How To Live In Berlin

Arrive in spring but expect nothing of the weather. Live in the nicest area possible—somewhere super trendy like Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg —because rent will only cost you 200 Euros a month anyway. Your room will be the size of a whole New York loft; your apartment will take up the whole floor of a building. If you want to live alone, get an apartment somewhere like Wedding or Neukölln—the rent will be the same for the whole place as it is for one room in Mitte, and it still doesn’t take any more than half an hour to get anywhere else in Berlin on the subway.

Learn how to pronounce the names of all the boroughs and metro stations. Ease into the language, realize it’s not so difficult and find that reading menus and street signs comes quite naturally. Embrace your newfound love for the German language but also revel in the fact that you can have a lively conversation with a German person—you speaking English while they speak German—and walk away not knowing exactly what happened but that it was lovely anyway.

Go to Humana, the 4-storey thrift store, and buy a whole new summer wardrobe for under 20 Euros. Buy a furry hat if you see one—you’ll need it for winter. Start visiting galleries and feel relieved that there are no lines or crowds, but that the art is just as good as anything in New York. Go to the Turkish markets and buy 8 chicken breasts for 5 Euros. Buy Turkish tea and fresh vegetables. Start feeling incredibly sane and relaxed.

Start partying as it gets warmer. Get to the club at 3am and don’t leave until midday the following day. Wonder how you’ll ever keep up with this sort of party lifestyle. Go to Berghain at least once. Get a bar job in an illegal club and start going to underground parties where the walls sweat and people like Dan Deacon play for free. Start to genuinely love electro music.

Now that it’s summer spend your weekends in the park. Go to the flea markets at Mauerpark. On your way get a coffee at Bonanza Coffee Heroes; when you get to the market get a freshly squeezed orange juice for 1 Euro. Meet your friends on the grass when the sun is high in the sky and start drinking beers. Have a picnic. When you’re a little bit tipsy chug an extra beer for good faith and do Bearpit karaoke in front of hundreds of people.

Be upset when summer ends abruptly. Start having dinner parties and drinking lots of red wine. Read lots of books and watch lots of movies. When you go outside, wear absolutely everything you own. Refuse to leave the house during December and January; leave the house anyway. Realize that despite the paralyzing cold, Berlin is absolutely beautiful in the snow, in its way. Go to the Christmas markets and drink gluhwein.

Be overwhelmed by the history. Walk everywhere or get a bike and ride. Drink in the street. When you finish your drink put the empty can/bottle under the trashcan so the homeless can cash it in. Live cheaply. Live calmly. Live like you always dreamed you would. TC mark

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  • indi

    god i miss berlin

  • lsla5511
  • NAVi

    This article could be the last straw. I must move to Berlin at once!

  • Ss

    I'm currently in Berlin too! Berlin is a dream.

  • inflammatorywrit

    I love it. Berlin is amazing.

    I am studying in Germany right now and it infuriates me when other students come back to Mannheim and say things like, “Berlin is so ugly…but the shopping/partying there is great!”

  • Guest

    Very bad article gathering all the clichés about Berlin. The city has so much more to offer than Berghain and Mauerpark…It sounds more like a 1 week holiday trip report than like someone actually living there. Plus you may wanna double check the prices of a room in prenzlauerberg – so many people are coming to berlin these days, like it's the new Disneyland and so the prices are going up.  Don't get me wrong I like the facts that new people are coming everyday – it gives the city a nice multicultural touch. Finally I would say it's always nice to see an article about Berlin on here, from an american point of view – so sorry for being an asshole.

    • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      “Plus you may wanna double check the prices of a room in prenzlauerberg…”

      I saw that, too, and assumed she must have worked out some kind of deal…

      “Don't get me wrong I like the facts that new people are coming everyday – it gives the city a nice multicultural touch.”

      Yeah, except it's always the same “cultures” coming in, again and again.

      @OP: “Go to Humana, the 4-storey thrift store…”

      This kind of shit drives the natives crazy. The thrift stores are there for the poor, not the “poor”. And if you move into Xberg, P'berg or Mitte, not only are you being a cliche, you're part of a hated phenom. There's a direct connection between the influx-surge of staycationers and the evictions at the Tacheles and various other famous legacy squats. You're driving the prices up and encouraging gentrification (and Disneyfication, too: you should have seen this place in 1990). Ferchrissakes spread out when you get here!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=674905536 Virginia Althen

      I completely agree about the prices! Nice rooms in a shared flat in neukoelln are 200 these days. It's a lot more expensive than it used to be. and for a flat on your own in mitte you are looking at 800 euros upwards.

    • guest

      yeah the price stuff was bullshit but I paid 250 for a huge room in Mitte (with roommates natch) in 2009 and that's pretty awesome even though it wasn't a whole floor or whatever

  • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

    20+ years of sex, bemusement and culture-wide batshit behavior:

    http://thisrecording.com/today

  • SJT

    Berlin has my heart.
    Budapest a close second.

  • purplehelmetedwarrioroflove

    Somebody write “How to write 'How to Articles'”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513322765 Elisa Lavandula-Angustifolia

    This is the kind of article that attempts to ruin the beauty of Berlin. Bloody hipsters.

