Guest Posts

6 Top Tips for First-Time Expats Living in Berlin

Disclaiminer: This is a Guest Post

Learn the German language
Sure, most Germans are probably much more adept at speaking English than you would be spluttering a few phrases of broken Deutsch. However, it is recommended that you at least learn some basic German before you move. Not only will knowing the language make your life easier (you’ll be able to discern the various meats and pastries in the delicatessen for instance), you’ll also find it much simpler initiating communication with the locals and you’ll earn their respect by trying your hand at the language (plus you’ll never know where you might need it).

Dress for the weather
Winters in Germany can be cold, and long and often snowy, so be sure to invest in a decent pair of boots and outerwear for these months.
In the summer, expats in Berlin enjoy warm, dry weather, with plenty of things to do. There are places to hike and lakes outside of the city where you can hike and swim to your heart’s content. Germans are very outdoorsy people, so don’t be surprised if when you make friends, you get invited out for camping excursions and barbeques – get those bratwursts on the barbie!

Find yourself some threads
Berliners are style conscious and generally employ a casual and functional dress code; (meaning boots and sneakers, leave the heels at home, ladies). The trend setters of Berlin are much more down to earth when it comes to footwear.
There is a strong hipster culture present in Berlin, both in the style of fashion and in the selection of artisanal bars and eateries popping up all over the city; such as the trendy bar Ä – a laid-back bar in Neukölln offering a basement dancefloor for the folks who like a good boogie.

Get out and sample the nightlife
Germans fully embrace the party culture and the diverse dance music scene that comes with it. Berlin has no fewer than 900 bars and nearly 200 clubs and discotheques, so you won’t have to search far for a great night out! All these top venues attract top DJs from all over the world – mainly in the techno and house scenes, meaning top music and a great chance to mingle with Berlin’s happening scene.
Top clubs include Berghain, Watergate, and White Trash – which, despite its ostentatious name is actually a restaurant popular with expats and also hosts live music and parties in the basement. In fact, basement dancefloors seem to be something of a theme in this city.

Things to see and do
Aside from the main eateries and watering holes, there’s plenty more to see and do in Berlin. If you’re the kind of expat that loves to treat your first few months in a new country like an extended holiday, you’ll want to see all the sights and sounds Berlin has to offer. History geeks can relish in the many museums and historic buildings in the city, such as the Fernsehturn (TV tower), standing at 368 metres (1,207 feet), it’s the tallest structure in Berlin, offering unrivalled views of the city. Nature lovers can enjoy Berlin’s central park and Garten der Welt; a collection of themed gardens and natural oases. Botanischer Garten is another amazing location to explore the flora on offer in the many gardens in Berlin.

Off the beaten track
For the more seasoned expat ready to uncover all the unusual things to do around the city, such as visiting the Liquidrom, a futuristic, new age spa, or the Bierpinsel, a strange, tree-like building built in 1976. Offering you a first-time glimpse into the first in a long line of odd architecture in the city.
Those in the mood for an unconventional breakfast should head to the Reichstag, where you can start your day with a meal on the roof of this historic building.
Or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could take a day trip out to the Teufelsberg – a cold war, NSA spy station with huge radar domes towering overhead. The entire place lies abandoned, so if you do decide to venture there, take caution.

Alex works for Currency UK – a foreign exchange company who help expats move their money abroad, with a friendly service and bank beating exchange rates!