Monday, 19 August 2013
Where to Live in Berlin
As the epicentre of global cool moves around the world it is followed swiftly by rising real estate prices. Berlin’s recent history as a hip hangout for artists, musicians and other creative types has attracted exactly the kind of foreign investment in property that sees rents and house prices inflate dramatically. Still, it will take many years for this process to leave Berlin resembling Paris or London - where only the super rich can afford to live centrally. At the moment those choosing where to live in Berlin have plenty of options ranging from upmarket swank to grungy cool.
Your search for a neighbourhood to call home should start with a review of the many different types of Berlin bergs on offer.
This residential suburb is located just to the northeast of the centre of Berlin and was part of East Berlin before reunification. The bohemian youth who formerly inhabited the neighbourhood have moved on, leaving the many public parks, cafes, galleries and protected historic buildings to parents with pushchairs and students.
One half of the large borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the neighbourhood also known as X-berg was a once poor, now uber-trendy berg crammed with bars, clubs and alternative spaces. South of the Spree, but with the tree-lined Landwehr Canal running through its heart, Kreuzberg is a leafy neighbourhood which makes a perfect summer evening hangout.
Named after Sophia Charlotte of Hanover the Queen Consort of Prussia, Charlottenburg was the summer home of the Prussian royalty from the late 17th Century. The large baroque palace and extensive gardens on the banks of the Spree, the many museums, upmarket boutiques and expensive townhouses make this one of Berlin’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
Across the river from Kreuzberg and, unlike its neighbour, part of the former East Berlin, Friedrichshain is like an open air gallery-cum-museum. Crossing the beautifully ornate Oberbaum Bridge you immediately chance upon the East Side Gallery - the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall and a showcase for Berlin artists. Continue north and you’ll hit Karl-Marx Allee with its huge soviet era municipal buildings and high-rise blocks or head east to Simon-Dach-Strasse where the many bars are a popular haunt of the neighbourhood’s art and media types.
Off to the southeast of Berlin lies the neighbourhood of Neukölln, once part of the post-war American sector and now home to an ethnically diverse, politically left-leaning populace who benefit from the Turkish influenced cuisine, the many public parks including the huge Britzer Garten, the many bars and the affordable cost of accommodation.
South of the Tiergarten, Shöneberg is an historic neighbourhood which is not only home to some genuinely important landmarks (e.g. Rathaus Schöneberg where JFK delivered his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963) but also mainland Europe’s largest department store (KaDeWe) and many well kept parks.
The centre of Berlin is awash in history and includes the districts of Moabit - a former industrial but now largely suburban area; Tiergarten - where you’ll find the huge urban park and famous Zoo Berlin; Wedding - a largely working class neighbourhood; and Mitte itself where you’ll find countless museums, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the financial district and the spectacular Sony Centre complex. It’s also seen property prices increase by as much as 50% in the last three years.