If you are searching for the next place to work and vacation in Europe, then Berlin would be a good suggestion for your consideration. Located along the River Spree, northeastern Germany, the city has a population of approximately 3,677,500, making it the European Union’s 7th most populous urban region.
Berlin’s bustling metropolis thrives on killer nightlife, rich history, sumptuous local cuisines, and compelling cultural flair. Over time, it has built a reputation as a hipster tourist destination offering a unique blend of modern and classic architecture, art galleries, lively entertainment, and so much more.
It is also home to some world-renowned learning centers, including the Humboldt and the TU universities.
Read on to get fascinating details of a city in a country that has shed off the blemishes of nasty World wars to Rank top 10 on the nomad list’s database of over 1300 digital nomad-friendly cities.
Table of Contents
- 1 The Visa application
- 2 What makes Berlin a popular tourist destination?
- 3 Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
- 4 The Crypto Community
- 5 Digital nomad communities
- 6 The Expat population
- 7 Popular recreational activities and fun spots
- 8 Transportation
- 9 How safe and secure is Berlin?
- 10 Cultural and social norms
- 11 Religious composition
- 12 Political and economic stability
- 13 Language and language barriers
- 14 Health Care
- 15 Electronic standards
- 16 Payment services infrastructure
- 17 Climate and seasons
- 18 Popular Cuisine
- 19 Tax requirements on digital nomads
- 20 Common concerns
The Visa application
Germany ranks among the world’s most appealing destinations for tourism and education. The growing interest in visiting the country is partly inspired by its reputation for a low unemployment rate and the shortage of personnel in specific fields. While some countries’ nationals are privileged with visiting Germany without a visa, others should acquire one through the rigorous immigration processes that may involve interviews.
Following the 1985 Schengen Agreement, citizens of Germany and 25 other member states are allowed to traverse the Schengen area without visa restrictions. Meanwhile, nationals of non-Schengen countries can travel through the entire area on a unified document called the Schengen Visa.
Some of the documents under the Schengen Visa include;
- C-type visa – short stay
- D-type visa – long stay.
Citizens of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, North Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the Republic of Korea are also exempt from German visa regulations.
The D-type or national long-stay visa is ideal for foreigners seeking permission to work, study or stay in a Schengen country for up to one year. Additionally, it allows you to move and stay in other Schengen countries for up to 90 days within 6 months or 180 days.
Here are 145 countries that German citizens can visit without a visa.
|Country||Allowed stay||Country||Allowed stay||Country||Allowed stay|
|Belize||1 month||Bolivia||90 days||Trinidad and Tobago||90 days|
|Georgia||1 year||Bosnia and Herzegovina||90 days||Tuvalu||90 days|
|Lesotho||14 days||Botswana||90 days||Ukraine||90 days|
|Oman||14 days||Brazil||90 days||United Arab Emirates||90 days|
|Sao Tome and Principe||15 days||Brunei||90 days||United States||90 days|
|Vietnam||15 days||Chile||90 days||Uruguay||90 days|
|Armenia||180 days||Costa Rica||90 days||Vanuatu||90 days|
|Colombia||180 days||Dominica||90 days||Vatican||90 days|
|Mexico||180 days||Dominican Republic||90 days||Venezuela||90 days|
|Panama||180 days||Ecuador||90 days||Austria||Freedom of movement|
|Bahamas||3 months||Gambia||90 days||Belgium||Freedom of movement|
|El Salvador||3 months||Guatemala||90 days||Bulgaria||Freedom of movement|
|Grenada||3 months||Haiti||90 days||Croatia||Freedom of movement|
|Guyana||3 months||Jamaica||90 days||Cyprus||Freedom of movement|
|Honduras||3 months||Kiribati||90 days||Czech Republic||Freedom of movement|
|Israel||3 months||Kosovo||90 days||Denmark||Freedom of movement|
|Malaysia||3 months||South Korea||90 days||Estonia||Freedom of movement|
|Namibia||3 months||Marshall Islands||90 days||Finland||Freedom of movement|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||3 months||Mauritius||90 days||France||Freedom of movement|
