I've enjoyed the music scene and cheap rent, but have experienced major culture shock. It is a very intense place, full of contradiction, i.e. extremely open-minded in some areas and absurdly conservate in others. Berlin alternatively challenges and reaffirms one's various values.
Sometimes it seems like the 'adults' have left the city and left the 'kids' in charge. At other times, it feels impossible to breathe without violating some ponderous rule. Many are sucked into what is called a 'Berlinquency' - an existence in which one is spoilt by the hedonism, looseness, and condusiveness to self-obsession this place affords.
The tech scene is ok. There are a lot of clones. Some great meetups, though. It all seems to be on the up. Watch this space. And visit for a month before deciding to move here.
I've noticed on certain English-speaking forums that there's a tendency to exaggerate and obsess over incredibly minor cultural differences. Like jaywalking, which isn't even an issue in Berlin (people do it and nobody cares).
I don't know why the startup scene has started booming here but just type in "web start-up" at indeed (http://www.indeed.de/Jobs?q=web+start-up&l=berlin) and you'll get 275 results. Plus the UK has cracked down on emmigration laws and Germany has opened them up, at least for engineers, etc. b/c of the "Fachkräftemangel" i.e. the fact that the Germans lack skilled laborers. So whereas before for Europeans and especially Eastern europeans the UK was #1 its now changing b/c Germany is closer and easier. Also Germany seems more open to Europeans period, the UK with Cameron is doing all it can to shun the rest of Europe. The only problem I see, is that you still need to know German to get around ( which no one studies in school), which for instance is why my brother hasn't come.
EDIT: I guess I exaggerated with the "no one studies in school" bit. My point is that english is the only language we are all pounded into learning regardless of whether or not we have an interest in languages or a talent for them, so we can at least function at some level with english. German, however, is not the lingua franca I think we can all agree on that. I'm quadlingual (if that's a word), but not all talented developers like languages as well and unfortunately whatever the germans say, you still need to know german if you want to assimilate in germany, get an apartment, go shopping, and live life.
- Almost no wifi. Coming from an area (outside of Germany) with abundant wifi at Cafes that came as a real shock to me.
- As the parent said, you can't rely on just English for the day to day life. For example, I had to resort to a translator for getting a cellular account and cellular internet going. Even at O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone (global brand names) there were no representatives with enough English proficiency to tell me what the different packages included. That was for regular (non prepaid) accounts.
For a prepaid sim card the situation was a little bit better (seller could understand English but not help me with cellular internet configuration, could explain it later to a German, so it wasn't because of lack of technical knowledge) but the automated phone service (that you need to use for selecting plans, add credit, etc.) was German only.
- The cellular reception at cities is good, but the cellular (and cellular internet) reception at the more rural areas (even 30 minutes away from the big cities) proved very sketchy to me.
Those are the problems that surprised me. There are definitely advantages (good public transport inside big cities, relatively cheap living on the east), but I have nothing to add to other posters on that front.
EDIT: another thing that surprised me is that internet tethering is disabled (with no other option) on prepaid sims and costs extra (if at all possible) for regular accounts, at least in all the venues I checked. Again, if you come from a country/carrier where it is like that you won't be surprised, but I was. Especially as I've known Germany as "the place pioneering in unlocked phones".
IMPORTANT EDIT2 about salaries: while cheaper, if you come to work as a local employee the salary as a programer might be lower. Be sure to check at http://www.payscale.com/research/DE/Country=Germany/Salary
(my very anecdotal experience is that this website is relatively accurate)
Take that into account as well when comparing living costs.
 The longest time I was there consecutively was 1 month, but the points still stand
In the Netherlands, German is compulsory in high school at the HAVO and VWO levels. Regrettably, I've pretty much forgotten all of it. That being said, the Dutch people are already half German.
In Denmark we can select German classes in both elementary and high school.
At that age I couldn't care less but now that I'm thinking of doing a PhD in Germany (from what I've heard a very affordable country with many great life science labs) I'm very glad that I remember at least basics even that I haven't actually spoken German for six years.
