Temporary Furnished Accommodaton in Berlin

Renting a Temporary Furnished Apartment: What Requirements Must the Tenant Fulfil?

Happy couple having break during moving to new house
Pixaby CC0 Creative Commons Fotograf: baranq/ Fotolia #126997752

What Requirements Must the Tenant Fulfil?

Renting a temporary furnished apartment is actually quite easy.

However, the tenant has to meet certain requirements in order to complete the contract. This often includes proof that they can pay the rent. This is fully understandable and logical on the part of the landlord.

In Berlin, it is also required that the future tenant confirm they are in Berlin for professional reasons, or otherwise here for training/further education. This can be done in the rental agreement itself, or separate one specifically for this reason.

For some prospective tenants, this can sometimes be confusing or even irritating. Therefore we have provided clarification as to why this rule is in place.

 

Misappropriate use of Temporary Furnished Apartments

In 2014 Berlin introduced a new law regulating the use and rent of housing/apartments. Landlords are now only allowed to rent their property for residential purposes, not as a holiday home or as an office – it doesn’t matter if the place is furnished or unfurnished.

The reason for this is simple. A few years ago there was an explosion of holiday homes in the city centre, thus leaving fewer and fewer vacant apartments for those who live and work in the city.

Now the law is clearly defined. The minimum rental period is two months, and the tenant(s) must either be coming to Berlin to work, study, complete training, or attend a language course.

This provision is intended to prevent landlords from renting to tourists or those in Berlin purely for private reasons.

Apartments that are rented to tourists etc. are seen as holiday homes and are subject to regulatory approval.

 

What alternatives are there if you do not work in Berlin?

1.) You’re not sure if these rules apply to you?

You’re moving to Berlin, but you don’t have an employment contract or want to work remotely from Berlin? Talk to your temporary apartment rental agency! Sometimes, it is possible to find a solution.

 

2.) Serviced Apartments

Serviced apartments are also temporary furnished apartments. In addition, they also offer other services, such as a weekly cleaning service etc.  They are not subject to the ban on the misuse of property (Zweckentfremdungsverbot), as serviced apartments are actually considered as hotels. They are mostly found in a serviced apartment complex and can be rented for any desired period of time.

The rental price always includes 7% VAT (MwSt.), and additionally, those who cannot prove they are Berlin for professional reasons are obliged to pay a City-Tax.

Much like hotels, Serviced Apartments are available in all price categories. Usually, they are smaller and much more expensive than temporary furnished apartments.

 

3) Holiday Homes

Holiday homes can also be rented for any desired period of time in Berlin. In addition to VAT (MwSt.), which is included in the rental price, the renter must also pay a City-Tax.

Holiday homes are usually furnished to a lower standard and are more expensive than temporary furnished apartments.

 

How much is the City-Tax for private stays in Berlin?

The City-Tax is 5% of the net price of the room/apartment per night. The collection of the tax is limited to 21 successive days.

How to Get a SCHUFA in Berlin

Geldscheinpuzzle - Schufa

Pixaby CC0 Creative Commons Fotograf: motorradcbr/ Fotolia #79102936

What is a SCHUFA and How to Get One in Berlin

Have you been looking into how to get a SCHUFA and are slightly confused about how to go about it?
We know that most of the bureaucracy new Berliners need to deal with can be overwhelming, so we spoke with a SCHUFA agent to find out everything you need to know about getting your SCHUFA in Berlin.

Why do you need a SCHUFA?

Are you looking to rent your own unfurnished apartment in Berlin for the long term? As you may have already heard, every landlord will be expecting to see your SCHUFA, or credit rating score before they even consider showing you the apartment. In addition, if you are applying for a loan, you will need a SCHUFA for the bank to determine how high your interest rate will be.

What exactly is a SCHUFA?

SCHUFA is the largest German credit rating agency, and it stands for:

Schutzgemeinschaft für allgemeine Kreditsicherung. This translates to ‘general credit security agency’ and your score is calculated by information the agency receives about you when you open a bank account or start a phone contract. Your SCHUFA will only include information about your life in Germany. Any previous information regarding your credit rating in your home country, good or bad, will not be part of your SCHUFA score. Future banks, landlords or property managers, as well as phone and internet providers will look at your SCHUFA rating to determine how risky of a client or renter you are.

It’s actually not so complicated to get your SCHUFA score as a non-German speaking expat.
However, you can only get a SCHUFA score once you’ve registered in the city, meaning that you need to technically be living somewhere in Berlin already.

To combat this dilemma, it is best to find a furnished apartment  or a shared apartment first, register yourself there, so you can get your Anmeldung . Once you have your SCHUFA, you are eligible to apply for unfurnished, long term apartments.

You have a few options when it comes to going about getting your SCHUFA. Follow our experience to find out how to go about this process.

 

Our Experience of Getting a SCHUFA:

We wanted to know how everything works with getting a Schufa as an English speaking expat.  Since most bureaucratic tasks in Berlin are done only in German, you may be wondering if it’s the same with a SCHUFA.

We decided to find out, so we gave the customer service line a call. Turns out… there isn’t an English line, but they will transfer you to an agent who speaks English.

After calling this number: 0611 – 92780 I was directed to a German recording system . I chose option 1, which lead me to an agent able to help with starting the SCHUFA process.

Next, this person transferred me to an agent who spoke English. I only waited about 2 minutes to be transferred.

My agent was incredibly helpful and friendly.

Here’s what I learned from him about getting a SCHUFA in Berlin or Germany if you don’t have a German passport.

There are a couple different SCHUFA options:

  • The Free Option
    Everyone is entitled to one free SCHUFA report a year. This is a paper document which is sent to you by mail. The Free Option is for your viewing purposes only to find out your credit score. The free option will take 2 to 3 weeks to get to you.

 

If you are looking to rent your own unfurnished apartment, or you need your SCHUFA as quickly as possible, it’s best to go with the following option. Most landlords won’t accept the free version.

  • The Paid Option (29.95 euros)
    This option provides you with a reliable and official credit rating report to give to landlords without disclosing any of your other personal data. The paid option also includes an extensive report for you to keep for yourself. This one time SCHUFA purchase is great if you just need to show it to a landlord. Keep in mind that most landlords will want to see a recent SCHUFA report, so it’s best to purchase it within a couple months of applying to apartments.

 

How to Get a SCHUFA

There are a few different ways to apply for your SCHUFA. You can apply via post, or through the online portal system. You can also talk the process through and order your paid SCHUFA via phone with a customer service agent. Take note that the free version is not available over the phone.

When you are applying, you will need the following:

  • Your Anmeldung Document
  • Your Bank account details
  • Your Passport

 

Apply Via Mail

Fill out the forms and make photo copies of your passport and your Anmeldung.

Free Option: Simply choose your preferred language and fill out the SCHUFA Order Form
You can leave the ‘Alternative’ (paid section) unchecked and blank on this page. Take note that the free option is only available to order via mail.

Paid Option: Print and fill out this English SCHUFA Order Form

Send all of your documents to the SCHUFA office and this address:

SCHUFA Holding AG
Postfach 10 25 66
44725 Bochum, Germany

This method takes the longest, and you can expect to receive your SCHUFA approximately 2 to 3 weeks after applying.

 

Apply On the Phone

If you plan on applying for the paid SCHUFA, we think it is easiest to do over the phone. When we called, there was only about a 5 minute wait time until a friendly English speaking agent came on the line. You will need to have your bank details on hand as well as your passport and Anmeldung document. The agent will then confirm your identity and create the report for you. They will mail it out the next day and you should receive it within 2 to 3 business days.

Customer Service Line: 0611 – 92780

Press number 1 first when you are given the options in German. You will be directed to a customer service agent. If your German isn’t great, simply ask to speak to an agent who speaks English and they will transfer you along.

 

 Apply in Person at a Bank

If you are in a time crunch and need your SCHUFA report immediately, your best bet is visiting a bank. It does not matter if you do not have a bank account with these particular banks, they will still be able to process your SCHUFA for you. To get your SCHUFA done quickly, you can go to any of these Berlin Postbanks or Volksbanks.

Bring all of the aforementioned documents with you.

 

Apply Online through MeineSchufa.de

To apply online, simply fill out this form and provide your details.
To clarify some myths or confusion surrounding SCHUFA:

During our phone call with the SCHUFA agent, we clarified some more information regarding the SCHUFA:

  • Your SCHUFA is calculated soon after you have opened a bank account or started a contract with a phone company, internet, etc.
  • The neighbourhood you live in does not affect your SCHUFA score
  • A good SCHUFA score is about 85% and higher
  • The average SCHUFA score is 91.64%
  • No one starts with a 100% SCHUFA Score
  • Your SCHUFA score will fluctuate based on your contracts, however, can always improve
  • It is not recommended to have many bank accounts or to switch banks often as this can affect your score
  • Your SCHUFA rating won’t be affected by the number of times you request a new SCHUFA document

 

In a Nutshell…

Many administrative tasks in Berlin can seem daunting. How to get a SCHUFA is actually fairly straight forward. If you are planning on staying in Berlin, you may want to get your own lease on an unfurnished apartment. Getting your SCHUFA will give you that opportunity. Our experience of getting a SCHUFA wasn’t too difficult. We reccommend getting your paid Schufa on the phone, as there are English speaking agents who can help you, and the process is quite fast.

Once you get your (good!) SCHUFA score, you will be well on your way to landing a great unfurnished apartment in Berlin. Let us know how you applied for your SCHUFA in the comments!

The Best Playgrounds in Berlin

Kind hat Spaß

The Best Playgrounds in Berlin: Alternative Outdoor Play Areas

Do you feel like your children are getting bored of the same old ‘neighbourhood spielplatz’? It may be time to freshen up your weekend and afternoon play time with some new and exciting spots. Lucky for you, Berliner’s value playtime and creativity and the city boasts over 1850 play areas. Most of them offer a unique alternative to your typical sandbox and swing set.

Berlin’s unconventional playgrounds are sure to spice up your kids’ play time, and will bring lots of smiles and minimal boredom. This guide has you covered on the best and most unique playgrounds in various neighbourhoods all over the city!

 

We’ve sorted the best and most unique playgrounds out by neighbourhood:

Prenzlauer Berg

Mitte

Charlottenburg

Neukolln

Wedding

Kreuzberg

Friedrichshain

 

Prenzlauer Berg

‘Pregnant hill’ as it’s endearingly called, boasts many colourful and unique playgrounds for its young family residents and visitors alike.