|Seychelles||3 months||Micronesia||90 days||Greece||Freedom of movement|
|Turkey||3 months||Moldova||90 days||Hungary||Freedom of movement|
|Belarus||30 days||Monaco||90 days||Iceland||Freedom of movement|
|Cape Verde||30 days||Montenegro||90 days||Ireland||Freedom of movement|
|Eswatini||30 days||Morocco||90 days||Italy||Freedom of movement|
|Indonesia||30 days||Nicaragua||90 days||Luxembourg||Freedom of Movement|
|Kazakhstan||30 days||North Macedonia||90 days||Latvia||Freedom of movement|
|Mongolia||30 days||Palau||90 days||Liechtenstein||Freedom of movement|
|Philippines||30 days||Paraguay||90 days||Lithuania||Freedom of movement|
|Thailand||30 days||Peru||90 days||Malta||Freedom of Movement|
|Uzbekistan||30 days||Qatar||90 days||Netherlands||Freedom of Movement|
|Fiji||4 months||Saint Lucia||90 days||Norway||Freedom of Movement|
|Tunisia||4 months||Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||90 days||Poland||Freedom of Movement|
|Antigua and Barbuda||6 months||Samoa||90 days||Portugal||Freedom of Movement|
|Barbados||6 months||Senegal||90 days||Romania||Freedom of Movement|
|Canada||6 months||Serbia||90 days||San Marino||Freedom of Movement|
|United Kingdom||6 months||Singapore||90 days||Slovakia||Freedom of Movement|
|Kyrgyzstan||60 days||Solomon Islands||90 days||Slovenia||Freedom of Movement|
|Albania||90 days||South Africa||90 days||Spain||Freedom of Movement|
|Andorra||90 days||Timor-Leste||90 days||Sweden||Freedom of Movement|
|Argentina||90 days||Tonga||90 days||Switzerland||Freedom of Movement|
Visa available for digital nomads
Freelancing through digital nomadism is fast gaining global traction because of the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. To confirm it, recent data at Nomadlist shows that Berlin hosts over 10,000 digital nomads at any particular time.
The Federal Republic introduced the German Freelancer visa to specify and regulate the freelancer’s right to enter, live and work in the country. If Berlin is on your nomadic itinerary, then here are your Freelance Visa options based on your specialty:
a) Freiberufler or visa for freelance employment.
There needs to be clarity regarding individuals distinguishing self-employment from freelance activities. Understanding this difference is crucial since the two categories require a unique set of documents during the visa application.
Only certain professions are captured under the freelance category. They include writers, artists, tele-medics, architects, language teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, notaries, engineers, architects, auditors, tax agents, journalists, photo reporters, interpreters, translators, and many others. Confirm with the German diplomatic office before commencing the process to avoid inconvenience
b) Selbständiger or visa for self-employment
You may apply for this visa if you are a company founder, partnership representative, or sole proprietor. To qualify for it, you must demonstrate that;
- Germans would be interested in your business or profession
- It has a potential impact on the German economy.
The process of applying for a German freelance Visa
Suppose you are not a citizen or a permanent resident of The United Kingdom, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and The United States of America. In that case, you need to apply for a freelance visa at the German diplomatic office in your country.
After applying, you will be issued a national visa, the D visa. This is a temporary document that is valid for 90 days. It gives you entry into Germany and is valid for long enough to enable you to acquire a residency permit.
Requirements to qualify for a German Freelance Visa
The required documents may vary depending on the nature of your application, but generally, here is the typical list of documents you require;
- Valid passport
- A recent biometric photo
- Business plan
- Filled out application form
- Visa fee payment confirmation
- At least two letters of intent from clients in Germany
- Your resume or CV detailing your qualification and experience
- Health Insurance
- If you are 45 years and above, you should provide an adequate pension plan
- Proof of financial means to cover the cost of your stay
- Professional license or permit
Once you receive your national visa (D-Visa) and enter Germany, you must convert it into a residency permit within 90 days.
