Its quite a nice life I must say. The winter, I’m told, is scary and I’m about to face it but I have had winters in Europe before so I’m not too scared. The reasons I moved here after visiting form London for a week are:
- Electronic music. Its the homeland of electro and I love it.
- Everyone rides bikes. The city is setup for it and there a bike lanes everywhere.
- The locals are extremely friendly and super cool. Well, I’ve only meet young ones, older people here tend to be grumpy ;)
- All your friends hug hello. Much warmer than the kiss on the cheek, although you can opt for a hug kiss combo which is also good.
- Extremely cheap. Berlin is the cheapest city in western Europe I think and all of German even. Living and rent is about the same (if not cheaper) than Sydney (where I’m from).
- Relatively small population. Only 3.5 mill. but there is still heaps going on.
- Art culture. Its been described as the cultural capital of Europe. There are a huge amount of artists here (coz its cool and cheap) and there is hundreds of new exhibitions weekly here + new music + performance etc There is such a positive vibe for starting creative projects as well.
- Environmentally aware. Big on recycling here and general awareness.
Things that suck about it:
- Mandatory health insurance. I’m not a fan of insurance generally as I find its cheaper to pay yourself most of the time (which is also the heavily calculated assumption that the insurance company’s rely on for profit) which I have done more than once while living in Berlin.
- Food. Although the large Turkish and Viet. population are a godsend.
- Smoking. Everyone smokes everywhere all the time. It really sucks when you go out and you don’t smoke. [update: EU is forcing Germany to remove it from public places! YAY! Should start to be enforced mid 2008]
- Lack of nature, even though it clams to be the greenest city in Europe, its quite grey on the east side of town. I also miss the sea.
- Dog shizer. Its fucking everywhere! Like nowhere I’ve ever seen (even East Timor!). In summer on a hot day you get these winds coming down particularly bad streets and its like a sand storm in the desert only it aint sand and it smells BAD! I’m told its coz the government give extra money to the unemployed for each dog they have so the punks usually have one or two each. EDIT: Actually, this is just Friedrichshain where I was living at the time.
The one thing I didn’t include in my list was that there is absolutely no work here. 22% unemployment. If you don’t speak fluent German you have little to no chance of getting a job that will sustain you. You need something setup before you get here or have a profession that is in high demand and you can do anywhere. All the Aussies I’ve meet here who planned to stay left as soon as their cash ran out.
This keeps prices down which attracts artist who take the few unskilled labour jobs (mainly service industry). This also keeps the number of ex-pats down, which I don’t mind as I had my fill in London but also means my friends have no chance of moving here ether, which is sad.
So be warned, but otherwise I’m having a wonderful time!