Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Thu August 06 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | August 6, 2015 1:00 AM ET

    2015 Expat Guide to Living in Berlin

    2015 Expat Guide to Living in Berlin

    PHOTO: No matter where you turn in Berlin, you can’t help but be inspired by the art visible in every direction. (all photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Roald Dahl once said “…if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead.” And that is exactly what I did when I moved to Berlin — I practically flung myself into its arms without knowing a thing. But I soon realized, maybe that wasn’t so wise.

    Although I was lucky, meeting people who helped me along the way, there are some basic things a person should know before moving abroad to make your transition easier than mine:

    Areas to Live:

    • East Berlin: Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain

    • West Berlin: Kreuzberg, Neukolln, Schoeneberg, Charlottenburg, Zehlendorf, Grunewald, Wedding, Tiergarten

    Trendiest Neighborhoods:

    • Kreuzburg

    • Neukolln

    • Kreuzkolln (the area between Neukolln and Kreutzburg)

    The Second Best Neighborhoods:

    • Friedrichshain

    • Prenzlauer Berg

    • Scheunenviertel, Mitte

    Cheapest Neighborhoods to Live:

    • Moabit

    • Wedding

    When looking for a flat, I’ll warn you now, your best bet to land one is through word-of-mouth. However, if you are planning to apply, you will be one of hundreds vying for one room. For better chances, be sure to bring the following at time of viewing:

    • Proof of earnings

    • Credit check

    • Three references

    Finding Free/Cheap furniture:

    • Free Your Stuff Berlin

    • Ebay Kleinanzeigen


    • Keep it neutral — black is your best friend. No one wears bright colors.

    PHOTO: A typical neighborhood in the trendiest areas and the people that inhabit them.


    Food is unbelievable in Berlin for all types of foodies — From meat to vegan, cheap or expensive, you’ll have a hard time choosing just one. The following are my favorite spots so far:


    • Morgenland (the best buffet of my life)

    • Bastard Berlin

    Street Food:

    • Street Food Thursdays: Markethall Neun (every Thursday)

    • Bitte Club (twice a month on Fridays)

    • Neue Heimat

    • Burgers & Hip Hop

    • Thai Park

    • Curry 36 (Currywurst)

    • Burgermister (meat eaters only — the veggie burger is shameful)

    • Mustafa's Gemüse Kebab (doner — pronounced: du-ner was the best street food I have ever eaten as a vegetarian)


    • Cookies Cream

    • Chipps

    • Kopps

    • White Trash

    Drinks: A lot of bars charge a deposit for your bottle or glass — return them after drinking at the bar to get money back.

    Best Supermarket: Shop at Lidl, Netto or Aldi — Kaiser and other supermarkets have inflated pricing.

    Best Co-Working Spaces/ Fast Wi-Fi:

    • St Oberholz

    • Betahaus

    • Schillerbar/Cafe

    • Batueu Ivre

    PHOTO: Left Image: One of the many incredible cafes — Batueu Ivre. Right Image: The best buffet lunch you’ll ever eat — Morgenland.

    Types of Transit:

    • U-Bahn (underground subway)

    • S-Bahn (above ground subway)

    • Trams (street cars) and buses

    Transit App for Smartphones: BVG

    Trendiest Clubs/Bars:

    • Berghain

    • Watergate

    • Club Der Visionaere

    • Cookies

    • Möbel Olfe

    • Barbie Deinhoff's

    • Bei Schlawinchen

    • Prater Garten

    Things I’ve Learnt:

    • You can get by speaking English with the younger generations.

    • People in Berlin are very inviting and it’s incredibly easy to meet people.

    • Want to start a conversation? Everyone has something to say about the gentrification in Berlin.

    • A spati is a convenience store open 24/7. People also drink here for cheap!

    • Everyone smokes and you can smoke everywhere.

    • Always stamp your transit pass — they WILL fine you.

    Partying in Berlin:

    • The club scene in Berlin is a wonderland for adults.

    • The party starts on Thursday and goes to Sunday (but it doesn’t have to end).

    • You can drink in Public … and it’s the best thing ever.

    • Sternburg Export beer only costs 80 cents!

    • For a cheap/fun night out go on a Spati Crawl.

    • Doner and currywurst are the go-to staples after a long night of drinking.

    • When trying to get into Berghain — the most famous club — wear dark tones, don’t talk to anyone around you in line, pretend you don’t care and don’t make eye contact. Most people get rejected on their first try so don’t worry, there’s always next time.

    Helpful Phrases:

    • “Enschuldigung, sprechen sie Englisch?” (Excuse me, do you speak English?)

    • “Ich nehme ein Club Mate/bier, bitte” (I'll take a Club Mate/beer, please)

    • “Dankeshön” (Thank you)

    • “Nein, danke” (No thanks)

    • “Prost!” (Cheers)

    • “Hast du fuer?” (Do you have a light?)

More Berlin


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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