Requirements for a residency permit
- Rent contract or proof of home ownership in Germany
- Proof of residency in Germany that includes a registration certificate and confirmation from the landlord in case of renting a place
- Proof of monthly costs or costs of property
- Proper health insurance
- Registration of your freelance activity with the respective tax office
If your documents satisfy the authorities, you will receive your residency permit and pursue your freelance activity in Berlin.
The cost of applying for a visa
The visa fee largely depends on your country of origin and the duration and purpose of your stay. Below is a rough estimate of the expected cost for three applications;
- The National Visa fee is roughly €80.00
- The residence permit may cost you €100.00 or less
- A settlement permit goes for a maximum of €147.00.
You may consult your local German embassy or consulate for more accurate quotations.
Difficulty in visa application
Some people believe getting a German Visa is an uphill task. While that may be true, the measure of difficulty generally depends on one’s level of preparedness. For example, if you commence the application process before preparing a sound business plan, you must face some disappointments. Similarly, going to the consulate or embassy without proper documents would be a recipe for failure or rejection.
In some cases, a bid may be subjected to thorough scrutiny once the embassy finds grounds to believe that your application is a disguised attempt to enter Germany for regular employment in local enterprises.
Otherwise, if you have a good reputation in your field, you can speak some German, and demonstrate your activity’s potential to impact the German culture and economy, then getting the freelance visa should be easy.
What makes Berlin a popular tourist destination?
Berlin is where the East and West met to create a beautiful nation in the aftermath of world wars and divisive ideological positions. Since the tumbling of the Berlin wall (November 1989), the city’s rapid evolution has caught the digital nomad’s attention, particularly for its creativity, sense of freedom, and cool attitude. A cursory check, even remotely, reveals a city alive with cultural landmarks, tasty beer, an expat-friendly population, and so much more.
Data at Nomadlist.com captures Berlin’s visitor return rate at 15%, putting it at par with popular nomad destinations like Lisbon. However, Bangkok city does better, registering 18%.
Cost of living and cost of living arbitrage
The cost of living is generally higher in Berlin than in a popular city like Lisbon. For example, data compiled by Numbeo.com shows that you would require approximately €4,425.47 in Berlin to live a lifestyle that would cost you €3500 in Lisbon.
Accordingly, Berlin’s rent prices are 14.58% higher than Lisbon’s, while consumer prices, including rent, show that Berlin is 24.44% costlier.
However, Berlin is slightly cheaper than a city like Paris because you would need roughly € 4,474 to keep a lifestyle that would cost you € 5000 in Paris (inclusive of rent)
While in Berlin, you can put up in a Hotel, Airbnb hosting, hostels, apartments, or co-living spaces. Data at bookings.com shows that hotel accommodation in Berlin ranges between $40 – $300 per night. According to Nomadlist, hotel rooms cost a median price of $1928 a month, with Airbnb averaging about $4041 (roughly $132 per night).
If you intend to stay longer, a studio apartment would be a better option since a 1 bedroom unit in the city center goes for $1374 per month. The price of executive co-living spaces advertised at Habit range from €800 to €950, with facilities such as;
- Shared bathroom
- Private desk
- Private Bedroom
- Shared kitchen
- Washing machine
- Linen and towels
The lifex platform also advertises cool co-living spaces in different locations, including Charlotte and Moabit.
Monthly utilities such as water, garbage, gas, and electricity within an 85m2 apartment cost approximately € 293.49. Meanwhile, a min call on a prepaid tariff without discount plans would cost you about €0.11. For unlimited data running downloads of 60 Mbps, you will spend at least € 38.00.
The internet in Berlin currently runs at mobile d speeds of about 70 Mbps. Accordingly, fixed broadband installations register median speeds of about 85 Mpbs. Like other major cities, most apartments, co-living spaces, restaurants, hotel rooms, and other public spaces provide free Wi-Fi. Once settled in a public space, you may invite an attendant and request “internet access .”Avoid the term Wi-Fi Hotspot because it is not widely used in Germany.
