Moving to Berlin was in many ways a last minute decision, but at the same time, I moved to a place that I was familiar with.
This was very different from moving to Austin, a place I had never visited prior. I didn’t have to leave Austin. If I wasn’t so convinced that there existed another place I could truly enjoy living in, I wouldn’t have left.
After I quit my second job I was working remotely again. I got the idea to move somewhere in Europe while I still had the opportunity to live and work anywhere in the world. The way I see it, I can live in the US at any point in my life, but I should take the opportunity to experience life elsewhere while I still have the chance.
I first thought to move to either Alexandria, Athens or Istanbul. Living in any one of these cities would have been very different from anything I was used to, which was something I wanted. Having visited each city, I knew largely what to expect, what the quality of life would be like, the cost of living, the food, people, etc.
But these places offer no real coworking or freelance culture, at least not one as developed as Berlin.
What I liked about Austin was the breadth of coffee shops where I could sit for hours and do my work. In these cafés, I was surrounded by many other professionals who were glued to their computer screens, working hard. This is something I knew I would miss leaving Austin, and the new place that I would choose to live in would need to have this kind of work culture.
Not to mention that living in Egypt or Turkey would be rough. A very fruitful and unpredictable experience for sure, based on the two weeks I spent in both countries two years ago. I would be a completely different person (for better or worse, I cannot say) after having lived there.
It was this kind of adventure that I was trying to find, while at the same time balancing it with a culture of work.
I wanted a few things from my new home: A low cost of living for one — in Berlin one bedroom apartments can go for €600-700 centrally located. Rent can even be as cheap as €300-400 if you want to live outside the city center.
Second: A place that provides for greater travel opportunities — while living in Austin I managed to see a decent amount of Texas with weekend trips to Arizona and Colorado. Berlin is in the heart of Europe, Prague is a few hours train ride away, as is Warsaw and Vienna, and the Mediterranean coast is only a short, cheap flight away.
The city needs to be international — maybe it’s because I was raised in New York, but I need to live in a diverse place where I can meet people with very diverse experiences and backgrounds.
I need to be able to continue working and writing — my workday now starts at 3 pm, which means I have the greater part of the morning and afternoon to write. I can capture the hours when my creativity is strongest, and not leave my most important work for after sundown.
Most importantly, I wanted to live in Europe.
I visited Berlin for the first time in 2011. I returned to Germany three times after that. I spent several days in Hamburg and a week in Koln. Berlin was sunny and crisp and cold when I visited, Hamburg was cloudy and it rained a great deal in Koln.
I have only sweet memories of Berlin in the few days that I spent here more than 7 years ago. I know better than to try and relive old memories, but I decided that it would be best for me to return to Berlin and create new ones.