emigrated: 5 years in berlin and how I feel about it

von Sarah Kuhn
berlin titelbild

Yaay, I’m celebrating my anniversary. No, no not with the blog but five years have passed since I had to pack my bags and take the one-way ticket from Zurich to Berlin. Somehow it seems to me as if it was only recently that I made this spontaneous decision, but somehow also as if I’ve been here in the north for half my life.


In this article I want to write about the best and worst parts of the experiences to move to Berlin. How I am doing in the German capital and how I imagine the future.

My best experiences

I became a cat mom

I was able to have my most beautiful experience right at the beginning of this journey when I fulfilled my long-awaited dream and got a kitten. I can no longer imagine a life without my beloved Thia! I got the little one about a month after I moved to Berlin so it’s a special year for her too!

Friends for life

I would never have thought that in this city I would meet people where I can 99.99% say that I will do nonsense with them when I am old and wrinkled. Especially at the beginning it seemed as if Berlin locals see friendships completely differently from those in Zurich. Here in Berlin everything was more superficial, you got to know people faster, but the contact was not maintained. That’s why  I’m even happier to say that I’ve made friends for life in Berlin.

Festival vibes

Whenever I walk through the streets of Berlin (especially in the warm months), I feel like I’m at a festival. This city doesn’t know the word “boredom”! The streets are full of music, good humor and crazy open minded people! And no, that’s not only the case at the weekend but also during the week because of the great nightlife offers – I even have to praise the BVG for that, because they gets you home safely even on a Tuesday at 2 a.m.  I feel at home in Berlin but also like on vacation, which is really cool.

Bonus point: In addition to the countless lidos, the sea is not far away either. A day sunbathing on the beach is also super easy thanks to the Baltic Sea!

Best selection of restaurants, cafes and bars

I’m pretty picky when it comes to food, so I’m even more pleased that there is such a variety of restaurants, cafés and bars in Berlin! In the meantime, of course, I also have my favorite places, but otherwise I rarely go to one place more than once because there is so much to try! By the way, Berlin is also like paradise for vegetarians and vegans, I don’t think I’ve seen so many offers in any other city.

Bonus point: Berlin is pretty cheap to eat and drink!

My worst experiences

Money, money, money

The first thing that blew me away was that you would need more money than I thought for an emigration. Even if I only came with two suitcases and already had an apartment and most of the furniture, I soon found out that I needed more money than I thought. Fortunately, my parents helped me a lot, otherwise I could have go back to Switzerland after just three months.

Immigration office and the general bureaucracy

After the money came the second nasty surprise. The bureaucracy in Germany is not quite as organized as I know it from Zurich. I had to learn this from the immigration authorities. I went there to report my movement, whereupon an employee sent me away and said that I would get a letter. I didn’t receive it for a long time and had almost forgotten the subject when almost a year after it a letter fluttered into the house with a warning. 

The point was that I was staying illegally in the country and that I had to report to the competent authority immediately. As you can imagine, the letter came shortly before the deadline and of course they wanted some money from me. So I, who had no idea what’s the problem, went back to the immigration office because I thought that this must be cleared up quickly. Finally I was there and even had my boyfriend at the time with me. I was treated like a lying felon – no trace of goodwill. It was horrible! 

To everyone who moves from a non-EU country to one: even if your country is the neighbor and has a special agreement, you you have to report yourself. If someone tells you something else don’t listen to it, otherwise you have the same problem as me.

Housing market

Looking for a flat in Berlin is pure hell! It took me three months to find an apartment and I was able to move in again almost three months later. But I was really lucky with that one and I don’t even live in one of the popular districts. If I hadn’t scaled down my requirements, I would probably still be looking for affordable housing.

However, if you make some compromises and stay on the ball, it is not impossible to get a 3 room apartment at an acceptable price! So to all those who are looking for something here: Don’t give up!

umzug berlin

Coming from A to B

You can see this as an advantage and also as a disadvantage, I see it rather negatively. If you want to do something in Berlin, you have to go forever. The rule of thumb is 30 minutes to get from A to B. I’ve gotten used to it now but to be honest I prefer the travel times from Zurich!

Dirty city with a lot homelessness

As much as I love Berlin for its lidos, parks and forests, I hate how dirty this city is and how high the homelessness rate is. Especially when you come from a city like Munich or Hamburg, it’s shocking that something like this is possible in a country like Germany. I wish that all this would change, but then I think Berlin wouldn’t be Berlin anymore. Because as the saying goes: Berlin is poor but sexy!

Forever Berlin?

I have to say “no” very clearly, because as much as I love Berlin at some point I would like to have a family with children and I definitely do not want to raise them in this city. For now, my dream situation would be a permanent position in Zurich including a small apartment with a home office option so that I can commute between my current apartment (which I love more than anything) and the future one.

Wouldn’t mom have thought that I would move as far away when she said that I ‘m old enough to move out of the family apartment.

Why do I stay in Berlin!

What you are now probably wondering about is why I am still in Berlin when I am listing, a post about this, predominantly negative things. It can’t be the relationship with Tristan, because we broke up over a year ago.  In fact, I think Berlin is THE perfect city for people between the ages of 20 and 30. You can find great food, exciting people, crazy parties and variety until you drop. I also feel incredibly comfortable in my new apartment and just can’t imagine moving out.

berlin fernsehturm

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