Best coworking spaces
More recently, coworking spaces have become popular thanks to the ongoing tech boom. Although these were mainly spaces for tech start-ups and creative initiatives, coworking spaces have gone mainstream, attracting the attention of big corporate names.
Conservative estimates put the number of coworking spaces in Berlin at 150, although there could be more. Unsurprisingly, it ranks among the top three European countries with the most coworking locations, alongside London and Paris. According to Nomadlist, a hot desk in the city’s coworking space averages $218 per month.
Coworking spaces are typical places for finishing freelance tasks and centers where digital nomads meet and network. Most of them organize different events, mainly around technology and entrepreneurship.
Some of the leading coworking spaces in town include;
The Crypto Community
As the world understands the value of blockchain technology, the level of adoption is growing fast, with more countries embracing it. Germany, particularly Berlin, is well known for its pro-crypto stance with industry leaders in a 2021 event, referring to the city as Europe’s cryptocurrency capital.
Indeed Berlin is one of Europe’s busiest blockchain centers because approximately 200 companies are actively involved in blockchain activities there. These include start-ups, tech accelerators, research institutions, innovation hubs, investors, and major corporations.
Berlin’s passion for blockchain has certainly paid off, with excellent business models and applications to show for it. The sectors already running on blockchain applications in Berlin include Fintech (banks and insurance), Legal Tech, Transport & logistics, IT-Business, Digital health, Government, the energy sector, and several others.
Cryptocurrency legal status
For taxation purposes, the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern (BZSt or Germany Federal Central Tax Office treats Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies as private money. Therefore, it is not recognized as foreign currency, property, or legal tender.
Germany has a rather friendly approach as far as taxation on crypto is concerned. For example, if you hold individual crypto investments for over a year or make yearly profits below 600 euros, you are exempted from capital gain tax.
Regulation on crypto use
While there is no specific regulation on the use of crypto, Germany recognizes licensed digital wallet providers and crypto exchanges as a significant part of the country’s financial services industry. Better still, the Germany Banking Act allows banks to keep or deal in crypto. This has made purchasing tokens using electronic payment methods, debit cards, credit cards, or through a German bank much easier than in other countries.
As of March 2021, numerous businesses in 15 major German cities had installed crypto ATMs, offering cryptocurrencies as an in-store payment method. They include the German National Tourism Board, which introduced the method in March 2018. In that survey, Berlin topped the list with 95 businesses accepting payments in crypto.
Blockchain coworking spaces
Several coworking spaces have been established in Berlin to promote collaboration and community among blockchain stakeholders. A space like Full Node was created out of a collaboration between Gnosis and Tendermint to facilitate the curation of blockchain infrastructure and the experimentation of blockchain-based services.
The other spaces around Berlin are Blockchain Embassy and Betahaus, among others.
Blockchain start-ups in Berlin
The list of these projects is long, but we shall look at a few examples
Founded in 2018 , BlockAxs GmbH leverages blockchain to create smart contract lifecycle management systems for different industries and their departments. These include real estate, procurement, legal, funds and market capital, banks and financial services, venture capital, and others.
Founded in 2017, Centrifuge is a protocol for decentralized asset finance. Part of their mission is to bridge assets like royalties, real estate, and invoices to Defi. They enable borrowers to finance real-world assets without involving banks and related intermediaries.
CircularTree was founded in 2018 to provide sustainable supply chain solutions. They seek to enhance trust and eliminate ambiguity between trade partners, among other solutions.
Other successful start-ups include;
Finery Tech – A Peer – Peer non-custodial platform that allows financial institutions to trade financial assets
Gnosis – This is a permissionless decentralized exchange that facilitates ring trades. It is also a prediction market platform.
Grid Singularity – Builds customized energy exchanges that facilitate the interconnection of local markets to form a smart transactive grid
Jolocom – is an ICT start-up that develops decentralized software solutions to enable organizations and individuals to control their identity information.
More crypto communities, networks, initiatives, and associations in Berlin can be traced within the following umbrella organizations;
Digital nomad communities
Berlin’s ranking (top 10) on Nomadlist shows that it regularly entertains sizable nomad communities. As of October 2022, the city has over 10,200 who converge in meetups and other events to network as they exchange ideas on issues of mutual benefit.
