Berlin’s startup scene is thriving. Low costs and a vibrant cultural scene have long since been attracting youthful British residents, but in the wake of the colossal farce of Brexit, many now see the German capital as the next logical step for their career.
Britain’s decision to leave the EU has left it with a flailing economy and many unanswerable questions about the future (not to mention Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary). It’s little wonder that Berlin, with its reputation soaring, is becoming a viable option for startups companies. In fact, just recently, Reuters ran the story of 10 London-based startups that have made enquires about moving to Berlin, which is described as an “affordable and creative alternative”.
Olga Steidl, founder of TBD Newton and a regular speak up at Berlin startup events, suggests that Berlin’s growing reputation is based on a diverse talent pool, increased risk-taking, and an increase in Corporate Innovation Labs. A rise in the amount of VC money from the EU, US and Asia is also a factor, with Berlin being a strategic option for entry into the East from the West and vice versa.
The startup scene here is growing at a pace that outstrips other regions such as the UK, Sweden and France. This may continue to be the case post-Brexit, when investors take their capital away from the unsecure shores of Britain and push it toward more stable economies. Research funding from the EU for technology, engineering and the sciences will also no doubt be reduced (if not completely taken away) in the UK, meaning Berlin will continue to flourish as London lags in vital areas for tech companies.
When all this opportunity exists in a city that already draws hundreds of thousands of Brits a year, it’s easy to see why more and more people are thinking of moving here.
My advice to those people? Do it.Why you should start packing up your things for Berlin
1. The Berlin startup scene is booming
For young professionals, Berlin is a great option simply based on the fact that there are jobs here, particularly for developers. You may not find one straight away, but you almost definitely will find one. (I hope). As well as companies founded here a while back such as Soundcloud, Zalando and Get Your Guide, there are job opportunities at plenty of up-and-coming startups like Blinkist, Number 26, GoEuro and many more. In fact, companies such as Honeypot.io allow developers to sign up to their platform and have employers apply to them.
Berlin is frequently the base for companies expanding to the European market, too. Dubsmash and Kayak are two noticeable examples.
Once you’re here, you’ll find an enormous network of young professionals to meet, learn from and befriend. Regular meetups happen all over the city, bringing together people from a variety of backgrounds and careers, with a broad range of interests.
As JobSpotting points out, while London “focuses chiefly on classic tech startups, job seekers in Berlin can choose from jobs in the fields of fashion, music, food, cars or real estate, to name but a few.” Which is to say, the talent pool is incredibly diverse, which is a source for constant inspiration. Unlike other cities, people here shy away from competition and tend to work together in order to create something. Perhaps they’re influenced by the city’s long-standing creative, cohesive mood.
2. Cost of living is low
Besides the startup scene itself, the low cost of living is one of the main draws. London is expensive and Berlin, on the other hand, is still surprisingly cheap.
A 1 bedroom flat in a popular area will set you back around €600, for example. For those not opposed to a flatshare, you can even find rooms for as little as €300. Rent may be rising, but in comparison to other major capitals Berlin is a steal. There are even new laws in place that work to keep it affordable, which means retaining the city’s creative atmosphere and diverse charms.
Best of all, you’ll find these affordable living arrangements in some of the most desirable areas of the city. Prenzlauerberg and Mitte are on the more expensive end of the scale (though still much cheaper than London), but a decent place in Kreuzberg, Neukölln, Moabit or Shöneberg remains laughably cheap when you consider the cost of rent in a comparable area of London
And it’s not just rent. You can grab a decent lunch for as little as €5, and the popularity of supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi means you can do your groceries on the cheap, too.
These low costs can translate to relatively low wages, and this can be one of the downsides of Berlin. But Christian Hernandez succinctly points out, Berlin is “…a fun yet affordable place to live if you’re a young dev. Would you rather pay an arm and a leg in London or use the extra cash in Berlin to go to one of their famous dance parties?”
