BERLIN LIFE HACKS
Are you new to Berlin and want to know how to make your life in the Hauptstadt easier? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about Berlin in one central place. From how to find a doctor, use public transit, hire a handy person, or move to a new flat, follow our top recommendations, aka “Berlin life hacks”.
YOUR BERLIN SURVIVAL GUIDE
Consider this your ultimate reference guide to life in Berlin and bookmark this page, as we update it often.
1) Banking In Berlin
There are plenty of traditional German banks in Berlin where you can open an account, like Sparkasse, Postbank,Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, and Volksbank. There are also banks that take a more modern approach to banking. Try N26, DKB, Vivid, and ING.
If you’re looking to take out a loan, visit CreditPlus.
2) Berlin News In English
Read The Local, Berlin Spectator, Berliner Zeitung, Der Spiegel, and DW. You can also subscribe to 20% Berlin newsletter. We feature even more blogs about Berlin for you to read as well.
DW has a Youtube channel full of news clips and free documentaries if you’d rather listen to or watch something. From a podcast side, listen to Berlin Briefing for daily news. We also recommend reading our article about the best podcasts in Berlin.
3) Borrowing Stuff In Berlin
Borrow stuff from your neighbors, or other Berliners around the city, on platforms like Nebenan.de.
4) Buying Food In Berlin
Discount supermarkets include Lidl, Aldi, Penny, and Netto. More average supermarkets are Rewe, Kaufland, Real, and Edeka. More upscale markets include Bio Company, Denns Biomarkt, and Frisches Paradies.
REWE, Edeka, Amazon Fresh, and Bringmeister all deliver food to your door. Gorillas, Getir, and Flink will get groceries to you in about 15 minutes. You can also use HelloFresh – They deliver all the ingredients for your meals, so you can cook it yourself and not think about grocery shopping.
For regular food delivery, use Wolt, Ubereats, or Lieferando. First-time Wolt customers – Use code 968W7 to get 5 € off for each of your first 3 delivery orders.
5) Culture in Berlin
If you want to be in the know about what’s happening in Berlin, from concerts, to film screenings, art exhibitions, where to eat, and more, check out Cee Cee, Exberliner, LOLA, Mit Vergnügen Berlin, Tip Berlin, and ZITTY.
6) Dealing With Mail In Berlin
Many German companies, landlords, and government authorities like the Bürgeramt or Ausländerbehörde send out communications via post. Make life easier and sign up for E-POST to send and receive mail online. Sign up for E-POST.
If you’re moving to another flat in Berlin or will be out of the city for a while, you can also take advantage of mail forwarding services to make sure you don’t miss any important documents.
Curious about how mail forwarding works in Germany? Read our guide.
7) Doctors In Berlin
You can easily find a doctor and make an appointment using Doctolib. We also recommend the TeleClinic app. German doctors offer video consultations through the app and prescriptions and doctor’s notes for sick leave.
9) Electricity Companies In Berlin
Most people opt to go with the big names like Vattenfall, RWE, Yello, and MVV, while others go with English-speaking and foreigner-friendly Ostrom.
Energy costs are high right now – read our guide on how to save energy in Germany.
10) Filing Taxes In Germany
File taxes in Germany with SteuerGo, taxfix, and Wundertax. Many of them even offer services in English. If you’re a freelancer needing to keep track of income and expenses, as well as file taxes, try Sorted and Accountable. Sign up for Sorted and get 25% off of any subscription for one year.
11) Flat Cleaning Services
If you need your flat cleaned because you’re moving in or moving out, or if you want to employ someone on a regular basis, try Sunshine Cleaning (my personal favorite) or Spic and Span. You can also find a cleaner through the Book a Tiger platform.