 

Adventure Playground Kolle 37 in Prenzlauer Berg

Like many playgrounds in Berlin, Kolle 37 in Prenzlauer Berg doesn’t allow adults, so be prepared to let your kids go off and explore alone. Germans value learning-by-doing, and this park is a great example of that. It’s a massive creative space (4000qm!) for children to explore activites like making their own huts, working in a garden, hanging out with animals, or even participating in pottery, wood workshops and more. The children learn from craftsmen who work there, and are taught how to use the different tools. Four educators are also part of the staff. The projects, material costs and employees are financed by the district of Pankow.

Location: Kollwitzstr. 35-3710405 Berlin
How to get there: The closest U-Bahn station is Senefelderplatz, it’s just a five minute walk to the entrance.
Hours: Monday to Friday 13:00- 18:30
Saturday: 13:00 – 18:00
(From September to April, it closes at 18:00)
Cost: Free (some activities put on by the park have fees, so be sure to check the website beforehand or call)
Who should go: Kids over 6 years old

Things to note:

  • Kids must be wearing closed shoes (no sandals) for many parts of this play area
  • Saturdays are an exception to the ‘kids only’ rule, and the whole family can take part!

 

 Teutoburger Platz Playground

Situated a little further away from the popular Kollwitz area, Teutoburger park is a community-oritend hub, adored by the locals who frequent it. The playground is surrounded by leafy trees in the summer, providing a lot of shade. There is a spiderweb-like climbing net, gymnastics bars, swings, and a little shop to buy ice cream and snacks at in the summer. The green space surrounding it is a great spot for playing ball sports or picknicking in the summer.

Location: Templiner Str. 910119 Berlin 
How to get there: The closest U-bahn stations are Senefelder platz on the U2 line (just 200m awaz), Rosa-Luxemberg Platz (U2), or Rosenthaler Platz (U8).
Cost: Free
Who should go there: Good for all ages

Things to Note:

  • There is a little house which people can rent out and use for events like birthday parties etc. The rules, hours, and more info can be found here
  • The locals occasionally put on community events like BBQ days, fleamarkets for kids’ clothes, etc. You can find out more on the Teute Calendar
  • Dogs are not allowed

 

Nature Playground in Leise Park

Leise Park, or Quiet Park, is exactly that. It’s a beautiful old cemetery turned Nature Park, with lots of lush trees and bushes, and several trails to explore. The playground itself is scattered in parts around the park, making every turn down each new trail exciting. There are logs stacked on top of each other to balance on, a lookout tower, and tree stumps to jump on. There are also plenty of hammocks if anyone needs to take a little break or a nap. The Leise Park playground is the perfect spot to take a breath of fresh air and feel transported to a magical and calming oasis, even though you’re right inside the city.

Location: Heinrich-Roller-Straße 24, 10405 Berlin

How to get there: Senefelderplatz Bahnhof is just a 10 minute walk away. As well, the M4 tram stop, Am Friedrichshain is located right at the East entrance of the park. On the west side of the park, the M2 tram stops at Prenzlauer Allee/Metzer strasse.
Cost: Free
Hours: Every Day from 8:00am to 7:00pm
Who should go: Good for all ages (although as it is a cemetery as well, it’s recommended to be on the ‘quieter’ side, as the name infers.

Mitte

The city core is a busy epicenter of shops and museums, but you can still find many hidden and interesting playgrounds for your kids to explore.

Heinrich-Zille-Park – Castle Fortress

This large and secluded park offers a truly authentic castle fortress experience for your little ones to play make believe. There’s also a ping pong table, which is good fun for older kids, so bring your paddles!

Location: Heinrich Zille Park, 10115
How to get there: This park is close to the Tucholsky bus stop, and about a 6 minute walk from Rosenthaler platz. The entrance is off of Bergstrasse.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Good for all ages

 

Airplane Mesh Park

Airplane Mesh playground is a slightly hidden park located behind Bernauer Straße, and offers an immense mesh climbing challenge for your young adventurers who can’t get enough of climbing everything in sight! It also has a small rock climbing wall, sandy grounds and lots of space for a relaxing, quiet picnic.

Location: Behind Strelitzer Str.
How to get there: The closest U-Bahn Station is Bernauer Strasse. It’s a short walk south on Strelitzer Strasse if you’re at the corner of Bernauer and Strelitzer.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Toddlers and up
Things to note

  • No Baby Swings

 

Plansche at Nordbahnhof

The Plansche is a massive park with a fun water fountain splash pad, which offers a beautiful space to cool off in the summertime.  There’s also a normal playground right next to it to switch things up, or to enjoy on those cooler days.
The Plansche is also a great space for picnicking, lounging and playing games on a blanket with your younger tots, and letting your kids enjoy their freedom.

Location: Invalidenstr. 20, 10115 Berlin
How to get there: You can take the Tram, Bus or S-Bahn to Nordbahnhof Station.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Good for all Ages

Berlin has plenty more summer friendly splash parks to try – we recommend Plansche Planterwald in Treptow, Spielbrunnen in Charlottenburg, and the Plansche Volkspark in Friedrichshain.

 

Charlottenburg

This quiet, family friendly neighbourhood lush with green spaces and parks has some great play areas to spend your weekends and afternoons. Read on for a couple of the best spots:

 

Piratenschiff Spielplatz

This impressive pirate ship playground, named ‘The Black Pearl’ is a big hit as it has a lot of fun to offer. There’s a ping pong table on the deck of the ship, tons of places to hide and things to climb, as well as a basketball net on the front of the ship. Combining this playground with a visit to the grounds of the Charlottenburg castle which is just across the river, can certainly fill up an enjoyable afternoon with your little pirates.

Location: Tegeler Weg 97, Berlin
How to get there: It’s right across the river from the Charlottenburg Schlosspark, so the closest stations are the Westend S-Bahn and Bus Hof, the Jungfernheide S and U Station and the Richard-Wagner Platz U-bahn Station.
Cost: Free
Who Should Go: Good for all ages

For more fun themed playgrounds check out the Hexenspielplatz (Witch Playground) in Schoneberg, the Drachenspielplatz (Dragon Playground) in Friedrichshain, or the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Playground in Charlottenburg.

 

Kletterpark (Climbing Park)
Located just northwest of the Berlin core (North Charlottenburg), the incredible forest climbing park will bring your kids’ weekend fun to great new heights! Complete with high ropes, balance beams, and zip lines through a beautiful forest, this playground is the perfect combination of nature and adventure, providing your mini-me’s with lots of fresh air and exercise.  The park is open even when there’s a light drizzle, so no need to let those misty Berlin days hold you back!

Location: Heckerdamm 260, Berlin, Germany
How to get there:  Take the U7 line to Jakob-Kaiser Platz, and then you will have a quick 5 minute walk to the Entrance. There are also a number of buses you can take like the M21 from the Charlottenburg Nord Station. If you are on the ring-line, you can take the S42 to Charlottenburg Nord station.
Hours: Open Daily from March through October (Hours Vary during seasons, check the website)
Cost:  Prices vary, €10 to €12 for the kid’s parkour, adults €19 to €22, spectators are free
Who should go: Great fun for the whole family
Things to Note:

  • Allot approximately 2.5 to 3 hours for this climbing park
  • Staff members speak English
  • You must be wearing sturdy shoes to climb (sneakers are accepted!)
  • Kids aged 6 and up can participate (must be over 1.45m tall)

 

For more outdoor parks offering some climbing adventures, we recommend Kletterwald in Wuhlheide and Kletterfelsen  in Volkspark Friedrichshain.

 

Adventure Playground in the Zoo

The newly renovated playground in the zoo is a highlight for all kids. You may end up spending more time here than actually looking at animals. It has a pirate ship, a maze and lots for your little animal lovers to climb!

Location: Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin
How to get there:  The closest station is of course the Zoolischer Garten. Many S and U bahns go to this station like the S3, S5, S7 and S9. Once you get to the Zoo, the playground is located towards the back right corner of the zoo.
Hours: Hours vary throughout the year, see all opening hours here
Cost: To visit the Zoo playground, you have to pay the zoo entrance fee – €15.50 for adults, and €8.00 per child. There are also some family day packages and annual tickets for savings.
Who should go: Good for all ages
Things to Note:

  • The Zoo is open 365 days a year! (Closes at 2pm on the 24th and 31st of December)
  • You or your children cannot bring your bikes (or other children’s transport like wagons) with you
  • There are bathrooms (including wheelchair accessible) and a baby changing station right next to the playground.

 

Neukolln

A big cultural hub with lots of families, Neukölln offers some of the best parks and hidden gems of playgrounds for your little ones to explore. Below are some of the best:

Hasenheide Playground and Animal Park

Located near Templehof in Neukölln, Hasenheide is a lush forested park with lots to offer. This huge green space hosts two awesome playgrounds, one which is right next to a lovely mini zoo, featuring many animals like donkeys, rabbits, and ponies. They even have pony rides at certain times during the week and weekends (hours vary, but there is some signage outside the pony shelter displaying the times). The playgrounds include slides, swings, seesaws, climbing walls and even a water park for your kids to enjoy in the summertime.

Location: Spielplatz im Volkspark Hasenheide Karlsgartenstr. 12049 Berlin
How to get there: Hasenheide park is located just North East of Templehof, and the closest stations are Hermannplatz and Sudstern. The playground and animal farm are located closer to Hasenheide street.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Suitable for children 1 and up

Things to Note:

  • There’s a nice café with outdoor seating located in the middle of the park in case you forget to bring snacks or want to treat everyone to an ice cream
  • Within this park you’ll also find a beautiful rose garden, a small pond and an enclosed dog park

 

Fliegerspielplatz (Aviator’s Playground)

Situated close to Templehofer Feld which is home to the abandoned airport, this popular playground is the perfect spot for some make-believe world travel for your young pilots. Complete with helicopters and rocket ships made from wood, this playground is a dream for young toddlers. It’s in a nice quiet pocket and has a baby swing, making it a lovely spot to bring your younger children.

Location: Bundesring 40, Berlin, Germany
How to get there: The Aviator’s Playground is located to the west of Templehof, on a narrow stretch of grassy area, in the centre of the Bundesring. The Paradestrasse station on the U6 line is just 350 metres away.
Cost: Free
Who Should Go: Suitable for kids aged 1-6

 

Wedding

This up and coming neighbourhood is still relatively quiet and perfect for young families. It is also home to many parks, Plotzensee (a lake and beach you and your kids can enjoy!), and some pretty special playgrounds.

