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Moving to Berlin


    Berlin is the cultural heart and hub of Germany. As the capital city, Berlin is home to nearly 3.5 million people and boasts a colourful history. With plenty of museums, outdoor areas for enjoying natural beauty, active nightlife, excellent cuisine and plenty of sites to enjoy, the city has plenty to offer expats and those looking to live in and discover a different country by moving to Berlin. 

    People move to Berlin for many reasons, though it is an excellent centre for businesses. Startups and long established companies alike thrive in Berlin in sectors like technology, design and innovation. No matter your reason for an international relocation to Berlin, our guide will help you every step of the way. Not only can we support you with moving advice and moving your things, we even offer services such as international money transfers.

    Aerial view of Berlin skyline and wooded areas

    Moving to Berlin from the UK

    Following Brexit, you will now need to apply for a Visa before moving to Germany if you are from the UK. If you are of another European nationality then you won’t need to apply for this Visa before moving. Most German visas will need to be applied for in person and you will need to do this at the TLS Contact Centres in either London, Edinburgh or Manchester.

    Housing in Berlin

    When moving to Berlin you’ll of course be wondering about suitable housing within the city. Because Berlin was once divided by the Berlin Wall, most of the housing in the city sits on the Western side. Although the Berlin Wall fell in the 1980s and the city is now unified, many people still refer to parts of the city as West Berlin and East Berlin, but more as a matter of geography than anything else. Below are a number of areas that are among the best places to live in Berlin.

    Modern Berlin is divided into 23 named districts, similar to the Arrondissements of Paris. The majority of expats tend to live in 7 of the districts in the West area of Berlin. Many members of the expat community enjoy living in the Zehlendorf district, near areas of natural beauty as well as the international John F Kennedy School. The Lichterfelde district is popular for families with children, as it allows a bit more space but is within easy driving access of the city. The Mitte, Schöneberg and Tiergarten districts are popular for working singles or couples without families, as there are plenty of available apartments. 

    Districts of note for expat housing in East Berlin include Köpenick, Pankow, Treptow, and Weissensee.

    Berlin skyline at night

    Transportation in Berlin

    All of Germany enjoys excellent public transportation, and in particular, when living in Berlin you can expect the same. Berlin’s underground system is called the U-Bahn, while above ground train systems are called the S-Bahn. Bus stops are also easily found across the city and run a regular schedule.

    Dining Out

    Anyone looking to enjoy the restaurants of Berlin find plenty of options. All types of cuisine are available in the city, and though Berlin is not known for gourmet food and rather heavy German fare, there’s still plenty to choose from. However, some things about dining out in Berlin may be different to what you are used to if you haven’t spent time in Germany before. Here are a few rules to follow when planning to dine out in Berlin:

    • If you’re having a business meal or sticking to a strict schedule, you’ll want to make a reservation
    • Service in German restaurants can be quite relaxed. In most places, you’ll seat yourselves and need to get the attention of the waitstaff when you are ready to order. 
    • If you’re eating alone, you can often ask people sitting at a large table with empty space if they mind you joining them. 
    • When entering a restaurant, you shouldn’t sit at the Stammtisch. This table usually has a place of pride in a local neighbourhood restaurant but is saved for regular customers. Unless you are a regular or are invited, you should not sit there.

    If dining out is important to you, you might want to read up on the best restaurants in Berlin.

    Social Life in Berlin

    Household and personal goods can be shipped to France from any other country within the European Union, although an inventory list of all items must be provided. If you currently live outside of the EU, your belongings are allowed to be moved but only if they have been owned for at least six months. VAT must be paid on items owned for less time than this. You have up to 12 months to complete the shipment of your personal goods.

    Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany

    Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.

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