Interested in moving to Berlin?
This post is an extract from my book The BreakingOut Guide To Moving To Berlin
In this post I take a look at the different districts of Berlin.
Check out my book all about moving to Berlin – and how to get the best out of living and working in Europe’s coolest and most exciting capital.
Where To Live in Berlin
This is a brief look of some of the districts of Berlin from the residential point of view.
I stress some of the districts, as I haven’t mentioned them all. There’s no way I can do justice to a city the size of Berlin within the space of this one post.
Not only that, but I’m not familiar with every district of Berlin, nor even with every borough. I doubt that anyone is. Like most people, I know parts of the city better than others.
Some areas I don’t know at all, and this will be reflected in what I have to say. So this is NOT a comprehensive A to Z of Berlin’s neighbourhoods and doesn’t try to be.
The great thing about Berlin to my mind is its recent history. It’s not every city that gets split into capitalist and communist halves – and then put back together again 40 odd years later. That’s one of the things that makes Berlin unique.
Eastern Berlin has seen a great deal of renovation and renewal over the last 25 years since reunification, but even today you can still discern a difference in many areas between former eastern and western districts of the city.
With some notable exceptions, rents still tend to be cheaper in the eastern boroughs and there tends to be a greater availability of rented housing for newcomers to the city in the eastern half.
When I first moved to Berlin back in the 90s, I was only interested in looking for accommodation in the former East Berlin districts. I hadn’t come to Berlin solely to experience West Berlin. I could get that in West Germany or even back in London. What I wanted was the “authentic” fresh East Berlin experience.
So it is today with many newcomers to Berlin.
And no wonder. The eastern half of the city is where things are happening most, where you can most of all feel the changes taking place and where things are on the move.
And the fact that it’s the area of Berlin where rents still tend to be lower is an added bonus.
I’ll talk about how to find an apartment in a later post. In this post I’m going to concentrate on giving you a tour of the main districts of Berlin so you can get an idea of where you might want to look for an apartment.
I’ll first discuss the inner areas of east and west, and then move on to cover the outer areas.
So let’s start with the centre…
Mitte, which is literally German for “centre” is the official city centre of Berlin.
Mitte covers the one-time Communist city centre of old East Berlin. The present day Mitte borough is actually a merger of a number of eastern and western districts and is much larger than just the Mitte district itself. In other words, you could say the Mitte also has a Mitte…
In the 1990s following the opening up of Eastern Berlin and reunification, Mitte must have been one of the world’s strangest city centres.
Mitte back then was a drab, run-down district, whose streets featured little in the way of business activity, shops, bustle, or nightlife. It also had lots of very low rent, publicly owned housing.
When I first moved to Berlin I rented a room in Mitte for my first month for 200 Marks per month (about 80 Dollars). You wouldn’t find such a bargain these days anywhere in Berlin let alone Mitte.
After getting off to a slow start, renovation and redevelopment has been non-stop and Mitte has now changed almost beyond recognition. I know someone who bought a renovated Altbau (old building) apartment in Mitte for a song in an auction over a decade ago. I don’t know the current price, but I imagine he’s now sitting on a gold mine.
It goes without saying that Mitte is now one of the most expensive areas of the new Berlin.
Mitte is also the area which contains the old ceremonial/monumental Berlin of the Unter den Linden boulevard, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Government Quarter, the Museum Island, as well as Friedrichstrasse and Alexanderplatz.
The northern end of Mitte from Hackescher Markt and towards Rosenthaler Platz is a popular “in” district which is seeing a hotel and hostel boom. New restaurants, bistros, boutiques, and expensive apartments, have also been springing up.
Going further north beyond Friedrichstrasse and north of Torstraße, you enter an area which is more firmly residential and native Berlin. These are the districts along the U-Bahn lines and stations of Bernauer Strasse, Nordbahnhof and Schwarzkopfstr. However, this areas is fast becoming more expensive as renovation and gentrification continues.
By the way, the area around Torstrasse and Rosenthaler Platz is where a lot of Berlin’s Web start-up entrepreneurs tend to hang out (see Cafe St.Oberholz).
Mitte is well served by U- and S-Bahn stations and also by tram lines.
Rents in Mitte are unfortunately now among the highest in Berlin for new rentals so unless you have big pockets or your parent’s trust fund behind you, it’s unlikely you will be able to afford anything much here. The further north/north west you go within Mitte rents get a little more reasonable, but for new rentals this is mostly an expensive area.