3. The Work/Life Balance is Great in Berlin
Salaries, as mentioned, may not start out great. But if you’re ambitious and planning on staying here, you shouldn’t worry too much. With a couple of years experience you can expect a decent salary, and thanks to the low cost of living, it’ll go far. More important than all of this, however, is that the working climate in Berlin is very different.
People work hard here in the Berlin startup scene, but that isn’t all they do. Thanks to a much fairer approach to working hours, you will have much more opportunity to enjoy the money you do earn.
4. The social side of Berlin is second-to-none
London may beat Berlin for the amount of cultural offerings there are, but where Berlin shines is in the accessibility of these events. Berlin’s size is a gift: Big enough to offer incredible variety, small enough to be 30 minutes away from almost anything you want to do.
This also means that, unlike London, you can be spontaneous. If you fancy going to your friends for dinner after work in a different neighbourhood, you don’t have to have planned it 3 weeks in advance in order to work out the logistics – you just go.
Berlin, in contrast to London, has a multitude of bars, restaurants and clubs that open late – or sometimes, simply haven’t closed in 30 years. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy your social life after work and, since companies here tend to value your free time much more than in London, you’ll have a lot more time anyway.
Electronic music lovers particularly will find their home here, with several of the world’s best DJs spinning every weekend in Berlin’s borders. Even ignoring the clubs, the relaxed, non-stuffy atmosphere of Berlin’s bars is a revelation for anyone that’s tired of the smell of carpets stained with red bull.
Add onto that the 24 hour public transport that runs from Friday to Sunday and you have a city that truly understands night owls.
5. Berlin is incredibly diverse
16.5% of Berlin’s population is foreign, with 186 different nationalities residing within the city’s borders. Within the startup scene this is multiplied. 49% of the startup workforce is foreign, meaning the chances of you working with people from all over the world is huge.
If you’ve read this much of the article already, I’m assuming you’ll probably see that as quite a good thing.
The diversity exposes you to many different ways of working, many cultures and many fascinating stories – not to mention the opportunity to practice your Spanish, Italian or French (or German, of course).
6. It may be a way to stay an EU citizen
If you’re like millions of other young Brits, you’ll feel exasperated at being forced out of the European bloc and having your right of freedom of movement potentially compromised. Well, one of the potential upsides of moving to Germany soon could be a way to gaining EU citizenship.
There has been talk within the German government of relaxing certain laws surrounding dual citizenship and even fast-tracking young Brits on their way to gaining a German passport. These talks come from many in high up positions within the German government that are sympathetic to the situation that many British people find themselves in. Regardless of what happens with Theresa May’s negotiations in Brussels, it’s undoubtedly the case that a move to Europe now would increase your chances of being allowed to stay on the continent once the deal (whatever that may be) is done.
7. Because it’s Berlin
Berlin’s charms are many, and I know many people that have visited the place and almost instantly made the decision to move here. The verve and vivacity that permeates the city is palpable; felt on each street, inside each bar, and in each of the city’s passionate residents.
The wealth of galleries, museums, pop-up exhibitions, restaurants, cafes and markets make it an impossible city to exhaust. Having lived here almost 3 years, I can still be “wowed” by something almost daily. And it’s not just me fluttering my eyelids at the city: Monocle magazine recently named Berlin the second most livable city in the world – beaten only by the megalopolis of Tokyo.
And it’s really, really cool. Sure, the nonchalant characters of the city’s establishments – the ones that have perfected the “who cares what I look like” look – can make some feel intimidated at times by aspects of Berlin. But ignore that. Scratch the surface and you’ll soon find a tenderness to the city that comes from a shared idea of what the city is, and what people want the city to be: Creative, anarchic, open.
There is no place on earth quite like Germany’s capital, and the most captivating part of it all is that the story of the city is still being told. There are thousands across the world moving to Berlin right now to become a part of it.
With so much unease in Britain’s economy and culture at the moment, there hasn’t been a better time to join them.
If you’re looking to move to Berlin, get in touch with us on Social Media – let us know your reasons!