I think that learning two major foreign languages should be mandatory. Almost everybody can learn one language quite well after +/- 10 years during childhood and to learn at least basics from the second one should not be that much of a problem too.
I'm not discouraging, but once you're considering a particular position, please try and talk to previous PhD students of your prospective supervisor. Germany has hardly any fully-funded PhD positions. Instead you typically get employed as staff and have to combine that with your PhD work. The problem is, often professors take on lots of PhD students to get more funding and end up having hardly any time. I've heard stories of a professor having 8 or so PhD students that still wait on him to read their thesis and give the go-ahead for their viva (PhD defense). I'm not saying this is the case everywhere, but it's something to be aware of. So try and find out beforehand.
Sadly, the situation as you decribed is almost the same with PhD students in the lab where I currently work on my diploma thesis and in some around in the institute. Having seen what I've seen (troubles with disertations and giving the PhD defense go-ahead) that's definitely something I want to avoid.
I'm also from Finland and I used to study German at school, as did many others in my school. However it is hard language, and in Finland they mostly teach you writing/reading/grammar.
Of course, when you think about this in the context of moving to Berlin after the rising startup scene, we're only interested in those who actually attend university, who care about their future, who study hard and so on. Such people probably start planning their future at younger age, aim for and dream about careers in the field even before other kids learn to understand what an actual career is. People with true ambitions are rare in general population, but not in the startup scene, I think this is something to be remembered.
If you work at an elementary school, aren't you supposed (or even obligated) to teach them how important it is and that it does matter? Language is one of those things that are so easy to learn when you're a kid, so it shouldn't go to waste. Just don't give in to this miserable "they don't care" thing, because it's not them, it's you.
I think the natural curiosity and will to learn(for example by motivating the kids to study, making school and studying as fun as possible etc.) is far more important than planning your futre as a minor, let alone trying to aim for a career as a minor. I'm talking about whole classes of students from various backgrounds and performances, not just the top 5 % performers of which most will attend universities and achieve great things. I'd guess many HN'ers fell to the better half of the average performance at school, and as such might easily miss the other half who did not do so well.
i.e. We'll employ you regardless of your genitalia.
There are a quite a few startup jobs, but they are low end, low paying. Many pay even less than what I started on 10 years ago. They are looking for those starting their first job I think. I get the feeling Berlin startups get a lot less funding that other startups.
Even the non-startup jobs that require more experience seem to pay a lot less, and even with the slightly cheaper rent than other cities, I couldn't find any attractive options.
Not complaining or anything, just trying to help get a feel on what I found while looking there last year.
I found a good job near Frankfurt, and who knows, maybe I will end up in Berlin later, but I feel I might not need to. Frankfurt has a startup scene (and a rich financial sector). So does Cologne where I used to live.
That already is your point. You are coming from an enterprise thinking and payment structure - Berlin is everything but Enterprise.
With your kind of payment expectations, they will simply expect you to step up the game, and that probably is at least CTO if not co founder. If you want to be your specialized dev, you need to be extra good to work around this area and _understand_ what startups are about.
Also, judging by your nickname here, your name still sounds German. If you are from A / CH by definition (and if not proven otherwise on your CV and through experiences) you are not automatically startup material. Don't get me wrong: it is just about different skillset and mentality and if you cannot provide proof that you are not tainted by that obstacle, you will have an even harder time getting a job in that environment.
To be honest though I am not a natural entrepreneur. Or at least I may have been while younger but I have become soft over the years. I only really started thinking about startups etc maybe 3 or 4 years ago and it's hard to break out of the comfortable employee lifestyle.
I am from an English speaking country with German ancestors, but I don't know if that background makes me more or less startup material. There seem to be roughly the same distribution if entrepreneurs here as in my home country.
But I am focused now on being founder rather than employee. Already CTO of a non-profit r&d team with my wife as CEO.
The berlin startup scene is great for recent graduates as an employee, but if you're more experienced, then you want to be a founder.
Edit: they could be an outlier, of course.