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

    One of my dearest friends lives in Berlin and I need to visit badly.  Maybe in the fall, hence before it gets cold.

  • Jerry

    Dear Kat, your command of irony is breathtaking. Keep up the good satire!!!!

  • Le Sotao

    Oh, how very fairytalish and utopic, if only everything in life was like that. I lived in Berlin for a while and I did not enjoy it that much, I would be happy spending just a week there on vacation. Don't get me wrong, tons of interesting thing to see and (to my surprise) people are actually (generally) nice – except for the ones selling you coffee or bread that were genuinly insulted because I spoke english with them (but hey, I speak  4 languages basides my own and I do know some german, just not enough to carry on a dialog, so a little effort would be nice). But the city is made of concrete in between atractions, which adds to a feeling of dirtiness that oozes out of the piss smell stations, lanes, public transports etc. There is always some sort of constuction work going on and while I was there, the Marx-Hegel monument simply changed places, both of them having bags over their headsall the time. Nightlife is expensive and quite overated, and there is a huge difference between crapy techno and good electro (the first one being preponderant). Public parks are nice (although overcrouded), transports are good and on time, there is always something weird cool going around and the  Neue Nationalgalerie is absolutely stunning. But that said, overrated! Sorreeh.

    • http://twitter.com/andshewasnt genna mae

      Which Berlin were you in? Nightlife is dirt cheap there compared to every other major European city. Also, Berlin does not smell worse than Paris. One never escapes the god-awful piss and puke smell in that city!

    • Guest

      Le, I don't know how you think Berlin is just a concrete jungle. Yeah, there's a ton of open lots, and abandoned, rotting buildings, thanks to the Berlin Wall and divided Germany from the 50s to the 90s. But if that's all you can see you either were here in the dead of winter or just never left the subway stations at all. I find it absolutely lovely to bike through the city and see all the greenery, and the parks are amazing! They comprise appx. 1/3 of the city's area. Have you gone swimming in Schlachtersee, or Weißensee? Seen the awesome thunderstorms that roll through here in the late spring? Biked to Potsdam or through the Tiergarten from Unter den Linden to Ernst-Reuter Platz? Seen the pretty purple flowers on the hill at the Mauerpark? Yeah the parks get crowded too, but this is a universal truth for any popular activity. Plan ahead a little and avoid peak hours. I find a jog in Volkspark Friedrichshain is a very peaceful experience when you do it from 8 pm to 10 pm. It is still light here, thanks to Berlin lying on the 52 parallel.

      People here are reserved, but are quite nice (with the exception every now and then), especially if you are polite and don't shout in your native language. Knowing some German helps. I was at a Bushido concert the other night, about the fourth row back, but people were not pushy at all and giving enough space, unlike most larger concerts which I've been to. The nightlife is without a doubt amazing and affordable. I consider eight Euro a rather spendy entrance fee, because there are some places which are absolutely a blast and cost from 2 to 6 Euro. I don't think you'll find that sort of quality-for-price in many other large cities. Clubs are not hard to get into if you pay attention to the dress code and don't get too drunk beforehand. If you don't want to deal with the hassle, or the electro music is not your thing, just have a party at your or a friends apartment. Just don't be too raucous or the neighbors will call the cops and if they  have to come twice in one night, they will threaten to take your speakers on the third time (persönliche Erfahrung!) It's true, the construction is pervasive, eternal, and grating. A sign that Berlin will not stay as it is forever. I still need to go see the Neue Nationalgalerie, maybe I'll do that with the family when they visit. 

      Berlin is not for everybody, this is true. It's not for those who are looking for a static, settled lifestyle of certainty and security, and it's not for someone who is not willing to open his or her eyes to the little peculiarities, the diverse perspectives and the hidden treasures. If you truly look for it's beauty though, you will find it.

      Daniel

      (photo: guy proposing to his longtime boyfriend after singing a karaoke song at the Mauerpark, in front of hundreds of enraptured spectators – something you'll only see in Berlin!)

      • Guest

        Yeah here's my photo, sorry!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=552605513 Georg Flausenkopf

    please change 200Euros to 350€ .
    and please try to learn at least a tiny bit german. me as a local appreciates this; eventhough, we all are decent english speakers

    • inflammatorywrit

      In my experience, as an American living in Germany, about 60% I try to speak to someone in German, they immediately switch to English. I understand- I know my German is not that great, and I understand that Germans want to practice their (basically perfect) English, but I rarely get a chance to practice my German outside of the classroom.

      • guest

        Yeah, that happened to me a lot.  Although for some reason I was mistaken for Italian a few times.

      • http://twitter.com/andshewasnt genna mae

        This.

        With as hard as I've worked to learn German, it's sorta humiliating when people respond in English after listening to me. Of course, it's nothing to take personally, but still…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Caio-Fern/1825933515 Caio Fern

    shhhh, delet this  , you are totaly going to ruim Berlin spreading the news that way…. what do you want , that everybody goest to there it and starts to suck as Manhatan ? 

