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Moving to Berlin

When you move to Berlin, you will soon find out that it is not just Germany’s historic capital, but also a vibrant city with a dynamic arts and music scene. The InterNations guide on Berlin tells you all you need to know about expat life in the capital: accommodation, visa regulations, and more.
Gathering information beforehand will help you map out your move to Berlin.
  • Berlin has had a turbulent past, but is now a modern city with a thriving arts scene.
  • Accommodation will likely be cheaper than in many other European capital cities, but depending on the area you choose, could still be quite pricey.
  • You are required to have health insurance when living in Germany, with public and private insurance at your disposal, dependent on your income and employment status.


If you are thinking of moving to Berlin, you are likely aware of at least some of the city’s tumultuous history. Nowadays, the capital of the Bundesrepublik is an international, artistic, and modern city — perhaps the perfect place for an expat. While the city is not as cheap as it was in the past, it still has a better cost of living compared to other European capital cities such as London and Paris.

The city truly offers a lot. From art galleries, to the UNESCO World Heritage Museum Island, to the remnants of the Berlin Wall, to tiny stalls with delicious food — Berlin will show you everything.

A Cosmopolitan Capital

When thinking of moving to Germany’s capital, you might want to know that among the 3.5 million Berliner, there are approximately 621,000 people who have moved to Berlin from a different country, as of 2015. This is part of the charm of Berlin — you will be surrounded by so many different cultures and backgrounds. Moving there may seem daunting at first, but there is a wide range of activities to participate in, which will keep your mind off your homesickness.

There is much on offer in Berlin, with buzzing streets full of cafes and green parks. There are many bars and restaurants for all tastes, and the local nightlife is a well-known draw for people from around the world.

A City with a Turbulent Past

The history of Berlin is long and full of ups and downs. Founded in 1237, the city was the capital of Prussia between 1701 and 1871, remaining the capital of unified Germany in 1871. During this time, the economy was strong. However, during the later times of the Weimar Republic, the economy was tumultuous, initially struggling due to reparations being paid to France, before becoming the largest industrial city on the continent thanks, in part, to support from America.

However, the fate of the city took another turn when Hitler rose to power in 1933. After the Second World War, up to a third of Berlin had been destroyed and many people had fled. In order to decrease Germany’s strength, the country was split between the allied forces into what would later become East and West Germany. The capital was similarly divided into four military zones, one for each allied force. As the Cold War developed, tensions between the East and West resulted in harsh conditions for those living in East Berlin. In the years to come, the Berlin Wall would be built, students would riot in the famous 1968 student movement, and the city would struggle economically after the reunification. However, despite these hard times, Berlin today is thriving as the capital of a unified Germany.

Staying Cultured in Berlin

There is much on offer to keep you entertained during your free time when you move to Berlin. As you can imagine, there is still a lot of evidence of the city’s past from the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall to Checkpoint Charlie, and many memorials and museums as well.

If you are less interested in history, there is also a thriving arts scene in the city. Creatives from around the world flood into the city, drawn by the variety on offer in the cultural landscape. There are many art galleries waiting to be discovered such as Galerie Crone, a contemporary art museum, which often offers different exhibitions. There is also the Berlin International Film Festival, held every February, one of the world’s leading film festivals.

Finding Your New Abode

As it is a very large city, you may wonder where exactly you should go when moving to Berlin. It is a city of contrasts, which may offer anything from an artsy loft to a fancy villa. Housing costs in Berlin are becoming increasingly more expensive, however, as a whole they are still lower than those in London or Paris.

You will have to be quick on choosing a place to live, though, as the housing market can be quite competitive. If you prefer not to stay in a hotel during your search, you can always fall back on more interim accommodation. On, for instance, you can find various types of short-term properties in Berlin, all fully equipped and fully furnished.

The best way to go about finding long-term housing in Berlin is looking in the local newspapers. Websites such as or will also let you set preferences for your new domicile in Berlin.

If you have the financial means, it may be easiest to let a real estate agent do all the work for you. Be aware, though, that they are relatively expensive and will take about three months’ rent plus VAT from you as commission. You can read more about the different neighborhoods in our guide to living in Berlin.

For further details on Housing and Accommodation in Germany in general, particularly on renting an apartment, please see our comprehensive expat guide!


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Sean Henderson

"The good thing about InterNations is that I got to know the expat community in Berlin as well as internationally minded locals."

Anna Maria Osario

"Through InterNations I met so many other Argentinean expats in Berlin, which made the transition period really easy for me."

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