Exactly one year ago, we moved to Berlin. Although I have been here before a couple of times, the city has exceeded all of my expectations. Despite it being locked down for the better part of the last 12 months.
I’ve lived in different parts of the world for shorter or longer periods of time (from California to Singapore), and I can confidently say that Berlin is my favorite. In fact, I predict that Berlin will be one of the most important cities of the world.
I personally like Berlin because it’s very diverse, culturally and historically interesting and open-minded. Obviously, it also checks some other boxes like bike-friendliness, public tranpsortation and safety.
Berlin is a true Cosmopolis. If you sit in a café, you will more often than not hear the next table converse in a broken English. One person speaking with a Spanish accent, the other with a French. There’s heterogenity in the backgrounds and interests of people, too. Our neighbors are film makers, opera singers, designers and art event organizers.
The food. Oh man, the food is amazing and affordable. The sheer range of ethnic cuisines is mind-blowing. And again, it’s not like I moved to a big city from a small rural village and heard of Hummus for the first time - I’ve been living in cities all my life.
In general, people are open-minded and just do their thing, not caring too much what others think. 30 years after the Berlin Wall fell, Berlin carries a great sense of freedom.
Housing is affordable. The city just passed a law that puts an upper limit on rent prices for older apartments. In some cases, it has brought down the rent more than 3 fold. Having lived in San Francisco, I can confidently say that affordable housing is a key thing successful cities must get right. And not just build ugly new buildings at the edge of the city that can be rented out cheaply. No. I mean affordable housing right in the city centers. That’s where life happens. In Berlin, we pay €700 for a 80 m2 apartment in an up and coming neighborhood. In San Franscisco, we were paying $2'400 for one bedroom in a shared apartment.
If Berlin keeps this up, it will become one of most important cities. Important in terms of innovation and culture. A place where a lot of open-minded, diverse and interesting people live. A place where there’s affordable housing and fucking great, I repeat, fucking great food. Of course, being part of the EU makes it much easier for businesses and people to move here and get good jobs.
Berlin once was the cultural capital of the world before it all started taking a turn south in 1930s. I believe it’s on it’s way back to those early days of glory.