What I'm trying to say with this point is,I don't really see the advantage of being in Berlin in the early stages of your business too,when you're just a 3 people shop,busting your asses all day to move things forward
Having written all that,I loved Berlin during my few months stay.
Sorry, to hear you got robbed! I've only lived in countries with high corruption levels (in the gov't), so germany is kind of a breath of fresh air even though its not perfect - I doubt anywhere is.
that may be true for rural Germany but I'm writing this from a 100 MBbit cable connection which costs me 40 EUR. You can also get 50 Mbit DSL for 35 EUR p.m. (both including a telephone flatrate)
Again,loved Berlin,it's just I always see some guys hyping it without being able to back up their points,so I'm calling their statements out.
Plus if you know you are not ready to move into something long term, then you simply move to a space where you can rent this.
It is widely known that Telekom had problems with certain areas and that is why you make a "Verfügbarkeitsprüfung" before even looking further at renting something. ;)
Woo, casual misogyny \o/
>The internet in Germany is borderline third world quality
Germany, the completely authentic sub-Saharan information drought experience...
>but I'd doubt it that you go there more than 5 times a year.
Culture's about more than clubbing.
>however there are cheaper places in Eastern Europe with better tech talent availability overall.
1 City vs. half a continent. Good comparison.
What's your sarcasm supposed to imply here? If the internet's not great, the internet's not great. Having recently gotten out of doing research in distributed systems I actually know the average German DSL rates. It's mixed. I'm sure that you would be on the low end if you lived in one of the older buildings with poor wiring.
He didn't mention anything about culture, he was talking about nightlife. And if he cares mostly about clubbing, that's perfectly fine.
One city in Germany vs. a bunch of cities in Eastern Europe. It may be more useful if he gave an actual city to compare it with, like Budapest, but it's definitely a valid comparison.
I already had the itch to leave my 9-5 and go somewhere for an adventure, so when I got home I set about working out what I'd need to do to head over there and how much capital I'd need for about 6-months self sustained living in Berlin (came out to about $15,000AUD, thanks to the current strong AUD).
I found out one of my close (engineer) friends was also looking to leave his job and do something interesting and exciting, so I've convinced him to come with me too. Succeed or fail, it really seems like we could be part of something exciting in Berlin! Any advice on dos and don't would be appreciated.
Even this year while I was there (Feb. - May), the startup scene is exploding. I liken it to the satisfaction of knowing of a great band before everyone else: there's no doubt that Berlin will be muttered in the same breath as the Valley, NYC and London. It's only a matter of time.
The German culture can be a bit harsh to outsiders, but the Berlin startup scene more than makes up for that. The folks there are very kind and always willing to entertain a good conversation.
I guess this will also become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For ten years people have been telling how cool Berlin is and a lot creative people were attracted. Now everyone's telling about the new tech start-up scene and that will attract even more talented people - hopefully also large investors.
Interesting times ahead!
reasons: 1. cheap cost of living, 2. availability of relatively well paid contract work, 3. A very supportive startup / creative community who are willing to share info and resources, 4. A very smart and creative demographic, 5. wonderful bars, clubs, and restaurants, 6. German people are actually a decent bunch :)
disadvantages: 1. over-strict regulations in dealing with Banking and Regulatory bodies (whatever you do, do NOT sign up for a postbank a/c), 2. Less than ideal weather.
Overall a win I think, which is why I continue to call Berlin my home.
They don't close. They. Do. Not. Close. As a nocturnal developer I could go out to a club, get back to my hostel at 2, write code for 2 hours and then go out again. Bliss.
Where do people want to live?
Where to locate offices?
Where do you find good talent?
What are the legal steps to do so?
Any pitfalls to avoid?
Others should feel free to jump on this.
One comment on English: It is much easier than most non-english speaking cities and most international talent can manage the daily tasks within weeks.
check out foundfair.de and contact us in case you need help getting settled.
What's the US take on this ? Do people actually care outside of the german speaking areas and maybe Uk?
