Berlin Field Notes

This may eventually move to a Page or some other more long-lived category (by tag or geography), but for now I’ll be using a regular post to keep some running notes:


  • People are very friendly and open and most speak/understand English well
  • Days during summer are awesome. Sunset between 9-10PM
  • Packages are delivered often-times to a store/restaurant nearby which you then go to pick up your stuff at. It’s sort of weird.


  • Rent is reasonable, although has been increasingly dramatically the past few years. It seems to be about €500-700/mo for a 1BR atm. Sq footage is generous (as are high ceilings) although AC/central heating seems to be rare.
  • There are over 1000 AirBnB listings for $35/less. 3-star hotel rooms are available for about $80/night and up.
  • Sublets are plentiful. The places I were looking at were between €700-900/mo


  • Dining is plentiful and opens relatively late (restaurants tend to close around midnight w/ last orders around 11PM). Prices comparable to the US. Meals tend to run €10-20.
  • There are pretty few late night options, predominantly Turkish Doner joints – these are among your cheapest (€2-3) and fastest options. Getting food in general after midnight is a pretty miserable affair compared to Tokyo, Taipei, etc. You probably won’t be able to walk to anywhere near.


  • Berlin has supermarkets that are similar to American supermarkets (slightly smaller in size/SKUs). Prices for common items appear to in some cases be cheaper than in the US but otherwise pretty comparable.
  • There is apparently one 24-hour supermarket, and in fact, the number of supermarkets open on Sunday can be counted on your fingers.
  • There are a few convenience stores that dot the city that are open late/all-night (also Petrol stations are apparently an option). Cost for water/soda etc are about double or more the price at a supermarket.


  • SIM cards are not available at the Airport.
  • Cell shops are everywhere and it’s most convenient to stop by a shop as they will deal w/ activating the SIM for you. Otherwise if you buy a starter-pack you’ll typically have to get online to register it (in German). Expect to spend about €15-20 for 1-3GB of high speed data.
  • Prepaid SIMs are super common (just about every store seems to have their own white-labeled MVNO). blau (e-plus/BASE network) seem to be the best for speed/cost for mobile data. Data is fast, well priced, and also has LTE support. I also tried Lebara (Deutsche Telekom) and Rossmann (Vodafone).


  • TXL
    • The primary International Airport
  • Schönefeld (SXF)
    • A relatively small airport in SE Berlin, all terminals are closely walkable (compare to: Burbank BUR)
    • No free wifi
    • Nowhere to buy a SIM card
    • Bus available to the closest U-Bahn station. May be quicker to walk to the nearby S-Bahn station to get into town