 

Zeppelinplatz 

The playground inside the beautiful Zeppelinplatz Park is definitely a favourite within the Wedding neighbourhood community. It has tons of rope nets to climb, has a very natural vibe given that it’s made out of mostly wood and is very well maintained. There’s also a water fountain and lots of space in the vicinity for a summer picnic lunch.

Location: Ostender Str. 11-12, 13353 Berlin
How to get there: The playground is located a large green space, close to both Seestrasse and Leopoldplatz U-bahn stations. (Both on the U6 line)
Cost: Free
Who should go: Great for all ages
Humboldthain Spielplatz

Located closer to Gesundbrunnen, the Humbolthain Spielplatz is a great way to end an afternoon exploring Humbolthain Volkspark. This park is full of history, as there are two bunkers from the war located there. In addition, this park has beautiful trails, a rose garden, an outdoor swimming pool and a stunning viewpoint at the top of a hill.

Location: Brunnenstr. 13357 Berlin
How to get there: The playground is located in the centre of Humbolthain, and can easily be accessed by taking an S-bahn to Humbolthain staion or, getting out at the Gesundbrunnen station which services buses, U-bahn and S-bahn trains.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Good for all ages

Things to Note:

If your kids are a bit older you could check out the ‘Berlin Unterwelten’ tours which explore the bunkers and underground world during WWII.

 

Kreuzberg

The Kreuzberg ‘kiez’ is an eclectic mix of students, newcomers and artists and is home to many families as well. It has a vibrant cultural scene and is dotted with many beautiful parks and playgrounds.

 

Park am Gleisdreieck

Right between Kreuzberg and Schoneburg, you will find the new and spectacular ‘Park am Gleisdreieck’, a sprawling green space on an old train track highline. The minimalistic-style playground offers kids some fun and challenging rope nets for climbing, slides and swings, and the accompanying sprawling lawn next to it is often peppered with relaxed families picnicking or playing sports together.

Park am Gleisdreieck (Westpark) 18
Location: Möckern Str. 26, 10963 Berlin
How to get there: The playground is located on the east side of the park, at Mockernstrasse and Hornstrasse. Both the S+U Yorckstrasse and Mehringdamm U station are easily walkable to the park.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Suitable for all ages

 

Wrangelstr. Playground

This beautiful playground in Kreuzberg has a fun ‘Under the Sea’ theme and is definitely loved by the locals. There is a whale to climb, a ginormous Octopus with rope nets, a mermaid tower and slide, as well as swings and mini trampolines.

DSC01326-blogsize

Location: Wrangel Str. 11 10997 Berlin
How to get there:  This playground is located close to Marienplatz and the closest U-Bahnhof is Gorlitzer station. There is also a bus stop 2 minutes away, where the 140 bus goes.
Cost: Free
Who Should Go: Good for everyone

 

Mondhügel Playground in Gorlitzer
Mondhügel is a great spot for the whole family, situated in Görlitzer Park. Here you can see a beautiful view of Berlin. The massive slide is a huge hit where about 10 kids can slide down at the same time! There are also lots of log balance beams to climb, a firefighters’ pole and slides.

Location: Wiener Str. 56 10999
How to get there: The playground is situated in the southwest corner of Görlitzer park, and the closest U-Bahn station is Schlesiches Tor. You can also go to Görlitzer Station if you want to walk through the park first.
Cost: Free
Who should go: Great for the whole family

Things to note:

Mondhügel park isn’t far from the Landwehr Kanal and the Kid’s Petting Farm in Görlitzer park. A fun afternoon could be filled with a visit to the Mondhügel playground and hanging out with the animals at the farm. There are donkeys, miniature horses, ducks, goats and sheep.
The petting zoo’s summer hours are:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday: 10:00 to 19:00
Wednesdays: Closed
Weekends: 11:00 to 18:00

 

goat-3017394_960_720

 

Friedrichshain

Friedrichshain is a colourful pocket in berlin, full of creative people and a vibrant culinary scene. This neighbourhood is home to many families as well as young people. Some of the best play areas in Friedrichshain have already been mentioned, like Drachenspielplatz (Dragon spielplatz), and Volkspark Friedrichshain.  But we think the following also deserves a mention in our guide.

 

Forcki Adventure Playground 
This adventure playground and ‘building centre’ within Forckenbeckplatz is an exciting hub with lots for kids to explore. The adventure centre is divided into four sections: the clay and nature area, the wooden construction area, the play area and the fire pits. The play area has a large open meadow space for sports, as well as outdoor play equipment. There are lots of opportunities for children to try new things like pottery, the football ‘kicker club’, cooking etc. Some of the activities require registration and a contribution to the expenses – the calendar can be found on the site

Location: Forckenbeckplatz 10247 Berlin
How to get there: Frankfurter Tor and Samariter Str U-bahn stations are both in walking distance to this park (about 10 mins), as well, the M tram line 21 stops directly in front of the park.
Cost: The park itself is free, but some activities in the centre have registration costs
Who should go: Great for families, kids 1 to 14 (some activities are only suitable for children 6 and up)

Things to note:

  • This adventure playground puts on many events which you can attend. ·
  • There are educational cooking events, ‘Father Picnics’, where kids can make roast ‘stick bread’ etc.
  • There is also a Splash Pad and a regular playground in Forckenbeckplatz

Berlin definitely does not lack in the ‘fun for kids’ department. Each playground offers a unique and exciting experience for your children. Is your favourite Berlin playground on our list? Let us know in the comments!

 

Bonus: If you are looking for an indoor playground check our guide here.

 

Photo Credits:

Spielplatz am Gleisdreieck Photo

By Lienhard Schulz [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Goat and Child photo via Pixabay

Public Transport in Berlin

Berlin Transport from Warschauer Strasse

Everything You Need to Know About Getting Around: Public Transport in Berlin

If people know anything about Germany, they often mention how amazing the transport system is and it’s no different in sprawling and bustling Berlin!
Public transportation here is relatively cheap and essentially any address in central Berlin isn’t too far from a bus, tram, U-Bahn or S-Bahn station. There really is no need for a car while you’re living in the city.
Despite how accessible and vast the transport system is in Berlin, it can often be hard to navigate and understand. You might already be wondering, what is the difference between the M Tram and the S-bahn or, what kind of monthly passes can I get?
If you’re a new Berliner and plan on sticking around for a while, our easy-to-follow Berlin Transportation Guide will help you understand Berlin’s sometimes confusing transport system, and have you zipping around the city confidently in no time.

 

We’ve broken it down so you’ll understand everything you need to know about:

The Different Zones and Methods of Transport:

 

When to use What
Tickets
Monthly Passes
Yearly Passes
Where to Purchase Tickets
‘Schwarzfahren’ (Fines for Riding without a Ticket
Lost Property
Information on Children, Dogs, and Bikes
Important Berlin Transporation Ettiquette

 

The Different Zones and Methods of Transport

Berlin is divided into 3 zones:
The first one is the inner city area, Zone A, and it includes every part of the city within the S-Bahn Ring (circle line ring).
The second zone, B is outside the S-Bahn ring, and up to the city boundary (including Berlin TXL airport).
The third zone, C reaches all the way to the outskirts of Berlin (including Potsdam and Berlin Schönefeld Airport).
When you use public transport in Berlin, you will most likely use Zone A and B: within and surrounding the S-Bahn circle. If you take the train to Schönefeld airport, make sure that you buy a ticket for Zone C. On the ticket machines, the Zones are written out as, AB, BC, and ABC.

 Methods of Transport:

 

S-Bahn

The S-Bahn stands for Stadtschnellbahn (fast train) connects the suburbs to the city centre. There are 16 S-Bahn lines which run underground as well as over ground.
When to use it: If you want to travel from North to South and East to West (or vice versa) taking the S-Bahn is the fastest way. Almost all of the trains pass through Mitte. The S Ringbahn (circle line, either S41 or S42, depending on which direction you travel) will take you around the entire city in a circle. One trip around Berlin will take you exactly one hour.

Operating time and Frequency

The S-Bahn runs all day from 4.00am-1.00am and most trains run every 10 min. There are stations, for example in Mitte, where lots of trains go through and some run as often as every 2 to 5 minutes during rush hour.

 

U-Bahn

The U-Bahn runs under – and sometimes over ground. There are 173 stations, lots of them beautifully designed. There are some especially nice ones to look out for on the U3 and U7 lines like the following:

U-Bahnhof Oskar-Helene-Heim 20130706

 

Operating Times and Frequency

High-Traffic Hours: U-Bahn Trains come every 4 to 5 minutes
Regular hours: Trains come every 5 to 10 minutes
During the weekends, during Friday Night to Saturday morning, and Saturday night to Sunday morning, the U-Bahn runs every 15 minutes.
During the week, there are night buses, driving on parallel routes to the U-Bahn.
Watch Out: On Friday and Saturday night the U-Bahn (especially U1) can get rather noisy, with many revellers enjoying their night out.

 

Buses

Things to Note about Buses
There are over 1,300 buses in the Berlin Transport Newtwork that operate on 198 lines. If you don’t live directly next to an U or S-Bahn station, it is more than likey you will need to use a bus as part of your journey. It is also important to note that sometimes it is quicker with a bus than using the U-Bahn, depending on where you are travelling. Although in rush-hour traffic will most likely not be the case.
There are a number of different types of buses that you can differentiate by the numbers displayed:

Normal bus – they make up most of the bus network and have a 3 digit number  – like 172. These number from 100-399. Note: The second digit correlates with the district they are driving through.
Metro bus- they have an M plus a two digit number – like M12. Metro buses M11 to M85 run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are therefore a mainstay of the Berlin Transport network.
Express bus – there are 13 express lines, and are marked by an X, from X7 to X83. They have few stops along the line to make the journey quicker. The most famous line, and the one you are likely to use the most is the X9 from the Zoologischer Garten to Tegel Airport.

Night bus – some replace the U-Bahn at night and will have the same number as the U-Bahn (N1, N2 etc.) . There are fewer night buses on the weekend, when the U-Bahn runs all night.  Night buses run every 30 minutes and N10-N97 replace most of the important day lines.

