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 many traditional German banks in Berlin where you can open an account, including Postbank, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Sparkasse, and Volksbank. There are also banks that take a more modern approach to banking like N26, DKB, and Vivid. If you’re looking to take out a loan, check out CreditPlus.
2) Berlin News In English
DW has a YouTube channel with news in English, as well as many free documentaries. From a podcast side, we recommend reading our roundup of the best podcasts in Berlin.
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.
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.
10) Filing Taxes In Germany
File taxes in Germany with SteuerGo, Taxfix, and Wundertax. Many of them even offer services in English. I also recommend Jonathan Michael of Easy German Taxes – while his website is not up yet, you can contact him via email. He really helped me sort through some confusion I had sorting out my 2022 tax return audit.
12) Getting Around Berlin
If you take public transit a lot, subscribe to the nationwide €49 monthly ticket which allows for unlimited travel across Germany. 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.
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 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.
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
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.
23) Moving Flats In Berlin
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙏
2023 is upon us and it’s time to start planning your holidays. Use this list of Berlin public holidays to get started.
If you’re moving to Germany, you’ll need health insurance. Find out key things to know about German health insurance before you get here.
Keen to explore the city’s history, find a brunch spot, or get tips on finding a flat? These are the best Berlin blogs to get you started.
Cheryl Howard, Founder @ The Berlin Life
Hi, I’m Cheryl. My mission is to help you move to Berlin and find work.
A Canadian in Berlin for 10+ years, I have the unique experience of moving to Berlin – not once, but twice. During my time in Berlin, I’ve had five different visas and worked as both a freelancer and a permanent employee for numerous Berlin companies. I even managed to find a new job during the pandemic and again in 2023, during Germany’s recession and massive layoffs in tech.
My day job has involved work as a hiring manager, overseeing the recruitment of countless people, as well as a team coach helping teams and individuals work better and find happiness in their careers. Through my side projects, I’ve also shared my personal experiences by publishing a series of helpful blog posts, creating a thriving community of job seekers, and hosting events to help people find work in Berlin. In 2021, I decided to put my coaching and recruiting talents to use by creating The Berlin Life, bringing my existing content and community together in one spot.
The combination of my personal and professional experience means I know exactly what it takes to move to Berlin and find work.
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!