Learning German, if you're a native English speaker, is easy. Simple sentences in German can often sound like an oddly accented English. German is highly consistent, i.e. not a lot of exceptions to grammatical rules. You just have to get used to word order being different in some instances, e.g. verbs can appear at the end of sentence, and case endings. (Case endings are no big deal. Getting them wrong doesn't prevent the person listening from understanding you. Getting them right is the difference between a great speaker and a good one.) My experience in Germany around 1989 was that native Germans were more than happy to switch to English when I was stumped about how to say something in German. Learning the German language should not be a barrier.
For anyone thinking far enough ahead about being a parent, situating in Germany has other benefits. Germany has a better health care system and better public education. They are large costs/worries for any parent.
What makes you believe it's education system is better? Or it's health care system, for that matter?
This post breaks results down by income segment and suggests that if you exclude poverty, the USA does indeed do great. Otherwise the USA as a whole is no better than average, maybe a little below average.
I have to say this agrees with my anecdotal experience of the USA. If you went to high school in Palo Alto, you might be having enriching experiences that even students in rich European countries can only dream about. Or you could be like the students some friends of mine tutored in North Carolina, who were not aware of what the Duke University buildings in their city were for.
I'm not actually knocking the USA. It faces social challenges that no other country faces, and often gets a bad rap from critics who've never even visited and think it's populated by sociopathic Randroids. But it is a country of enormous contrasts.
It's trying to prove that US schools are just as good at educating European Americans as German schools are at educating Europeans. (Sanandaji also excluded immigrants from the German numbers.)
I.e., any gaps in output between US and German schools are caused by gaps in the input, not the school system itself.
I said I wasn't sure what the author was trying to prove, but I do have a rather good guess.
I'm referring to the overall system and its premise. The problem is that the system is based on employment and the government fills in for certain populations during unemployment.
There are 4 large problems in that simple statement.
One is that employers are even involved in shopping for health care. If I own a company that makes software for the education market, for example, why should I have to know or care about the nuances of health care plans? Why should I have to do periodic cost analyses of plans to see if my company should switch? My business is software. My concerns should be about developing a product, selling it, supporting it, and accurately reporting financials to the government. Health care is out of my expertise and out of scope.
The second issue is that employers are not required to offer health care. We don't see it so much in the IT industry, but health care plans are quite often not offered by employers or, if plans are offered, it's to full time employees only. Effectively, it leaves out people who work part-time out of necessity or choice.
The third issue is knowing when the government will cover you and when it won't. A multitude of programs exist to cover children, but not parents; or, cover children and mothers but not fathers; etc. In some instances, one plan covers you for a certain amount of time during unemployment but then you have to apply for a different plan after the first plan's coverage period expires. This is too complicated. People who don't deal with these issues routinely quite often don't know they're even eligible.
(Ironically, our fear of the government completely managing health care due to its bureaucracy is causing by far more bureaucracy.)
Finally, according to the WHO, the US ranks 37 in the world for system efficiency. I'm sure statistical methodology and data collection accuracy can be questioned. But, we're not talking about being 10 and we think we should be 3. We're 37 . I'm not willing to chalk up such a low ranking to those factors.
Many individual components of our system are really good, e.g. clinicians. The high skill positions we train, we train well. But the system overall is not a healthy one.
Finally, according to the WHO, the US ranks 37 in the world for system efficiency.
WHO rankings are predominantly a measurement of inequality of marginal costs of health care. The WHO's measurement is so flawed that one can make all sorts of pareto improvements (e.g., make 50% of the population live 10 years longer, while the other 50% lives only 1 year longer) and reduce one's rank.
The issue is a socio-political one. It's about the distribution of health care and who our culture deems worthy of receiving it.
"Most of your criticism is of a particular part of the American financial services sector, not of health care."
This seems to almost be a tangent. Please explain.
If anyone's looking for a startup visa, I posted some information here:
EDIT: http://siliconallee.com/ seems to be the thing I was looing for, anything else?
Most of the startups are actually very busy doing stuff (as in they don't are yet at the point understanding what proper Communcation means sigh), but http://hascore.com/ has a good list of links.
