While the Germans appear to be completely oblivious to the fact, they are viewed as the ultimate rival to the British. This is shown in not only sporting and political rivalries, but also is embedded in culture for historical reasons and the connection of the countries. The Royal family, for example, is basically German after all!
Germany, on the other hand, is much more preoccupied with its rivalry with the Dutch to notice Britain in this way. While this ‘competition’ for the most part is a light-hearted affair, it does make it a surprise to learn about a new trend.
It appears British people are rejecting the life that has for so long dominated their culture in London and are heading for the airports. Surprisingly, Berlin is top of the list for the young professionals. The German capital is attracting the Brits for a myriad of reasons, and it seems not even a friendly rivalry is going to stop them.
Why Are They Leaving?
It’s fair to say that the UK heavily relies on London for most of its industry and arts. This makes for a buzzing centre, but also means if there are issues, then there are not many other places people can go to give them the same access to the things they love.
Brits have started to realize they can earn the same if not more and have better living standards abroad. For many the answer has stayed within the anglosphere. The majority of expats go to Australia and the US, while Spain is the traditional European hideout.
Job opportunities in the UK are becoming hard to come by as competition for skilled work is high in a highly-educated country. Many graduates are fighting for one position among hundreds of applicants.
When discussing the issues people are having in the UK and London you can’t ignore the elephant in the room, Brexit! Yes, the B word!
Young people were predominantly for remain and with the referendum decision they find themselves moving into an unknown future in the UK. So many people were disappointed, in fact, that the Irish embassy went from having around 200 applicants a day for a passport to 4,000 the day after the vote. (You can qualify through family for an Irish passport, allowing them access to EU)
Recruiters are also finding a massive surge in people looking for work abroad. Mariano Mamertino from the job site Indeed said after Brexit, “the majority of British citizens voted to exit the European Union, but quickly thereafter many UK-based job seekers started a vote of their own - they jumped online to look for work elsewhere.”
"We saw the share of job seekers looking for opportunities outside the UK in European countries doubling in the 48 hours that followed the announcement of a Brexit,” he added. "Most job seekers looked to the very countries of the European Union that Britain will be leaving, with Ireland attracting the most searches.”
A poll run by ComRes for BBC Radio 5 Live stated that 1 in 4 Brits had considered moving after the Brexit results.
I have not been exactly fair to Brits as there is actually two elephants in the room, especially if you are a Londoner. There is no doubt that the London housing crisis is getting out of hand. The city is behind only Monaco for property expense. As well as the struggle of getting on the property ladder, there is also massive exploitation of the rental system. Londoners now spend almost two thirds of their income just on accommodations, leaving little else with which to enjoy life!
With all these problems and no sign of it abating, young and highly skilled workers are jumping ship, and many are landing in Berlin.
Why Are They Going To Berlin?
Berlin is the meeting point of east and west and as such has a unique space for culture to exist. Unlike in the UK, Germany has its economy much more spread out and there are a handful of cities to live in depending on what area of work you do. This has meant its capital, Berlin, can keep costs down, and as such is a great budget option for those wanting to live the big city way of life. The city is currently expanding from its 3.5m population.
It is already massively popular with tourists. It is the third most visited city in Europe. They come to see the interesting face-off between east and west and the gritty art scene that sees all the walls adorned in graffiti. The Brits also view it as a top destination for their stag do’s, who come to Berlin for its famed nightlife and cheaper prices.
Berlin also has an expanding economy. And with a bigger economy means more businesses and therefore more jobs. It is estimated that 100,000 jobs will be created by Berlin startups by 2022, and people are flocking to have a slice of the pie.
The German government is actively pursuing British business and this has only intensified since Brexit. A van, part of a large advertising campaign, was seen driving the streets of London in 2016 with the slogan, Keep Calm and Move To Berlin.
They are right to feel confident. With Brexit, the UK misses out on European investment in new businesses from a central fund, something that brought in £559m last year. Berlin boasts that income and could entice young professionals. The atmosphere in Berlin has created an exciting place to venture further in work and all at a much more affordable price.
“We want to make sure that British startups and international talent feel welcome here,” says Cornelia Yzer, Berlin’s senator for economy, technology, and development. “Brits already love Berlin – we see that from the number of people who travel here every weekend. We will continue to receive them with open arms.”
The lifestyle of these young workers not only means cheaper accommodation and living costs but also a unique work life balance. There are lots of co-working spaces in trendy areas where groups of people who are starting up in the digital sphere can collaborate and within Berlin’s Nurturing environment.
The way the economy is shifting to digital nomads means location can be changed without changing job. For those who are plugging in, they pick Germany and Berlin, for now.
Brits are starting to rebel against oppressive costs and lack of opportunity. Unfortunately, for the government it is to their great rivals they are turning.
Berlin is offering them not only a better lifestyle, but opportunities and funding they can’t get on British shores.
While the UK is losing these people in part to a Brexit motivated by immigration, the fact that Germany is welcoming them with open arms shows they realize the benefits of immigration.
Brits are taking over little parts of the city and much like Chinatowns or Little Italy, perhaps we will see a Little London in Berlin soon.