So it's official, you're moving to Berlin! This guide is a starting point for you. It links to all the useful guides we have written to help you.

Find a job

It's better to find a job offer before you come to Berlin. When you arrive in Berlin, you can focus on finding an apartment, registering your address and getting health insurance. You must do those things before you start working.

  • If you are a citizen of the European Union, you can live, work and study in Germany. You do not need a visa.
  • If you are a citizen of Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, or the United States, you can visit Germany without a visa for up to 90 days. You can't work without a residence permit, but you have 90 days to find a job and apply for a work visa. You can also apply for a freelance visa or another type of residence permit. Use this tool to know which visa you need.
  • If you are a citizen of any other country, you need a job seeker visa to look for work in Germany. It's easier to find a job before you come to Germany. If you want to work in Germany, you must apply for a work visa, a freelance visa or another type of residence permit. Use this tool to know which visa you need.

    Related guides:

    Open a bank account

    When you arrive in Berlin, you need a bank account to pay your rent, pay your health insurance, receive your pay cheque, and many other things. You can also use a bank account from another European Union country.

    Many banks will require an Anmeldebestätigung to open a bank account. You get this document when you register your address. If you don't have a registered address, you can still open an account with these banks.

    N26 is a good bank if you just moved to Germany. They let you open an account without an Anmeldebestätigung, they speak English, and they have very low fees. You can open an account online even before you arrive in Berlin. I am with N26 since 2016.

    If you are a student, and you need a blocking account (Sperrkonto) for your student visa, you don't have many options. Deutsche Bank, Fintiba and X-patrio offer blocking accounts. Most students choose Deutsche Bank for their visa.

    If you need to transfer a lot of money to your German bank account, use Wise (TransferWise) or They have better exchange rates and lower fees than banks or wire transfers. I used Wise to move thousands of Canadian dollars to Germany.

    Related guides:

    Find a place to live

    It's hard to find an apartment in Berlin. If you have a low budget, it can take weeks, and even months.

    After you find an apartment, you must register your address. When you register your address, you get a tax ID, and an Anmeldebestätigung. Your employer needs your tax ID to calculate your taxes correctly. You need an Anmeldebestätigung to get a cellphone contract, apply for a residence permit, open a bank account etc.

    Some temporary apartments won't let you register your address. This will be a problem for you. Look for a place that allows you to register. For example, Wunderflats apartments always let you register. HousingAnywhere has a filter for apartments that let you register your address. These options are expensive, but they let you find a place quickly. It gives you more time to look for a better apartment.

    You should also join a tenant's association (Mieterverein). It costs around 10€ per month. They can review your lease and tell you if you pay too much rent. If you have problems with your landlord, they can give you legal assistance.

    You can also use to get your rent reduced. Read my review of Wenigermiete to learn more about them.

    Related guides:

    Get health insurance

    Health insurance is mandatory in Germany. Choosing the right type of health insurance can save you a lot of money. An independent health insurance broker can help you choose the right health insurance. Their help is free.

      You can also use websites like Tarifcheck to compare health insurance options, but talking to a broker is a better idea. The cheapest option is not always the best option for you.

      If you are an EU citizen, you are covered by your EHIC card until you start working. Once you start working, you must have German health insurance.

      Related guides:

      Get liability insurance

      There are two types of insurance you really need in Germany: health insurance (Krankenversicherung), and liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung). Liability insurance is not mandatory, but most Germans have it.

      Liability insurance protects you from damage claims. For example, if your washing machine breaks and floods your neighbour's apartment, the insurance company will pay for the repairs. If you accidentally send someone a virus that breaks their computer, they can sue you for damages. Liability insurance will pay for your lawyer, and for computer repairs.

      Liability insurance is very cheap, usually less than 5€ per month. Use Tarifcheck to compare liability insurance options. If you don't speak German, use Coya or GetSafe. They both offer their services in English. Both offer liability insurance for less than 5€ per month.

      Other types of insurance can also be useful: Hausratversicherung for the contents of your house, Fahrradversicherung for your bicycle, and many others.

      Related guides:

      Get a SIM card or mobile phone contract

      If you come from another European Union country, you can keep using your old mobile phone contract. You won't pay extra fees if you make calls, send SMS or use mobile data. After some time, you must switch to a German mobile plan. Your foreign plan will stop working unless you return to that country1.

      When you get a German cellphone contract or prepaid SIM card, you must show a valid ID, and sometimes an Anmeldebestätigung1, 2.

      The European Union uses different cellphone bands as the United States and Canada. Your phone must support the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands. CDMA phones will not work in Germany1. Your phone must not be locked to a phone company, or it will not accept German SIM cards.

      Use Verivox to compare cellphone plans. Aldi Talk is a cheap, popular prepaid option. Vodafone CallYa is also a good option, because you can get help in Vodafone shops.

      Get a bicycle or a car

      You don't need to buy a car in Berlin. They are expensive, and they are not very useful in the city. It's better to buy a bicycle, or use public transportation. You can also use car sharing services.

      If you have a driving licence from a non-EU country, it's only valid for 6 months after you move to Germany. If you have a driving licence from another EU country, it is valid until it expires1. You can usually trade your foreign driving licence for a German one. If you don't have a driving licence, you can take driving lessons.

      Related guides:

      Send your children to the Kita

        The Kita or Kindertagesstätte is a type of preschool or daycare centre for children under 6 years old. Finding a Kita for your child is very hard. You must start looking as soon as possible.

        Related guides:

        Bring your dog with you

        If you bring your dog to Berlin, you must microchip, insure and register your dog. You must also learn a few things about having a dog in Germany.

        Related guides:

        Make a budget

        Understand the cost of living in Berlin. A part of your income goes to taxes, insurance and pension payments. You must also pay rent, internet, electricity and a few other things. If you buy a car, you must think about vehicle tax, car insurance and maintenance.

        Once you have a budget, there are ways to save money in Germany.

        Related guides:

        Find English-speaking specialists

        These lists of English-speaking businesses let you find the help you need.

        Related guides:

        Learn German

        You can live in Berlin without speaking German, but you should still learn it. Life in Berlin is easier when you speak German. German classes are a good way to make friends and discover German culture.

        Related guide: How to learn German in Berlin

        Get used to life in Berlin

        There are lots of little things you must understand after you move to Berlin. No one tells you how to sort your trash and safely watch pirated movies.

        Daily life:

        Paperwork and bureaucracy:

        Where to find...