12) Getting Around BerlinIf you take public transit a lot, buy a BVG subscription for as little as €63 monthly. Otherwise, download the BVG app and buy a ticket whenever you need one. It’s always cheaper to buy the “4 ride card”, as you’ll save up to €2.60 for four single journeys. Note – To help people save money for their massive energy bills – October, November, and December monthly transit passes are now available for a limited time as a subscription for €29 per month and work for Berlin’s A/B zones. Cancel the subscription before the end of December so you don’t get locked into the regular monthly price. Stay tuned, as there will be a nationwide €49 monthly ticket will be available in January and thankfully, won’t be a complicated subscription. If you want to take a taxi, use the FREE NOW app. However, Bolt and Uber are often cheaper, and faster, and offer frequent discounts. New FREE NOW customers can use the code 4F7ETYTHS to get €7 off their first ride. There are also plenty of rental options:
13) Giving Away and Getting Rid of Stuff In Berlin
Berliners switch flats a lot. Others don’t stay in the city for that long. So how do you get rid of your household items?
If you want to give something away, see Free Your Stuff Berlin. If you want to sell something, try Sell Your Stuff Berlin. There’s eBay Kleinanzeige too, which operates much like Craigslist.
If you need to have a bulky item transported for proper disposals, like an old mattress, schedule a pick-up with BSR. You can also visit any BSR in the city to dispose of old things like TVs, phones, laptops, and more.
Another option is the tiptapp app where you can find someone to pick up your items and properly dispose of them for you.
Whatever you do, don’t be that person who leaves their junk out on the street. The outside of my building recently looked like a garbage dump – as people had left out an old mattress, a fridge, a couch, and even … a toilet. Thankfully, the administration is cracking down on this bad habit as everyone in the building assumes the pickup costs. If you want to make your neighbors hate you, this is the way.
14) Government Websites
For anything official, always go to a government website for the most up-to-date information. We recommend Because Berlin, Berlin.de, and Deutschland.de.
15) Guided Tours Of Berlin
If you’re new to Berlin and want to experience the city, take a tour with Get Your Guide. From walking tours to museum passes, and cruises along the Spree, there are plenty of unique experiences to partake in.
16) Handy People In Berlin
Do you need picture frames hung in your flat? Someone to help install new lighting or build a bookcase?
Get in touch with Driller Queens for help around your home. We’ve also used Handyman In Berlin and have been really happy with their work. Colleagues of mine recommend Golden Hands Service Berlin too.
Co-Tasker has an app where you can book movers, someone to do kitchen assembly, and even painters to prepare your flat for final inspection before moving out.
17) Help With Bureaucracy In Berlin
If you need to call someone, like a dentist or doctor, or even your bank, and you don’t speak German, it’s always stressful. Maybe you ask friends or colleagues to help. Well, stop bothering them and hire a local German speaker to make the call with you. Try BookaLocal to start making calls in German.
We also recommend reading about why it’s so great to learn German in Berlin.
18) Home Decor In Berlin
Some of our top places include Home24, TK Maxx, Zara Home, H & M Home, IKEA (where else?), WestWing, and Made.
If you can’t afford to splurge on new furniture when you move into a new flat, consider renting a piece of furniture, or even furniture for an entire room, through a subscription with Lyght Living.
19) Hotels In Berlin
Considering a move to Berlin and want to scout out the city before making a decision? Perhaps you have family coming in for vacation and have no room in your WG or flat. Maybe you’re tired of your apartment and you’re seeking a Berlin staycation. Whatever your situation, consider booking a hotel, hostel, or private flat with booking.com.
20) Lawyers And Legal Help In Berlin
Are you paying too much for rent? Were you illegally fired from your job? Talk to a lawyer (in English too!) and find out your rights with Conny. First consultations are free and you only pay lawyer fees if you win your case.
Check out our post about immigration lawyers in Berlin.
21) Locksmiths In Berlin
A good locksmith (Schlüsseldienst) is hard to find. If you’ve lost your keys, had them stolen, or got locked out of your flat, call on one to help you out. We’ve had a positive experience with Christoph Albert Schlüsseldienst. They have fixed prices, speak English, can come within a few hours, and offer payment with a card or via Paypal.