The Expat population
Information about the Berlin ex-pat population is scanty and diverse. However, data from toytowngermany puts Berlin’s non-German population at 1,000,000, with 44,000 (1.3%) being ex-pats from English-speaking countries. Some popular ex-pat neighborhoods include Berlin Wilmersdorf, Berlin Kreuzberg, and Berlin Neukölln.
Local nomad job opportunity
The German digital nomad visa allows you to take local and remote jobs. Getting a local job is easier if you are outgoing and interactive. You can exploit the networking opportunities available at the coworking and co-living spaces. Attending freelancer events and remaining active on community platforms like Nomadlist, Upwork and Fiverr can also land you lucrative local jobs.
Popular recreational activities and fun spots
Berlin offers you a lot of activities, experiences, and discoveries. Besides the classic sightseeing, the city has almost every fun activity within your realm of imagination. For example, if you love water activities, the city is rich in streams, canals, and lakes where you can swim, sail, or paddle. Around places like Schlachtensee, Müggelsee, and Wannsee, you will access boat rentals, hidden bathing bays, and little sandy beaches.
If you’d been glued to your computer screen all week long and now feel like letting off steam, then a visit to the Jump house Berlin would do. The facility is the city’s largest trampoline park covering roughly 4000 square meters, with over 120 trampolines in 7 different zones.
You will also have lots of fun at the FEZ Wuhlheide, a recreation center just 20 minutes from Berlin. The facility has trendy sports fields, playgrounds, a bathing lake, and a leisure palace comprising ballet rooms, theater halls, sports halls, and much more.
The other activities you may try out are;
- Kite flying
- Nordic Walking
- Going on cycling tours through the city
Berlin is effectively connected by different public transport modes, typically affordable, efficient, and usually punctual.
The city is served by several airports, with the state-owned Brandenburg being the main one. Brandenburg Airport is 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) away from the city center, which takes about 45 minutes to complete by car. However, driving to terminal 5 takes about 10 minutes less because it is 22km or 13.7 miles from the city center. A 2020 article by CNN highlighted a few problems at this airport, including a confusing layout and signage, long security and check-in lines, poor bathroom hygiene, and others. Hopefully, these issues have been addressed.
This is Berlin’s underground mode of transport that coordinates 173 stations around the city. The letter “U” represents the word “Underground,” meaning the network is largely underground. However, a few lines operate above the ground.
The U-Bahn network weaves through the entire city, making it easy to reach top centers of attractions like Museum Island, Brandenburg gate, Alexanderplatz, and the Reichstag.
S-Bahn (The City Train)
S-Bahn (Stadtbahn) is a surface rail network with 15 lines connecting 170 stations. The S-Bahn traverses the city center and Berlin’s outskirts making it the better option for dropping in satellite areas like Potsdam. You can easily detect it by the green/white ‘S‘ signs.
Buses are another highly convenient way to navigate around Berlin city. The road network consists of over 2634 bus stops (Marked by sign H) accommodated on more than 350 routes. Buses run 24/7, providing a valuable alternative at dawn when other public modes of transport are on break. If you are on a sightseeing mission, then your best options are lines 100 and 200, which are ideal routes for tourists moving from Alexanderplatz to Zoologischer Garten.
However, buses are slower than the U and S Bahn modes. You are also better off avoiding them during peak hours.
Trams operate more in the former East Berlin and are the best option for accessing remote parts of the city. However, some tramlines don’t commute at night and are replaced by buses. Moreover, these vehicles don’t stop at every station at night, meaning you must request to alight by pressing the provided buttons.
Interestingly, you may only need a cab sometimes owing to the city’s reliable public transport infrastructure. However, Taxi services in Berlin are relatively cheap compared to most European capitals. Earlier, Taxizentralen was the most popular place to call for taxi services. Lately, though, more options are available, especially App based taxi services like Free Now (formerly Mytaxi) and Uber.
