Michael Zahn: At home in Berlin

Fast, colourful and vivid – that’s how the economic and cultural metropolis of Berlin presents itself to inhabitants and guests from around the world. Being the polit­ical centre of Germany and a cosmo­­politan city with a long history, Berlin is like a magnet. This is not only reflected in the continuously increasing number of tourists, the number of inhab­­itants has also been increasing since 2005. But what attracts people to come to Berlin?

The capital excels with a very dynamic force and highly creative potential. Most of all, the industries “mobility and clean technologies”, “life sciences”, “informa­tion and communication technology” as well as “creative industries” stand be­­hind this development. They find excellent condi­­tions for higher than average growth in Berlin: highly qualified, specialized staff, the highest concentration of research and scientific facilities in one place in Germany, low-priced commercial premis­­es and real estate in the city centre as well as the best possible infrastructure. That is why Berlin has become the new home of numerous companies. In addition, Berlin has developed into a driv­­ing force in politics. Along with the move of many government bodies, the em­­bas­sies, organizations and lobbies have moved their offices to the capital, too, and big German and international concerns have opened up offices here. They want to be involved when politics is made.


At the same time, the German capital provides a high quality of living to its in­­habitants. Berlin is a metropolis with a lot of green spaces, numerous local rec­­reation areas and, due to a high number of rivers and lakes, also a city on the wa­­terfront. In addition, there are also world-famous museums like the Per­ga­mon Museum or the Bode Museum, many different galleries and renowned theatres and opera houses, turning Berlin into a cultural metropolis. Among the city’s most famous cultural assets are six Berlin Mod­­ernism Housing Estates, which were clas­­sified World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2008, like the “Hufeisensiedlung Britz” (Horseshoe Estate Britz), the “Weiße Stadt” (White City) and the “Ring­sied­lung Sie­mens­stadt” (Ring Settlement of Siemens City). They represent the beginning of subsidized housing. In the 1920s they significantly influenced the development of modern housing all over the world. Even today the green and leafy condominiums are still sought-after residences. Their high quality in design and efficient use of space provide all you need for living and feeling well.

To preserve the estates as witnesses to subsidized housing, the buildings are renovated in close co-operation with the Berlin Monument Authority according to the guidelines for historical monuments, and their historic appearance is restored.


Another advantage of Berlin is that the cost of living is lower than in other German cities and international metropolises. Not only the beer in a corner pub in the older districts but also the restaurants and thea­­tres are on average lower in price in Berlin than elsewhere. According to the rent in­­dex of Berlin, the average rent for private housing, exclusive of heating and utilities, is between 4.57 euros per square metre in lower priced locations and 5.34 euros per square metre in more desirable lo­­ca­­tions. In spite of the continuous influx, the housing market in Berlin is current­ly still relatively easy. New citizens and peo­­ple who move can always find a new home, although this is ad­­mit­­tedly be­­com­­ing more dif­­ficult in some of the popular dis­­tricts like Charlottenburg, Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg. With­­in the individ­­ual dis­­tricts, Berlin combines the advantages of a metropolis with the calmness of a small town. The phe­­nomenon of the neighbour­­hoods is more characteristic here than in most other cities. They create quality of living and an ambience which makes the people of Berlin feel at home in “their” quarters until an advanced age.

Politics, business, science, culture, archi­­tecture, dynamic force, quality of living, home – Berlin is all this. And all this no longer enthrals only the people of Berlin. You can rather say that Germany, Europe and the world are fascinated by this me­­tropolis, which never just “is” but al­­ways “becomes”.


Michael-Zahn-1The author (born in 1964) has been a member of the board of the residential pro­­perty corporation “Deutsche Wohnen AG” since 2007. In 2008 he was appointed chairman. The author did his degree in economics at the Albert-Ludwig Uni­ver­­sity in Freiburg im Breisgau. While pur­­suing his professional career, he did his postgraduate studies of Corporate Real Estate and Chartered Surveyor at the Euro­­pean Business School in Oestrich-Winkel.