My verdict on Mitte: Unless your employer is paying, or you have deep pockets, Mitte is now pretty well out of reach for most newcomers. But this is after all the centre of town.
If you absolutely want to live in Mitte, then you might have more chance in the area to the north of the borough. But rents here also tend to be high for new lettings.
This is the district adjacent to Mitte just to the north-east. Prenzlauer Berg or Prenzelberg as some people refer to it is an old originally solidly working-class area that was once very densely populated.
But over the last decade or so much of Prenzlauer Berg has changed beyond recognition. Many of the old buildings have been restored or renovated and real estate values and with that rents have risen sharply.
Long gone are the days of affordable rents in Prenzlauer Berg. The northern end of Prenzlauer Berg still retains a more strongly native Prenzlauer Berg feel to it. But gentrification is on the march here as well.
The “centre” of Prenzlauer Berg is probably the “Kiez” areas around Kollwitzplatz and the Kastanienallee (which means Chestnut Bouvelard). This area is also especially popular with tourists.
I used to live in Prenzlauer Berg and got to know it well. It was the East Berlin equivalent of Kreuzberg. But since then, it’s changed enormously, almost beyond recognition in parts.
Above all the rents are no longer so affordable and there’s been a big and ongoing influx of the German middle classes into Prenzlauer Berg, especially young families with children. There has also been an increase in the number of Eigentumswohnungen – or owner occupied apartments, displacing lower cost rented property.
Prenzlauer Berg is now home to many young middle class German families. It’s popular with what Germans call the 3 A’s – Ärzte, Anwälte, and Architekten (doctors, lawyers and architects). Or what some disgruntled Berliners prefer to describe as Arschlöcher, Arschlecker and Arschkriecher (that’s Assholes, Ass-lickers and Ass-crawlers).
There are loads of cafes, bistros bars and restaurants across the price ranges in Prenzlauer Berg but the club and bar scene is coming under siege from the new residents who want noise levels turned down so their kids can sleep. There are lots of old restored buildings and it’s a great place to stroll around.
There isn’t so much green in Prenzlauer Berg, with one notable exception, namely the famous Mauer Park which is very lively on summer weekends.
In the more northerly end of Prenzlauer Berg rents tend to be lower as gentrification is not so advanced in this part of the district.
My verdict on Prenzlauer Berg: A great area to stroll around or for nightlife, but a lot of Prenzlauer Berg is now a bit too bourgeois for my liking with too many of the 3 A’s moving to the area. To my mind it’s past its sell-by date and it has now become too pricey.
If you are really set on living in Prenzlauer Berg but don’t want to pay high rents, then you may have more luck at the northern end of the borough or in neighbouring Pankow where gentrification is not yet so advanced.
Friedrichshain now forms a united borough with the former West Berlin Bezirk of Kreuzberg to the south.
Friedrichshain is an area I also know well. I rented an apartment for three years in the Karl-Marx-Allee complex.
Though it was a fascinating experience and my first experience of living in Berlin, Friedrichshain back then was definitely not a hip place to be.
The Karl-Marx-Allee apartments are spacious, solid and well built, and the rent was very low when I was there. Even though it was well after Reunification, living on Karl-Marx-Allee really did feel like East Berlin back in the Communist days. In fact, it felt more like Moscow than Western Europe.
It was a district where you could still feel the full stifling weight of the former GDR regime. Lots of older residents, most of whom seemed to have lived there since the place was built in the 1950s, suspicious of newcomers. All holding on to their low-rent apartments for dear life, refusing to move like so many people do in Berlin. Sitting tenant syndrome is a feature of Berlin, both east and west.
Although Karl-Marx-Allee is no longer cheap, Friedrichshain has developed into one of Berlin’s hippest and most lively districts. It’s more mixed than present day Prenzlauer Berg with older native Berlin residents, young families, hipster types and students, and this makes Friedrichshain one of Berlin’s most varied and interesting areas.
Plus it has some great green open spaces, such as the Volkspark which is one of Berlin’s best parks, as well as good transport links into central Berlin.
In recent years, Friedrichshain has seen a mushrooming of nightlife venues. There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants, especially the Simon-Dach-Straße and Revaler Strasse Kiez has become a new centre with bars, restaurants and cafes.
Friedrichshain extends along the long Karl-Marx-Allee/Frankfurter Allee, which, under various name changes en route, is said to run all the way to the Polish border.
