From India to Berlin: Working and living in the heart of Europe

Of all the European countries, it is Germany that does the most trade with India. The capital city Berlin, in particular, is one of the fastest growing startup hubs in the world, and is considered to be one of the world’s best cities to live in. Highly qualified jobs in a diverse corporate landscape, excellent educational opportunities, strong support for families and excellent welfare programmes, as well as a fair cost of living make the German capital city the place to be for expats from around the globe.

Indian citizens make up the largest expat group from non-European countries living in Berlin. In fact, more than 16,500 Indian citizens currently call Berlin home. Almost 3,000 of them moved to Berlin in only the last two years. Currently, there are around 2,800 students with Indian roots studying at Berlin colleges and universities. Around 6,400 foreign citizens attain German citizenship in Berlin each year – and every 80th is Indian. Indian immigrants find work in technology, engineering and business administration.

The rapid increase in Indian citizens moving to Berlin is easy to explain. The city boasts excellent career prospects and an even better work life balanceJobs can be found across Berlin at more than 190,000 companies – a new startup is founded in the city every 20 hoursGerman employment contracts are very fair and include clearly regulated working hours. Employees have a lot of rights and receive financial help from the government in the event that they lose their jobs.

Plus, Berlin is a dynamic, free, open, tolerant and safe city. People from 170 countries live here together in harmony. Over 36 percent of those living in Berlin are immigrants or have parents or grandparents who are immigrants. A variety of international schools allow children who come to Berlin to continue their education in English or pick from many other foreign language programmes. The same is true for many higher education programs.

Berlin is a family-friendly city and inhabitants profit from the German welfare system. This includes state-run nurseries, a requirement that all inhabitants have health insurance, a state-run pension plan, excellent medical care, plenty of cultural institutions and events and an extensive public transport network.

Priyanka Nair-Schöneck arrived in Berlin a few years ago from Pune in India to study and has now settled in the city. Today, she works as a Lead HR Business Partner at SumUp, a tech startup. She agreed to do an interview with us:

Why did you decide to do your degree in Berlin?

I did some research and discovered that Germany was a really great option with lots of opportunities. So I applied to the Berlin School of Economics and Law and was accepted. In my third semester, I was able to complete an internship with an energy company which gave me some great insights into the work culture here.

How has your career developed since then?

After completing my degree, I got a job at Mozilla Firefox which of course I was very happy about. Once it was over, I was able to find a new position within two months, here at SumUp. In Berlin there is a huge range of companies to choose from, from more traditional workplaces to startups. If you work for a smaller company, you have more of an impact and can watch the company grow.

What is the best thing about life in Berlin?

One of the best things about Berlin, or really Germany in general, is the excellent welfare system. You work and pay taxes but a lot of that money is an investment in your future. Lots of benefits considered ‘nice to have’ in other countries are required here, for example health insurance.

Would you describe Berlin as diverse and inclusive?

Absolutely, there are lots of meet-ups and discussions about diversity and integration. There is still a lot of work to do but the discussion is happening. And there’s something for everyone in Berlin. Finding groups and communities to join in with is really easy. As soon as I got here I knew that I wanted to stay.

Thank you Priyanka.

How about you? Would you like to move to Berlin? Our portal offers initial information on local startups, the Berlin job market, the immigration process and of course specific job opportunities. Many Berlin startups speak English as their main corporate language. One way to find out if this is true for a company you are interested in is to see if they post their job advertisements in English. For additional information, contact the Berlin Immigration Office – particularly if you have questions about getting a visa.


The German Indian Startup Exchange Programme (GINSEP) supports exchanges between German and Indian startups. The program also has information about job searching in Berlin. Feel free to contact them directly!

Generally, the best way to establish contacts in Berlin is still via networkingSearch the internet for events that take place in Bengaluru or other large Indian cities and that feature Berlin startups, and go to them! Or find out more about initiatives such as Indian Students in Germany. Find your individual path to life in Berlin. We wish you all the best on your journey.