In a few short days, Berlin has shown me more hospitality than any other city I’ve visited on this trip. It’s full of the culture and character I want from a place to live. So is Berlin going to be the new Haus of Gnome? Let’s break it down.
Berlin is huge city and like any huge city, it probably has its share of crime. But you wouldn’t really feel it from walking around. Even late at night (or early morning depending on the kind of night you had), when there are a billion people stumbling around drunk, it doesn’t feel particularly threatening. Berlin also has ample forms of convenient transportation, which in a big city can sometimes be a little sketchy, but all the stations we ventured into felt safe and without risk of petty crime. It does have neighborhoods I wouldn’t necessarily want to live in, but could still safely walk through on my own.
The vibe of Berlin is bohemian insanity. This is probably the only city in the world where you can go to a beer garden, a gay bar, and a goth club all within a mile of each other. Berliners are serious about their partying. There are clubs in the city that have their good nights on Sunday mornings. The majority of the city, especially in the east, is covered in street art, which is always positively correlated to how much I want to live somewhere. There are entire villages of bars and clubs in empty buildings and courtyards, full of cheap beer, good music, and graffiti. So I could definitely live here and never be bored.
So far, the people of Berlin have shown me the most love. Within a day of being in the city, I met a girl at a gift shop while I was looking for stamps. She didn’t have stamps but she had a job prospect for me. Her husband works at a school that needs English teachers. So I walked right down to the school’s office, and dropped off my CV (which I already had on me). It looked like they were going to interview me on the spot but the director was busy. Later on, we got together for dinner with my friend’s friend who also offered me a sofa to sleep on if I needed to come back for that job. The people in the bars and clubs are really fun and friendly but super respectful, which is rare where I come from. They’re also beautiful. So A+ people all around.
Berlin is huge and frankly, we walked way too much of it. The good thing is that if you do go it on foot, there are plenty of beautiful green spaces to stop and take a rest. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn and buses snake all over the city and the system is straightforward and efficient, which is totally German of them. It’s also fairly easy to ride illegally. Many stations rely on the honor system, which no actual checkpoints that prevent you from getting on the train without a ticket. I’m sure it comes with a hefty fine if you’re caught, but we lucked out a few times when we were too rushed or lazy to buy a ticket.
Berlin has an insane variety of cuisines. From fancy restaurants to street carts, you can grab food every 2 feet. And unlike cities that try to imitate foreign dishes and fail, Berlin has the best of every kind of food. We had amazing burritos, falafel, and Thai vegan. All really top notch quality. Between that and traditional German fare like bratwurst, I can definitely get down with the food selections here.
I’m not sure how much a teaching gig would pay in a city like this (if I get that job, I’ll let you know), but Berlin is extremely reasonable to live. According to my new local friend, I could get a decent apartment for 500-700 Euro, which is totally affordable. You can also get a good meal and have a great time out without breaking the bank. As far as things to do, there are tons of events, markets, exhibits, and shows, many of them free all throughout the city. Though clubs do often have a cover charge of a few Euro. But when you live in a place that is basically a giant art gallery, you don’t need to spend money on much else. Especially since you can drink in public.
Total Livability Score: 8/10
By virtue of the fact that this is the first city where I have any prospects for work at all without even trying, I have to say, Berlin is already a major contender for my new home. But the beer selection doesn’t hurt.