The Ultimate Guide to Living and Working in Berlin

By November 8, 2018Other

Are you considering a move to the German capital?

There’s no denying that Berlin is an amazing city. Whether you’re looking to work in the bustling startup scene or are a fan of the city’s vibrant culture and nightlife, Berlin is the place to be for young professionals.

However, moving to a new city will always bring its challenges. In this article, we take a look at all the things you need to know before you take the plunge.

Average commute

According to Moovit, Berliners spend 62 minutes on average commuting to and from work every day. This is just behind the Paris average which stands at 64 minutes.

Most commutes in the city are relatively short. The average distance for a single journey on public transport is a mere 9.1km. In fact, only 22% of people travel over 12 km.

Thanks to Berlin’s expert public transport commuters only have to spend an average of ten minutes waiting at a stop or station. Here are some of the transport options available.

Berlin transport

Public transport

In Berlin, there are three fare zones on public transport. Zone A includes the city centre, zone B ends at the city limits and zone C included the surrounding areas.

A single ticket that includes all three zones costs €3.40, while a seven-day ticket costs €30. You can purchase tickets at transport outlets or from machines on the platform.

Before the journey starts tickets must be validated by stamping them at the yellow or red boxes on the platforms, in buses or trams.

S-Bahn (light rail)

In Berlin, there are currently 13 S-Bahn lines in operation. The S-Bahn operates both over and below ground.

U-Bahn (subway)

The U-Bahn is Berlin’s underground train network. The S-Bahn and U-Bahn operate from Monday to Thursday normally between 05:00 and midnight


More than 20 tram lines run through Berlin. It is the third largest tram system in the world after Melbourne and St.Petersburg. The Metrotram runs on the metro lines and is indicated by a letter M.


The bus system consists of 300 lines and 1,300 buses. Along with the normal buses, Berlin’s bus system also offers MetroBuses, ExpressBuses, and Night buses.


Berlin’s transport service includes six different ferries, that operate on the Wannsee Lake, the Spree River and the small Mügelsee Lake. The ferries are mostly used in the summer months and vary in price.


While Frankfurt is Germany’s main financial hub, numerous international banks, insurance companies, and financial service providers have offices in Berlin. Because of its central location, the city acts as a bridge between Western and Eastern Europe. The financial district is mainly situated near Potsdamer Platz.


Berlin is home to more than 1000 film and television production companies, 270 movie theatres, and around 300 national and international co-productions are filmed in the region every year. The annual Berlin Film Festival is hosted in nearby Potsdam each year.


Berlin has a huge tech scene. In fact, a new start-up is founded in the city every 20 minutes. The industry is set to produce a huge 100,000 new jobs by 2020. Most of Berlin’s fast-growing start-up scene is located around Torstrasse, also known as Silicon Alley.


The Tourism industry in Berlin makes about €11.58 billion a year, as a result, hospitality is a huge business in the capital especially in the central Mitte district and around Hackescher Markt and Alexanderplat.

Work Permits

If you’re thinking about making the move to Germany then you need to make sure that you are legally allowed to work in the country.

If you are a citizen of the EU, US, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the Republic of Korea you can apply for a residence permit for work purposes after entering the country.

Citizens from other countries need to apply for a visa before they arrive. You can find out more information about the application process here.


In Germany, your income tax is deducted at source by your employer. The first €9,000 you earn each year (or €18,000 for couples) is tax-free. After that, you will be taxed between 14-42% depending on how much you earn.

All residents need to file an income tax return annually with their local tax office. In Germany, the tax year is the calendar year.

In addition to income tax, everyone has to pay solidarity tax, which is capped at 5.5% of your income tax.

Finally, if you are a member of a church registered in Germany, you will also have to pay a church tax of 8 or 9% of your income (depending on which federal state you live in).


Berlin has the fastest rising house prices in the world according to property consultancy Knight Frank. Here is a breakdown of the average property price per square meter according to RBB a regional Berlin broadcaster.

BerlinFinding the right area

Finding a flat in Berlin has become increasingly difficult in the past years due to the gentrification of many parts of the city. Here are some tips depending on what you’re after.

For culture-seekers

If you want to move to a cultural melting pot then Kreuzberg is the ideal place for you. Jam-packed with lots of artists, students and expats, this is a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood. As a result, there are lots of great restaurants and quirky bars right on your doorstep.

For socialites

Friedrichshain is a great choice if you are looking to have a lifestyle packed with fun and outings when you move to Berlin. Housing in this area is cheaper than most and there are plenty of local shops and boutiques.

For families

Moving to Berlin with kids in toe? Prenzlauer Berg is fast becoming the most family-oriented neighbourhood in Berlin. It’s clean, safe and there are lots of activities for parents and youngsters.

The average cost of living

Surprisingly, Berlin is cheaper than other German cities such as Munich and Hamburg despite being the capital. Interestingly, the Cost of Living Index in Berlin is 12.22% lower than in Dublin.

A bottle of good red table wine will set you back €6. Two tickets to the local cinema costs about €20 while a lunch in town will probably cost you €10 according to Expatistan.

Comparison site Numbeo estimates a litre of milk costs €0.84 in the city. If exercise is your thing a monthly gym membership will cost you €25.45 on average while a three-course meal for two people in a mid-range restaurant costs €40.


Top tips from expats

We decided to ask some people who have lived and worked in Berlin what advice they would give to someone making the move. Here’s what they had to say.

”It’s a good idea to learn some German. Lots of people speak English but there will be certain circumstances when you need to understand the local language like when you’re dealing with authorities etc.”

James Grant, Dentist

”The most important thing you need after moving to Berlin is a German bank account. You will find out pretty fast that without a German bank account there is not much you can get. Landlords will ask for the last 3 bank statements showing your income. Mobile phone providers will ask for your bank details during the sign-up process and  internet providers require you to show that you have a German bank account.”

Áine Sheehy, Teacher.

”Definitely invest in a bike. Berlin is a reasonably flat city and you can get cheap bikes in second-hand shops dotted around the city.”

Shelly Devine, Account Manager

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Author Alice Murray

Alice Murray is a Content Creator at Jobbio with a passion for Employer Branding and Graduate Culture. She's a keen traveller and a self-proclaimed lazy runner.

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