I will be posting an overview posting asap with additional links.
Ive been there a few times at pitch/startups events and always liked the locations and overall vibe.
Oxygen - Birmingham
Ignite100 - New Castle
Seedcamp - London
I get their desire to improve local culture but hey this is just ridiculous to ask me to settle somewhere because you gave me some money. Also, start-ups thrive in a tech-savvy areas only.
This all adds to the problem and Berlin has all the odds to become the answer.
For them it doesn't matter where you are in Europe. However, their recruiting mechanism is referrer based.
And it's pre-seed money. Thanks but no thanks.
We don't force anyone to move their startup to London. We do suggest the new teams spend some time with us here, as it's valuable to them to be part of what is going on here - a lot of the teams come from eastern Europe where there is much less of a tech (and investment) scene. Being in London for some time enables them to take part in that, make the right connections, and then move back, here, or on - often to the US.
If you want to protect your startup's users, you should base your company in a country that won't extradite people on charges that aren't even applicable in said country. (O'Dwyer casus)
And where police won't sell you location and other assorted private data to the highest bidder. (NotW casus)
Berlin however does seem to have the greatest multicultural vibe going for it for startups. It's pretty impressive, and I hope to sample it later in the year :)
The population is ethnically very diverse, though of course, more middle eastern people than latin american ones.
Germans tend to be proper. So, drinking beer on the subway might be frowned upon, but nobody will comment. If you're obnoxious or noisy or otherwise being a jerk, germans will not be friendly to you. If you're polite, they don't care what you look like. If you've got a chip on your shoulder, you may mistake their coldness, which is really professionalism, for judgement, which it isn't.
Anyway just saying the document seems to be a nice post card from Berlin but the same things are happening everywhere.
Last year it was Paris (Wired.com): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt2bHumqDFs
Some Euro countries (Greece) might be on the verge of implosion, but there's no way the general currency could suffer any significant damage and Germany is the very reason for that.
The German economy is among the most powerful in the world and quite frankly you're more likely to experience an economic collapse in the US than in Germany. (Albeit that's pretty unlikely too, obviously. At least for now.)
Germany has itself in the Euro trap just as strongly as the PIIGS. If they go under, how will Germany keep its currency down and where will it export to?
The Euro collapsing is an apocalyptic scenario that requires quite a lot of things to go wrong. Much more than just Greece.
We're in the process of experiencing an economic collapse in the USA, and in Europe right now, and have been since 2008. The thing is, these things start small and people don't understand them until they are well underway... just as people didn't think there was going to be a problem in 2008 back in 2001 when the cause of the collapse started.
'Berlin Startup Jobs'
I think Spain tried something similar with Barcelona that ended up fizzing out.
So some notes and links.
* Introductory notes
* Entry points / sites
* Finding out about events
* Getting a job
* Got links? Please provide
_________________ INTRODUCTORY NOTES _________________
Per se there are two different circles of startup folk in Germany. The german / Germany oriented ones, what I usually call "the victims of the language island" (everything in Germany is dubbed - movies, tv, books).
The second, more interesting level is the international mindset, the people who are mentally oriented toward silicon valley. Both group usually do not mingle and the following applies for that second group and explain part of the reason why Berlin is special.
This group has accepted english as their lingua franca and people come from all over the world, enjoying not only the benefits listed in the other comments, but the feeling of "being able to make it here". The absence of any enterprise like structure due to the past with the wall enables in many ways what Berlin is today.
There is of course an echo chamber effect for this group and once you connect, you run into the usual startups very quickly. ;)
_________________ ENTRY POINTS _________________
Your Nr 1. starting point for meeting people ;) English speaking Berlin startup group on Facebook with ~2400 members.
Follow that if you are interested in meeting people and or asking questions. Hint: Do not try to post stuff which is does not have the "Berlin and startup" relevant connection and do not try to sneak in a "but in theory this is about startups ...", I will delete the post and ban you permanently.
