Packing up your life and relocating to a new country seems like a daunting endeavour, yet many face the challenge when an unmissable job opportunity comes their way from overseas. One of our candidate success stories here at Sigmar recently moved to Berlin to work for Marley Spoon. Originally from Brazil, Nathan spent two years working in Dublin before making the leap to Berlin. We asked him a couple of questions to get an insight into how the relocation process was for him and his personal experience of living in Berlin.
How did you find the visa process?
“The company that hired me provided a relocation partner for handling all the paperwork, so the process was as smooth as it could be. From Dublin, I had to schedule an appointment at the German Embassy. They usually have slots available 1 or 2 months in the future, so waiting was the hardest part”.
“When I arrived in Berlin, I had to go to the Foreign Office twice - once to get my proof of residence and then again to get my work permit. My relocation agent accompanied me both times, which helped a lot”.
Was it difficult to organise your health insurance?
“Health insurance was handled by my company. I didn’t have to worry about it at all."
How did you find setting up a bank account?
“One of my colleagues recommended that I should set up an online bank account with N26, rather than a traditional bank. It was super simple, and I had a functional German bank account within a few days”.
What was the most challenging part of moving to Berlin?
“The most challenging part was finding an apartment. I had to live in a temporary apartment for the first two months which was quite expensive. Rent prices were higher than I expected, averaging around €800+ per month”.
Would you recommend making the move to Berlin to other internationals?
“Definitely! It's a mind opening experience, culturally rich and intense. You have everything you can imagine, and the city is beautiful. It's a place that makes you not want to stay at home on Sundays - this was new to me”.
How would you describe moving to Berlin overall?
“I felt that I was lucky because the transition was unbelievably easy. I'm having the best work experience I’ve ever had. The environment and the people are really something that have dictated my experience here. I would say that maybe it is the best place to live as an international: the city is very diverse, and I have already met people from about 30 countries in one month. Also, you can get a beer in a pub for just €3.”
Overall, it is safe to say that Nathan had a very positive experience relocating to Berlin receiving a lot of help from the company who hired him. Making the move can seem intimidating at the start but, with help from the right people, it can be a life changing decision.
Posted by Adam Dunne on 24 January 2019
Working From Home Hub
Working From Home Hub
Visit our Working from Home Hub for lots of content for remote workers and managers such as: blogs, video content, training modules, podcasts and other resources to support people now working from home.The hub has lots of great info and supports for:Working form home, Manageing staff remotely, Wellness at HomeTalent Summit Series on working in this new normalAccess to free online courses to upskillNetflix recommendationsCheck it out at https://www.workingfromhomehub.com
Cost of Living in Berlin
Cost of Living in Berlin
It’s not breaking news that the cost of living in Berlin is rising as the city has transformed from “poor, but sexy” to the one of the hottest start-up locations in Europe. The phrase cost of living is subjective as it means different things to different people. For the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on the costs of everyday life such as rent, food and travel. Rent Berlin, once famous for its cheap rental prices is now catching up to its EU counterparts. Rental prices are fluctuating so much between neighbourhoods that it is hard to pin down an average cost, but the following map showcases the price in each area of Berlin for a two-bedroom apartment of 70m squared (without bills and utility costs). Hotspots such as Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Charlottenburg are very expensive areas to live in, however there are still affordable areas within the city limits. Furthermore, Berlin operates a highly efficient and affordable public transportation system enabling people to live outside of the city centre without having to face a daunting commute to work every day. A full breakdown of the different neighbourhoods is available here. Although rents in Berlin have risen dramatically, they are still very affordable compared to other capital cities such as London and Paris. Food & Drink Food and drink is very affordable in Berlin whether you opt to dine in or out. There are plenty of reputable discount grocery shops, Lidl, Aldi, Netto and Penny to name a few. There is also an abundance of higher end grocers such as Rewe, Edeka or Karstadt, and organic shops where prices are higher but still affordable. The city is also littered with a number of fantastic food markets where you can get some fresh veg for the week for €15 or so. It’s very easy to find cheap beer and wine in Berlin with a Späti (convenience store) at every turn. You can pick up a can of beer for around 80 cents and a bottle of wine from €4. If you decide to eat out, it won’t set you back too much. A basic lunch with a drink within the business districts will cost you between €7-€12 and even less if you opt to indulge in one of the many Turkish kebab shops that populate the city. A mid-range restaurant meal for two (3 courses) will cost around €50 but of course you can decide to spend more or less depending on your choice of meal. A domestic German beer (500ml) in a pub costs around €3.30 with a nice cocktail setting you back around €8. If you’re looking for a caffeine hit to get you through your day, a standard Americano is around €2.20 with cappuccinos/lattes costing approx. €3.30. Travel Berlin is a very cycle friendly city thanks to its (mostly) good cycling infrastructure and flat terrain. However, the weather can be less than friendly during Winter months so public transport may be your only option. The U-Bahn, S-Bahn and bus system all use the same tickets which is handy if you’re buying a longer pass. AB tickets cover the entire city area and Tegel airport and prices are: Single trip €2.80 Four trip single tickets €9 Day Ticket €7 7-day ticket €30 Monthly ticket €81 Overall, Berlin is a very affordable city compared to its EU counterparts. The value for money you get in Berlin is unrivalled by many other cities as its such a vibrant, exciting city located in the heart of Europe.