Some of Friedrichshain can be a little grim and urban-industrial. But Friedrichshain includes some very lively areas such as the Karl-Marx-Allee, Simon-Dach-Strasse and the Boxhagenerplatz Kiez. At nearby Boxhagener Platz there is a farmer’s market held every Saturday and a famous flea market on Sundays.
The famous 1950s Stalinist buildings along the eastern-most end of Karl-Marx-Allee have since been renovated and restored and are under preservation protection as classic examples of the Communist Moscow Zuckerbäckerstil (wedding cake) style architecture of that period.
The housing in Friedrichshain is still relatively affordable, though not on the renovated Karl-Marx-Allee. Rents are also rising in Friedrichshain for newly renovated apartments.
My verdict on Friedrichshain: A lively, mixed, and hip district and a good place to look for an apartment. Forget about the Karl-Marx-Allee, that is now mostly unaffordable. But further out, in some of the side streets you might find more affordable apartments on offer.
The Inner Areas of West Berlin
West Berlin covered about 2/3rds of pre-war Greater Berlin. It extended from the area just West of the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate and out towards the lakes of Wannsee and Tegel and beyond. The borough and town of Spandau in the North West also belonged to West Berlin.
The centre of West Berlin was the area around Zoo station and the Kaiser Memorial Church, with the Kurfürstendamm or Ku-Damm boulevard serving as the “Oxford Street” of West Berlin.
Zoologischer Garten station, situated right next to the Zoo, was also the main West Berlin station terminus. There can’t be many big cities where the central train station is the Zoo.
Nowadays, Berlin’s city terminus is the newly constructed all glass and steel multi-storey Hauptbahnhof a few kilometres further to the East (but still located within “old” West Berlin).
The traditional inner city working class areas of West Berlin are Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Wedding. There is also Siemensstadt over in the north-west on the U-Bahn line to Spandau.
With the exception of Kreuzberg, the districts of Neukölln and Wedding, together with the smaller inner district of Moabit are still about the cheapest areas of western Berlin for accommodation.
Kreuzberg was traditionally a working class industrial area, infamous for its “Mietskasernen” or tenement blocks built around labyrinthine “Hinterhöfe” – rear courtyards extending back from the street fronts.
Some people think because of its appearance Kreuzberg used to be part of East Berlin. Not so. Kreuzberg was always in the West, but its location after the building of the Berlin Wall, meant that it became the outcast area of West Berlin. Kreuzberg found itself condemned to a marginal, dead end, cul-de-sac existence up against the Berlin Wall. Most people in Berlin did not want to live in Kreuzberg.
So Kreuzberg became the home of two of West Berlin’s prominent communities: Turkish immigrants and self-styled left-wingers who formed the alternative and eco scene of the 60s, 70s and 80s. The district also became known for its squatter scene.
Some Kreuzberg residents lived here for years, inhabiting the same Altbau apartments and paying just a couple of hundred euros in rent.
After reunification of the two halves of the city, Kreuzberg found itself thrust into the central area of the new Berlin, its close proximity to Mitte now a positive plus rather than an irrelevance.
The alternative types can still be found living here, but their days are numbered as they give way to the hipsters and well-off yuppies.
The Turkish community also still holds on in Kreuzberg – just, but they too are being squeezed out. Increasing numbers of both groups are now having to leave due to increasing rents through renovation, which is making their old homes unaffordable for them.
Meanwhile Kreuzberg houses some of Berlin’s best bars and a whole lot of great restaurants, many of them still reasonably priced.
There’s a famous indoor market in Kreuzberg called Markthalle Neun. Plus the Turkish outdoor market along Maybachufer Strasse.
The Landwehrkanal is one of the features of Kreuzberg. On summer nights locals and visitors alike gather on the many bridges across the canal – the star attraction of which is the Admiralbrücke, to drink, picnic, watch the buskers, and just hang out.
Because of the resulting noise, this activity is not so popular with many of the local residents. I once knew people who lived right near the Admiralbrücke in a very low rent apartment. This building has now been renovated and rents are now much higher.
Görlitzer Park, or Görli as some locals call it, is notorious as being a haunt of drug dealers and the police are often present.
My verdict on Kreuzberg: I was never a great fan of Kreuzberg as a district to live, being more an eastern Berliner – and I’m even less of a fan now. Kreuzberg, like Prenzlauer Berg, is now too pricey and past its sell by date.