Looking for a job / employee / co founder does belong into the sister group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/395011077224173/)
General sites to read:
We also have a strong women in tech movement in Berlin:
http://berlingeekettes.com/ is both interview site and meetup; I run http://girlgeekdinner.de/ which will happen more frequently once I am relocated. ;)
Find a Co-Working spaces:
http://www.berlin-partner.de/?id=1243&L=1 is the official place from Berlin
to help people coming to Berlin, they are very helpful too with business needs
with a special attention to startups.
_________________ EVENTS _________________
Event listings as in "is there something happening ..."
Get the weekly Newsletter with new events:
Berlin tech user groups links:
Monthly radio show about Berlin Startups
Not very active but still: Berlin StartUp Employees
Meetup.com has tons of groups and meetups beyond startup land
http://www.meetup.com and then go Berlin
_________________ GETTING A JOB _________________
If you are looking for a job in Berlin, are a Berlin based startup looking for employees or for a co founder, this facebook group can be helful for you
Job boards with a special focus on Berlin startups:
http://siliconallee.com/madeinberlin (this is a list of some startups made in berlin + links to job pages if available.)
http://meetfounder.com/ (if you are looking for a co-founder)
Finding companies to work for
http://hascore.com/ limits itself to "Hascore is a job board focused on Product Development for the Berlin Startup Scene that provides relevant context for making better decisions" BUT because the way they list their jobs you can surf through it and find the links to lots of companies.
Listings mostly in German
_________________ Any additions? _________________
Happy to take that into the list
Also I am always looking for people to add to my
"English tweeting people from Berlin with startup affinity"
Plus records produces in Berlin include: U2 (Achtung Baby), David Bowie (Low,Heroes, and Lodger) , and Depeche Mode (Construction Time Again).
Any tax breaks for tech startups? what about employee/healthcare costs?
1. Lowest livings costs with highest quality of living. Stay in gorgeous, perfectly renovated apartments in pre-WWII residential buildings with high ceilings, right in the middle of the center and pay a fraction of costs of any other capital (even cheaper than any Eastern European capital). No need for a car—Berlin has one of the densest subway nets and wide streets make biking fun. In addition, Germany has an amazing social health care system including health, unemployment and pension (when working as an employee).
2. A vibrant and fast growing ecosystem of smart people. A vast number of new software talents, founders, software companies and VCs are moving to Berlin, every day (Twitter, Google, Soundcloud, Early Bird and many more).
3. People here are open-minded, outgoing, mix well and international—no need to learn German, everyone speaks English! Making new friends is a matter of days. Visit tons of networking and startup events, every week.
4. Easy work permissions—Europeans do not need any and can work from day one and the rest applies for the hassle-free Blue Card.
5. Berlin's night life is unmatched, huge and changing every day (plus ridiculously cheap). Berlin has got some of the most dazzling, naughty, and original clubs on the face of the Earth.
Now, the shameless plug: Berlin is calling and getting the new tech hub of Europe. If you are passionate about building great software, we’d love to talk with you. If you don't live in Berlin yet, we could help to fix that.
That may be true if you exclude Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, Bratislava, Bucharest, Sofia, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Skopje, Riga, Talinn, Vilnius, Kiev, Bratislava and a few more:
Otherwise I agree with your 5 points. And Berlin is cheap in comparison with much of Western Europe.
I don't have original or better data but let's carefully say that from the anecdotes that reach me it would be useful to study what rent you would have to pay realistically (for an apartment and for office space) as a non-local coming to a given city. Specifically, as a start-up founder or engineer, you would most likely not want to live in the cheapest neighborhood, independent of if it's New York, Sofia, Warsaw, or Berlin.
tl;dr Most eastern European capitols might be a lot cheaper than Berlin but the linked data should not be trusted blindly.
I am sorry but this is simply wrong. There are social health and pension systems but both of them suck and are horrible broken.
If you are under 30 and not nearly dead you should do everything possible to get out of those and take care of your self with private insurances.
It is broken by German / first-worlds standards, of course, with people not having access to something similar laughing about these claims, if it was remotely funny.
The other problem is that the prices are on a steady rise - the only easy way for private insurances to raise profits is taking it from their clients.