All information about bus routes and stops they make can be found here: Bus Line Information

 

Trams

Trams in Berlin are mainly found in the eastern part of the city, where there are fewer U-Bahn lines. There are either Metrotrams or Tram lines and there are currently 22 all together.
Metro Trams: The Metro Tram has nine lines, M1-M17. During the day they run every ten minutes, or sometimes quicker, and every 30 minutes during the night.
Trams – There are 13 normal tram lines, 12 to 68 and serve as an accompaniment to the Metrotram.
Tip: If you want to explore the city, National Geographic stated that Tram Line 68 was one the top ten greatest streetcar routes in the world.

 

Regional Trains

In Berlin it is also possible to use the RE trains as part of the transport network. It must be stressed that ICE nor EC trains are part of this. Instead they are operated by Deutsche Bahn and you need different tickets for them.
The regional trains stop at many of the top tourist spots on the main lines in Berlin, these include: Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstr, Hauptbahnhof, Bahnhof Zoo, Gesundbrunnen, Ostbahnhof, Ostkreuz, Südkreuz, Potsdamer Platz, Lichterfelde, Wannsee, Lichtenberg, Karlshorst, Charlottenburg, Spandau, Potsdam.
Sometimes it is quicker to use RE Trains instead of the U-Bahn or S-Bahn, particularly if you are travelling from one side of the city to another.

When to Use What:

It may be confusing to know when to use which method of transport in Berlin. This table below helps explain it a little better. Often you will use a combination of 2 or 3 methods to get where you need to go:

S- Bahn Fastest connection North-South and vice versa, circle line
U-Bahn  North-South and East-West connections within AB zones.
Tram Only in the Eastern part in Berlin where there are fewer U-Bahn stations.
There are a few trams in Moabit as well
Regional Trains Fastest connection to Potsdam, Spandau, Schönefeld Airport, can be used with normal ticket

 

Map of Berlin Transport

In order to know where you are in the Berlin Transport system, you can use the following maps and apps to help you figure it out and plan your journey;

BVG Route Planner

BVG App (In German)

Berlin Transport Map

It’s always better to plan your journey beforehand, but with an app, you can do it with your smartphone whilst you are underway.

 

Tickets

There are a lot of different tickets (weekly, monthly, yearly, for brothers and sisters, students etc.) We will concentrate on the most important ones that you are most likey to use.

Single Ticket
A single ticket cost €2,80 (for one way travel through AB, or BC zones).
The reduced ticket (for kids up to age 14) costs €1,70.
These single tickets are valid for 120 min and you can change trains and interrupt your journey. This ticket is only valid however if you are travelling in one direction – you cannot go backwards or circle with one single ticket. If you do, you run the risk of a fine.

Short Distance Single Ticket
Cost: €1.70
The short distance single is for either 3 stations by S- or U-Bahn or 6 stations by bus or tram. You are not allowed to interrupt your journey or to change trains with the short distance ticket.

This table shows some of the tickets you could use:

Ticket Normal Reduced
Single AB 2,80 1,70
Short distance single 1,70 1,30
4 Multiple ride standard 9,00 (2,25 per ticket) 5,60  – 1,40 per ticket
4 Multiple ride short distance 5,60 (1,40 per ticket) 4,40 – 1,10 per ticket
Single ABC ( e.g. to Schoenefeld Airport) 3,40 2,50

 

 

Day and Weekly Passes

A day pass is suitable if you take more than 3 rides per day. Remember, one single ticket is valid for 120 minutes and you can interrupt your journey as often as you want.
The Weekly Pass for AB is €30,00, and there is no reduced ticket. This ticket makes sense if you need a Day Pass for at least 5 days + , if you only need a ticket after 10 o’clock for 2 weeks + buying a 10 o’clock monthly pass is cheaper than two weekly passes. If you need a ticket before 10 o’clock, the regular monthly ticket is better than the weekly pass, if you need it for 3 weeks.

Regular Reduced
Day Pass AB 7,00 4,70
Weekly Pass AB 30,00 None

 

Monthly Pass  – Monatskarte

There are two types of monthly passes and can be bought for the whole month or you can buy it any day (not just the start of the month) and then it is valid for the next 30 days.  All monthly cards are ‘übertragbar’, which means they can be shared with others. The options are as follows:

Regular Monthly Pass
The regular pass is valid any time and is the best option for professionals.  Buying a monthly pass makes sense if you take more than 36 rides a month.
If you don’t use the monthly ticket that often, it still could make sense.
With the regular ticket, 1 adult and 3 children (aged 6-14) can ride together, from Monday- Friday after 20:00 and all day on the weekend.
With this monthly pass, dogs can also ride for free.
10 O‘clock Monthly Pass
The 10 O’clock pass is valid from 10 a.m. It is the cheaper option and is suitable if you can avoid travelling during the morning rush hour.
It makes sense to buy a monthly 10 o’clock pass if you take more than 26 rides after 10 a.m. If you travel less than that, purchasing the 4 multiple ride tickets is a better option. With this pass, you can’t take any people with you; however, dogs can always ride for free.

 

Student/Intern Tickets

If you are a student, you usually can purchase a reduced ‘semester transportation ticket’ through your university.
If you are doing an internship or traineeship, you are eligible for a reduced monthly or yearly ticket (depending how long your contract is for)

To get your ticket, you have to go to a BVG or VKK customer service location and talk to an agent. You will need to fill out a form (you will find them there), and bring along a small photo of yourself, as well as your contract signed by your internship employer. This ticket costs around the same as a 10 O’clock monthly pass (€59 euros) but it is valid all the time. Once they accept your application, they will give you a little photo id card that you need to always carry with your actual ticket. (You have to show both the ticket and your photo id card to inspectors.) You can then also buy a monthly ticket at any of the automatic ticket machines -just be sure to write your customer number on your monthly ticket otherwise it will not be valid.

 

Yearly Pass

Yearly Passes with a Subscription:
If you need to commute every day, a yearly pass might be the cheapest option.
With a yearly pass, you can either sign an agreement, meaning that if you wish to cancel it, you must do so 6 weeks before the end of the year or the 12 months. If you forget to cancel, your subscription will continue on.
If you would like to buy a yearly pass, make sure that you sign the contract or order before the 10th of the previous month.
The yearly pass is a chip card and it takes a few weeks until it is sent to you. If you order it after the 10th of the previous month, you can either order it for the subsequent month or you start with a “starter card”, which means the price will also be reduced. You can get this card for longer than one month, or for as long as it takes for your yearly card to be valid and sent to you.
You can either pay for your yearly pass in monthly instalments or you can do a one-time payment. The one-time payment method is the cheaper option.

Important to Note

If you lose your yearly pass or it gets stolen, you can block anyone else from using it. You must report it as lost or stolen to the police, and then you will be able to get a replacement yearly pass.

Without Subscription
It is also possible to buy a regular yearly pass without a subscription. The price for this option is €761 and you have to pay the whole sum in cash up front.
All the advantages of the monthly tickets are also included in the yearly passes. They are also shareable.

 

Payment for passes with a Subscription
(yearly /monthly)
One Time Payment without A Subscription
(yearly/monthly)
Monthly Pass
Yearly PassUnlimited 728 60,66 761 63,42 81,00
Yearly PassStarting at 10AM 531,00 44,25 Not available 59,10

 

Where to Purchase Your Tickets

You can purchase tickets at any automatic ticket machine in the S-Bahn or U-Bahn stations, or at any customer service offices. The stations accept cash, credit and EC (German debit cards) If you are getting on a bus, simply carry the correct amount of change and pay the bus driver.
If you would like to sign up for a yearly subscription you must do so at any BVG or VBB customer service locations:

 

BVG Customer Centre Mitte (Kundenzentrum)
Alexanderplatz 10178
Hours:
Monday through Friday                                06:30 -21:30
Saturday and Sunday                     10:00-17:30

BVG Customer Centre Tiergarten (Kundenzentrum)
Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin
Hours:
Monday through Friday                                06:30 -21:30
Saturday and Sunday                     10:00-17:30

Berliner Public Transportation Service (Verkehrsbetriebe)
Holzmarktstraße 15-17, 10179 Berlin
Hours:
Monday through Wednesday    09:30-17:00
Thursday                                             09:30-17:45
Friday                                                    09:30-14:00
Saturday and Sunday                     Closed

 

Information on Children, Dogs, and Bikes

Children
Children under 6 can travel free of charge.
Children between 6 and 13 need to purchase the reduced fare ticket.

Dogs:
if you have a daily, weekly or monthly pass, one dog can travel with you for free.
Small dogs that can fit in a bag are always free.
If you have only purchased a single ticket, you have to buy a reduced ticket for your dog.
In theory, dogs have to wear a muzzle while travelling, but hardly any dog does and this is not often enforced by officials. (If you have a breed that is ‘outlawed’ for example, pitbulls, mastiffs and Staffordshire terriers, it is highly recommended that you muzzle your dog as they are quite strict with this).

Bikes:
You can take your bike with you on the S- Bahn U-Bahn. Each train can take a maximum of 2 bikes ,the  night bus maximum is 1 bike per bus, and it’s possible to take your bike on some trams as well.

Short Distance Bike Ticket 1,20
Regular Bike Ticket 1,90
Daily Pass Bike 4,80
Monthly Pass Bike 10,20

 

Accessibility
Pretty much all U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations have elevators so they are quite accessible for all. As well, the trams and buses are easy to access for people in wheelchairs or mothers with strollers.

 

Things to Note about ‘Schwarzfahren’ (Riding without a ticket)

Controls on the bus – If you get on a bus, you have to show your ticket to the bus driver, or pay the bus driver directly. (It’s best to have the correct change on you)
Always make sure you validate your ticket at the ticket validator if you are buying a single ticket or day ticket! If you don’t, you will be fined, no questions asked.
If you are caught on any means of public transport without a valid ticket, you must pay a fine of €60. If you have cash on you, it’s best to pay it right away, as the fine will increase as time goes on.
If you don’t pay it, you will be sent reminders. If you are caught riding without a ticket 3 times, you will have a criminal offense on your record.

 

 Lost Property

If you have lost something in the Berlin Public Transport system, you can always see if a kind stranger handed it in.
The BVG has Lost property office here:

Potsdamer Straße 180/182
10783 Berlin-Schöneberg

Opening hours:
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays
from 9 am to 6 pm
Fridays from 9 am to 2 pm
Closed Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays

Telephone: (030) 19 44 9
Fax: (030) 25 62 80 20

You usually have to search the database to see if your item is in the system, before you go to the office.
Last but not least, here are some helpful tips on transportation ettiquette in Berlin that you need to know!