Neighbourhoods of Berlin
Neighbourhoods of Berlin
When relocating to a new city, it can be very difficult to know what part of the city to move to. You may ask yourself several pertinent questions such as;What is the most affordable area to live in?Where is best to raise a family?What area has close access to public transport?What area has the highest concentration of restaurants, bars and coffee shops?Berlin is very unique city as it is divided up into twelve distinct neighbourhoods, each with their own look and feel. Each neighbourhood offers its’ own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on what you are looking for. Below is map of how Berlin is divided.Rental prices fluctuate between each neighbourhood. Below is a rental price map for the city for a two-bedroom apartment of 70m squared (without bills and utility costs).As with most cities around the world, rental prices rise significantly the closer you get to the centre. Thankfully, Berlin operates a highly affordable and reliable public transport network enabling people to live outside of the city centre without having to face a daunting commute to work every day.Mitte is steeped in rich history being home to the Jewish Memorial and the Reichstag. It is the city centre and government district. In recent times, the neighbourhood has transformed becoming the hotspot for start-ups, particularly around Torstrasse. As a result, rental prices have increased significantly within the last decade as highly skilled and often highly paid expats move to this start-up hotspot.Friedrichshain - Kreuzberg is a very trendy and culturally diverse area in Berlin with endless bars, restaurants, art exhibitions and the infamous Berghain. There’s always something to do in this popular neighbourhood. This area is also very close to many corporate and tech offices which only serve to further increase the already high demand for housing here. This one of the most expensive areas in the city.Charlottenburg is the heart of West Berlin and is more organised and cleaner than the rest of the city. It’s home to the famous food court KaDeWe and the most exclusive shopping street in Berlin, Kurfürstendamm. Charlottenburg is the luxury side of Berlin and rental prices here are also quite high.Prenzlauer Berg is one of the most family orientated areas in Berlin famous for its vast amount of young families located there. It’s quite a trendy area home to a cluster of cool start-ups. Rental prices here are slightly more affordable but have be rising year on year due to the increase in start-up activity in the area.Neukolln is an area in Berlin with relatively cheaper rent than the rest of the city. Neukolln is very close to Kreuzberg and acts as a more affordable alternative to those wishing to live near the trendy, start-up centre of Berlin. Rental prices here are slowly rising year on year.Lichtenberg conveys remanence of its Eastern heritage with countless Eastern German Plattenbauten, massive building blocks that now look a bit outdated. Lichtenberg is slowly gaining traction as the city centre is easily reached by public transportation and the prices of Lichtenberg apartments are still extremely affordable.Hellesdorf is similar to Lichtenberg but also plays host to the famous Gärten der Welt, which is a great park to get away from all the noise of the city. The area plays host to a vibrant mix of people and major renovations have taken place giving the promenade a facelift.Treptow and Köpenick are also great neighbourhoods for families to live in. They are full of green parks and picturesque lakes, perfect for a day trip during the summer months. Rental prices here are more affordable compared to other parts of the city.Templehof is most famous for its now closed city airport. Nowadays the district is a popular location for Berliners to hang out and engage in activities such as skating and kiting. Rental prices here are more affordable on the outskirts but gradually rise the closer you get to Kreuzberg/Mitte.Steglitz – Zehlendorf are quieter districts on the west of Berlin perfectly suited for families. It’s calmer than the rest of the city with noticeable less traffic. Rental prices here average around €750 per month as it is one of the best areas in Berlin for families.Reinickendorf is one of the lesser know areas of Berlin. Tegel Airport (TLX) is located here along with some nice spots such as Tegeler See (lake). Rental prices here are on average much cheaper than other parts of the city.Spandau is unique as its’ inhabitants don’t consider themselves ‘Berliners’. It’s like a separate small town within a city full of nature and lovely lakes. Rental prices are quite affordable here, as you get closer to Charlottenburg, rental prices increase significantly.Looking to work in Berlin? Check out our latest vacancues here.