Don’t waste time and effort trying to locate anything affordable in Kreuzberg. You’ll have better chance looking for a needle in a haystack. Maybe try Neukölln instead…
Neukölln is the area middle class Germans will almost always tell you to avoid. If you listened only to them you’d get the impression Neukölln is a big bad neighbourhood where you are liable to get mugged just walking down the street to buy a carton of milk.
I once rented a subletted room in a student flat share for a month on arrival in Berlin near the Hermannplatz. It was very cheap, but noisy at night with drunks gathering in the courtyard outside in the early hours to exercise their voices.
It’s true Neukölln has long been a “Problembezirk” as they say (a problem district), with relatively high numbers of social welfare recipients, crime and other social problems. But that’s only part of the story.
The borough of Neukölln covers a large area. In the south of Neukölln there are areas which feel positively suburban and middle class.
Northern Neukölln (or Kreuzkölln as some have nicknamed it) for example around the Reuterstrasse and also the Weserstrasse is now seeing gentrification on the scale of Kreuzberg. My guess is that it will be completely transformed within the next decade.
This is having an effect on the residential composition of the area and the kind of businesses that can afford to base themselves here. This was the area which housed the famous Freies Neukölln cafe-bar which closed recently as a result of rent rises and unfavourable lease conditions. It’s a symbol of what is now happening to the area and the direction it’s going in.
If you want to find affordable housing in Neukölln, then chances are you’ll have to search further away in southern Neukölln.
The name Neukölln by the way means “New Cologne”. The Cologne referred to being not the one on the Rhine in Western Germany, but rather the small inner city district of Cölln which centuries ago used to be located in the old city centre of Berlin.
The Rathaus Neukölln area and the Karl-Marx-Strasse is the main centre. Neukölln is home to a large Turkish and also Arabic community. This is a lively area with a lot of street life in evidence. Neukölln is without a doubt real multi-kulti Berlin.
My verdict: I’ve never been that keen on Neukölln (I doubt many people are), but things are now improving there.
The northern end, so-called “Kreuzkölln”, is now pricey. But further south you may be able to turn up some relatively affordable apartments.
Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf
Charlottenburg is the area to the West of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, left standing as a ruin after the War.
The Zoologischer Bahnhof station used to be the main West Berlin terminus in the old Wall days.
It’s a big retail centre with the KaDeWe Kaufhaus des Westens and other large stores along here. From here, the wide Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm) boulevard runs all the way almost to the Grunewald forest.
The Savignyplatz area is very popular with bars and restaurants. The area also houses one of Berlin’s three main universities – the TU or Technical University. As a result there also a number of budget-priced restaurants in the area along with the more expensive ones.
A few kilometres to the west lies Schloss Charlottenburg, once the residence of Prussian King Friedrich I, but as a resident you are unlikely to be spending your free time hanging out there, it’s more a tourist destination.
Apart from the Zoo station and Ku-Damm areas, Charlottenburg is a relatively quiet and mostly middle class residential area for the most part.
For many newcomers, Charlottenburg seems like a boring area and it’s not the one I would choose to live in as first choice. It’s safe, clean, middle class and respectable, But you havent come to Berlin for all that have you? You can get all that at home.
My verdict on Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf: Not my kind of area to live in and it isn’t cheap either.
Schöneberg is a district with a mixed residency of age groups, social groups, and ethnicities. It was also traditionally the main “gay” area of West Berlin, centred on Nollendorfplatz. Schöneberg avoids the extremes of traditionally run-down working class Kreuzberg and über-bourgeois atmosphere of Charlottenburg or Steglitz.
At nearby Winterfeldtplatz there’s a farmers produce market every Saturday. And over on Goltzstrasse, there is a cluster of cafes, bars and restaurants, including budget style eateries catering for students.
Schöneberg is also the location of the Gleisdreick Park. Transport links in Schöneberg are good.
My verdict: Schöneberg isn’t a bad place, has a kind of mixed vibe. But the vibe is definitely “West” rather than “East”. It’s not too pricey either.
Wedding lies to the north of inner western Berlin. It’s the area everyone thinks is “up and coming”, ie next up on the list for gentrification and rising rents. It was long known as “Roter Wedding” or Red Wedding, because of the political leanings of its residents.
For the moment, Wedding is still a solidly working class Bezirk, with a large Turkish community. The area is still relatively cheap and you can get into Mitte fairly quickly by U-Bahn. Wedding can be a good area to look for affordable accommodation that also has the inner city feel to it.
