Posts Tagged 'Berlin Life'

Berlin, the anxious punk…

Now that’s what I call a well-documented analysis. The Irish Times reports on Berlin, the fractured metropolis. The anxious punk?

Graveyard of ambitions?

A collection of individuals pursuing their interesting paths outside national ghettos?

A local management culture difficult to grasp?

A city attracting people who don’t know what to do next?

Or a place where – if you know what you want and fight for it in an equally disciplined way as you would do in Paris or London – you can find an unparalleled quality of living (after gray-sky vaccination)?

Find out…

The fractured metropolis?


Is Berlin a capital of creativity, as the hype would have you believe, or rather a slacker’s paradise, where every day is a Saturday? DEREK SCALLY talks to some Irish immigrants who have managed to forge careers there.

JOHN LENNON ONCE remarked that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. For many Irish, the German capital is a place they never intended to make their home but, to stretch Lennon’s logic, they have found Berlin to be a fine spot to live while making other arrangements.

Continue reading ‘Berlin, the anxious punk…’

Goldbären and Golia


Goldbären and Golia side by side. Goldbären for gemütlichkeit, Golia for simplicity. Goldbären because in Berlin the house is a shelter from the cold and the rain, like a cavern for the fatty bear. cimg0346

Golia because we need to remind ourselves that every object needs to have a precise function, and the only decorative items must be transient and lightweight, like a bunch of flowers, a colourful pillowcase, but furniture and walls need to remain plain and quite neutral, without constraints.


Goldbären because it’s süß, Golia because it’s strong…and both because I wanted to put something in the budget IKEA jars I had bought months ago!

sleeping in


Last weekend, first night in the flat! The flat needs still a bit of work on the storage units, so there are still tools and paint around the living room. But bathroom, kitchen and bedroom were up and running. And anyway, no hotel or B&B had been booked…so I would have slept in the flat no matter the situation.

Tests were ok and with flying colours…

Opting for a big shower (2m x 1m) rather for a bathtube was definitely a good idea, especially with the rainshower set. The snowy and icy cold weather in Berlin provided the ideal test also for the heating system below the dark anthracite grey tiles of the bathroom. It’s a pleasure to walk barefoot on something very similar to stones warmed by the sun. Our personal zero tolerance for bathroom furniture – except from a built-in small cabinet – also gives to the bathroom a nice mineral feeling, quite warm thank you to the mixed use of mosaic and milky-white tiles on the walls.

The kitchen test was limited to a good cup of tea as I had not bought groceries…in the picture you see a gorgeous constructivist-looking IKEA teapot. I bought the bold zinc letters forming our logo (RC)^2 last summer in NYC at the Anthropology store on Madison. Oh boy, at that time we just had the keys of the flat and the project was just a sketch done on the table of our favorite roman pizzeria while brainstorming with our architect. I can’t believe that sketch is now reality…

The living room hosted still a bit of work in progress, but it’s the only room which retained its original destination, albeit slightly modified by the disguised presence of the kitchen and by a mimetic mezzanine. The Rundbogenfenster – sort of bow window – was refurbished but untouched. A kind neighbor who lived 1945 in this Altbau building said that we are lucky to be on the front side of the building, which was not damaged by bombs and this explains the fact that these windows are only present on one side of the house. As the oak original flooring and ancient bamboo internal ceiling structure.

The bedroom is fully furnished even if curtains are badly needed in order to guarantee some quiet sleep, the 2 windows are indeed big and flood the room with light.

My brother and I bought a small radio-alarm clock in order to have some familiar noises around us. We were surprised by how silent the flat is, good 1900’s isolation, I suppose. We could hear steps on the kerb covered with icy snow during the night.

I hope that on the next trip MeinMann will be able to join me to Berlin, to see the result! He found this flat during our second flat-hunting campaign, back in november 2007, we signed the contract together in december 2007 and since June 2008 – when we finally got the keys – it’s been my task to commute monthly to Berlin.

I am now on first-name terms with a few cafe-keepers and shop assistants, I’ve found out what I can get at Aldi and what deserves a trip to Kaiser, learned the ropes on the comprehensive pillow offer in Germany, become an expert in return Blitztrips to IKEA in under 1 hour…the Kiez is my oyster.


I am looking forward to enjoying together the Gemuetlichkeit* of our flat, after all this busy-bee activity and all the research and big and small decisions. We deserve at last some farniente in Schoeneberg, going to the market in Winterfeldplatz, buying a Bund of flowers or listening to a nice record at home…

*=something more than cozy…warm, intimate, comfortable, good to stay in…something that cats master very well as you can imagine

Rents in Berlin: back of the envelope

From The Local

29 Jan 09 10:58 CET

More Germans rent their homes than anywhere else in Europe, but it‘s not such an affordable option as it once was, according to a new study released on Thursday by real estate association IVD. Continue reading ‘Rents in Berlin: back of the envelope’

at last…Monocle talks about Berlin!