 

 Berlin Transportation Ettiquette

  • Look away from your phone and notice if an elderly person or mom-to-be needs a seat and give up yours
  • When going up the escalators, if you are just standing there, stay to the right! People will pass on the left and will not like it if you’re in the way
  • Always make sure to validate your ticket!!
  • Always make sure you have the right amount of change for the bus and trams! The bus driver won’t always give you change, and the machines on trams don’t take cards
  • Always enter the bus at the front and get off in the middle, otherwise you’ll be swimming against the wave of people
  • Do not bring your bike on public transport during rush hour

 

Photo Credits:
Oskar Helene Heim Station

By DXR [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

Yellow subway train in Motion. Berlin Alexanderplatz sign visible on the wall of underground station.

Yellow subway train in Motion. Berlin Alexanderplatz sign visible on the wall of underground station.

Temporary Furnished Apartments: When does the tenant have to pay VAT (Mehrwertsteuer)?

Rollable room divider to seperate bedroom  from living room area

Why do tenants have to pay Value-Added Tax (VAT) when renting a temporary apartment in Germany?

Tenants renting a temporary apartment often have to pay VAT if they rent the apartment for less than 6 months and one day. The reduced VAT rate for short-term rentals is 7%. Otherwise private rentals and temporary apartments are not subject to VAT.

This is not because the landlord or the agencies want to charge this, instead the legislative authorities have agreed upon this charge and landlords are often asked to pay it by the fiscal authorities. For the tax office, renting a temporary furnished apartment is similar to renting a holiday home. It does not matter whether the tenant is in Berlin for professional or educational reasons.

 

What does this mean for the Tenant?

It means that the landlord adds, in addition to the rent, the reduced VAT rate to the overall total. This will then be shown separately in the contract. If you are self-employed, entitled to reclaim VAT, or when a company rents, it can be regarded as a transitory item. By private tenants, this is not the case.

The good news: although the rent increases by 7% per month with this tax, the final price for staying in temporary apartments is still a lot cheaper than staying in a serviced apartment, hotel, or holiday home. If you only rent for a few months, 7% VAT is not actually so much.

 

What happens if you extend your rental contract?

Those new to Berlin often rent temporary furnished apartments for a relatively short period of time when they arrive. They hope to find their own unfurnished apartment quickly. This is often more difficult than expected. The rent price has increased the past few years and yet the demand is still greater than what is available. Temporary tenants then decide it may be better to stay put and extend the lease on their temporary furnished apartment. This can happen, once, twice, or sometimes even more. In total their rental period could stretch up to a year or more. In any case, it is greater than the aforementioned 6 months. Theoretically, the tenant should then be exempt from paying VAT.

Sometimes the tax office agrees with this line of thought, however sometimes it does not. The tax office usually calculates from the original agreement – this would be the original short-term rental agreement. This depends on the individual tax offices and tax officer however, and cannot be generalised.

Our Tips for Short-Term Tenants

  • If VAT is added to the rental price, why not consider seeing if you can commit to 6 months + straight away?
  • Talk to the landlord or your rental agency. Often you can find a solution and make the total extension of your contract more than 6 months.

A Renter’s Guide to Water Sustainability in Berlin

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Thinking about the Environment when Renting a Temporary Apartment in Berlin: Save and Protect Water.

Everyone should be responsible for how we use our resources. It doesn’t matter whether you are the tenant or the owner of the apartment. Usually, when the bill for the utilities arrives, everyone has the intention to consume heat and electricity more ecologically for the coming year. Temporary tenants can also take notice of this – even if you rent a furnished apartment and on the expose it states ‘inc. additional costs’. Tenants can use energy and all other resources, like water sustainably. Not only will your landlord thank you, but the environment will too. This article will explore the theme of water sustainability. And the question: Is saving water actually even an issue in Germany?

Germany is actually a water-rich country with many rivers and lakes and certainly does not suffer from water shortage. That is true even though every German, or those living in Germany, consume around 120-190 Litres of water a day.There is good news though. Water consumption in Germany is declining! As we can see then the problem does not lie with water consumption itself. The problem is actually the use of warm water – especially because this needs more energy. As a result this costs more money. More money that your landlord, and at the end of the day, you as a tenant have to pay.

Be careful. The amount of water used is not the problem; instead it’s the associated energy costs. This distinction is important because saving cold water can actually be counterproductive. This is especially noticeable when using things such as the ‘eco’ flush button on the toilet. It is certainly meant well, but can actually leave debris and sediments in the pipes and lead to blockages in the sewage system. This may also sound absurd, but the more cold water is saved, the more the prices rise. The reason for this is the fact that the water and sewage system in Germany is oversized. The system has to be maintained and the water must continually flow and be used.

 

Here are our tips on saving hot water and handling water in an environmentally friendly way!

Only use the washing machine and dishwasher when they are full.

It is ecologically more sensible to use dishwashers and washing machines than to wash by hand. This is only the case when they are full. Running them when they are half full will offset the benefits.

 

Take showers instead of baths.

For a full bath you need 140 litres of hot water. For a shower you need a lot less. From 15 minutes of showering you only use 15 litres of hot water.

 

Take an ‘eco’ shower.

Only let the water run for as short a time as possible and switch off the water when you are soaping yourself! A water-saving showerhead will also reduce the usage of water.  You can ask your landlord if they will buy one for your temporary furnished apartment. They will most likely be supportive of your proposal.
So that is all for now on hot water and saving costs. Now we will address the issue of the water cycle. As already mentioned, Germany has sufficient water reserves and even used water is re-added to the system. Of course it has to be cleaned first and this is where you can help.

 

Only use ecologically friendly cleaning materials without harmful chemicals.

Did you know that chemical cleaning materials can damage many surfaces?
They are also harmful to the environment.

 

Don’t use the toilet as a dustbin!

You can forget tips that tell you to save water by using the ‘eco’ flush. Flushing the toilet normally and allowing the water to flow through the pipes regularly is better than stoppages building up and having to use chemicals to clear them.
The following things don’t belong in the toilet:

  • Leftover food and oil: it’s dangerous and can block the pipes.
  • Even if you are staying in a temporary apartment and the pipes get damaged then you still bear the costs if the pipes need repairing.
  • Medical products: they can’t be filtered out of the system and will end up in the water and lakes. It’s better to take any medical products that are out of date or no longer needed back to the Pharmacy.


Avoid Microplastics

Microplastics are small plastic balls that are found in many cosmetic products, like peeling cream, shower gels etc. They can’t be filtered out during the filtering process and eventually end up in the stomachs of wildlife. Wild animals often die due to a variety of plastic waste contamination.
Tip: Try to use ecologically friendly cosmetic products.
Not only cosmetics but also synthetic clothing is a problem. When washing functional clothing, polyester etc. parts of the fabric break off and enter the water cycle. Washing machines can’t filter these out. This is only possible when you use a special washing bag. You can buy one yourself and it is actually quite cheap at around €30.

 

Pass the mic and tell your friends!!

Save warm water and put no chemicals or waste into the water system.
If you follow these tips then you will use water sustainably, save money, and protect the water system and wildlife.

How to Find a Job in Berlin


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How to Find a Job in Berlin – Our Insider Tips from the Professionals

Have you recently moved to Berlin and are wondering what is the best way to find a job in this busy and exciting metropolitan? You came to the right place! Despite what you may have heard, Berlin has a good job market, with lots of companies searching for international candidates to help their businesses flourish.

Here at Crocodilian, Berlin’s leading furnished apartment rental agency, we receive many job applications every month. In order to help you in your search for a new job, we decided to give you a few tips on how you can improve.

If you are coming from abroad it’s likely that you need to adjust your strategy; and essentially get into the mind of a German employer, so you can give them what they are really after. We will guide you through some essential steps and give you some insider tips to finding a Job in Berlin, with specific tools on how to ‘wow’ German Employers, make a great German CV,  and to master your interview and important post interview tips.

The applications we get range from the very good to the very bad. In order to increase your success of getting an interview or landing the position, we have provided some steps you can take in order to send in a top quality application:

Popular Job Databases
The Alternative Method to Finding a Job in Berlin: Contact Companies Directly
Improve Your German
Create A Successful Convincing Cover Letter
Make an Outstanding German Style CV
Focus on Your CV Layout
References or an Arbeitzeugnisse
What German and Berlin Employers are often Suspicious of
Don’t Hit ‘Send’ yet!
Do Research on the Company in Berlin
Prepare Engaging Questions for your Interview
Be Your Authentic Self
Dress for the Part – Berlin Style
Post Interview Task
Be Open to Working Different Kinds of Jobs in Berlin

 

The Best Platforms for Finding a Job in Berlin

The first step of course, is knowing where to search. If you are new to Berlin, you may be unsure about which platforms to use to find a job. (If you’re already a pro and know where to go, simply skip this first step! )

Below, you will find a list of the best places to search for jobs in your field, offering a wide selection of positions and in many different languages:

Popular Job Databases For Finding a Job in Berlin

The platforms below are most commonly used, and advertise a wide range of positions at varying qualification Levels.

Indeed (German and English)

StepStone (German and English)

Monster (German and English)

LinkedIn (Germand and English)

 

These platforms and Facebook groups below are smaller, with more specific jobs, or are more catered towards English speaking candidates:

English Speaking Jobs in Berlin (A Facebook group for English speaking job seekers)

English Jobs in Berlin (A Facebook group for English speaking job seekers)

The Local (German and English Jobs)

Exberliner (German and English Job Database)

Creative City Berlin (Creative jobs in German in English)

Berlin Start Up Jobs (International start-up jobs, many in English)

Expatjobseeker (Jobs suitable for expats in Germany)

These lists are not exhaustive, however as you have seen there are many opportunities available.

If you’ve already scanned through the job search platforms and have not found what you are looking for, there is an alternative route.

 

How to Find a Job in Berlin – The Alternative Method: Contact Companies Directly

Instead of limiting yourself to job postings, reach out to the companies you would love to work for. Maybe a friend has said good things about XY Company, or perhaps you follow their beautifully curated feed on Instagram. Good companies that are growing are always looking for new talent, and if they like your application, they will keep your information on file for upcoming roles, or better yet, invite you for an interview to get to know you better.

