Welcome to our guide to Berlin

Here we share our tips for life in the city, from the best places to eat,
drink and be merry, to hidden gems of culture and consumerism.

Cruelty free haircuts from wallacewallace on Brunnenstrasse

20th March 2019 in Fashion & Style, Health & Fitness


Feeling a little scruffy? Berlin is a city of no-logo fashion, which means that your haircut has to stand out amid the sea of black t-shirts and fetish wear. Luckily there’s a new scissor wizard in town, namely the wonderful Justin Nabbs operating on your bouffant or beehive from his newly opened salon wallacewallace at Brunnenstrasse, 159.

Justin and the wallacewallace team cater for both men and women and offer the usual a la carte menu of hairdressing delights. Appointments can be booked by calling +49 (0) 176 766 842 02 or via their newly launched website.

Beautiful decor, with a great selection of cruelty free products.

The overwhelming first impression of the beautiful wallacewallace salon is one of good taste and fantastic functional design. The room is light and spacious, with minimal decor carefully selected to provide comfort and purpose to both those under the razor’s blade and those waiting their turn.

Wash and head massage? Yes please.

Justin is certainly one of Berlin’s best hairdressers, but also a charming conversationalist. He perfectly imitated a look of genuine interest while I was testing his patience with my most boring chit-chat material, making all the right affirmation noises at the right time, and finally shut me up with his own fascinating and somewhat unconventional relocation story.

Jokes aside, I was genuinely bowled over by his friendly and genuine demeanour, which comes across both in his native English and fluent German.

The waiting area with that giant rug.

All the products used at wallacewallace are cruelty free. That means no animal testing!

So we went, and we tested. We were washed, and we were cut. And will I be going back?

A resounding yes! This hairdresser is exactly what Berlin needs. A lovely man, in a beautiful space, wielding a pair of shears like old scissorhands himself. Expats In Wonderland recommends!

Book your appointment now.

5 myths about moving to Berlin

12th March 2019 in Moving To Berlin, Relocation

Berlin is a city that attracts an opinionated cohort of expats, locals and transplanted Germans.  If you are moving to Berlin you’re going to hear a lot of noise from all sides about what it’s actually like to live and settle in the city.

Some of the move to Berlin myths that we’ll be busting are a source of rigorous debate, particularly in your local dive bar.  After a decade of living here, we can tell you that those conversations get pretty old, so if you find yourself looking for some straightforward answers, without being mansplained by some veteran raver, then here we go.

Myth 1: Berlin is over, you missed it and shouldn’t move here

Welcome to the spiritual home of 90’s nostalgia.  It’s true that after the wall came down there were some lawless years in which the city was a free-for-all of empty industrial space, attracting artists and musicians looking to escape military service in a drive to repopulate the city.  However, Berlin has a long and rich history the reaches far before the creation of techno, and it’s not a transitory place which loses its cultural significance so easily.

The once derelict Kunsthaus Tacheles

A few Google searches for “should I move to Berlin” will lead you to kilometers of forum threads warning you to take cover and run as far away from the city as if some kind of Chernobyl disaster took place leaving a fallout of unemployment, bad weather and misery in its wake.  Don’t be afraid.

Yes rents are higher than they used to be, the city is richer and in parts being sold off to companies looking to buy a taste of the local lifestyle at a premium price.  However it’s still a place that successfully fights back against corporations like Google, bases its economy around independent businesses and is one of Europe’s top rated cities to live and work as a freelancer or self-employed.

Source: Wired

Finding a flat in Berlin is still considerably more affordable than in other European capitals, and there are a lot of amazing working opportunities in companies where English is spoken as a first language.  Not to mention it boasts one of the most prestigious and inspiring nightlife cultures in the world. That’s why so many of the best artists, musicians, creatives and entrepreneurs in the world make the city their home.  We know, we relocated them!

Myth 2: Finding a flat as a freelancer is nearly impossible

The paperwork is intimidating, and don’t expect any molly coddling in your native language throughout the process, but despite the rumours that a full time contract is a prerequisite to getting a flat, we secure apartments for freelancers all the time.

Much of the flat application process, regardless of your working situation is about taking a methodical approach, speaking to the right people in the right way, following up like a maniac and ensuring that papers are presented to perfection.

Finding a flat as a freelancer is not so different from being an employee.