My verdict on Wedding: Working-class, gritty, down-to-earth. Not a bad place if you like that. I prefer that at least to Steglitz, Zehlendorf and co. And Wedding is still affordable and with good transit links.
Outer Districts of Berlin
The district of Lichtenberg stretches for some 13 kilometres or so from the outskirts of Berlin to Karlshorst in the south east.
Lichtenberg has a bit of a reputation at times for “Neo-Nazi” inner-city street violence. But that’s an unfair stereotype. In reality Lichtenberg is a mix of urban Altbau, modern housing, and upmarket residential property, together with villagey areas and wide open fields.
Lichtenberg is also host to Europe’s biggest sports centre: the Sportforum Hohenschönhausen.
There are a surprising number of open spaces and the area also has a big zoo called Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, said to be Europe’s largest landscaped zoo.
There is a large mainline station Bahnhof Berlin-Lichtenberg, more for trains serving Eastern Europe. Plenty of trams and buses in the area as well as the U-Bahn.
There are retail areas on Frankfurter Allee called the Ring-Center and the Lindencenter on Prerower Platz. And, surprise surprise, Lichtenberg is also home to Berlin’s biggest Asian market, the vast and rough-and-ready looking Dong Xuan Center. This is a great place to go to buy Asian food supplies.
My verdict on Lichtenberg: Lichtenberg has changed a lot in recent years. But rents are still lower here and transit links are pretty good on the whole. It’s not all urban industrial grit either, much more of a mixed area than people often assume.
The northern end of Prenzlauer Berg gives way to Pankow. It’s part of the borough of Prenzlauer Berg, but Pankow is a more suburban area relative to the district of Prenzlauer Berg to the south, and with an older population on average.
Pankow is a fairly green and leafy district which is also home to a famous old 18th century palace: Schloss Schönhausen. This used to be the official residence of the Communist East German president. There is also the Botanischer Volkspark Pankow (Botanical Gardens).
Transit connections are good with a U-Bahn line as well as tram lines and buses.
My verdict on Pankow: Nice district, not as pricey as Prenzlauer Berg. And the latter is right next door and reachable on the U-Bahn in a few minutes, so you can easily get to enjoy Prenzlauer Berg – but without having to pay top Prenzlauer Berg rents.
This is a merger of two boroughs and it covers a large area. Steglitz-Zehlendorf is situated in Berlin’s south-west and extends over Wannsee, Nikolassee, Zehlendorf, Dahlem, Lichterfelde, Steglitz and Lankwitz.
These are mostly bourgeois residential districts which are now seeing an influx of Berliners from other areas. They are popular with families and especially older Germans seeking “respectability” and safety. Very leafy and quiet.
It’s a mostly leafy borough with forests and lakes. Three of Berlin’s most popular lakeside beaches are located in Zehlendorf, namely Wannsee, Schlachtensee and Krumme Lanke.
The Steglitzer Schlosstrasse is one of Berlin’s major shopping areas. Large stores and malls dominate here and public transit is good.
Along with Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg this borough tends to be one of Berlin’s most expensive areas. There are some lovely old villas in the area which are extremely expensive. Some areas even employ private security patrols.
Dahlem is the location of the Berlin Free Universit. Free meant in the sense of not controlled by the Communist East Berlin government as was Berlin’s original city university, the Humboldt over on Unter den Linden (all universities in Berlin are “free” in terms of no tuition fees).
Most students attending the Free University live scattered all over the city as far away even as Treptow, Adlershof and Köpenick because of the high cost of housing in Dahlem and with long daily commutes as a consequence.
My verdict on Steglitz, Dahlem and Zehlendorf: All three are expensive areas. Good locations for better-off families. Quite a number of the three A’s here as well. Nice place to visit, but lacks the hip Berlin urban vibe.
Treptow and Köpenick
This is another merger-borough, and it’s one of Berlin’s largest in terms of area. It also has the lowest population density of all Berlin’s twelve boroughs.
The area includes Adlershof, which is home to WISTA – the new City of Science, Technology and Media, sometimes just referred to as “Adlershof”.
This complex was originally the home of East Germany’s National Television authority in the Communist days.
Since then, the site has been redeveloped as a science, technology and research campus. Parts of the Humboldt University have also moved to the Adlershof area.
Köpenick itself is a historic town situated at the junction of the Rivers Dahme and Spree out in the south-east of Berlin.
