Moving to Berlin

The complete guide to living in Berlin short term

Aug 22, 2023
people walking down street in berlin next to a river and view of buildings people walking down street in berlin next to a river and view of buildings

Willkommen to Berlin; where German efficiency meets uber cool, progressive, world-renowned for its arts scene, and of course its legendary nightlife. It’s also in Germany, so everything runs on time, and it’s arguably the most important economic and business capital on the continent of Europe.

Unsurprisingly, living in Berlin has become a top destination for the new generation of digital nomads who are physically unconstrained from their jobs. These remote workers increasingly choose to move around rather than settle in one place. Since you can’t really get to know a city in a week, people often want to spend a few months in a new city, to really get to know the place and the culture. If you’re thinking of becoming an expat in Berlin, then read on. This complete guide has all the information you need if you want to move to Berlin short term.

View of Berlin skyline and tv tower

Why move to Berlin?

Some of you will already have made your mind up, but others might still be deciding whether to take the plunge. It is a safe, diverse city, and a great option for expats in Berlin. Here are some other factors that help will help answer the question why move to Berlin:

Social Life

Despite living in such an economic powerhouse, people living in Berlin Germany really care about their free time. They love sports, eating out, and of course everyone has heard of the famous Berlin nightlife. Whether you want to sample your way round all the beers of Berlin, or dance until the next day, it’s a great place to be. The weather might not be as warm as in some other European cities, but life in Berlin makes the most of each season. In winter everyone gets cozy and strolls around the Christmas markets. In summer the atmosphere is buzzing, and people flock to the parks for a great time.


How affordable Berlin is for you will depend on where you have come from, and what your budget is. For a western European city though, Berlin is known as being affordable. The essentials for life in Berlin are cheaper than in many other cities, and while rental prices have risen in recent years, rental controls mean prices are still relatively low. Your budget will be similar to cities such as Madrid and Lisbon, so if you’re moving to Berlin from the US or the UK, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.


Be prepared to remember your three R’s when moving to Berlin. Berlin is known as an exceptionally eco-friendly city, and they take sustainable living to the next level. Recycling is fundamental, and you pay a deposit on glass bottles which is refunded when you recycle them. Green transport is heavily incentivized, and bikes are everywhere. In fact, the city has already begun plans to become completely carbon neutral by 2050. Even their festivals are green!

River view of Berlin

What permits do I need to live in Berlin?

This depends on where you come from, and how long you plan to stay. EU nationals have the same rights as German citizens and do not need a visa. Others can stay for up to 90 days on a tourist visa, and visitors from many countries do not even need that. If you’re moving to Berlin, Germany from the US, the UK, or various other countries, you can live here short term without one.


The registration of your accommodation is something everyone has to do, German or otherwise, within 2 weeks of moving into a new apartment. To complete the process you must:

  • Book an appointment with your local Bürgeramt (town hall)

  • Complete the form

  • Get the Wohnungsgeberbestätigung (a real word- proof of new address) from your landlord/agency

  • Take all these with your passport to the appointment. Ideally take a German speaker with you too as some employees speak English, but some don’t.

Completing this process will allow you to reside legally, and also give you a tax ID for living in Berlin.

Visas and residence permits

Germany has joined the list of European countries to introduce a digital nomad visa, in a bid to attract young professionals who are remote working, or freelance. This serves as both a visa and residence permit.

Other types of residence permits are available for those not working remotely, and after 5 years of living in Germany, you can apply for citizenship.


Germany is very proud of their healthcare system, which dates back to the 19th century. They believe that everyone, even expats in Berlin, should have access, so protection is mandatory. If you are an employee, then your employer will take care of that for you. If you are freelance or remote working, you’ll need to do it yourself.

What are the best rentals for short term visitors?

colorful apartment buildings

Renting a flat in the normal way is often not ideal if you’re only planning on living in Berlin short term. For starters, you normally need to pay 3 months rent as a deposit. You will also need proof of earnings, and proof that you have paid rent on time in the past. The biggest problem though will probably be furnishing your apartment. Unfurnished flats are the norm in Germany, and if you’re only staying for a few months, the last thing you want to spend your time or money on is furniture.

At Ukio we simplify things. For our monthly rental apartments you only need a passport. We make sure everyone is located in one of Berlin’s best districts, and fully furnish them, including the little things. You’ll still need to register where you live, but having your apartment sorted first means you can book your Anmeldung appointment before you even move to Berlin. Given that it normally takes longer than the permitted two weeks to get an appointment, this is very useful.

What are the best areas for expats?