22) Long-Term Flat Rentals
Use these sites for your flat search – Immowelt, Immobilien Scout, eBay Kleinanzeigen, and Immonet. You can search for a flat with roommates on WG-Gesucht.de.
23) Moving Flats In Berlin
Moving to a new place is never fun. One of Berlin’s favorite and most popular movers is Mark With A Van. We also recommend Schwester Esther.
In need of moving boxes? Don’t buy them! Moving boxes are expensive and harmful to the environment. Rent reusable boxes from Boxie24. They’ll deliver and pick up boxes from you. Best of all the boxes are weather protected and won’t get damaged if you’re moving in bad weather. Renting boxes is also way cheaper than buying them.
For more information on moving house in Berlin, read our guide.
24) North American Phone Numbers
iPlum offers various features, but I use them to retain a virtual Canadian phone number (they also offer US numbers). As I still have financial interests in Canada and my bank requires a local phone number for 2-factor authentication, iPlum allows me to keep a Canadian number on my German phone.
25) Pet Sitters In Berlin
One of the best ways to find a dog or cat sitter is through the Pawshake platform.
26) Popular Instagram Accounts
Some of the most fun accounts to follow are Berlin Ausländer Memes and Berlin Club Memes.
27) Private Health Insurance
Private insurance is especially suitable for freelancers or younger people not intending to stay in Germany beyond a few years. One of the best is ottonova. They are Germany’s first digital health insurance and almost everything can be done online or within their app.
29) Restaurants In Berlin
Obviously, we’re not going to list every single restaurant in Berlin on this page. We’ve developed several restaurant guides, which we’ll continually add to this page:
1) Our Favourite Mexican Restaurants In Berlin
2) The Very Best Korean Restaurants In Berlin
30) Send & Receive Money Internationally
Use Wise to send money from your German bank account to people in other countries. Or send money from your home country to Germany. It’s convenient, cheap, and fast. Wise also offers plenty of other features like credit cards, borderless bank accounts, and more. Alternatively, you can use Paysend.
31) Short-Term Flat Rentals
Finding a flat in Berlin is one of the hardest things to do when you move here. Sometimes, you need a short-term rental while you’re looking for your long-term home. Try Airbnb, Wunderflats, Nestpick, Flatio, Crocodilian, Homelike, and Spotahome.
32) Therapists In Berlin
It can be hard to find a therapist in Berlin that not only speaks English but is also covered by health insurance. If you have the cash, you can find therapists pretty quickly and easily through It’s Complicated or Mittelweg 50. Note, many therapists offer discounts if you’re experiencing financial issues.
33) Vets In Berlin
There are plenty of top-notch vets in Berlin, but I take my two cats to Kleintiermedizin am Lützowufer. They have English-speaking staff, are very warm and professional, and won’t overcharge you for unnecessary services. They also have various equipment on site, so you don’t need to wait long to get test results back for your little critter.
When my 16-year cat was ill during the pandemic, I was hesitant to take her out of the flat for a stressful trip to the vet. I used Felmo, a mobile vet service that came to my apartment to complete the euthanasia. They too were very lovely and made our last moment’s together way less stressful.
34) VPN Services
If you want to watch American Netflix or other shows from home, our top recommendations for VPN services include TunnelBear and Surfshark.
35) When You Need A Candian Address
I keep a virtual Canadian address with Your Canadian Address. They receive physical mail on my behalf, scan copies, and email them to me. Best of all, there is no subscription fee and you are only charged per use.
If you know of any other helpful Berlin life hacks, get in touch so we can feature the information here. 🙏
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Disclaimer – This post contains some affiliate links. If you make any purchases, I’ll earn a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Thanks for this great guide. I have a question about your experience with iPlum. Are you able to receive text messages from a Canadian bank when using iPlum?
Hi Kate! Yes, I can receive texts from anyone with the Canadian number, including banks. 🙂
Great work – many thanks for your help.
Hey Pulkit! Thanks. We’re happy to help. 🙂