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Berlin. From 26th October.

berlin-alex

At 1747 on Saturday October 26th my train will pull into Berlin Hbf and I will be arriving at the place I hope I will be able to call home. Since a short period living in the German capital between October 2001 and March 2002 I have longed to return, and now I am actually going to finally manage it.

So why am I moving to Berlin?

Berlin is my favourite city. Nothing else comes close. It has the brilliance of a big city, without the downsides of London. It’s liberal and also (relatively) organised. It’s both historic and modern. It’s a city where you can find absurdity and tranquility within a few metres of each other. It’s a place that after all these years visiting still excites me, still gives me a spring in my step.

The move is of course not going to be without its problems. I moved from London to Copenhagen just over a year ago, and to some extent I am now just running away from how Denmark has emphasised my own inadequacies – my inability to find my place in Copenhagen, and to build any sort of personal or professional network there. I cannot look myself in the mirror in Denmark and have any idea what I could contribute that could not be done better by a local, someone better versed in the rules and norms of the society than I can ever be. Even were I to learn Danish to fluency I still have no idea what I could ever do in Denmark, what I could ever be. The fault for that lies with me, and with me alone, and my inability to fit. For personal reasons I am going to be back in Denmark reasonably regularly though.

Somehow as an outsider to Germany I find the challenges easier to surmount than elsewhere. I speak near fluent German already, and through working intermittently in Berlin as a freelancer over the years can call on a big network of people to work with. Many of these people do extraordinary things, they inspire me, and interesting things happen when I talk to these people. Also the whole environment around work is so much better in Berlin – I can go to events and perfectly understand what is going on (so far impossible in Denmark). More than a dozen old friends also live in Berlin, so socially things are going to work out fine too.

I am also fascinated by the prospect of throwing myself into German politics. I found myself behaving more like a typical German than a typical Brit when it came to my reaction to the NSA / Snowden scandal. Also on green energy and EU matters my views are reasonably mainstream in Germany, while I feel I am in a minority of one in the UK, and so far do not have the cultural understanding to be political in Denmark.

I will continue to essentially work freelance, running training courses about online communications and social media for political and governmental clients. That will still mean regular trips to Brussels, but I hope to be able to get more work in Berlin – I have some contracts there already and will actively seek more.

I will stay in a friend’s spare room in Berlin immediately after moving, and will then find my own place to live – trying to use social media to do that will be a subject of a further blog post.

Photo: "Thunderstorm at Alexanderplatz | Berlin, Germany (now links to author's own site)" by Nico Trinkhaus on July 1, 2013 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution

6 Comments

  • Αnna |

    I will follow with ken interest! A dream / fantasy of mine to live for a while in Berlin since I was 18!
    Not in the winter, though!

  • Letizia |

    Good luck with your move Jon!
    Berlin is my favourite too, by far the best city in Europe (in my humble opinion). It’s good to know you’ll be on my list of people to catch up with on my next trip to Berlin.

  • Jens |

    Hi Jon,
    That sounds like a good move. Good luck with preparing the move, and enjoy Berlin!

  • T |

    Let us know how it goes. Being an original Berliner, I love my home town, though have no desire to go back to live there – for now. Just the more exciting it is to see the city through foreign eyes – the idea of having grown up in what has become one of the most vibrant cities in the world still still fascinates me. Please mind, when I was young, Berlin was just another place to visit in Germany – if there was any time left after Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt …

  • Mariusz |

    I want to make a move for a year now, but I still encounter some weird limitations of German system, like having to have a decent German work contract to rent an apartment. Any tips and ideas on how to overcome these?

  • T |

    @Mariusz
    In that order: Opt for a flat share. Try Zwischenmiete. Rent directly from landlords. Look for apartments where someone needs to move out before their contract ends, looking for a quick replacement – you’ll still have to please the landlord, but with less competition. Avoid Makler. Really avoid those bloodsuckers at all cost and never believe anything they say – unless they give you a piece of paper with their signature on it. Also, try the unconventional – like, offer some months rent upfront.

    Or just submit whatever papers you have that can give confidence you’ll be able to pay the rent. Account statements, tax returns, whatever. Basically, the more you deal with actual people instead of big companies or landlords, the better your chances they won’t insist on some outdated protocols

So, what do you think ?