After a nice summer in Denmark, I decided to move to Berlin for 3 months. My co-founder is German and has always wanted to try to live in Berlin, so this was a great excuse to try something new.
Having a history full of digital nomadism, I was ready to try something new. I’ve never tried to move “close-by”, but always went for destinations further away. The closest place I’ve stayed for a long time was Bucharest in Romania, which was a great experience. However, I was ready to try something new: Berlin.
I’ve been in Berlin multiple times in my life. I have always kinda liked the city, but not more. To me, it seemed a bit… Like Copenhagen – just bigger and less centralized. I really didn’t know what to expect.
Moving to Berlin – 8 things that surprised me
1: The food is amazing… and cheap.
I love food as much as the next person, and then a bit more. I’ve been surprised about HOW MANY RESTAURANTS there are everywhere. The general level is amazingly high. Super good food everywhere.
Especially the Vietnamese restaurants have surprised me. I love Vietnamese food, and it has been a pleasure.
The most surprising to me has been the price, though. You can eat out very cheap compared to Denmark – often 50-60% of the price. Amazing.
(Amazing Vietnamese at Transit)
2: Things are cheap – but you spend more money:
So everything is cheap here. Food, cafes, getting around… Challenge is, that means you do MORE of it.
I find myself spending more money in Berlin than in Copenhagen. – Simply because I “do more” outside.
3: You spend more time in the city than at home:
In Denmark, we LOVE our homes. We have the Danish word “hygge”, which is a special form for “cozy”.
In Berlin, it’s a bit different. You spend a lot of time IN the city. You spend your time meeting people at cafes, restaurants or other social gatherings. You use the city more.
4: Biking is Berlin is scary as fuck but extremely convenient:
I love biking and I cannot imagine a better way to get around. Yes, we do drive our bikes like crazy persons in Copenhagen, but it’s still relatively safe – especially after you get used to it.
Berlin is different. Drivers are NOT used to bikers in the same way, so cars seem extremely random. You have to be aware in a very different way if you don’t want to die here.
Here is a picture of my beloved bike, which has still not touched any cars:
5: Leave your suit at home:
So I always dress quite formal. I love some nice pants and a shirt – and as much as possible – a nice navy style suit jacket.
I went out to a quite fancy disco place the first week with my shirt and forgot my suit jacket. I was a bit unsure if I could get in because I was underdressed. Until I realized: everyone was wearing hoodies and t-shirts.
I DID get in – but only because I had bought the entrance ticket before. In Berlin, people dress VERY informally. Absolutely no use of shirts and suits here. Bring your t-shirt, hoodie, and jeans – in all situations.
Even our office at Betahaus (great place, by the way!) is very informal:
6: German is hard:
I believe most things are easy. Being a super optimist, I thought I could learn the language in some months.
I started a language course, and the following meme never had a more appropriate situation to be used in:
After I’m 60% efficiency in German on Duolingo, having passed an A1.2 course and had multiple 1-hour sessions with German teachers through Lingoda.com, I’ve realized German is insanely hard.
Yes, I can mutter some numbers and words, followed by “bitte”… But shit. This is hard.
7: Germany is huge:
Coming from a small country, I’ve always felt like Copenhagen is the center of Denmark – which it is. You can feel Denmark is small.
Berlin is extremely different. Berlin is actually a very small town compared to the rest of Germany. You have much bigger and much more influrential regions than Berlin, which is quite fun. Berlin is very artsy, informal and awesome for culture – but for good old business – it’s not the center of Germany. Berlin can feel a bit like a state inside a much bigger system – which makes sense!
8: The start-up community is awesome:
In Denmark, we’ve had a pretty big wave of startups lately. We even get more investments, and many funds are starting to invest in both early and late stage startups.
Berlin is…. different.
Here you find the biggest companies in the world. You find famous investors. The events you can go to is not just some local Danish event, but huge companies from services you actually use.
Here you are meeting real entrepreneurs and startups actually changing the world. We DO have those in Denmark, but not in the same quantity.
Now, there are a lot of things that has surprised me. But the 8 ones above has been the biggest ones 🙂
I hope you enjoyed reading it – I will probably post some more surprises before the year is over!