Finding a place to live and to work in Berlin

Berlin like many other European countries has a high unemployment rate. It is estimated at 16 percent. Despite this, there are numerous IT and teaching jobs in Berlin. Most of the companies employ local workers and apart from these two industries it might be difficult to find jobs in Berlin. Fluency in German is a prerequisite.

European Union citizens may work in Germany without obtaining work permits, but Americans and other foreigners have a much longer process. If you have a EU passport then you can follow these steps in procuring a work permit:

Register at the Landeseinwohneramt and the police within a week of arriving in Germany

Obtain a tax certificate

Take your passport with, as well as a copy of the accommodation agreement. The residence certificate is needed for opening accounts in Germany. EU citizens don't have to transfer driver's licenses unless the license is less than two years old.

Other foreigners must also obtain a residence permit as well as a tax certificate. If you come from a country outside Europe, then apply at the Arbeitsamt, which is a Labor registration office. You need the following:

  • Residence certificate, which is valid for up to three years for EU citizens. A temporary residence permit can be granted for three months.
  • Passport
  • Two pictures of you (passport type)
  • Letter from the prospective employer
  • Copy of your medical insurance if it is not part of your employment benefits
  • Proof of qualifications if applicable
  • Proof of support in the form of money to show that you can sustain a living for at least three months without work

You can also get a work permit when you are studying in Germany. It allows you to work during the holiday periods as well as twenty hours a week during the semesters. You may use your driver's license for six months, where after you have to apply for a German license. The German government issued a special work permit for 20 000 IT workers from other countries to work and live in Germany for a maximum of five years in August 2000.

Finding teaching jobs in Berlin
Germany has a severe shortage in English speaking teachers. There are many language schools in Berlin that provide business classes, conversational English, primary and secondary school English. They require a TEFL qualification. The average pay is DM25 an hour for teaching jobs in Berlin. You can browse through the yellow pages, the Tip magazine, or consult the university boards.

Living conditions in Berlin
Part of the city still suffers from its communist past with old damaged buildings and poverty, while the city center is upgraded with many new buildings that house large corporations. The city has more than 450 000 foreigners that normally group together since the Germans have closed groups and are not really open to foreigners. Recycling is seen as important and you should take note of the procedures to follow. They love their quiet time on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. The city is vibrant and living conditions are affordable.


There are several apartments in the eastern parts of Berlin for only DM300 a month. The newer apartments go for DM1000 up but are neat and have full bathrooms. Zitty magazine, as well as the Tip magazine has accommodation advertisements. There are a number of agencies that you can use to find apartments.

Finding jobs in Berlin may be difficult at first but you can post job-wanted advertisement while you search. The Internet is a good source though you will still have to go for a personal interview.