You may as well order a taxi from the following service providers
- Funk Taxi Berlin
- Quality Taxi
- City-Funk Berlin
- TaxiFunk Berlin
- Taxi Berlin
Just flag down a free cab if you are in a hurry. A free taxi is recognized by a lit roof sign.
Taxi prices in Berlin are regulated and relatively low, thanks to the stiff competition pitting over 3000 taxi companies. A taximeter is generally set at a base rate of €3.90. You will then be charged €2 per kilometer for the first 7 kilometers. After that, rates go slightly down to €1.50 and apply to your destination. If you opt for a Kurzstrecke (short-distance taxi), you will pay €5 to any destination within a 2-kilometer radius.
All Berlin airports and railway stations have taxi ranks. Therefore, you must choose from the dedicated ranks to avoid falling for imposters’ taxis who exploit visitors’ naivety to charge excessively. You can distinguish real from fake taxis by the Berlin number plate. The concession number on the vehicle’s rear window is another good way to tell the difference. Ignore concessions with numbers greater than 8000 since Berlin city authorities do not issue them.
Dubbed the land of lakes, Berlin teems with 3000 lakes and over 30k kilometers of rivers and streams. This necessitates the ferry mode of transport identified with an F.
Berlin is exceptionally flat, making it ideal for biking. Used bikes are affordable, although you must never pay for one without a receipt because bike theft is common. There are also bikes for hire, and helmets are not mandatory since bike lanes are plentiful.
The numerous transport options tend to overshadow car rentals in Berlin. However, they are helpful for longer trips around the country.
How safe and secure is Berlin?
Berlin is generally safe, especially if you observe minimum caution. However, it would be unrealistic to rule out crime since every city has its fair share of bad actors. Of course, there is organized crime, muggings, and petty crimes, including pickpocketing and handbag snatching but all that is under lawful control.
A report released by The US Department of State Travel Advisory (October 2022) assesses Germany at level 2, meaning travelers to the country’s cities should exercise more caution.
Apparently, some visitors still think Berlin is less safe than Barcelona or London. This perception is possibly created by the central city’s proximity to sketchy neighborhoods that are considered crime hotspots. These include Wrangelkiez, Kottbusser Tor, Oranienplatz, Görlitzer Park and Luisenstadt. Additionally, it is endowed with more tourist spots than most other European cities, and naturally, social miscreants are attracted to such areas.
Tips for managing pickpockets
Pickpockets are notoriously secretive and hard to ward off. However, you can stay safe by observing the following tips;
- Keep valuables in safer pockets, i.e., front trouser pockets or your jacket’s inner pockets. Use zipped inner pockets if available.
- Hold your handbag in a secure position while in crowded public places.
- Keep off dark or desolate streets.
- Stay awake on U-Bahn and S-Bahn commuter services. Sleeping passengers become easy targets for pickpockets. If you can’t stay awake and alert on such modes of transport, use a taxi instead.
Know how to identify fake policemen
Fraudsters maraud around tourist attractions pretending to be police officers to intimidate tourists and rob them. For such reasons, only carry what you need. However, when confronted by police officers or anyone purporting so, always demand to see their official ID.
Avoid shell games
Popular tourist locations such as Alexanderplatz, East Side Gallery, Kurfürstendamm, and Schlossbrücke teem with shell game fraudsters during the warmer seasons. The city police advise everyone to steer clear of such activities because the con gamers will always take your money. Their mission on the streets is to take and not give away any money.
Essential phone numbers to save
- Emergency calls from international mobile phones: 112
- Police hotline: 110
- Berlin Police citizen line: +49 30 46644664
Berlin is home to over 3.6 million people comprising diverse customs, traditions, and religions. The city culture is shaped mainly by the country’s rich history that perfectly weaves European thought patterns, politics, and an obsession with art. Furthermore, Germany’s history has bred a culture that borrows heavily from Christian values, Philosophy, art, logic, and reason.
Time and priorities
Berliners subscribe to a controlled-time culture, so sticking to a set schedule is an expectation. Failing to honor appointments or deadlines is considered a sign of inefficiency and poor management.
