With London becoming more and more expensive and divided over Brexit, the German capital has claimed the crown of Europe’s coolest city.
Berlin’s status has an astonishing cultural history, which takes in everything from the Bauhaus school of art to Iggy Pop and David Bowie, both of whom called the city home in the 1970s. The city has long drawn young creatives who are attracted by the reasonable cost of living: an apartment rent is typically about €788 a month and the average commute is a mere 23 minutes on excellent public transport.
For businesses too, one of the great draws of Berlin is the cost. Office space is about €18 per square metre a month – a fraction of cities like London and San Francisco and is a reason Berlin has the most start-ups in Europe outside of London.
The other great appeal for companies is the existing ecosystem. As well as being Germany’s political and cultural capital, Berlin hosts one of the highest densities of scientific research institutions in Europe. It is Germany’s biggest city for media and tech – and its economy has been growing faster than the country as a whole for more than a decade.
This may well be for the best. Many Berliners now view over-centralised cities like London or Paris as places consumed by their own success, rather than examples to emulate. Businesses agree. In 2017, the technology fund Samsung Next Europe chose Berlin for its European HQ. The reason? According to Felix Petersen, the managing director, “In Berlin, you can do stuff without much money.”