A friend recently asked me if I would live in Berlin again, and while that’s not on my radar now or in the near future, it did get me reminiscing about my time as a Berlin expat for nearly 7 years. I didn’t necessarily choose to be an expat in Berlin; I kind of stumbled on it.
In fact, according to ExpressVPN, Berlin is the third-best city for expats interested in working abroad. Their research revealed Dubai and Singapore as the top two spots, but seeing as how each of those lacks certain human rights (specifically for LGBTQ individuals), I’m definitely of the opinion that Berlin is the number one best city for expats!
Back when I was just another one of the many American expats in Berlin, I fell in love with the city for a thousand different reasons: the people, the culture, the ease of getting a visa as an American… all of it made it easy and fun to live abroad as an expat/immigrant.
8 Reasons Why Berlin is the Best City for Expats
1. An Affordable Cost of Living
Berlin’s cost of living is a huge plus for expats, especially Americans. Compared to other major European cities, it’s actually quite budget-friendly. Rent won’t drain your bank account like it might in London, Paris, or Brooklyn.
You can find affordable apartments in some of Europe’s coolest neighborhoods, and the cost of dining out won’t break the bank either. Plus, public transportation (including the city’s bike-friendliness) is reasonably priced, making it easy to get around without spending a fortune.
2. It’s One of Europe’s Most Accepting (and Diverse) Cities
One of the things I love most about Berlin is its diverse and inclusive atmosphere. It’s a melting pot of cultures, and you’ll find people from all over the world here. This diversity is not just tolerated; it’s celebrated.
Berliners have famously been known as open-minded and welcoming people throughout history. As a gay man in Berlin, it’s easy to feel at home. But honestly, no matter where you’re from or what your background is, Berlin is a welcoming and accepting city—that not just tolerates but welcomes immigrants and expats from around the world.
3. Berlin’s Startup Culture
If you’re an entrepreneur or work in tech, Berlin is the place to be. (That’s been the city slogan for a long time: “the place to be.”)
The city has a thriving startup scene with tons of co-working spaces and incubators. They even call it “Silicon Allee,” a take on the German word allee for street. The opportunities for networking and innovation are endless, and the city is incredibly supportive of new ventures. That startup vibe also makes it relatively easy to find a job in Berlin as a native English speaker.
4. Incredible Food & Culture
Berlin’s culinary scene is a delightful mix of traditional German dishes, international cuisine, and new fusion foods. From currywurst and döner kebab to fine dining in trendy restaurants, the Berlin food scene is surprisingly good. Despite Germany’s culture of sausages and meats, Berlin is even one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in the world.
Besides food, there’s a vibrant arts and culture scene in Berlin. Museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues are everywhere, offering endless opportunities for cultural exploration. As the capital of Germany, Berlin gets some of the biggest and best museum exhibitions as well.
5. Parks & Green Spaces are Everywhere
Despite being a bustling metropolis, Berlin has an abundance of green spaces. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely stroll, a picnic in the central Tiergarten park, or a bike ride through lush forests on the outskirts of the city, you’ll find it here.
The city government’s commitment to preserving greenery is a breath of fresh air. Literally.
6. Great Public Transportation & Bike Infrastructure
Berlin is incredibly bike-friendly, and that was a huge game-changer for me. When living in Berlin, that’s when I owned my first bike and the dedicated bike lanes everywhere made it a safe and easy place to bike just about anywhere.
The flat terrain through most of the city also makes cycling a breeze. It’s an eco-friendly and healthy way to explore the city. I remember plenty of bike traffic jams and the massive parking lots outside clubs for bikes to park.
7. Amazing Nightlife Unlike Anywhere Else
Berlin’s nightlife is legendary, and it’s not just hype. The city comes alive after dark, and you can dance the night away in world-famous clubs like Beghain, Kater Blau, Tresor, and Watergate—all incredible nightlife clubs that go until sunrise (or later).
And while a lot of Berlin’s nightlife is techno, there are other alternative and more independent nights—plus plenty of hipster bars, small music clubs, and other types of nightlife.
8. Well-Connected to the Rest of the World
Lastly, Berlin’s connectivity to the rest of the world is a huge perk for expats looking to make a home there. The airport and train system makes it super easy to explore Europe and the rest of the world.
Berlin Airport has had its series of challenges since it opened in 2020 (and even before it opened), but there’s no question that the airport has improved connections between Berlin and the rest of the world. It’s easy to catch cheap flights there, even back to America. Norse Airlines is currently the cheapest airline option between NYC and Berlin.
Besides the airport, though, Germany’s train system is top-tier. You can hop on a train and be in another exciting city in no time. It’s a globetrotter’s dream come true!
No one has to convince me that Berlin is the best city in the world for expats, but the validation from a recent researched survey plus my own experience living there should provide you with the reasoning to make the move. Germany has become one of the most welcoming nations in Europe for immigration and Berlin is at the hub of all that excitement.