When reaching out to these companies, apply like you would for an actual job, with a cover letter and CV, stating why you think their company is great and how you could contribute. You could also ask them for an information interview, in which you would ask questions about the company and express your interest. Once employers see enthusiasm and can put a face to a CV, they will be more likely to reach out if an opening becomes available, depending on how your meeting went.

Now you may be wondering…what makes German employers different? What are they really looking for in a candidate? Take a look at our next tips to learn how to stand out to employers in Berlin:

 

How to Stand out to German Employers When Applying for a Job

 

First and foremost, it’s important to be realistic with yourself. If you are looking for a high paying position in Berlin, you will definitely need to master German. If you are determined to have a great career here all you did to do is stay persistent and improve your German, which you can do by reading our helpful tips to improve your German . It can not be stressed enough, without German you have to have expert experience in your field to be considered for a top-paying job.

 

Improve Your German

German employers find it much easier to integrate their new employees into their processes if they speak the language – they also appreciate it if you show them you are working hard to improve. If you speak no German at all, and don’t show a willingness to learn, you will likely have to settle for a less qualified position, or accept that there may be minimal opportunities for promotion. If you are new to the city and are just starting out, we recommend reaching out to international startups, as many of their offices operate in English.

Another extremely important factor when employers are comparing candidates is the application itself.

To catch their eye, you must have a German style CV that is free from errors (have someone else proofread it!) and is easy to follow. Your application is essentially the company’s first look at your work so you want it to be a great representation of your skills and professionalism, which leads us to our next tip:

 

Create a Successful Convincing Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter should never be generic or copy and pasted, from application to application. Customize each and every one to the job you are applying for, and take the time to do so. You don’t need to send your application 10 minutes after the job has been posted. Employers want to know that you’ve familiarized yourself with what the role entails, and that you’ve done at least some research on the company. Next, clearly explain why they should want to meet you. You should tell them why you make a great candidate for the role, which specific experiences or skills you have that will enable you to contribute immensely to the position and to the company. You should essentially take details from the job posting and work them into your cover letter.

Don’t be discouraged from applying if you don’t meet every single requirement – employers are looking for people who are motivated, enthusiastic and willing to learn and put in effort. Try to express that you exude all those things in your letter, by using an example from a previous experience in which you grew and improved your skills over time, or mention why you received a particular promotion.

It’s also in your best interest to address the cover letter to someone at the company, not a generic ‘To Whom it May Concern’. If you can’t find a name in the job posting, you can often find names of people working in HR on the company’s website, or on LinkedIn.If you can not find it here, phone the company number and ask who you should send the job application to. Going that extra mile to do research to obtain this information also shows the employer that you’re serious.

Don’t forget to add your earliest starting date and if asked, your salary expectations. Sometimes an employer will ask for your salary expectations to determine whether you are realistic. If you are just starting out with little experience under your belt, and are applying for junior customer consultant, asking for 35 000 is a little unreasonable. But, if you ask for a more sensible range, like 19000-22000, the employer will take you more seriously. This is something that is integral in the application process, as the employer will have little interest unless you are realistic in your expectations.

Always express your willingness to learn and improve if you want to get your foot in the door. Responsible, respectful employers will always pay a fair living wage to young candidates starting out, and will give raises when they see you making quick progress and achieving the goals you have set.

 

How to Make An Outstanding German Style CV

German Style CVs do have some differences compared to American or British styles and it is critical that you pay attention to them. If you are a foreigner applying for a job in Germany, it will be noticed if you have adopted your CV to fit the expected standards.

An obvious difference is that German employers like to see a few more personal details:

  • Include your date of birth – this is standard. German employers look to compare your age to your experience.
  • Nationality– this is also standard as employers will have to determine if you need a working visa or get sponsorship from them. If you write a captivating and immaculate cover letter explaining why the company will truly benefit from hiring you, figuring out any working visas will be of secondary concern to them.
  • Include a Photo – You have photos on LinkedIn and Facebook, so why not add one to your CV? German Employers can’t necessarily ask for it, but it’s become the norm and they will be expecting it. Make sure it looks professional, and not a selfie from your smartphone.

 

It’s important to customize your CV as well as your Cover Letter, so be sure to include only relevant job experiences, or relatable skill sets. (E.g. it may not make sense to include your experience as a dog walker when applying for a job as a customer service agent)

Keep your CV focused; it’s great to have a lot of experience in many different fields, however, this can often come across as unfocused instead of versatile. (E.g serving in a bar, working in a legal office, freelance yoga instructor)  Try to maintain relevance and provide only similar roles or job titles if possible. This will also give your skills a bit more credibility and leave the Hiring Manager impressed.

If your German is at about a B2 Level, you should also send your CV and Cover Letter in German. This will express your motivation to improve your German.

 

Focus on Your CV Layout

Is your CV easy to follow or hard on the eyes and busy? It is crucial to have a solid structure that is concise as employers will move on quickly if they find it messy or difficult to read. This is basically your first chance at moving forward in the application process -if the employer can easily follow it, they will continue reading. The organization of your CV will determine how much effort you put into your work, and your level of professionalism. An organized one page CV is preferred. More pages and the Hiring Manager will start to look elsewhere.

 

Include References or an Arbeitzeugnisse in your Application – This is essential to finding a job in Berlin!

If you’ve already worked in Germany, or have done some volunteer work, always ask for a reference letter. In Germany, you will always receive an ‘Arbeitszeugnisse’, which is a standard letter or certificate from an employer stating you’ve worked there. A good ‘Arbeitszeugnisse’ will also mention why you were a great asset to the Company and team, or what you have achieved in great Detail. If you have references from employment or volunteer work in your home country or elsewhere, be sure to include them in your CV. These are an essential part of the evaluation process in Germany. A great reference could be the big difference in you finding a job in Berlin over someone else.

 

Keep in Mind: What German and Berlin Employers Are Often Suspicious Of

German employers are usually suspicious of workers jumping from job to job. It happens sometimes that a position may not work out, or that you’ve been fired, but try not to make a habit of it. It’s also great to mention why you’ve had short stints of work, for example. It could have been a summer internship, or covering for a maternity leave etc. This all ties back to the way you present your CV. If the job is not relevent don’t include it in your application.

 

To Summarize…

What to Include in your Cover Letter:

  • Easy to read, 1 page max
  • Your earliest starting date
  • What interests you about the company/role
  • Salary expectations (if asked in the job posting)
  • Why you are a great candidate and what you are willing to learn if you don’t meet all the requirements of the role contribute to the role
  • Evidence that you’ve done research on the Company

What to Include in your CV:

  • Date of Birth, Contact Info, Nationality
  • Professional Portrait Photo (no selfies or beach shots!)
  • 1 page is sufficient
  • Stick to the facts
  • Organized Layout
  • Relevant experience and skills, specific achievements
  • Send both a German and English CV if possible
  • Always, always send your CV and Cover Letter together in the same PDF document

 

So perhaps you’ve already mastered creating a perfect German CV and Cover letter… good job! You’re already half way through our tips…

break2
Photo: Pixabay

 

 

So now, you have your perfect application ready to go! But what next? Before you send it off, take a peek at this essential guideline that will put you high on the list of potential candidates!

 

Don’t hit “Send” yet!

Before you launch your perfectly crafted application into cyber space –hold on a minute!  There is a little something you can do that will pick you out of the crowd and impress employers even more.

Give the company a call and introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have, (besides payment or anything that is already stated in the job posting.) Lead an efficient yet pleasant conversation and express your personality as best you can. In this phone call, you can also offer to work an unpaid trial of around three days – no employer should really accept this (as it is illegal to do unpaid trials,) but they will read you as motivated and eager to work for them. If they agree to a paid trial, this is also a great way for you to decide if it’s the right work environment for you and get a Little bit of experience if you are new to the working world.

 

After your call, thank the person for their time and let them know you will be sending your application through shortly.

When you send your e-mail, remind the person you spoke with that you chatted with them and relate something you talked about into your e-mail. Perhaps you will be sending your e-mail to a different person, but be sure to include that you had a nice conversation with so-and-so and that you appreciated learning more about the company.  Hearing and seeing your name in more places than one, will help make it stand out to the employer, and they will surely appreciate your zeal.

Also – do one last read through of your application, just in case. 😉

Next up, learn how to ‘wow’ the person interviewing you!

 

Master Your Job Interview in Berlin

 

After following all of our steps, you’ve landed yourself an invitation to an interview. Congrats!
The interview is really important, so be sure to get this part right. This is your chance for your personality and professionalism to shine through. So make sure you…

Do your Research on the Company in Berlin


Know who their competitors are, who their target audience is etc. If you don’t, it will be obvious you did zero research and you will be out of the running. This is one of the major turn-offs for hiring managers, as it seems you couldn’t be bothered to put a little basic research in to the job your are applying for.

Prepare Engaging Questions

It’s important to ask your interviewer well prepared questions about the role and the company. This will show them that you are really interested in the Job:

  • What specific qualities would a candidate in this role have?
  • How would they measure an employee’s success for this role, 30 days into the job and 6 months down the road?
  • What would the typical career path look like for someone in this role?
  • What does the employer value about the company culture?

Be your Authentic Self

Be real, and show your confidence. Unless asked, it’s not advised to address your salary in the initial meeting. If they aren’t interested in you yet, they won’t make an offer.
Again, if you don’t have a lot of experience and your German isn’t great, emphasizing your eagerness to learn and improve on your skills is crucial. Tell them what you can already offer, but let them know you’re a quick learner and perhaps show examples of this in your CV.

 

Dress for the Part – Berlin Style

Most companies are quite casual here in Berlin, but it’s always better to overdress a little bit for an interview.

Go for a business casual look and you’ll be fine!

After your interview, make sure to do this next step:

Post Interview Task

This part is important, so take notice.

If you got a great impression of the company culture and are still interested, here’s what you need to do:

After you’ve been interviewed, be sure to send a follow up e-mail within the same day or at the very latest, within the week. You want to stay fresh in their memory! Thank them for meeting you and express that you are even more interested in the position now. This is a very effective way to stand out, and at Crocodilian; we are always impressed when people reach out after an interview. Hardly anyone does this, but it’s so easy and quick to do, and shows us that the candidate is confident and really wants the position!

Our last piece of advice – we know it’s tough out there, but don’t be discouraged. Follow our last guideline and you will be sure to succeed in no time.

 

Stay Flexible and Persistent – The key to success at job-hunting in Berlin


If you’ve been searching for a job in your desired field with no luck, don’t get discouraged. There are still ways of getting your foot in the door.

