Moving to Berlin: things to know
This is a copy of an email I've sent out to a few people about the logistics of arriving in Berlin. Some of it might be out of date, but it worked for me. Googling usually comes up with a lot of info, and there's some good stuff on the ToyTown Germany forums.
Finding somewhere to live
The accommodation situation is a bit difficult. Renting an apartment directly from a landlord is hard. Tenants have lots of rights which means landlords are quite careful and want to see a lot of paperwork (proof of residence, credit check, payslips) before renting out an apartment under a contract.
It's usually easier to initially get a sub-let for a shorter amount of time. This means you rent from people who rent from the landlord. This means less paperwork. It's worth making sure you have an official sublet agreement and the landlord knows about the letting.
Find sublets, houseshares and rentals on:
If you’re looking to share a flat with other people it’s called a WG. If you’re looking for your own apartment (Wohnung) it’s worth knowing that they describe the number of rooms including all habitable rooms (including living rooms), so a 1-zimmer is a studio and a 2-zimmer is a one bedroom. Places go quickly so you should keep checking to see when new places come up.
Resident registration (Anmeldung) and Tax ID
Everyone in Germany must register themselves at an address (Anmeldung) every time they move into a new apartment. You go to a civic office (Bürgeramt) with a form and your documentation and they register you. Appointments to register can be difficult to come by so although you're supposed to do it in a few weeks, in practise getting an appointment in that time might not happen.
You book online and go to any Bürgeramt in Berlin with the registration filled in, so you don't need to wait for your local one to have available appointments.
You need to get the people you're letting from the sign this form for you. If you're subletting then the people you have the contract with are the ones you need to get to fill in the form. You also take your passport and having someone who can speak German is useful.
Once registered, you get a stamped piece of paper that you show as proof of residence. If you've never lived in Germany before, you'll be sent a Tax ID in the post a couple of weeks later. This you can give to your employer.
An employer contributes slightly less than half of your health insurance and to other insurances like pension etc. Usually when you join a company they'll ask who you're insured with. I think some larger companies might just sign you up with someone so if you have a preference then tell them. The most important thing they'll want is your Tax ID (which comes after your Anmeldung) so it's good to get that ASAP.
Individual apartments in Berlin aren't numbered so post is delivered via the name on the postbox. For example, if the apartment has "Mustermann" on the postbox and I try to get something delivered there with only my name on, it wouldn't arrive.
The solution is to send things "C/O" the name on the postbox. For example: "Andrew Nicolaou C/O Mustermann, Somestrasse, 10293, Berlin"
The easiest way to set up a bank account is to use N26 as you can do it all online and it's availble in English. You'll need an address for them to send you your bank card.
There are a few cheap mobile providers. Blau.de has good coverage in Berlin and fast LTE speeds. They have a cheap 3.6GB data plan but it can be difficult to find on their website until you've created an account with them. You need to have a German bank account to top-up with Blau.
Other people use Nettokom or other SIM cards you can buy from supermarkets.
Health insurance is mandatory here. It's quite a complicated system so I spoke to a broker called Keith at CRCIE who speaks english and sorted it all out for me.
If you're not working then I think you can be covered by the NHS as a tourist for up to 90 days. However, once you register at an address you're living in Germany and so you should be insured. Again, a broker can help.
If you are employed and earn over about €48,000 gross a year then you can choose either state or private health insurance. If you earn under then you choose one of the many state insurance companies. If you're self-employed you have to buy private insurance.
People here also have personal liability insurance which covers you in case there's an accident and it was your fault. It's not very expensive and you can read this forum thread of horror stories about why you should have it.