being checked for residential use. The residential areas in Alt-Tempelhof are characterised by simple “Altbau” structures, with good traffic links and still affordable prices. Despite the available potential, there are still only a few condominium projects here. In contrast, there are presently several new construction projects in operation in the suburban to rural neighbourhoods of Mariendorf, Marienfelde and Lichtenrade at the southern edge of the district.
Adlershof is a science city, with more than 1,000 companies in Germany’s largest research and technology park and a real draw for the area. In the coming years, apartments for around 2,500 people are slated to be built in direct proximity to the campus of the Humboldt University. Around 70% of the surface area is made up of water and forest, parks and nature preserves. It is therefore easy to see why the quality of life in most parts of this area is so high. Luxurious apartments are popping up across from the picturesque Old Town of Köpenick, further south along the Dahme the focus is on spacious family apartments with a garden and view of the water. Less middle-class idyllics and more pioneering spirit is be found in Oberschöneweide: The University for Technology and Economics (HTW) has taken up residence in the former industrial halls, and some journals are already calling the Wilhelminenhofstraße the new hip mile. Treptow-Köpenick counts among the fastest growing neighbourhoods in Berlin. Assuring the infrastructure will therefore be key in creating sustainable development.