Indifferent to change
The people’s attitude and readiness for change are pretty low. This mindset is likely powered by believing that some changes may threaten the social fabric. Therefore, any proposed changes must;
- Have the full detail outlining their benefits and rationale.
- Be backed with detailed facts and figures where possible
Communication and negotiation approaches
Berliners are quite forthright and comfortable saying “NO” when necessary. They will also tell you directly if they don’t meet your expectations. Therefore, avoid circumventing applicable rules and regulations during negotiations as this wouldn’t be taken well. Always stick to your “No” or “Yes” in the context of truth.
Germany is mainly Christian, with approximately 2/3 of its people identifying as Christian. However, as with most European populations, the number of those who profess their faith through regular Church attendance is significantly low.
Other religions, including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, are also active in Berlin. Apparently, the city’s liberalism and appetite for mundane lifestyles have also earned it a growing number of atheists. Besides being an LGBT-friendly society, people here love drinking beer, feasting, and indulging in creative forms of entertainment. In fact, the opening lines of an article in the Guardian referred to Berlin as the ‘‘atheist capital of Europe’
Political and economic stability
1n 2021, The world bank assessed Germany’s political stability and the lack of violence or terrorism at 70.75 %. For this reason, the country’s economy is expected to grow by 1.9 percent in 2022 and 1.7% percent in 2023. Like other countries globally, Germany’s economy continues to bear the consequences of the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Currently, rising inflation shoulders all the blame for the shrinking household purchasing power and the low investor and consumer confidence. The ongoing controversy surrounding the Russian natural gas supply could also impact negatively on the country’s economy.
Language and language barriers
Over 95% of Germany speaks German as their first and official language. However, English is widely spoken as well, especially in Berlin. The country has a high English proficiency, coming at number 11 out of 112 with an English Proficiency Index (EPI) score of 616. It holds position 10 out of 35 in Europe.
Taking a foreign language is a must at the secondary school level, and most students choose English. But, before then, it was taught as the first foreign language in all primary schools. The minority German languages you might find in Berlin are as follows;
- North Frisian is spoken in Nordfriesland by 0.01% of people who also speak German.
- Serbian is spoken by 0.09% of East German
- Danish is used mainly along the Danish border
- Romani is used by approximately 0.08%
- Turkish and Kurdish are immigrant languages spoken by 1.8% and 0.03%, respectively.
The German healthcare system is excellent, making it a prime attraction for people seeking advanced treatment locally and abroad. Such a robust healthcare system is partly the reason for the country’s high life expectancy. A 2021 Destatis (Federal Statistical Office) report shows that Germany’s average life expectancy for newborn girls and boys was 83.2 years and 78.2 years, respectively.
Germany had a national health system as early as 1883. This was among the world’s earliest health coverages which have developed into a national, multi-payer healthcare system. The current system gives locals and foreigners the freedom to choose from 3 options for health coverage:
- Public health insurance system
- Private health insurance
- A combination of the public and private models
Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung (GVK), which is a government-regulated scheme, covers 92 percent of the population.
Some good hospitals to consider in Berlin include:
- University Medical Center Freiburg: +49 761 2700
- Charite: +49 30 84452541
- Campus Berlin Buch: +49 30 45050
- MEOCLINIC: +49 30 20944000
Common infectious diseases
This year (2022), The World Health Organization released a report about the risks of Monkeypox, particularly concerning its prevalence among people with certain sexual orientations. Other common infectious diseases around Berlin are, Influenza, Hantavirus Leptospirosis Tuberculosis, COVID-19, chickenpox, and dengue fever, among others.
Before packing your bags for Berlin, review your checklist to ensure you are up-to-date with the following routine vaccines.
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
- Flu (influenza)
You should also take jabs against the following diseases
- Hepatitis A & B
- Tick-borne Encephalitis
Germany operates on a voltage of 230 V and a frequency of 50 HZ. However, if you are from the UK, Australia, and most of Europe, Africa, and Asia, you may still use your electric appliances because these countries’ voltage ranges between 220 and 240 volts.