  • Camdentown21

    Berlin? Really?
    Of all the places I stayed last summer  when I was city hopping, Berlin was one of the cities I couldn't stand. I was born in Heidelburg back in '89, exactly 3 days after the Berlin Wall fell. I figured after 20 years of being a unified nation the people of Germany would be more excepting of other cultures and lifestyles…which led me to finally going there for a grand total of 10 days last year. Even though I spoke German to everyone I met, I still felt that most people couldn't get past my dark complexion. It's as if their history is still ingrained into their memory; the idea that people that don't look like them (Anglo and blonde) were a foreign and inferior species. That being said, I understand that a lot of Germany is still living backwards when compared to other Western Civilizations. But as dark-colored person, I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable every where I went. There were only a few nights when I was out and about looking for a good time that I actually found people that were cool to talk to and that showed me around the city.

    My overall point is that there are so many other great cities in Europe that deserve a,”How to..” article…

  • http://www.guidetomenhattan.com Rachel

    I'm moving to Berlin in August for work… so excited…

  • Indescifrable

    Berlin is in my favorite top 5 cities. I loved the article.

  • NatalieKeshlear

    Berlin is amazing. You got this right. I need to head to Humana ASAP.

  • guest

    I fucking love Berlin.  It's the best.  I miss it all the time.  

    (somuchbetterthanparisamiright)

  • Henry

    I don't suppose anyone is subletting their room in Berlin for the summer?

  • eferf67
  • BERLINER

    As a berlin resident, i can safely say that it is people like you which bring xenophobia to people like me in this city.

    Congratulations, you have just made the tourist stereotype. and thank god to sheep like new yorkers, more will follow.
    That means MORE annoying american tourists in Mitte and Prenzlauerberg with no intention of ever learning german or ever speaking at a normal speaking level, just shouting.
    This means MORE annoying american tourists being rejected from the queue of Berghain for being annoying american tourists.

    And also, no rent in Mitte or P'berg is 200 euros anymore. neither is it in Neukolln. for a room in Neukolln you're looking minimum of 250.

    As a writer myself, i would like to thank you for pissing all over Berlin for me. Great job.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1135492806 Ischra Centeno

      Well, it's cheaper that Madrid.

    • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

      “As a berlin resident, i can safely say that it is people like you which bring xenophobia to people like me in this city.”

      Don't use obnoxious American tourists as an excuse for Xenophobia;  anyone who isn't already a small-town bumpkin or closet racist is quite capable of distinguishing between a perfectly reasonable “foreigner” and a member of the toxically-entitled, global plague of country-hopping offspring of the bourgeoisie (plenty of whom happen to be  German), of which the author of this vapid article is clearly a card-carrying member.  Dear “Berliner”, does the word “Mallorca” ring a bell…?

      “Im Frühjahr und im Herbst ist es immer schlimmer als sonst, weil so
      viele junge Urlauber kommen, die keine Grenze kennen”, bestätigt eine
      Arzthelferin an der Playa de Palma. Viele deutsche Ärzte in Arenal
      wollen zu dem Thema nicht Stellung nehmen, da die Krawallmacher eine
      wichtige Kundengruppe für sie darstellen.”

    • Spookybeck

      Total truth—as a midwesterner AND american, I fully intend to rely on telling people I'm Canadian. Nothing gets me more embarrassed than the true to life stereotype. I'm currently saving to go abroad, and at least trying French, Swedish, and German(I've got the time.), to at least accommodate.
      I live in a bratty hipocritical country, and while there are perks, the overall laziness is shameful.

      • Vancouverite

        Please, as a Canadian, I beg you – PLEASE stop pretending to be Canadian. You are not one and we need you all to stop before you completely ruin our international reputation.

      • http://staugustinian.wordpress.com/ STaugustine

        Pretty funny!

      • not american

        canaduhians have an international reputation?

      • guest

        Seriously, just say you’re American. I’m American and living in Berlin and proud of it. I didn’t know how good I had it at home till I left. No one is welcoming and no one wants to waste time on you, they all act like they’ve been wronged somehow cuz you’ve moved into “their” place. Honestly, if they didn’t have Americans coming and visiting, half their city would still be the dump it was right after WWII, which they brought about themselves. And trying to talk to them about history is like pulling teeth, they put up the front of accepting what they did but the truth is they never have. Trying to learn German is difficult because every time you try to speak to someone they know and switch over because they don’t want to waste time listening to your broken German. Service at restaurants is shoddy, bartenders can’t mix drinks to save their lives and they try to rip you off because they think you don’t know how things work. My eyes have definitely been opened. They don’t want to give anyone a chance. The sooner I can get out of here the better.

  • http://twitter.com/MoveMeBright Eliz

    I lived in Sindelfingen for 3 months. I was never really pulled towards Berlin, but now I have to go. Thanks for the thoughts!

  • JJ

    I do indeed like Berlin, but the f'ing Americans that move there totally turn me off on the city and prevent me from seriously considering living there. I picture it as like, this army of zombie hipsters who have been going there en masse for the past decade, dumbly moaning “Berrrrllinnn, Berrrrlllinnnn…..”

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