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The secret tips for expats moving to Germany

Written by Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany
Updated on
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Ina Pilkington founded Expats In Wonderland to help others make Berlin their home. Besides giving an insight into what to expect when moving to Germany, Ina gives us her top tips on how to cruise through the German bureaucracy, navigate the tax system and – most importantly – how to score that perfect flat in Neukölln:

What was the initial impulse to found “Expats in Wonderland” & how many expats have you since supported?

I used to be a professional dancer, and have been touring extensively for the last 3 years of my dance career. Thankful for all the great opportunities, but tired of constant travel, I decided to settle in Berlin and find a new approach to life. Discovering the music and clubbing scene gave me an opportunity to recreate myself, to move my body to a completely different sound, and to meet creatives who have a different perspective on life and art. Falling absolutely in love with the city and the scene, I felt that I cannot just be a spectator, and decided to focus my work on the community that I had grown to love so dearly.
That’s when Expats in Wonderland was born. Now, 3 years later, we have relocated over 600 people, mostly new creatives that make this city what it really is.

What kind of services do you mainly provide and what is top of mind for freelancers looking to move to Berlin?

At Expats in Wonderland, we provide apartment search, visa service, and artist association insurance ( KSK ) as three of our main services. We also provide life admin services, custom-designed such as apartment management, obtaining tax number, Anmeldung or driving license transfers as well as property buying service.
For each freelancer, the trickiest things, in the beginning, are visa, tax number, and health insurance. It seems that these things are something they need the most help with and that’s where we jump in 😊

What is top of mind for freelancers looking to move to Berlin? What should people consider before making the move?

  • Get a place to sleep at once you land. Registration will sort itself a bit later. Ideally, you would get a temporary apartment with ´Anmeldung möglich`, but for the start – just get that room, get that bed where you can land straight from the airport, and get a good rest before the party starts.
  • Start a collaboration with a friend. You will likely need a letter of intent as a kind of invitation to work here, so if you have a friend who has lived in Berlin for a few years and is doing well, start a collaboration with them, and present that to the immigration office.  It doesn’t have to be profit-making.
  • Get good health insurance straight away. It will save you so much trouble in the future.
  • Once you get your visa, do yourself a favor and get a good tax accountant. They will save you so much trouble ( and money ) and make that visa extension effortless. Not to mention, with your papers, you will actually have the chance to get that affordable long term 2 room apartment in Neukölln.

💡 Tip from Accountable: You can use our app to prepare your bookkeeping and if you’re looking for an affordable tax advisor we also have you covered. Find more information here.

What are the most common problems freelancers encounter in the process of visa application and what do they worry about the most?

I would say that the most common problem is getting that registration done. A lot of expats scroll through Facebook groups and encounter very affordable accommodation, come to Berlin and realize they have actually booked an illegal sublet that does not offer Anmeldung. What worries them the most is then, how to get the registration done without having to find a new apartment.

Your secret tips for the appointment at the Ausländerbehörde?

Be clear about your title. Prove to them that you are financially independent and prepare a beautiful portfolio in color. Everyone likes pretty things 😊. Also, Germans LOVE stamps.

Your top tips on finding that right apartment in Berlin?

Prepare your application map so good that it can’t be overseen. However, if you do get denied, have patience – just because you might get denied a few times does not mean you will never find that perfect dream home in Neukölln.

Why do you work together with Accountable?

It’s simple – I love working with Accountable because it makes my life so much easier. For the apartment search, clients finally have an income statement which landlords love to see, and for any visa renewal, we have all the tax documents prepared for every case so the officer gives us that smile. I love that they’re fast and pragmatic.

💡 Tip from Accountable: If you’re looking for a net determination letter or a statement for a landlord please find more information and our offer for freelancers here.


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Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany
Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany

Tino already built two companies and therefore knows the challenges freelancers face first hand. With Accountable he wants to solve all those challenges related to taxes.
When not working, Tino enjoys a nice Asado with a glass of Malbec as well as celebrating one of the occasional wins of favourite soccer team 1. FC Köln.

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