Manufacturers take such small deviations into account. You need a voltage converter if you come from the US, Canada, and the larger part of South America, where the range is 100 V -127V.
Telephone and internet plans
The leading mobile phone companies in Berlin and Germany as a whole are
- Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile)
- O2 (Telefónica)
These offer both contract and prepaid plans. You can choose any of these plans depending on your duration of stay. If you plan to stay for longer than a year, then a contract would be a good option because most companies prefer to engage subscribers on a 12-24 months contract.
The longer your contract, the better the benefits, but ensure to cancel it before expiry because it could be auto-renewed. They also offer SIM-only plans on a contract basis which are easier to exit should the need arise.
A one-minute call on a prepaid tariff costs an average of €0.11
Payment services infrastructure
Despite being a high-tech economy, Germany’s cash usage is high. McKinsey’s 2018 report revealed that 67% of consumer –to business transactions are cash-based. Nonetheless, the country’s highly developed payment services infrastructure has roughly 165 million cards, 1,100,000 million terminals, and a robust processing infrastructure. Some common payment methods in Berlin are;
- MasterCard Cards
- Girocard Cards
- Visa Cards
- SEPA Direct Debit
- PayPal digital wallets
Currencies and exchange rates
Germany had the Deutsche mark as its legal currency from 1948 till 2002, when it was replaced with the Euro. As of October 2022, 1 Euro is roughly USD 0.99. You can get currency conversion services at any forex bureau in Berlin. Some are right at the airport.
Climate and seasons
Berlin weaves through the typical European climate with hot summers, mild autumn, cold winters, and spring seasons. Summer, which lasts from June to August, is pleasantly sunny, with temperatures averaging 73 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees centigrade). Winter starts in December to February, and sometimes it is extremely cold, often hitting freezing lows. Therefore, prepare well for the punishing temperatures anytime you plan to be in the city during this season. The period between December and March is snowy, although it rarely escalates to crisis proportions.
In recent years, Berlin’s climate (like most parts of the world) has become unpredictable, and the weather can change quickly. In fact, some years have recorded rain all year round, so it is a good idea to have an umbrella no matter the season.
Generally, June and August are the wettest months, with October and February being the driest.
The best way to determine a country or city’s popular diet is to look at their favorite traditional food and drink. Certainly, a country as large as Germany has regional food cultures. Still, past and present observations have shown that most German cuisines focus on bread, meat (preferably pork), potatoes, and lots of greens, especially kale and cabbage. Coffee, cake, and beer are also popular items in their diet.
Owing to the city’s cosmopolitan status, Berliners can sample cuisines from most of Germany’s regional food cultures. However, the more popular local dishes in the city’s eateries include; Currywurst., Königsberger Klopse Wiener Schnitzel, Eisbein., Döner Kebab, Kartoffelpuffer, Senfeier, Berliner doughnut, and Pfannkuche. Of course, there are many more.
Tax requirements on digital nomads
Germany is among the countries that require digital nomads to register their freelance activity with the tax authorities. You are required to pay two taxes:
- Value Added Tax: VAT is remitted based on one’s income. On average, it is 19%, but it can be as low as 7%
- Income Tax: This is levied on freelancers earning more than €9,169. It is charged at 14% but can go up to 42%.
While paying taxes seems to complicate a digital nomad’s life in Berlin, the benefits of freelancing in the capital of Europe’s giant economy are worth the sacrifice.
One main concern often cited by digital nomads looking to settle in Berlin is the difficulty of acquiring a German Freelancer visa. Other concerns include
- Slow internet in some areas
- Assault cases
- Cigarette smoking is rampant
- Some restaurants sell unhealthy fast foods.
- The weather may be erratic.
Nonetheless, Berlin is an all-year travel destination since much of the city’s appeal is powered by its cultural and historical influences, which are fantastic despite negating factors like unpredictable weather.
Club Swan Disclaimer: The information provided is not tax and/or legal advice. The statements do not constitute legally binding offers. The company does not guarantee or endorse any third-party links, websites, or goods and/or services. Seek your own professional advice.