Ultimately, as long as you are able to show that your monthly income is three times the cold rent of flat that you are applying for, then you should qualify. This rule is the same for contracted employees, freelancers and the self employed. Just a few other documents are required for freelancers, such as tax returns or if you are new resident a financial forecast, but we are experts in putting together the entire package to help you secure the flat of your dreams.

Myth 3: It will be impossible for UK citizens to work in Berlin after Brexit

After 13 years of travelling around Germany as a touring dancer, without EU citizenship, I can say that living in Berlin as a UK citizen will continue to be possible after Brexit.  Sure, there will probably be a few more hoops to jump through, and certainly some trips to the immigration office, but we help people from outside of the EU relocate to Berlin every week.

The situation for British citizens is becoming gradually clearer, but even without a deal, there will be opportunities to work in Germany.

While life after Brexit will certainly be more bureaucratic, and some restrictions will be applied to those working in “unskilled” professions, there are still plenty of opportunities to make the city your home.  That said there are a few things that UK citizens should bare in mind when thinking about making the move in the near future.

  • You may be restricted from carrying out “unskilled” work such as in restaurant, retail and bar jobs.

  • English teaching qualifications can be a great way to get a visa, and make a basic living on arriving in the city.

  • Artist visas can often be more easily obtained than business freelance visa which need to be processed through the chamber of commerce.

  • Starting a business will certainly require a detailed business plan, and potentially an initial significant capital investment.

  • Letters of intent are often required to qualify your visa. You may be able to get significant help from friends or business associates already resident in the city.

Our visa service offers guidance on all of the above, so if you are unsure about how to prepare your application then get in touch and we’ll guide you through.

Myth 4: You will have to pay three times your rent upfront as a deposit

Once you secure a flat contract it is standard practice in Berlin that your landlord will take up to three times the monthly cold rent as a deposit.  This amount offers them security for any damage, or loss of the provided amenities during your stay.

Contracts are often full of stipulations about this amount of money, ranging from small print about the position of existing furniture, to the brand and type of paint that needs to be used when moving out.

Know your rights as a tenant.

It often happens that your landlord will demand the full security deposit upfront in a single payment.  This can be financially crippling for some people as with an average cold rent of €900 for a two room apartment, you can expect to lay out around €4000 in month one for your unfurnished place.  It is also illegal.

Thanks to strong protection laws for tenants in Germany, you are entitled to split your deposit payment down into three monthly installments.  This is a requirement by law, so if your landlord debates this fact with you, you can play the legislation card and they will begrudgingly comply.

Myth 5: Living in Berlin is easy without speaking German

While this city certainly boasts a chunky portion of immigrants living within an international bubble, and speaking as much German as it takes to select the salad and sauces on their kebab, it’s not a painless existence.

A few words of German will go a long way, and we encourage all new residents, if they have the means, to enroll in a course or get some private tuition.  Your quality of life will be improved, and you can deal with some of the basic life administration that will help you to get settled faster.

Taking a few German classes will improve your quality of life in Berlin.

Don’t worry if you have just arrived and don’t speak a word. With some of the basics in place you will be able to understand why the guy checking your boiler is shaking his head while making explosion hand gestures, and sweet talk the Berghain bar staff into a cheeky shot or two.  Both good friends to have for the price of a few lessons.

If you are moving to Berlin with a job already, it’s likely that your employer will offer some kind of subsidised class to help integrate international employees.  These are classes often carried out in working hours at the expense of the company. It’s not a legal requirement, but quite common even in the start-up scene, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Language schools are commonplace around the city and generally offer part-time or intensive course options from as little as €150 per month.  For a private tutor you can expect to pay between €25 – €35 per hour. Often if you take lessons with a friend you can save a little on this. Tandem partners can also be found using apps and websites.

Sounds hard and I’m tired…

Any Expats In Wonderland client will tell you that we’re ungloved cage fighters when it comes to battling bureaucracy in this city.  The reason that we get out of bed in the morning is to smell the blood of a quivering civil servant or landlord standing in the way of you making the city your home.

If you are moving to Berlin and want to find a flat, get a working visa, register with residency or tax office, or get German health insurance, then book a free 20 minute consultation and we’ll get to work.

Improve your fitness with Berlin’s best personal trainer trio

7th March 2019 in Health & Fitness
Meet the trainers: Catarina, Joey & Nikolai


Let’s face it, Berlin is not always the healthiest city. With a playground of debauchery, supersize bottles of booze on every street corner, and just about every conceivable variation of sausage available from dusk until dawn (we’ve seen you breakfast bratwurst eater and know where you live), you might occasionally wake up feeling a little puffy and gross.