Frankfurt's Start-up Scene
Frankfurt's Start-up Scene
Frankfurt is emerging as a vibrant European start-up ecosystem supported by its esteemed legacy and finance industries. The city boasts a highly diverse and active network of businesses that are boosted by the region’s exceptional research and education centres. Frankfurt is the finance capital of Europe, dubbed ‘Mainhattan’, the city is home to the European Central Bank, ECB Banking Supervision – SSM, the European Insurance Oversight, the German Stock Exchange (the 10th largest in the world), Bundesbank, the German financial oversight body Bafin, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and many more. The finance industry employs over 70,000 people and generates revenues higher than many countries worldwide. The city is also home to a multitude of large corporations such as Schott, Opel, Frankfurt Airport, Merck KGaA, Sanofi, and Deutsche Flugsicherung. This incredible wealth and knowledge within the city have laid the foundations for a thriving technology and start-up scene. Frankfurt’s corporate outfits offer significant benefits to start-ups in the region. Frankfurt has one of the highest concentrations of finance specialists and coders with experience in finance and tax in Europe offering much needed operational support to start-ups. Furthermore, many of Frankfurt’s large corporations have launched some incredible initiatives to position their business at the forefront of technology and start-up activity. Deutsche Bank launched its Digitalfabrik or digital factory, a project for programmers and finance experts to develop digital banking projects; Commerzbank’s initiative CommerzVentures is investing in “the most ambitious young” start-ups; and Deutsche Borse unveiled its Fintech Hub in 2016, an initiative aimed at supporting the fintech community in Frankfurt and in the Rhein/Main region. One of the newest programs to arrive in the city is the iconic Silicon Valley accelerator program Plug and Play, which launched a new European fintech program in collaboration with TechQuatier earlier this year. TechQuatier is an international community, incubator and co-working place comprised of over 100 start-ups and 30 academic partners and academic institutions. Corporate R&D spending totalled a whopping €5.5 billion in 2017. Naturally, Frankfurt is a hub for the FinTech industry with 55% of all local VC investments being acquired by fintech start-ups from 2012-2017. The acquisition of Fintech 360, a trading network for foreign currencies, was the largest start-up exit in German history coming in around €725 million. Interestingly, it was the Frankfurt Stock Exchange that acquired Fintech 360. However, Frankfurt has a lot more to offer than just fintech and finance. The city has a high concentration of AI, Big Data & Analytics start-ups with 8.5% of all start-ups in the region engaging in one of the three innovative activities. These start-ups acquired just over 13% of all local VC capital between 2012-2017. AI start-up Arago recently received €55 million in venture capital funding. These innovative start-ups are boosted by the fact that Frankfurt has the largest internet exchange point in the world, the DE-CIX. Furthermore, there is an abundance of large co-working spaces dotted around the city, twenty-two recognised spaces as of 2018. There is also numerous incubators and accelerators that offer vital support to start-up such as; Main Incubator, Pando Ventures, Unibator, Grundermaschine, Commerzbank Content Shift, Accelerator Frankfurt, E&Y Start-up Academy, Merck Accelerator and UX Accelerator. Lastly, Frankfurt’s high density of research and education institutes provide the talent needed to grow these start-ups into highly successful businesses. 25+ institutions educating over 230,000 students are present in the city and some are infamous for their innovation. Research intense institutions like the University of Mainz are where instruments for Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were built. At this current time, Frankfurt pales in comparison to other European cities in terms of start-up activity. On the other hand, Frankfurt’s start-up activity is estimated to be growing 50% year on year and with the wealth and knowledge in the city, the future is bright.