Unlike other German cities, which are generally built around one city center, Berlin is made up of 12 districts, each with their own center. Where you choose to live when moving to Berlin will have a big impact on your time in the city, so to make things easier- here’s a breakdown of the best ones for expats in Berlin.


Downtown Berlin. Mitte has everything you would expect from the heart of the city; it’s large and busy. There are loads of shops, bars and restaurants. It is also the main district for monuments, art galleries, and museums. If you need a break from the hustle and bustle though, Tiergarten park is in Mitte. One of the largest urban parks in the country, Tiergarten is a great place to walk around, go boating on the lake, or relax in one of its beer gardens. Not the cheapest district, but the best way to see Berlin’s most famous sights in a short time spent living in Berlin.

Kreuzberg - Friedrichshain

Merged into one borough at the start of the century, this area, more than any other, is where Berlin gets its alternative, hipster image. Kreuzberg residents will tell you that it’s the coolest place on Earth, and Friedrichshain is home to some of the biggest clubs in the city, including Berghain. Clearly an area best for younger residents keen to take advantage of the nightlife, there is also balance here. It is a hotspot for creative people and startups, and some of the city’s main museums are here- so there’s something for everyone, making this area of Berlin a good place to live.

landmark building on river of kreuzberg-friedrichshain


Another great spot for young professionals, Schöneberg is slightly more upmarket than the above neighborhoods. The happy medium if you want to sample the edgier side of Berlin, while taking things a little easier. With lots of history, quality shops, excellent co-working spaces, and greenery in the form of Südgelände nature park.


Moving more upmarket, and away from Berlin’s hipster vibe. This is where to go if you want to avoid the high octane center in favor of a relaxing, residential neighborhood. Features some great restaurants, plenty of green spaces, and Berlin’s most famous shopping street: Kurfürstendamm.

Ich spreche kein Deutsch!

Don’t speak German? It’s not much of a problem in Berlin, especially if you’re moving from the US or the UK.. Being an important business and tourism capital, many Germans here speak good English. There is also a massive international community here, which communicates predominantly in English. It’s a good idea to make a German-speaking friend early though- it will help on the occasions you do need German, for example when dealing with public administration.

You should learn German if you can, though. It would be a shame to live in Berlin for a few months and not pick up any of one of the continent’s most important languages. There are so many ways to learn these days, and the government (VHS) offers subsidized courses in the city. Joining a language school is also a great way to meet other expats.

Until you’ve decided whether or not to learn, here are some key phrases to get you through the first few weeks:

  • Guten tag! – Good morning!

  • Ich heiße… – My name is… (second word pronounced like “hi sir”)

  • Wo ist… – Where is…

  • Ein großes bier bitte – One large beer please

  • Ich liebe dich – I love you

  • Danke – Thank You

german flag infront of building

How do I use the public transport in Berlin?

Berlin is not a bad city to drive around expats in Berlin. Some of the streets are quite narrow, but the other drivers are generally pretty respectful. There are also a decent number of car sharing services, which you’ll probably want to use if you’re only living in Berlin Germany short term. You’ll most likely want to join in with the city’s eco-friendly nature though, and make use of the city’s public transport system. Clean, safe, comfortable, and very punctual- Berlin’s is one of the best in the world, making getting around the city for those moving to Berlin. Our transport guide will tell you how to use it:

Train and metro

You have two options when living in Berlin. One is the S-Bahn, a light rail service that operates in Berlin and also the surrounding areas, including the airport. It normally operates above ground, except in the center. The other is the U-Bahn, the (predominantly) underground service that only operates within the city. The U-Bahn connects all the most important places in the city, and is probably what you’ll use most at the start of your stay. At night the U-Bahn services are replaced by night buses.

Bus and Tram

There are over 350 bus routes in Berlin, and they stretch to all corners of the city. The upside of using buses is that you get to see the sights while traveling (100 and 200 are particularly good sightseeing routes). The downside is that they can get stuck in traffic, and are not as fast as the trains. The tram routes are more limited, but they do cover some areas that are otherwise difficult to get to.

tram and ubahn in berlin


You can buy single tickets, which give you unlimited journeys for a two-hour period. There are also daily, weekly, and monthly tickets available. There are 3 zones: A is the city center, B is the rest of the city, C is the area around the city. When you buy a ticket it will be for zones A and B, B and C, or all 3.

The U-Bahn only operates in A and B. You buy train tickets at the machines on the platform, which must be validated before you board. Bus tickets are bought from the driver, and tram tickets from the machines inside the tram. Berlin’s transport network (BVG) is phasing out cash payments for tickets, so you should be able to buy everything by card, or with the app. But it’s a good idea to carry some cash throughout life in Berlin with you just in case.