Thankfully not all of sin city’s residents are spending every weekend in the Berghain darkroom stuffing eisbein and knödel down their gullet. Enter personal trainer trio, Catarina, Joey and Nikolai.

These three musketeers are united in their fight against chronic illness, poor diet, fatigue and lethargy. Their mission is to inspire and enable you to conquer your fitness goals, whether you are a high-performance athlete or trying to get fit for the first time.

For an hourly rate, or monthly package, they will tailor a complete fitness and nutrition plan to achieve and surpass your personal goals. Perfect for a busy schedule, they bring training time into your home so that the gym comes to you.

Let’s meet them.

Catarina Oliveira


Bio

Portuguese soul shaped in London. Personal trainer and fitness consultant with an endurance, conditioning and boxing training background. Full time mover perpetually chasing endorphins while fuelled by adaptogens.

In addition to training some of Berlin’s most notorious artists, musicians and of course Expats clients, Catarina collaborates with global fitness brands (think the biggest names in the business) and is currently working on a super-secret project to create Berlin’s answer to the LA fitness scene.

Contact

Follow or message Catarina on Instagram

Send an email to: aoliveiracatarina@gmail.com

Joey Till


Bio

Joey is the cheeky chap born and bred in London with his heart and soul in Berlin. A personal trainer and fitness coach coming from an endurance and marathon training background.

His approach is rooted in the science of motivation. Fuelled by a humour injected, infectious enthusiasm, he helps his clients to push their limitations.

Joey’s approach will help you to develop your endurance, conditioning, strength and flexibility. After each session you will leave with a sense of peaceful satisfaction that comes only from physical exhaustion.

Contact

Follow or message Joey on Instagram

Send an email to: josephtill@googlemail.com

Nikolai Hepp


Bio

London trained, german-Canadian dancer who loves high tempo workouts that leave you blissfully exhausted. With years of experience in ballet and teaching barre method his workouts aim to tone and lengthen your muscle while also improving posture and body alignment.

While Nikolai is the perfect choice for those looking to develop flexibility, he is also a passionate strength and endurance trainer. His approach also incorporates aspects of HIIT (high intensity interval training), and he is a master of balance and body weight. Find him in his free time upside-down in a headstand.

Contact

Follow or message Nikolai on Instagram

Send an email to: nikhepp@gmail.com

Masak Masak: Malaysian Pop-Up Serves Up Hainanese Chicken Rice

26th February 2019 in Events, Food & Drink
Masak Masak @ Kauz & Kiebitz on Tuesday 5th March 2019

Everyone’s favourite Malaysian / Singaporean popup team, Masak Masak, are taking over the kitchen at Kauz & Kiebitz (Reuterstrasse 47, 12047) on Tuesday 5th March, to make grandma style Hainanese Chicken Rice.

Say you are going on the Facebook event here.

With each popup, the Masak Masak chefs showcase a different dish from regional Malaysian / Singaporean cuisine. Expect no dumbing down of flavours in what is guaranteed to be an authentic trip through the culinary melting pot of south east Asia.

Seasoned rice, slow cooked chicken with chicken infused chilli sauce.

Hainanese Chicken Rice was created by immigrants in Hainan province, southern China, and is the adaptation of a well known Chinese dish wengchang chicken. It’s popularity spread through Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and to Singapore where it became one of the definitive national dishes, and a street-food staple.

Hainanese Chicken Rice – possibly the chickeniest chicken dish one can find. Chicken is slow cooked in a hearty chicken broth and served with rice cooked also in chicken broth, with a chilli dipping of chilli sauce infused with – you guessed it – chicken.

Masak Masak Chefs

The team will be serving up plates of poultry on Tuesday 5th March from 18:00. Normally a vegetarian option is available, but as this particular edition is an unbridled celebration of everyones favourite edible bird, best leave your veggie friends at the bar.

Plus our very own Josh Chong, normally heading up our flat search team, is donning his apron and wielding his chopsticks, as one of the Masak Masak founding members, to take the helm of the gas hob as chief executive of chicken for the evening.

Last minute prototyping

Come join the Expats team, and shovel some chunks of chicken rice into your greedy beaks!