The way to go is public insurance with additional private extensions - it ensures that you can cancel your (sub)-contract without fearing about your general healcare plan.
There are ways - one example: just make sure you are employed and do not earn more than (roughly) 4500€ / m and tada: back.
"The other problem is that the prices are on a steady rise"
The same is true for the public insurance, beside they do not pay for the same services, medicaments,... as the private insurances. There are also better ways to prevent paying >600€/m when you are over 60. Just a matter of the right company / contract.
"The way to go is public insurance with additional private extensions - it ensures that you can cancel your (sub)-contract without fearing about your general healcare plan."
100% agree on this. If you are an employee.
//edit: not sure if this discussion fits here or if we, if there would be any interest, should use IRC or something else.
For the most part everything else you mentioned is true. I'm not sure about the work permissions. Berlin is an awesome city overall.
You will need German and or a translater when you talk to officials and you should get somebody with german knowledge before entering contracts, but by itself you will have an easy tiome getting around Berlin when you are in the startup relevant areas.
That is quite sad.
But on the other side I find it encouraging that you can come to Berlin and different to many other cities of this world can live here without being forced to speak the language fluently first.
And if you speak and think in english all day, it becomes more problematic to get on board with the language around you.
Plus many 'normal' people do start speaking a bit of english and at least understand it.
That said, if someone hasn't picked up a bit of German even after years, they're either extremely busy, or doing something wrong IMHO. On holidays, say in Spain, I always kind of disliked Germans sticking only to Germans, and speaking German all day. Surely you know what I mean? There's not having much time to learn the language, and there's being selfish that way.
I kind of feel the same way about this "it's a great, cheap place" stuff. This way it's not going to stay cheap, or cool, for long. It's already kind of suffered, if locals are to be believed. So let's leave it at least as nice as we found it? :)
The best thing about Berlin is the soul and the heart, not the commodities. I mean yeah, startups boom, but Tacheles is struggling - what's up with that? When in Rome, do as the Romans.. well then, if you move to Berlin, start learning German by listening to some Ton Steine Scherben :P
All of this wasn't meant as an attack. As a slight snark maybe. But not more, because generally, I'm super happy for people coming here and making it even better, I'd be a hypocrite otherwise. I'm just missing the voice of Berlin in all this. I mean that. Berlin is more funky, more beautiful and more clever than booms and VC give it credit for. To move to Berlin and not smell those particular roses strikes me as a tragedy.
The collapse of Communism and the Soviet Union was a critical factor in unleashing the internet wave of innovation that is still cresting today; though this occurred contemporaneously with the technological breakthroughs of the early 90s, the importance of the fall of the USSR in unleashing the web is not as widely appreciated as it was in the 90s.
 And that's saying something; see 'The Lives of Others'.
Why is this true? Honest question, how can a great large Western European city cost a fraction of other, even Eastern European cities?
Was there a sudden glut of real estate recently? A lot of people suddenly leaving Berlin? But why would they leave if it so great? I am really puzzled by this.
Right, but the original comment claims is cheaper even than most East European capitals, most of which were and still are in even worse economic shape than East Berlin.
The other claim is that it's actually a great city, but you say that other cities probably have more economic opportunity which does explain why Berlin might be so cheap.
In the past 20 years things have improved quite a bit in terms of renovation, but it takes time for population to build up again, and thus the costs are still low because there is abundant supply.
As to pre-war architecture, all of Europe, including Eastern Europe is full of it.
The only thing which might give me some insight is that you mention it takes time for the population to build back up?
So rents are cheap because Berlin is today still under populated?
But why is that? Or why are other formerly bombed out cities not also under populated? In Easter Europe there is still a lot of migration from the smaller cities and villages into the big cities. This may be why those are more expensive than Berlin. But that only begs the question why is Berlin specifically so slow to re-populate? Is it because other German large cities, even with higher rent, are more attractive? Which would explain why the rent there is higher?
That may have been a little harsh, but I couldn't resist.