Monocle Weekly – February 1st 2009

With these grey and rainy sundays IN ROME it is a pleasure to listen to Monocle’s Weekly radio broadcast, at lunchtime.

This week Mr Brule’ and guests discuss about innovative, small-scale shops …and that’s in Berlin.

And also, about innovation in printed media, guess where…in Berlin, again.

With the crisis beating into cookie-cutter big-scale operations, sustainable models like Berlin win. As per our Ideal Neighborhood list…

Bohemian Berlin’s coolest landmark to be sold off to the highest bidder

Hello! Buona Befana! (how do you say that in english…?)

Today on the Independent an interesting article on Tacheles…another building of Historicismus era (1908), more famous for its “between-ruin-and-a-squat” cultural centre. Let’s hope that Tacheles survives without becoming another hub of trendy (sic) boutiques…Mitte is becoming toooooo mainstream!!

Our marvellous Berlin Architecture Guide says that the building initially hosted a department store, in 1928 AEG moved in, only after WWII it became a a cinema and an art school and the Fall of the Wall marked the start of the artists’ association.

Berlin’s coolest landmark to be sold off to the highest bidder

Artists’ collective fights to stay in Tacheles building visited by thousandstacheles-berlin-2_109544a

Continue reading ‘Bohemian Berlin’s coolest landmark to be sold off to the highest bidder’

Rents on the rise in SW Berlin

An interesting article from the Berliner Zeitung…

Apparently rents are on the  rise especially in Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, Mitte, above 7 euro per square meter: “Besonders teuer sindWohnungen in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, in Steglitz-Zehlendorf und in Mitte. Dort verlangen die Vermieter in vielen Gebieten Quadratmeter-Mieten über sieben Euro”.

Arbitrage on the rent across Kiez is also becoming more frequent: “In Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg sei eine Entwicklung zu beobachten, die vor Jahren der Prenzlauer Berg durchlebt habe, sagte Heidrich. Die kulturelle Szene habe viele Investoren aufmerksam gemacht, die ihr Geld in die Sanierung von Altbauten gesteckt hätten und nun höhere Mieten verlangten. Dies führe dazu, dass einige Bewohner in preisgünstigere Nachbarbezirke abwandern”.

Interesting comments on the small apartment rents: “Der Trend zur kleinen Wohnung hält in Berlin weiter an, weil die Zahl der Single-Haushalte wachse, sagte Heidrich. Von den 1,9 Millionen Haushalten in Berlin ist derzeit mehr als jeder zweite ein Single-Haushalt (50,7 Prozent). Die große Nachfrage nach kleinen Wohnungen führt dazu, dass diese besonders teuer sind. Für eine Wohnung unter 45 Quadratmetern verlangen die Vermieter im Schnitt eine Miete von 6,65 Euro je Quadratmeter. Mittelgroße Wohnungen von 45 bis zu 90 Quadratmeter werden für 5,90 Euro je Quadratmeter angeboten, größere für 6,25 Euro“.

Still, the spread between rents in Berlin and, say, Italy remains very high. Have a look to these articles in the italian press (available online…):

a) D di Repubblica “FenomenoOh, Berlino!” on the magnetic power of cheaper rents vs other capitals, especially for young parents-to-be;

b) Internazionale n.762 – “Ecco perche’ lascio l’Italia” by Laura Lucchini

German Real-estatese for Beginners

Scheduling a trip for mid-august meant also carefully setting up appointments with real estate agents (MAKLER) in order to make the most of our stay in Berlin. We had surfed on real estate web sites so by this time we had acquired the essential vocabulary:

a) EXPOSE’ – a 3-page document detailing the property. Inclusive of photos (external view of the building, sometimes photos of the interior as well), information on the Kiez, age and condition of the building, square footage, amenities;

b) GRUNDRISS – the flat’s map

c) WOHNGELD – the cost for running the flat

d) and last but not least…the OBJEKT! (the property)

So…once the ideas are rather clear on the OBJEKT you are looking for, ask your MAKLER for one or more TERMIN (=appointment) to see a few flats of the desired size (and price) and make sure you get an EXPOSE’ via e-mail before in ordert to fine tune your research, possibly with a GRUNDISS telling you more about light, orientation of the flat etc.

Getting hold also of the cost profile of the flat (WOHNGELD) will help you in setting up your excel file and in identifying your ongoing cashflow profile, depending if you’re letting, living in the flat or using it as a FeWo (holiday apartment). Of course transaction costs should also be investigated, but those are quite clear and standard, they do not depend upon the individual property.

But the crucial question is….WHERE IN BERLIN?

That requires a bit more than just surfing the net and working the phones.

Get hold of you birkenstocks, and hit the town for extensive empirical research!

Berlin is larger than life

Berlin is larger than life

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