11 Things to Do After Arriving in Berlin


  1. Find an apartment – Finding an apartment in Berlin can be tricky. You should first more or less decide on a neighborhood you wanna focus your search on (this could depend on your job, friends, university, preferred hangout-spots or anything else, but it proves useful focusing a bit, because Berlin is huuuge) and then go for the hunt. Check websites like www.immobilienscout24.de for apartments and www.wg-gesucht.de for flat-shares. Don’t be surprised to find another 30 people looking at the apartment you really wanted to live in, which can be intimidating in the beginning, but just keep going. You’ll need to do some paperwork before being able to rent a place, a list of papers is available here. Special trick: if you’re really interested in a place, hand over your whole paperwork to the person showing it right on the spot and call the property management within the next two days and just ask them if they have received your papers and tell them that you are really interested in renting it and would be ready to sign the contract right away. Be aware of scams. Another thing, which shouldn’t be forgotten, is the fact that in Germany electricity and Internet comes in separate bills, so the warm rent of your apartment, stated on the contract is not the final amount of money, you’ll pay each month!

  2. Registration – After you have finally found a place, you’ll need to register your new address at the place called “Bürgeramt”. Get an appointment here, be there ten minutes in advance. You just need your Passport/ID, a bit of hope, that the person you’ll be dealing with will speak English and two forms: One is the registration form (“Anmeldung bei der Meldebehörde”) and the other one the “Einzugsbestätigung des Wohnungsgebers”, which must be signed by the landlord or the person you are subletting from. This paper confirms, that you are really living there. Both here.

  3. Furnish your house – Of course, we all love the Ikea deals, but in Berlin, you have quite good chances, to get nice and sometimes really cool individual furniture through other ways. In some neighborhoods, especially around Friedrichshain, it is quite common to leave furniture, you don’t need anymore inside of the building or on the street, so sometimes you can get really lucky finding an awesome piece for free! Also check ebay Kleinanzeigen for second hand stuff online and the flea-markets on sundays.

  4. Open a bank account – If your home bank doesn’t allow free international withdrawal, you should strongly consider opening a bank account in Germany. It’s even for free for students at most banks! The banks which are most common around Berlin are Berliner Sparkasse, Deutsche Bank and Postbank. A few of the banks are members of the Cash Group, which means, you can withdraw money for free from all of those banks, if you have an account with one of them. Be aware, that if you withdraw from another bank than your own (or cash group member), the fees can be quite high (around 7€ for one single withdrawal).

  5. Choose a health insurance – If you’re staying long term, you will need a health insurance, in Germany you’re obligated by law to have one. The main public health insurance companies all work in similar ways and the differences among their services do not differ a lot. If you have any special requirements or needs be aware though, that those are covered!

  6. Find a job – If you’re not among the lucky ones, who came to Berlin and already having a fixed job, you’ll need to do the sometimes annoying job search. Especially if you don’t know German that well, it can be hard. Look online, unfortunately there is not one main website to look for jobs, ask around and build up a network! Many jobs come through word of mouth and networking! If you’re looking for a job in a bar, café or restaurant, simply walk around the bar-touristic-districts (for instance Weserstraße Neukölln, Rosenthaler Platz area or Simon-Dach-Straße) and ask in each and every place, this will work out sooner or later for sure!

  7. Make friends – This might be only point seven on this list, but this is so important all the time! You’re lucky, you came to a city, which is very open to new people and faces, to English speakers and to new and maybe strange ideas. Very many people did arrive with nothing than a suitcase in Berlin once upon a time, so we all remember this feeling and our happiness, when we made our first friends. Go to bars, just start chatting with some people (most people will be very welcoming towards that), join a table-soccer tournament or a quiz night somewhere and be sure, you’ll meet people! Also, there are still couchsurfing-gatherings happening or simply post in one of the numerous English speaking Facebook groups of the city.

  8. Learn German – Yes, we all know, it’s quite easy to survive in Berlin without knowing German at all, but come on, it’s fun learning a new language and if you intend to stay here for longer, this will make your life so much easier and more fun! Yes, the rumors are true, German is really hard, I can’t say anything else, but keep going, you’ll make it! Also, language schools are a great option to meet new people. Find a tandem partner, who wants to learn your native language and meet casually for conversation practice.

  9. Find your preferred way of transportation – Many Berliners cycle all year, as monthly passes for the trains are not a bargain at all, but depending on your job, you actually might need a monthly pass. Check here about the price options. Bicycles are mainly bought second hand here, through eBay, on flea-markets or from friends, but check properly, there are lots of stolen bikes on the market! Also, always (!!!) lock your bike onto something and better invest some cash in a proper lock than having your bike stolen after a week.

  10. Register for Rundfunkbeitrag – Every household in Germany has to pay 17,50€ a month for TV and radio service – unfortunately it does not matter at all if you have a TV or a radio. You’ll receive a letter a month or two after registration at the Bürgeramt or you can register here. If you live with flatmates, check who of your flatmates pays and you can register under one number (and share the costs). Ignoring the letters from this company is something many people do or did, but this can lead to very high bills after some time and I would not recommend this.

  11. Discover the fun stuff to do in Berlin – As this list was mostly bureaucratic stuff, one thing you really need to do now, is to grab your friends and a beer and sit somewhere outside in the sun (hopefully in warm weather!) and just enjoy your new home!