Before World War Two Köpenick was an independent town, but it’s now firmly part of the Greater Berlin area. However it still partly retains the feel of being a separate place.
I spent a year living in Köpenick, paying around 120 Euros per month for a 2 roomed unfurnished apartment. But that was for an unrenovated Altbau and it was a bargain which you won’t find now.
Köpenick is a great area for the outdoors, but the main disadvantage is the long slow trundle on the S-Bahn into town. In my street there were also students at the FU living in Köpenick and commuting all the way to Dahlem.
A large part of Köpenick is covered with forest and waterways, most notably the Müggelsee lake which is famous for its beach and sailing.
It also has a famous old palace – Schloss Köpenick, built in 1558 and which later served as one of the residences of Frederick I and II of Prussia.
Köpenick is served by the S-Bahn with no less than three stations at Köpenick, Wuhlheide and Hirschgarten, plus another station at Spindlersfeld serving the S47. There are also a number of tram lines serving Köpenick.
The FEZ or “Freizeit und Erholungs Zentrum” (Leisure Recreation Centre) in Wuhlheide is a large leisure park with numerous facilities including a swimming pool and a small railway in the park grounds.
A large new shopping mall at the station “Forum am S-Bahnhof Köpenick“ is the biggest in south-east Berlin.
My verdict on Köpenick: If you like the green outdoors and if you like water sports then Köpenick is a good choice. Lower rents, good quality of life and a nice old town centre. But a long way to travel to inner and western Berlin.
For the most part this is a suburb containing a vast “Plattenbau” (prefabricated system built) housing estate of mostly 1980s built social housing. Endless blocks of apartments stretching for miles or so it seems.
But there are also older more traditional parts, including the small original villages of Marzahn and Kaulsdorf.
Marzahn-Hellersdorf have a large amount of green space, including the Wuhletal which is the longest green corridor in Berlin.
There is also the new Eastgate mall which contains 150 stores across two floors.
But it’s a long trek to the city centre and western Berlin by public transport and many Marzahn and Hellersdorf residents face long daily commutes. Unemployment tends to be higher in this area as well and there are some social problems, street crime etc.
I know someone who rents an apartment in Marzahn and pays just 250 Euros per month. But that was for a tenancy signed several years ago. New tenancies are apparently now about a third or so more.
My verdict on Marzahn-Hellersdorf: I’ve only ever been there a few times. The area tends to get a bad press, but the modern Plattenbauten buildings have their advantages.
Also it’s cheaper than inner Berlin and you are closer to the countryside. But may feel a bit isolated from the rest of Berlin.
I always think visiting Spandau is a bit like a visit to a town in West Germany. Spandau is an official Berlin Bezirk and also a town in it’s own right. It’s connected to the Berlin U-Bahn and S-Bahn network.
Spandau is not an area I know well. I did know someone who lived there but found it too far away and so moved further in.
My verdict on Spandau: Not a bad place and cheaper than some other areas. Also closer to the countryside. The old town area is quite pleasant. It doesn’t actually take that long to get into inner western Berlin.
This is a leafy outer area situated in the north-west of Berlin. The area includes the Tegeler See and Tegel Forest.
Reinickendorf has good transit links into the inner areas. Tegeler See is one of Berlin’s most attractive water sports areas.
My verdict on Reinickendorf: I have to admit I’m not very familiar with Reinickendorf. But it doesn’t seem a bad area, though some parts suffer from aircraft noise from Flughafen Tegel. However, the airport is due to close in a few years when the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport finally opens (we hope).
Yes I know it’s not part of Berlin, but it’s very nearby and it’s relatively easy to reach inner Berlin by public transport.
Potsdam is famous for the Schloss Sanssouci which you can impress your friends with when they visit. Lots of green, forest, parks and open space. Plus a big lake district area rivalling even Wannsee. Also a centre for yachting.
Potsdam has a nice restored old town area and the famous “Holländisches Viertel (Dutch Quarter). Plus Potsdam even has its own Brandenburger Tor (no kidding).
I worked in Potsdam for a few years at the Potsdam University. I commuted from Prenzlauer Berg, which was a long marathon journey every day.
Potsdam has no fewer than eight train stations and you can get into town much faster by Regional Express trains. The S-Bahn takes a lot longer.
My verdict on Potsdam: A different experience to Berlin if that’s what you want. Potsdam is a nice enough place, but of course it’s not Berlin.
