With 2014 marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, and 2015 the 25th anniversary of Germany's reunification, Berlin expects to see a boost in tourism as international travelers make the vibrant capital their destination.
Berlin's reputation as one of Europe's most progressive capitals stems in part from its high quality of life, its growing economy, and an entrepreneur-friendly culture. Employment growth is outpacing the rest of the country, placing Berlin at the top of the economic rankings.
The city, comprised of 890km and 3.5 million people, boasts a diverse and energetic cultural landscape that includes internationally known institutions in the arts, education, research, and entrepreneurship. An affordable cost of living, including reasonable rents from the leafy suburbs to the fast-paced downtown, an excellent transportation network that ensures short commutes, and 2,500 public green spaces complement Berlin's appeal.
Mercer, an international management consulting company, conducted its annual "Quality of Life" poll, intended to aid multinational companies with their employees posted abroad. The poll assesses 39 factors considered important to a high quality of life including housing, education, healthcare, public services, transportation and recreation.
German cities ranked highly overall in the study's findings, with Berlin placing 16th internationally, ahead of Paris (27th), London (38th) and Madrid (50th) as cities with the highest quality of life. Mercer conducted a separate study ranking the most expensive cities worldwide. Berlin placed 106th, positioned well behind more expensive European capitals such as Zurich (6th), Bern (14th) Oslo (18th) Copenhagen (21st), London (25th) and Paris (37th).
Declining populations is a trend affecting metropolises worldwide, but Berlin's population has been growing, particularly with people aged 25 - 30, a younger skew than Germany's national average. The increase is attributed in part to Berlin's solid infrastructure, favorable for families with children and for single parents. With more than 2,000 day care centers across the city and three years of free day care for all children prior to entering school, Berlin is a leader in the area of childcare.
The "Youthful Cities Index 2014" ranked Berlin 2nd, after Toronto, and ahead of New York (3rd), Paris (5th) and London (7th). The index appraises programs and quality of life for people ages 15 - 29 and considers factors including job opportunity, transportation, and scene life.
The young-adult generation's attraction to Berlin makes sense, as businesses in the creative arts comprise a significant sector of Berlin's economy. 22,600 creative industries including music, film, advertising, architecture, fashion, TV, radio, research and development, publishing and video games provide approximately 20% of Berlin's gross domestic product, or 18.6 billion Euro.
Berlin's real estate advantage is that it generally has the lowest rent prices among Germany's large cities, plus a diverse supply of housing in proportion to demand. In other words, Berlin remains affordable, even as rents in comparable cities have risen steadily in recent years. The average rent per square meter is 8.02 euros. In condominiums, a square meter costs 2,474 euros. The rise in population resulted in a boon of new construction; almost 4,200 new apartments were constructed in the last two years, and approximately 1,200 new apartments were completed in existing buildings.
Berlin's livability lands it on myriad "top ten" lists, and though some rankings may be subjective, the city consistently rates in most categories. For example, The Global Power Index, compiled by the Institute for Urban Strategies in Tokyo, ranks 35 of the world's top cities based on six objective factors: "Economy", "Research & Development", "Cultural Interaction", "Livability", "Ecology & Natural Environment" and "Accessibility". In addition, 69 individual factors contribute to the rankings. Berlin ranks 6th overall. Other categories included "Top Cities for Researchers" (Berlin ranks 9th), "Top Cities for Artists" (Berlin ranks 3rd), "Top Cities for Visitors" (Berlin ranks 8th) and "Top Cities for Residents" (Berlin ranks 3rd).
No matter how you rank it, Berlin's quality of life is a benchmark among world capital cities.