David Bowie once famously declared that Berlin is “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” 40 years after his 3-year stint in Schöneberg, Bowie’s adoration of Berlin continues to ring across the many music venues and bars that define the city, a reminder of why there really still isn’t anything like it. Berlin loves Bowie and Bowie loves Berlin–and so do many other people
We’re far away from 1976 West Berlin, and since then, the city has developed in dynamic ways. Take innovation, for example. With around 40,000 business registrations per year and more than 500 startup companies founded here every year, Berlin is far and away Germany's most innovative city. 30% of all German startups are based in Berlin—and the city has recently overtaken London as founders’ choice for the best city in which to start a company.
Berlin is a city that simultaneously attracts potential entrepreneurs in the creative and technology industries and employees from all corners of the world. And don’t forget about the city’s bread-and-butter, too: it’s the city’s creative layer—its artists, musicians, filmmakers, and poets—that continues to innovate in aesthetic ways hardly found in any other city across the world.
As we see office spaces thriving once again, COVID numbers beginning to ease, and the summer inching just a little bit closer and closer, we wanted to take a trip down memory lane. Berlin is special to us, and it still remains the love of our—and many peoples’—lives. So, Berlin: this is for you!
It’s about the vibe
What is it about Berlin that makes it the perfect equilibrium of innovation, fun, and work-life balance? A high standard of living at a comparatively low cost, lively local communities with lots of networking opportunities, the artistic and musical scenes, and an international ambience are just a few of the reasons why people—artists, founders, employees, and entrepreneurs alike—keep flocking to Berlin.
And international it is. Berlin still remains Germany's most international city, a capital with a tolerant, worldly population that celebrates its diversity in street festivals, global restaurants, and protests—many protests—of all stripes. Multikulti, slang for multikulturell (multicultural) in German, imparts the perception of an tolerant attitude toward different cultures and religions. By any standard of the world, Berlin continues—and will continue—to be international: 35% of its population is non-German (more than any other part in Germany); everything about is a melting pot in the true sense of the word.
Being an employee in Berlin has perks that other European cities simply don’t. For example, a recent study found that 80 percent of Berlin startup employees agree that immigration is one of the most attractive parts of being an employee in the city. There are also 50 percent more female founders in Berlin than in other German cities. And if you’re a founder—or simply someone with a great idea—starting conditions are propitious: office and location expenses continue to be lower than in many other major cities. Berlin has the most coworking spaces in Germany—not to mention some of the coolest offices out there.
Live well, and live easy
In 2003, Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit famously called the city “poor but sexy.” It’s a truism that remains valid even 40 years after Bowie left Berlin: the quality of life in this city is close to unbeatable. Cost of living remains low for employees and artists alike: for comparison, it’s nearly 30% less expensive than San Francisco, according to data from Teleport. Another study found that health care, purchasing power, and climate-friendliness all rank among the highest in Europe.
On top of that, the city’s diverse, thriving art and music scene is second-to-none. Berlin’s contemporary art scene began to prosper after the fall of the wall, a liberal, uninhibited atmosphere in the 90’s which attracted budding and established artists alike who were able to experiment with unique and abstract concepts, mediums, and forms of expression. Today, Berlin’s many important artistic offerings, including the Berlin Biennale each summer and Berlin’s Art Week every September, continue to attract artists and aficionados alike.
And let’s not forget about the music. With around 300 nightclubs operating in the city, Berlin has one of the highest concentrations of nightclubs in the world. A study in 2018 by the Berlin Club Commission found that the creative industry employs around 9,000 people—while club visitors spent an average of just over €200 per day alone. These aren’t your average top-40 clubs, either: Berlin boasts some of the best electronic music establishments in the world. “Don’t forget to home” is a Berlin mantra, often heard on misty Sunday mornings, an hour in which it’s not uncommon to see packed queues filled with early-rise clubbers barely getting their groove on.
Have things changed in Berlin with COVID-19? Like other great cities in the world that thrive from culture, the pandemic brought with it a slew of changes, with many bars, restaurants and clubs closing down due to financial pressures. But Berlin is a city of constant reinvention, of eternal rebirth and total renaissance. ““Berlin is the newest city I have come across,” Mark Twain once said. In 2022, as Omicron wanes and the city enters yet another summer awakening, nothing could be more true.
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