Taxis and other apps

Moving away from public transport- taxis are not particularly cheap in Berlin, so many people living in Berlin prefer other options. One trick for short journeys (less than 2km) is to say Kurzstrecke as soon as you get in, this will guarantee you only pay 5€ for the trip. Suitcases will cost an extra 1€ each. Apps like Uber exist in Berlin and are generally a little cheaper.

Bikes and Scooters

Cycling around the city is a dream for expats in Berlin. Yes it’s massive, so unless you’re super fit, you won’t be able to get everywhere. It’s flat though, many of the streets are incredibly wide, and nearly all have cycle lanes, or you’re allowed on the pavements. There is a real culture of cycling in the city, so you’re rarely told off as long as you don’t cause any accidents.

Berlin does not have an official bike sharing service in the city, but there are many private companies to choose from. Most also offer electric scooters, if that’s what you’re after.

How should I spend my time in Berlin?

The most populated city in Europe understandably has a lot to see and do. You may well already have an idea about how you want to spend your time living in Berlin Germany, but if you don’t - then let us help you.

History class

Of all the cities you could choose to live in for a while, we doubt you chose moving to Berlin without having any interest in its fascinating past. It is very easy to fill a few months with different things to see, here are some of them:


There are many, and most are in the center so it’s easy to get from one to the other. The beautiful Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and the Holocaust Memorial should not be missed. And of course, don’t forget the wall itself- the East Side Gallery is the largest remaining part.

Brandenburg Gate

Museums and galleries

Again, you have plenty to choose from here, a lot depends on your tastes. You have the world-famous Perganon, for ancient art and archaeology. The Topography of Terror, for your tour of the Third Reich. The Feuerle Collection, for beautiful exhibits from East Asia. The Urban Nation museum, for street art and graffiti. Whatever you’re interested in, you’ll most likely find an exhibit during your life in Berlin.


A little way out of the city, Teufelsberg (Devil’s mountain) is definitely worth the trip. A man made hill, created after the war by dumping 75 million tons of rubble on top of a Nazi military college (which proved easier than blowing it up). Recommended as it’s a little less touristy and more peaceful, boasts great art along with its history, and offers great views over the city.

Party hard

Ideally you enjoy both, but if you haven’t moved to Berlin for the history, it’s most likely for the nightlife. Probably the most famous clubbing scene on Earth, nights out can last for days when living in Berlin. Some places to check out are:

  • Berghain - Definitely the most famous, maybe the best. Techno music and a strict no camera policy help to unlock people’s wilder sides.

  • :// about blank - Berlin’s most famous spot for open air parties.

  • Anomalie Art Club - Part club, part gallery. Some spectacular visuals on display.

  • Prince Charles - A trendier, more upmarket option.

  • Hasenheide park - Ok it’s a park not a club, but they sometimes do all day raves here that are well worth it. You might even get to bed at a normal time.

Berghain club

Don’t forget to relax

With so much hedonism, you may find yourself in need of the odd chill day. Fortunately Berlin has more parks than any city in Europe, and many other great places to wind down. Here are 3 of the best that make Berlin a good place to live:

Britzer Garten

Surprisingly well hidden. There is so much on offer while you explore the paths and lakes at Britzer: spectacular flowers, different themed gardens, mud huts, playgrounds, and cafes. Highly recommended.

Peacock Island

You’ll need a ferry to get there, but it’s well worth it. Beautiful gardens, a castle straight out of a fairytale, and of course- peacocks. A wonderfully romantic day out.


A beautiful, relaxing spa. Being in Berlin, at Liquidrom you also get cool, electro vibes playing. Close your eyes and float away.

If you want to retreat even further from the action, there are some spectacular countryside getaways near Berlin, like the Harz Mountains. Find out more in our guide.

Can my dog come too?

dog at flea market record booth in berlin

Most definitely. Berlin has been voted the most dog friendly city in the world. Dogs are allowed on public transport free of charge. You need to have them on a leash, and they’re supposed to have a muzzle as well, although that seems less strictly enforced. Unlike in many cities, dogs are often welcome in restaurants and shopping malls as well, although it’s worth checking the rules of each place. Finding a dog-friendly apartment to rent monthly won’t be a problem, as the government has ruled it illegal to ban pets. So yes! Your furry friend should definitely come to move to Berlin with you.

Don’t wait until Oktober!

As long as you like something, there’s something you’ll like about life in Berlin. We hope you’ve been convinced to go for it and start moving to Berlin; just know that our city guide will help you both before, and after you arrive. There’s so much waiting for you here, so find your accommodation, get your flight booked, and come and start your new adventure!