Relocating to another country is scary and complicated. Amongst all those cultural clashes, one of the biggest comforts is help and advice from fellow countrymen. As a Russian-speaker myself and a (fairly) recent arrival in Berlin, this post is designed as a guide to the Russian-speaking IT-community in the German capital.

  1. Russians are a majority minority: Berlin is a city of contrast, where the east and west collide to form a unique culture, but what makes the city truely different from the rest of Germany is its diversity. Berlin is a city of immigrants. There are more than 600,000 non-Germans from more than 190 countries living here, accounting for 18% of the population. A further 30% of Berliners are first generation German, meaning their parents are immigrants. The biggest expat-communities are Polish, Turkish and Russian. According to different sources there are around 200-300,000 Russian-speaking people living in Berlin, the equivalent of a medium-sized German city.

  2. There are two options for visas: as for relocation process, you may check our recent blog posts about moving to Berlin and overcoming the bureaucracy hurdles. Typically Russian-speaking developers are eligible for the single residence visa and the EU Blue Card visa. Companies usually help, assisting with all the necessary documents for the visa and in some cases providing relocation bonuses and/or travel coverage.

  3. You can eat all the pelmeni and borsch you desire: If you are missing home comforts, there are plenty of Russian supermarkets. Two of my favourites are Russia in Charlottenburg and Intermarkt in Lichtenberg.

  4. You probably have to speak English to work in a startup: With some rare exceptions, the main speaking language in Berlin’s startups is English.

  5. Berlin is cheaper than Moscow: The other thing that makes Berlin unique is its comparatively low cost of living. Prices in general are lower than Moscow. In Berlin you can get a 1-room flat in the center for €700, much more affordable than Moscow. And forget about the usual Moscow-style traffic jams and overcrowded subways: Berlin is a city of bicycles and boasts an efficient network of public transport (U-bahn and S-bahn). The population density is lower than Moscow (3,900 people/km² in Berlin vs 5,000 people/km² in Moscow), which makes Berlin less crowded.

  6. The workplace is pretty friendly: Almost every startup in Berlin has good working conditions: nice offices with modern equipment, free fruit and drinks, regular meetups, hackathons and team events.

  7. There is a huge Russian-speaking developer community here: if you miss the Russian language, have “Heimweh” and want to discuss specific issues with Russian-speaking developers, there is a Russian IT-community in Berlin – IT Berlin. The group was founded in December 2014 and currently has more than 300 members on Facebook. They also have a slack-chat. According to the founder of IT Berlin, Mikhail Kosmykov, the main reason for creating the group was lack of live communication on various IT topics. Mikahil comments, “When you move to another country, the connections with your friends and former colleagues become weaker. Our IT-group helps to find local IT people with whom you can fill this gap. We share useful information about relocation, finding flats, changing jobs or bureaucracy issues, for instance. Experienced locals can give advice to beginners in various domestic issues.” The meetings of IT Berlin usually take place once or twice a month in informal settings.

  8. You can get local news in Russian: There are some Russian journals, such as - Berlin24 and RG-RB.

  9. There’s plenty of Russian entertainment too There are many activities organized by Russian-speaking community in Berlin. People gather to play Mafia almost every week, have occasional BBQ’s in summer or go ice-skating together in winter. There are a huge amount of seminars and concerts of Russian and Ukrainian bands (e.g. 5’nizza). There are clubs aimed at the Russian-speaking community (Klubnika in Friedrichshain)and Russian restaurants (such as Goldene Perle in Lichtenberg). For the art-lovers like myself, the PANDA theatre in Prenzlauer Berg organizes art exhibitions, Russian poetry readings and music performances. Berlin Wunderbar, a popular group on VK, keeps track of all relevant events for Russian-speaking people in Berlin. You can also get updates on Facebook through Ukrainians in Berlin and Russians in Berlin groups.

So, overall, there are many perks of living in Berlin: it’s an international and tolerant city; it has active Russian-speaking communities; it’s relatively cheap and convenient; and it’s one of the most successful IT-hub of Europe. As Kirill Shirinkin, a local Russian developer put it, “Berlin is the best city in the world. Nowhere has grabbed my attention like this city. Beautiful, diverse, big, but very cozy, international, smart public transport - and a lot of work opportunities.”

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Sasha Pliusnina

Sasha Pliusnina

Sasha is a Talent Rep at Honeypot. Born in Ukraine, she relocated to Germany because of her (inexplicable) love of the German language. Sasha spends most of her free time in book-shops, listening to Chet Baker.