Rents in Berlin
The rents for residential property in the German capital still tend to be low compared to other major cities, even in the most popular trendy neighborhoods.
However, the increase in rents since 2014 has been around 7% or so on average.
Average rents vary according to the actual size of the apartment as well as other factors.
On average, the rents for a new letting in Berlin are currently
11 Euros per square metre for a 30 sq metre apartment, and around
8 – 8.50 Euros per square metre for apartments larger than 30 sq metres.
These are averages for the whole city.
The highest rents are found in the central locations and in Steglitz-Dahlem-Zehlendorf.
Affordable housing can still be found in the outer eastern districts, in particular Adlershof, Marzahn-Hellersdorf and parts of Treptow-Köpenick.
Below is a list of average aggregated rents per square metre for new lettings. Actual rents will vary according to the specific location of the property, as well the size and quality of the apartment.
Adlershof 7.80 Euros
Charlottenburg 12.30 Euros
Dahlem 12 Euros
Friedrichshain 12 Euros
Köpenick 8.70 €
Köpenick – Niederschöneweide/Rahnsdorf 7.10-9.30
Lichtenberg 9.50 Euros
Marzahn/Hellersdorf 6.30 Euros
Mitte 15.70 Euros
Neukölln 10 Euros
Neukölln – Rudow 7.80
Pankow 8.50-9.50 Euros
Prenzlauer Berg 12.40 Euros
Reinickendorf 8 Euros
Schöneberg 11.50 Euros
Spandau 7.40 Euros
Tegel 9 Euros
Wedding 9 Euros
Wilmersdorf 12 Euros
These are general averages for current new lettings across all standards, ages, and sizes of apartments.
Actual rents depend upon the age and specific location and condition of the building as well as the standard and size of the apartment itself.
For more precise data, check out the official Berlin Mietspiegel.
The Mietspiegel or “rent mirror” is the official guideline for rents in Berlin which landlords are required to adhere to.
The Mietspiegel is compiled every year by the City authorities and with classic German thoroughness defines detailed rent levels for each district of Berlin and for different types of property according to quality and amenities.
You can find the latest official Mietspiegel online at www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/wohnen/mietspiegel/index.shtml
So that concludes this look at Berlin’s residential districts. I’ll talk about the practicalities of finding an apartment in Berlin in a later post.
One other thing.
If you’re planning to live in Berlin for a longer period of time, one of the best things you can do to get the most out of your time here is to learn German.
And there’s one German course in particular that stands out way above the rest.
You can give yourself a head start in learning German by signing up for the self-study MP3 based course offered by GermanPod.
GermanPod is now one of the world’s most successful digitally based online language courses. It’s not hard to see why.
GermanPod – The Best Language Course For Expats in Berlin
GermanPod is THE ideal audio MP3-based German language course for expats in Berlin.
This is because with GermanPod you learn German quickly in your own time, as and when you want – and at your own pace.
And what’s more, GermanPod is VERY low cost.
You can use GermanPod on your smartphone and tablet, as well on as your laptop or PC.
So you can be learning German wherever you are – and whenever you’re on the move.
With GermanPod you can make the most of those spare moments of time that you have which otherwise just get wasted. When you’re commuting on the S-Bahn or U-Bahn. When standing in line, or sitting in a waiting room.
Learning German With GermanPod is Easy, Fast – And Fun
GermanPod teaches you modern, up-to-date German. The kind of German that people speak in everyday life in Berlin.
GermanPod comes with four different learning levels -Absolute Beginner, Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. So you can choose the level which suits you best.
That makes learning German with GermanPod very easy, fast and fun.
I myself learned German using the self-study audio method before I came to Berlin and I found it the fastest and easiest way of learning to speak and understand German.
GermanPod is Very Affordable
GermanPod is available on a monthly subscription basis. It’s “pay as you go”. Unlike some German courses, you don’t have to part with a large sum of money.
For just $8 a month you can get started with GermanPod.
For longer term advance subscriptions there are discounts of between 11% and up to 60%.
And if you’re a student then you can benefit from an EXTRA 20% DISCOUNT on a 12-month subscription.
This makes it very inexpensive to get started learning German with GermanPod.
And it gives you the flexibility to use as little or as much of GermanPod as you wish, when you wish – and according to your own budget.
In short, GermanPod is probably the best investment you can make to ensure the success of your move to Berlin.
My advice: check out www.germanpod101.com and get a head start right now with learning German
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