Be open-minded to working different kinds of jobs in Berlin

In the beginning of your job search, it may be discouraging, just sitting around sending off a bunch of e-mails all day long and waiting to hear back. Why not walk around your community and hand out your resume to cafes or restaurants. A lot of bars, restaurants and cafes will hire if you have some basic German and are willing to improve it. Some part time work will allow you to make some money, get you out from behind your Computer, and meeting people, until you find what you’re really after.

You can also search for things like babysitting or pet sitting to make some cash. And who knows? Perhaps the parents of the kids know someone in your field, or work for a company you’re interested in. Making personal connections and networking in Berlin will definitely increase your chances of finding work.

 

Below are some great apps and websites for part time and flexible work, that can often lead to more:

Pawshake Create a profile on this app and get paid to take care of pets!

Betreut.de Find all kinds of flexible jobs like babysitting, senior care or garden help

University Tutor Offer tutoring services for kids or adults and set your own rates

 

Networking via casual or part time jobs is the perfect way to meet more people! So get out there, and you may be surprised where this flexibility and persistence will take you!

 

To Conclude…

Berlin may seem like a tough place to get started – but stay determined, you will find a job.

Remember, learning German or improving what you already know will show employers that you care and are determined to get further in your career. If you’re new here, fear not, you can often find English speaking Jobs in start-ups.

If you follow our guidelines for creating a German style CV and create a compelling Cover Letter, go out of your way a little to chat with someone from the company and follow up, we know you will find more opportunities.

Following our tips and learning more about what German employers are looking for will surely help you on your path to landing a job here in Berlin. Remember to stay confident, and don’t get down if you face rejection sometimes. You can always ask an employer what was missing from your application or interview so you can be better prepared and nail it the next time.

We would love to hear back to see how your job hunt is going, and if you’ve found any progress while using our tips. Good luck, you have got this!

you're hired

Photo: Pixabay

 

 

Liability Insurance for Your Apartment in Berlin

Why you really Need Liability/Tenant Insurance for your Temporary Furnished Apartment

Haftpflichtversicherung moeblierte Wohnung auf Zeit

 

Liability insurance is the type of insurance that everyone should definitely have, without a question.

Picture this: you’re walking through an intersection while the light is red, and an approaching car stops suddenly to avoid hitting you. As a consequence, it hits a street lamp. And then it gets even worse: the driver is injured. It’s possible that they sustain permanent injuries, and become incapable of working ever again.The damages of this type of accident can run into the millions. Luckily, liability insurance covers incidents like these and the damages you could cause.
Better yet, the cost of this kind of insurance is extremely affordable for everyone. For only 50 euros a year you can purchase liability insurance as a single person.

Liability insurance also applies if you cause damage to a furnished apartment. It happens a lot easier than you may think: say, you decide to vacuum the flat and hit the TV while doing so. It falls to the ground and breaks. Or you leave a roof window open, the rain gets in and water spots ruin the flooring. A bad scenario would be water damage, for which you, the tenant would be responsible for. And what would be the worst case scenario? Your downstairs neighbours’ apartment is now damaged or affected as well.

But beware: not all damages are always insured. A distinction is made between damage to the stationary fixtures- everything that is permanently installed such as the sink, the flooring, etc. – and movable items – TV, sofa, all the furniture and equipment that can be pushed back and forth.
Therefore, it is important to check your own insurance before moving into a furnished apartment and if necessary, switch to another policy. A policy that insures damages to the movable items only costs a few euros more.
Incidentally, if you rent your own apartment after moving out of the furnished apartment, your liability insurance covers damage to this apartment as well. You don’t need to purchase new insurance for this.

Damages Must always be reported to Landlord and Insurance as soon as possible

Liability insurance is always a good thing to have. Nevertheless, you should always handle your furnished flat’s furniture carefully to avoid damage. Since you are the one renting the apartment, you are responsible should anything be damaged during your stay. This is another reason insurance is extremely beneficial – it offers peace of mind. The landlord will keep an amount of your deposit until everything has been taken care of through insurance and the damage is fixed.

Sometimes the assessment of damages differs between landlords and tenants. What one person says is damage, the other describes as wear. What happens if the landlord claims you’ve damaged something, and you have to settle the damages that you did not cause?
Again, liability insurance will help you in this scenario as well. It refuses unjustified claims from the landlord.
We always recommend a detailed handover protocol, which states which damage or signs of wear already existed when moving in.

Incidentally, a condition for obtaining liability insurance is a residence in Germany. You must already be registered in Germany. (Completed your Anmeldung) As well, some insurance companies may require you to have a German bank account, but others do not.
In addition, you can opt to get insurance at any time, even if you already lived in the rented apartmen for some time.

 

Advantages of Liability Insurance for Temporary Housing

Damages are insured not only for furnished apartments, but also damages caused in unfurnished apartments. This is important if you move to your own apartment after moving out. You then do not need to obtain a new insurance policy.

  • Key loss or damage resulting from the loss of keys is also insured.
  • It is cheap (from about 50 euros for single person, from about 110 euros for a family)
  • It is valid worldwide (if you have settled in Germany but decide to go on a holiday abroad or rent an apartment or a furnished apartment elsewhere)
  • You can complete your application for insurance online

THINGS YOU SHOULD ALSO TAKE NOTE OF:

  • Liability insurance is valid for at least one year and must be cancelled if you plan to leave Germany.
  • Some insurance policies can also be terminated before the end of a year, if the policy holder previously deregisters at the Bürgeramt and leaves Germany. In this case, a copy of the insurance’s opt-out certificate must be sent.
  • The insurance documents and the information regarding it both online and offline, are only available in German.
  • Before you go ahead and purchase an insurance policy, find out how much you will be insured for, and the amount of a possible deductible.
    Glass damage is not covered by any liability insurance.

An overview of many insurance providers can be found on Check 24

Here are some examples of liability insurance, which includes cover for rented furnished apartments and key loss:

Haftpflichtversicherung

 

 

 

 

Should you get an Invoice and a Rent Receipt if you Rent a Furnished Apartment?

invoices

 

Sometimes tenants request an invoice for the rent of their furnished flat. Most often, it is their employer’s accounting department who requires an invoice.

In Germany, there are no rental invoices for apartments, whether you rent furnished and temporarily or unfurnished with an open-ended rental agreement. You will always get a rental agreement though. All information regarding the rent, payment etc. is specified in this agreement.

If you are renting though a business, the rental agreement should be passed on to the accounting department. It works as an invoice, and is also eligible for tax purposes.

The payment of the rent is always monthly. You transfer the rent and the deposit to the owner’s account. It is not common to receive a rental receipt either, since the rent is paid by bank transfer. Please note that the rent cannot be paid by credit card.

Your bank statement is the receipt and proof that you have paid, but you can still ask the owner whether your payment has arrived. It is best to ask after the first payment, and then set up a standing order.

Owners of furnished apartments are private individuals and not businesses.

 

Rent and VAT

Sometimes companies ask for an invoice including VAT. There are only a few apartments where the rent includes VAT or VAT has to be paid. Should an apartment’s rent include VAT- or if it has to be added – the relevant information should be on our website and also in the rental agreement.

 

Furnished Apartments Versus Serviced Apartments

Furnished apartments are most often privately owned, whereas serviced apartments – often a whole complex – are a business. If you rent a serviced apartment, you receive an invoice, a receipt, and the rent includes VAT.

In a nutshell – the differences between furnished and serviced apartment in our handy table below:

 

invoice

 

Links: Luxury apartments in Berlin

Best Way to Learn German in Berlin: 7 Expert Tips + Help with Choosing German Language School

learn german in berlin

 

Determined to Learn German? Read Our Tips and You’ll Surely Succeed!

 

If you’re not new to the city, chances are, that you’ve already attempted to learn German but have most likely given up, or are taking a ‘break’. It might not be that you’re lazy, but it’s just so easy to survive in Berlin without speaking a word of German. The other reason might be frustration – German is a very difficult language, and it may feel like it would take a lifetime to learn!

Don’t give up, help is on the way! It is possible to improve your German, even if you don’t have time to spend the next few years at a language school.

In this article, we’ve gathered 7 great tips on how to learn German in Berlin and advice on how to go about choosing the right language school. If you’re an expat living in Berlin, and have lost confidence in mastering German, read our helpful tips below to find the best combination of tools you need to succeed!

 

1. Too Often Overlooked: Online Courses
2. German Tandem Partners
3. German Private Tutors
4. Language Apps! Fun, Flexible, and often Free!
5. The Classical approach: learn German at a language school
6. Take an Educational Leave from your Job to learn German in Berlin
7. Immerse Yourself in German Everyday
8. Conclusion

 

1. Too Often Overlooked: Online German Courses

You may be surprised that our first tip is about the benefits of online courses. There seems to be a belief that attending a face-to-face language course is the best option to learn German. But before you skip over this paragraph, hold on!
The options we have to present you with, are not your typical, ordinary courses. They actually introduce you to a new way of learning languages. These courses are suitable for beginners and learners with a language school past who still struggle when they try to form a German sentences.  Does that sound familiar? They’re the ones with the long pauses, when they go through the conjugation and declination table.

Plus, don’t forget the main benefit of online learning: complete flexibility for a busy or irregular schedule.

 

smarterGerman: The Unconventional Online Course from Berlin   

Michael Schmitz – founder and tutor of smarterGerman – has been teaching the language for more than 15 years. He has come to the conclusion that group classes just aren’t always effective. Schmitz even stated that they are a waste of time, money and energy.  A strong opinion indeed, but his argument actually makes some sense. In conventional language classes, it takes ages before you learn to use an ‘object’. To combat this, the accusative case should be introduced first. In traditional classes grammar dictates how and what you learn, and you can spend weeks learning to introduce yourself and saying where you come from. This may not always give you the results you’re looking for.  Schmitz teaches patterns, not grammar. In his course you learn to use the past tense in the second session. He concentrates on the relevant pieces of information. This approach makes learning German faster and much more efficient.  And the best bit –  you also use your mother tongue to learn German. The idea behind this is that you learn the way German differentiates from your mother tongue, as well as what the similarities might be. This may sound academic but it is not. In German you say: “Sprichst du Deutsch?” – which would be “Speak-st you German” – and not “Do you speak German?” This helps beginners and advanced learners to understand the order of words.
Are you curious if this method is right for you? Check out the free trial and the Youtube videos. We especially recommend the German articles unit. The technique Schmitz uses is not new, but surprisingly, no one has used it to teach German besides him.

