A promise which I made to myself upon emigrating to Berlin was that once I secured employment, I would share this knowledge with my blog followers through a post. This is ‘steps for architects and non moving to Berlin’!
Motivation: moving to Berlin is definitely an exciting plan, but if you are not sufficiently and self motivated, it may be easy to loose track in clubbing, drugs and whatever you find ‘cool’.
Housing: finding accommodation, for many can be more difficult than finding a job.
Here there are some useful tips:
- Keep an eye on WG-Gesucht on a daily basis (write something personal to the contact, they get MANY inquiries and it helps to stand out.
- make connections, ask friends and friends’ friends and expand your network. I am totally recommend Meetup and specially those meetings for Architects as: WIR. All Latitudes Architecture
- If you are on tight budget, do not count on AirBnB for long-term rental, it may likely work out to be very expensive
- Couch Surfing, don’t abuse it, but for short term (a few days) can be a great option.
Transportation: All modes of public transport are covered under a single ticket. 9€ for 4 single tickets (2.80€ each), 7€ daily ticket, 61€ monthly pass (10am to 3am) and full monthly pass 81€ (allows to have a passenger with you from 8pm to 3am every day and for the whole day on weekends and holidays. Football tickets entitle you to free public transport allow to going around for free before and after the match (read the rules). More info at BVG.com. Student people with an Internship: you can go to any BVG office (Alexanderplatz, as a suggestion) and make an AZUBI monthly pass for 57€ instead to pay 81€…showing them a letter from the place you work that you are doing an intern and for how many months.
German language: sign up right away to a German language course (obtaining some grasp of the language is essential in Germany, even in cosmopolitan Berlin), I suggest a great Italian teacher Cristina which offers good service at a fair price and teach German to be practical ad up to people, or you can always try your local Volkshochschule.
Job Center: have a look at the job offers and vacancies, it helps job-seekers and financial minimum support if you fit the requirement (It is a social aid from the state and not a way to live without work)
Internet: it is not easy to find open WiFi in Berlin, but once you find a good one, pin it on your Google Map. I recommend to go to your local Spätis (small grocery stores/bars open long hours, mostly managed by Turkish, Kurdish or Arabic). Here is generally possible to sit down for a drink and ask for WiFi.
With Lebara sim: without ID and in 5 min you can have:
10€ 1gb | 15€ 3gb | 20€ 5gb | 30€ 10gb
Long term internet: WinSIM. It has plenty of fares that might fit better to your long-term needs. To be honest I find really good for 8€/month 2GB+calls+sms for 24moths but you can close or upgrade the contract within 1 month advise. Here WinSim promotional LINK
Bank Account: I totally suggest N26, cost effective and fast, but read carefully the condition.
Moving stuff. Cheap and pretty organized: Robben & Wientjes. 4 brunch so far in Berlin open 7 days (7am-19pm workdays, a bit diffrent on weekend). European drive licence, German Ammeldung, and 150€ deposit are required.
Discover Berlin: Based on my exploration of Berlin I have created a map to share my favorite places: Atlas of Berlin. I also find quite interesting BertaBerlino project, I hope to collaborate with her in the future..
Work: if you are looking for a startup job or you are in IT, you’ll manage if you speak fluent English, but as for me, I spoke with many founder Architects and found that:
– too many Italians, Spaniards and other Europeans are already hired everywhere and nobody wants foreigner without B2-C2 level of German, in daily basis workflow one of them, with an ironic smile, resume: ‘we are architects and not checking mail German spelling’!
BUT, if you are active in making connections before arriving or as soon as you get here you might find some unexpected opportunities. If you are good at rendering and visual design there are a few interesting companies always looking for new talents: they typically offer good wages and working hours and English language could be enough to start.
– in my case I started with some new projects and collaborations. I start to be a blogger, tutoring at some workshops, meeting new people to expand my network and possibilities. WIR. All Latitudes Architecture; if you wanna take a look.
– Erasmus+, Erasmus Entrepreneurs, or Youth Guarantee (under 30 years hold scholarship) are good ways to get grants that help you with everyday expenses and give support not be stuck in stressful, underpaid and “with no contract” jobs* (cash payment basically) – be aware to Italian restaurants.
*Be aware when taking short term / unofficial jobs, that you may get surprised with poor conditions, late payment etc. In Germany it is best to ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT
AND FINALLY:to help you navigate the architectural world in Berlin, I have created a map of notable design offices (includes architectural, interior and engineering design offices).
Have fun and don’t lose your aims! And here a list of daily looking for someone job:
Feel free to CONTACT ME or make a comment on the post. It will be wonderful to share your Berlin Experience!
Michele Sordi is a Helsinki based graduate architect and student in Product and Spatial Design master program at Aalto University. When he graduated at Politecnico di Milano in 2012, he moved to Helsinki, Finland, where he has been working for an interior design firm during a year. From 2014 he works as freelance architect and interior designer, on different projects and design scales, from architecture competition to branding and conceptual design. He has an optimistic approach to design and faith in multidisciplinary collaboration; he believes that architecture is a practice to develop our own environment and a language to reach a meaning.
Conor Shaw is an Irish Construction Engineer living in Berlin. He is the founder of ‘Shaw Architectural Solutions’ specializing in Building Information Modelling, construction planning and management. Conor’s passion is in renovation and historic conservation and is always keen to learn about new technology applied to old buildings and green initiatives.