I'm not sure everyone feels that prewar residences are a good thing. For many of us, it's sort of a reminder of everything that, you know, happened.
Putting the war behind us is a good thing. Getting cheaper housing prices because Berlin has never entirely gotten over the war... is not putting the war behind us. In fact, it's capitalizing today on the lingering effects of the war.
The upshot is that I had quite a chip on my shoulder in my 20's.
I outgrew that. So I'd suggest, if I may be so bold, not to stay stuck in a past you can't change. Don't miss out on what's there now (wherever "there" is for you). Right now Berlin is awesome. I'd be there if my partner didn't have the opportunity of a lifetime as an economist at the Bank of England.
Oh and if you're looking for well paid work in Berlin, brush up on WinRT and go knock on Nokia's door. That company is amazing. Well, the Berlin bunch are.
You mean war profiteering of real-estate values? Honestly, you Germans would be much less creepy if you stopped trying to pretend WW2 and the Shoah never happened and everything is totally happy-shiny now. You certainly don't have to apologize anymore, but you could at least have the decency to act uncomfortable about marketing apartments that are available for low, low, low prices (/salesman voice) primarily because their former residents were killed in war and genocide. You're not supposed to personally feel guilty, but you're not supposed to feel upbeat about it, either.
But hey, I know how it feels being called a Nazi.
HN is not a forum for prejudice.
You don't see anything disturbing about that sentence? Nothing at all? No somewhat-disturbing suggestion that apartment renters today can happily reap the benefits of dispossession and war?
Living on the eastern side of the wall, rents are cheap.
The main thing that keeps us from relocating there more permanently is the immigration issue, but it looks like this may be resolved, at least partially.
One thing though, you probably do want to learn German. While many germans speak english (even more so in the startup scene) a lot of germans don't, and day to day life involves a fair bit of basic german.
But, certainly worth the effort!
Real estate-wise Berlin has (or at least had until recently) a surplus of vacancies: both apartments and commercial buildings. This is partly due to fluctuations in population throughout its history, and steep declines in manufacturing and population during the wall years from their pre-WW2 heights. There were also huge swaths of prime central real estate throughout the city where the wall once stood, that was unusable until it came down.
What you end up with is a city that was originally planned and built for more people than live there, with vacant factories, warehouses, and office buildings from yesteryear that are readily and cheaply repurposed.
Berlin's population is growing these days though, and internationals, people from other parts of Europe, and other parts of Germany are flocking to the city. This means rent prices are on the rise, and vacancy is dropping. It's still way cheaper than any other major European city — for now.
If you go to southern German states like Bayern, Baden-Württemberg or Hessen, cost of living is much higher in the larger cities there than in Berlin. That's because of the export industry which has been able to grow there for the last decades, and the resulting abundance of high paying jobs.
Also after reunification, East-Berlin was vastly unpopulated, people moving into the already modern West-Germany, while the former GDR was being restored. Nowadays there is hardly any differnece between East- and West-Berlin, but there is uninhabitated room. It is getting fewer though.
I live in a city that gets much colder than that in the winters, but still has plenty of bicyclists year round. It's all a matter of perspective.
Certainly getting around on the u-bahn was perfectly comfortable and the s-bahn was fine too.
Really didn't mind it much at all.
In Germany, the rate of successful murders is 1.0 per 100000 inhabitants:
http://www.bka.de/nn_229340/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Publikat... ("vollendete Fälle")
The murder rate in the US is 5.7:
The rate for Berlin is higher, but thats true for American cities as well. So, getting killed in Germany is much more unlikely than getting killed in the US in general.
Also, while any extremist murder is a horrible thing, the rates in Germany are low in general. There is an exhaustive list of right-extremists murders in germany on Wikipedia:
In 2012, there is no noted case, but that might be because those are still in court (This list only lists cases where the Judge determined the motivation to be extremist). Ignoring the number, you will find that if you really want to get killed by Nazis, going to Berlin is the worst plan, rates in other parts of Germany are much higher. There are admittedly places where I wouldn't go with black skin color because of fear of aggression, but Berlin and all larger towns are not among those.