The Course: Smarter German
Cost: €357 + VAT, can be paid in installments over 3, 6 or 12 months
Levels: A1-B1 – You can take the course on your own time, and for as long as you like.
Other Benefits: Live chat with Michael Schmitz once a week

 

Rocket German: Authentic Conversation

Learning Grammar first – this is on Rocket German’s not-to-do list! This program is available not only for German but for many other languages.  What makes Rocket German special is their emphasis on spoken German: modern dialogue which is entertaining, and sometimes even funny. Rocket German chooses real life situations, which is what you actually need when learning a new language. So instead of booking hotels over the phone, something people don’t often do anymore, introducing yourself or asking for directions, the lessons start with ordering a coffee. What could be more relatable for life in Berlin?
Our only criticism: The voice recognition does not seem to be ideal in order to improve your pronunciation. Nik, one of the teachers, is a little too chatty. She and Paul, who are introduced as Bavarian, aren’t German native speakers, as they have a slight American accent.
Finally, this course is interactive. You play a part in a dialogue, which includes vocal training. So what are the unique benefits of Rocket German? It’s an award winning system, with practical conversation skills, and you can download the content easily to learn at your own pace.

The Course: Rocket Languages German
Cost: Levels 1 & 2 range from €210 to €250 (comes with a 60 day refund policy)

 

If you want to peruse more options, check out our other recommendations for online and self-study courses below:

FluentU – Online video-based language course. Free trial, but you have to register a credit card.
Fluenz –  Attempts to simulate one-on-one tutoring. The courses are all designed from the point of view of an English speaker, but the method is not new and progress is slower than with other programs.
ASSiMil – With ASSiMil you learn the language as a child learns. ASSiMil offers short units, and you learn 20 minutes a day within the context of a dialogue. This is a useful method, but the materials are not as advanced as those of their competitors.

 

 

2. Tandem Partners: Make a German Friend, Improve your Conversation skills!

Finding a German tandem partner is a great idea if you want to brush up on your language and conversation skills, in exchange for helping your partner improve the language you can offer them.  It’s also a good way to make some native German-speaking friends! Meeting a tandem partner only makes sense if you already have a good working knowledge of German.  With a tandem partner you simply chat, but if you are unable to express yourself, the conversation might become boring or you might find yourself switching back to English.  In our opinion, tandem partners only make sense if you are at least at a B1 level.

 

You can find a tandem partner on various platforms:

On Facebook: Tandem-Partners Berlin
Tandem Partners – Free of charge, lots of Berliners German native speakers.
Tandem – This language school helps you find a suitable partner for a very small fee, or for free if you’re signed up for one of their courses.
Scrabbin  Create an account for free to meet lots of potential tandem partners.
Meetup – Not only for tandem partners, Meetup is a social connection site where you can join a special interest group or start your own group. 

 

 

3. German Tutors: One-on-One Learning

There are a few options for finding a great tutor to help you. You can find a tutor at any language school in Berlin. Pricing starts at about. 35 Euro/unit (incl. VAT). You generally have to book a session of two units, which forms a total of 90 minutes altogether. Private sessions can take place at a language school, your office, or at home. If the teacher has to travel to you, this may likely cost you extra. Private tutoring is, of course, much more intensive, and you get to decide what you’d like to focus on. Private lessons are a great choice if you can’t commit to a weekly course, or if you need help with a specific topic.

An alternative way to find a private tutor is to search on these online platforms where many teachers advertise their services:

Verbling
Online private tutors and teachers hold lessons for you via video tutoring. Teachers are given a star rating based on reviews from other students. The prices of each teacher’s services vary. For a few Euros you can book a 30 minute trial. There are short videos of every tutor so you can choose one that appeals to you, as well as a schedule to show their availability.

Teacher Finder
On Teacher Finder you can book a private tutor in your desired city. Prices are fixed, and the lessons are always 25 Euro per hour in Berlin, if you live close to the city centre. If you’re further out you may have to pay extra.
You cannot choose a teacher, but instead you register online and explain what you are looking for. A teacher will contact you and you arrange either face-to-face lessons or online lessons.
This option is fairly affordable, so even though there is no guarantee that the teacher is qualified, it can be worth giving it a try.

With these options you have to evaluate your teacher’s qualifications yourself. It might take you meeting a couple different tutors to find someone who is right for you.

 

 

4. Language Apps: Fun, Flexible and often Free!

Apps are a fun and easy way to get started with German, and are mainly helpful for learning or brushing up on vocabulary. Try practicing while you’re travelling to work, perhaps on the train or on the bus. Some apps even connect you with your friends, so you can add the element of competition to your learning, which helps a lot with motivation.

 

Try out these popular apps and get started today:

  • DuoLingo (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
    This is the best app for language learning. It is interactive, colourful, simple and fun to use. Plus you can add your friends to help motivate each other.
  • Babbel (iOS, Android)
    Simple and easy to use, plus the app can synchronise across devices.
  • Memrise (iOS, Android),
    Memrise focuses on vocabulary, and is easy and entertaining. You can also follow other users and compete for points for a higher ranking.
  • Busuu (iOS, Android)
    Busuu functions as a standalone language tool more than other apps. Plus, you don’t need an internet connection to use it.
  • Mindsnacks (iOS)
    The most visual app on the market. Mindsnacks is fun and easy to play while commuting to work. It’s more like a game, and less like studying!

 

 

5. The Classical Approach: Learn German at a Language School

A language school is often the obvious way to learn German. In Berlin, there’s an abundance of schools. Most of them offer intensive, daytime or evening and test preparation classes. It is impossible to know which school is the best, as it really depends on the teacher. Most teachers who teach German as a foreign language are dedicated and encouraging, but they should also know how to simplify the process and guide you. The most obvious difference between schools is the price.  The more expensive schools don’t automatically guarantee superiority, but it is likely that they have students that are more eager to learn.

One of the more affordable schools is the Volkshochschule. There are 12 locations across Berlin, and they provide evening classes. On the other end of the spectrum is the Goethe Institut:  it’s the most expensive and prestigious language school in Berlin. Their courses are over €1000.  Something to note is that both the Volkshochschule and the Goetheinstitute have larger classes  (Goethe <16) than the private language schools .

So, what factors should you consider when looking for the right language school?

 

Here is a list of things to consider when choosing a German language school:     

  • Choose a school nearby
    It’s better to book a course close to your home or work. If you have to travel across the city, it will be harder to stay motivated.

 

  • Take a trial class.
    The quality of any school depends on the instructor. They all offer fairly the same structure, so it really comes down to the teacher. If you take a trial class, you can find out if you like the atmosphere, the teacher and learning style before you commit to an entire course. Most schools offer trial classes, so we reccommend testing them our before committing to an entire course.

 

  • Class size
    The size of the class is definitley important. The students should speak in class and the teacher should correct improper pronunciation. This is difficult if there are too many students. The fewer, the better.

 

  • Testing to check your level.
    Every school should offer a test before you begin. Online tests are okay, but they don’t actually say anything about your active knowledge. The tests are always multiple choice. With tests like these, there is a good chance you will end up as an advanced beginner, even for Mandarin. There should always be an oral and/or written test at the school.

 

  • Finding the right level
    You have a better chance to find a course that really suits your level if you enrol at a larger German language school. In smaller schools, there are often fewer classes. Because of this they sometimes put students at different levels in one class all together.

 

  • Grammar should not be taught in German
    Language schools often promote the total immersion of a language. This often means that grammar is also taught in German. Whether you are a beginner or more advanced, you have to understand the grammar. If you don’t, you’ll likely feel lost. If you are a beginner, a mono-lingual course in German does not make sense. It’s hard enough to use grammer correctly, why do you need to learn it in another language first? The aim is to avoid wasting time. You probably wouldn’t have German explanations in your home country. Mono-lingual only classes make sense if you are at a B1+ level, not lower.

 

Here is a small selection of schools:

Mitte
DAS Akademie (Torstr. 125, 10119)
did Deutsch-Institut Berlin (Novalisstr. 12, 10115)
Humboldt Institute (Invalidenstraße 19, 10115)

Prenzlauer Berg
GLS Berlin  (Prenzlauer Berg, Kastanienallee 82, 10435)

Friedrichshain
speakeasy Berlin (Warschauer Str. 36, 10243)

Kreuzberg
Sprachpunkt (Lausitzer Str. 13, 10999)

Neukölln
Transmitter (Allerstr. 15, 12049)
Sprachmafia (Schillerpromenade 25, 12049)
die deutSCHule (Karl-Marx-Straße 107, 12043)

Schöneberg
Alpadia (Hauptstraße 23-24, 10827)

Wedding
IIK berlinerID (Oudenarder Str. 16, 13347)

Charlottenburg
Steinke-Institut (Wilmersdorfer Str. 58, 10627)

Wilmersdorf
Die Neue Schule (Gieselerstraße 30a, 10713)

 

 

6. Take an Educational Leave from your Job

Perhaps you did not have enough time to improve your German but, German is essential to your job in Berlin.  If so, take a Bildungsurlaub! (educational leave). Instead of going to work, you can take an intensive German language course. If you’re over 25 you can take 10 days of leave within two years, if you’re under 25 you get 10 days each year. The course you attend must be certified for a Bildungsurlaub.
Check out these certified German Classes:
Sprachenatelier (Frankfurter Allee 40 10247)

 

 

7. Immerse Yourself in the German Everyday!

Listen and speak German as often as you possibly can, if you already have a working knowledge of German. Watch television, listen to the radio, switch your Netflix to Deutsch and read German newspapers. You can start with the tabloids, as they are easier to understand. And most importantly: Speak German in your everyday life! Don’t worry about making mistakes, it’s always better to try. If people respond to you in English, hold your ground, and reply ‘auf Deutsch’!
You can also read the Crocodilian blog in German from now on 😉

 

 

8. To Summarise:

Ultimately, there isn’t just one way to learn German. Everyone has a different way of learning, and not every method works for everyone. You may also find it helpful to use a combination of the above methods.
Take your time and test different options yourself. After a few days if you still remember what you learned in the trial, whether on or offline, you’ll know it’s a good sign and to keep persuing it.

Stick with it, stay persistant and remember, you can do it!

We’d love to hear from you! Add a comment below and let us know about your learning experience.