Locally sourced Israeli food at Shishi in Kreuzberg

20th February 2019 in Food & Drink

Set amongst the rubble of Kreuzberg’s Ritterstrasse is a mediterranean oasis of healthy, sustainable and most importantly delicious food and drink.

The younger sister of the Tel Aviv kitchen Yafo, Shishi serves a variety of Israeli, middle-eastern and mediterranean dishes, with a unique charm and that high standard of service so rare to find in Berlin.

Despite the trendy, vintage deco and bare brick walls, there’s none of the uptight attitude that too often goes hand-in-hand with our beloved city’s gastronomic culture.  The staff are welcoming, friendly and clearly passionate about the dishes on offer.  Recommendations come without request, and elaborations on the journey from farm to table leave you feeling informed but not overwhelmed or oversold.

Not to mention, the food is fantastic.

Shishi – is the new mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Kreuzberg, hidden in a beautiful romantic court yard.
We purchase only local farmers products and natural wine from France and Italy.  Simple food but with the best ingredients you can have.

We started off with a range of mezze dishes, including a perfectly smooth Msabbaha with bread and olive oil (€8), roasted cauliflower (€10) and the star of the show, their beetroot carpaccio with hazelnut vinaigrette and creme freche (€12).

Due to the local sourcing of ingredients, not all of the mains were available, so we opted for the braised lamb with smoked aubergine and labneh (€18) and the daily special of grilled mackerel fillet served with a red pepper puree and burnt leek (€16).

Both were executed to perfection, with reasonable portion sizes, and presented with attention to detail.

For dessert, we shared the raw milk malabi with rose syrup, a type of apple jam and pistachios (€9).  The classic regional flavours were a well received compliment to the main event, but a little on the sweet side for my personal taste.

The venue itself is a little DIY, but with a nice atmosphere.  It’s situated in a beautiful former industrial (now mostly office) back yard space, similar to those around the media spree area.  We can’t wait to go in spring and eat on the terrace as it’s a wonderful outdoor space, that pairs perfectly with food designed to be shared with good friends and good wine.

Overall we loved Shishi and will be returning for regular refills of their high quality, local ingredients and wonderful oriental flavours.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more.

We’re hiring a Freelance Relocation Assistant

18th February 2019 in Jobs

Expats In Wonderland is looking for a freelance relocation assistant to join our growing family.  This is a great opportunity for flexible employment, first on a freelance basis, with the possibility of a part- or full-time contract later on.

The Role

You will be part of our relocation team helping mainly with our apartment search, visa applications and residency registration service.  Your responsibilities will include…

  • Collecting and organising documents for flat applications
  • Completing and following up on flat applications
  • Attending and scheduling flat viewings
  • Communication between housing associations, landlords and clients.
  • Assisting in setting up utilities & internet
  • Preparing and attending residency registrations
  • Assisting with visa document preparation
  • Attending visa appointments

The Person

Our philosophy is one of parental care towards our clients, and any representative of Expats In Wonderland has to be patient, kind and compassionate, as we always put their needs first.  We have of course a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination of any kind.

The ideal candidate…

  • Highly organised and always punctual
  • An excellent communicator in both English & German (at least C1 level)
  • Has understanding and experience of the Berlin rental market & application and registration process
  • Has some understanding or experience of the German visa process
  • Loves meeting new people by building and maintaining client relationships
  • Has good IT skills – google docs, sheets, print/scan etc.
  • Is methodical and calm under pressure
  • Has immaculate attention to detail, in both verbal and written communication

The Offer

We’re a growing company that is looking for long term members of our team.  Ideally you will be hired on a freelance basis, become an key part of the company, and have the offer of a full contract later on.

In the immediate term, we offer…

  • Competitive freelance hourly base rate plus commission
  • Flexible working hours
  • Regular social and networking events with Berlin’s professional expat community
  • Monthly BVG travel card
  • Fun and friendly co-workers with team brunches, meetings and activities

Please send your CV and covering letter explaining why you would be a good fit for the role to ina@expatsinwonderland.com.

Expats In Wonderland at Betahaus

9th February 2017 in Events

In January 2019 Expats In Wonderland gave a short talk at the new betahaus Berlin location.  The topic of the talk was to explore the process of moving to Berlin from the perspective of international freelancers and entrepreneurs who are from both inside and outside of the EU.

Continue reading »

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If you like what you see, then book an appointment to meet one of our team to discuss your relocation.

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