Berlin & Families


Meet Ina!

Ina Bozhilova is the head of the Private Relocations Department and a Relocation Consultant. She is the newest member of the team, having joined mid-2021, and is always eager to support new Berliners on their journey.

Ina was born in Bulgaria and relocated to Berlin in 2007. Growing up between two very different cultures, she developed a unique ability to bridge intercultural gaps and understand her clients’ needs.

Ina studied sociology at the Potsdam University in Brandenburg. Her studies have proven helpful in understanding the principles that guide German bureaucracy. During her studies, she supported friends and acquaintances in their dealings with immigration and public administration, which enabled her to continue helping others with these issues.

Ina has an affinity for foreign languages – she speaks German, English, and Bulgarian fluently, and is conversational in Croatian and Korean. In her spare time, she enjoys bouldering, hiking, and sewing.

In her own words:

Favourite place in Berlin – Schillerkiez in Neukölln. The neighborhood has significantly changed over the past 10 years, thanks to the opening of the Tempelhofer Feld. Ever since, artists and creatives have flocked to the area, opening art galleries, quirky bars, and restaurants. The neighborhood offers a unique mix of old and new Berlin, where “Ur-Berliners” (old Berliners) and newcomers can meet and exchange ideas.

Every Saturday, a small market is set up around the church in Herrfurthplatz, where you can buy freshly baked bread and cakes, enjoy a snack, or browse artworks by local artists.

A hidden Gem in Berlin Le Brot in Neukölln. This tiny French bakery offers freshly made bread, quiches, cakes, and most important of all – the best croissants in Berlin! Psst: If you walk a few doors up, you will stumble across Fleischerei Kluge – this butcher’s shop opened in 1959, and is still going strong today. They offer local, ethically sourced meats, and a large variety of different cuts to satisfy even the most discerning of customers

Best day trip from BerlinBad Saarow is a fantastic little spot, approximately an hour east of Berlin. The town is famous for its thermal spa; a sprawling health complex with multiple indoor and outdoor heated pools and more than 10 different types of saunas. Bad Saarow is the perfect getaway spot in winter when you want to escape the chill.

Great place to eat – For Cantonese food: Aroma in Kantstrasse, for a really good steak: Schneiderei in Prenzlauer Berg, for authentic Japanese food: Zenkichi in Mitte, for a real, deep-dish American style pizza: Liberty Pizza in Zehlendorf.

Spouse Counselling, one of the most poignant but often neglected parts of an assignment or relocation to a partner’s new employer. Out of personal experience and after one year of a weekend marriage, a decision had to be made. Does the family leave our loved domicile and personal as well as professional networks in Munich to join the partner in Berlin? Never has a move challenged me more and I have lived on three continents. It was new to me, I was a spouse who had to give up her career, shuffle the cards again, and find the strength for a big change.

It was a challenge for us, our two boys adjusting to new schools, making new friends and I was left “hanging” in nowhere land. No networks!! As a psychologist integrated into a holistic health institute and with a private practice in Munich, moving to Berlin was testing. The famous “Berliner Schnauze”, the rough tone broke my resilience, and also made me aware of the years it took me in Munich, as an American “working” mother, to establish myself professionally, make a name for myself … I realized; I was unhappy.

I began to hear my inner voice, identified my strengths and resources, had the insight and skills for a change process, and moved on. I became an entrepreneur and a “Relocation” specialist.

In retrospect, many years later, still in Berlin and loving it, I realize my new professional career fulfilled all my needs and offered an anchor. I want to empower spouses, predominantly women, so they do not need to struggle on their own.  – By Ariane Almerood (Founder of IRC Relocation)

Francesco, Alice, and their two children moved to Berlin in early 2020.
They are originally from Italy but relocated from a small town in Tirol, Austria – a big change in lifestyle for the family. They were looked after by our IRC consultant Britta Trendelenburg. This was their experience!
What was your experience with IRC?
To have the support of Britta made our life easier. Before the move, we set up all the bases for a smooth „landing“ in the city. She was very well connected to find us an apartment fully furnished in an area nearby my office. A great job was done to manage all the bureaucracy with the Government office and with the school. We were extremely happy with Britta.
What was the biggest challenge for you moving to Berlin?
The city itself, moving from a 900 person town in the Tirolean mountains to a capital city was simply shocking. Different environment, different cultures, were our biggest challenges. Also, we found the slowness of the bureaucracy was quite frustrating.
What was the best surprise you have experienced in Berlin?
The public transportation… I didn’t need to use the car for almost 6 months!
What is your favorite Spot in Berlin?
Museumsinsel & Tiergarten.
Do you recommend a day trip from Berlin?
Potsdam  … such a beautiful place, with an amazing Sanssouci Park.
What is your favorite restaurant in Berlin?
Antica Trattoria Ferrari, reminds me home.
Is there anything you wish you would have known before moving to Berlin?
Challenges in the health care system, chaoticness of the city, the best place to find a home with some more details.

Spandau is separated from the rest of Berlin by the Havel river, resulting in a unique feeling: the Spandauers are local patriots.  This pride is well-founded as the center of the old town of Spandau (the Kolk) is more senior than Berlin.

The lively old town is characterized by small stores, department stores, and restaurants and has the largest pedestrian zone in Berlin.

Spandau offers swimmers, paddlers, and cyclists a world of water at their front door. The water quality is excellent. Sports enthusiasts and landscape lovers will find everything they need by walking and cycling along the Havel, dangling their legs in the water here and there, and exploring a piece of history on their tour northwards: an old GDR border watchtower. The district of Spandau is one of the most western in Berlin and has nine localities.

Localities of Spandau:  Falkenhagener Feld, Gatow, Hakenfelde, Haselhorst, Kladow, Siemensstadt, Staaken, Spandau, Wilhelmstadt

There is a lot of history to discover in one of the largest districts of Berlin. Founded as early as the 13th century as a medieval fortress town, Spandau has experienced many things through the ages – the traces are everywhere. The most imposing testimony is the early Renaissance Zitadelle Berlin (Citadel), which conceals exciting treasures behind its four-meter-thick walls and a destination for some 10,000 bats that hibernate here every winter.

Just a few steps further on, you are among the quaint cobbled streets and alleyways of the Kolk quarter, the oldest part of Spandau. The district also has a long tradition as a center of industrial production. On Eiswerder Island, the former production halls of the Royal Fireworks Laboratory are a reminder of its explosive past. The history of the world’s largest electrical company began in the Siemensstadt district.

Spandau borders the Berlin districts of Berlin/Reinickendorf, Berlin/Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin/Steglitz-Zehlendorf, and the Brandenburg districts of Oberhavel and Havelland as well as the independent state capital Potsdam.
Spandau is diverse. It ranges from the typical Berlin apartment buildings in Siemensstadt and the large housing estate Falkenhagener Feld to villas and single-family homes in an almost village-like atmosphere in Kladow and Gatow.

Thanks to the good transport connections, you can quickly reach the center of Berlin or the surrounding area. The U7 from Rudow runs via Siemensstadt and Haselhorst, as well as Altstadt Spandau to Rathaus Spandau. The S75 and S9 are extensions of the Stadtbahn and run to the Spandau long-distance train station.

  • Zitadelle Berlin (Citadel)
  • Kulturhaus Spandau
  • Gotisches Haus
  • Gartenstadt Staaken (one of the most critical urban architectural monuments of the 20th century)
  • Siemensstadt (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008)
  • Little Venice (Klein-Venedig)
  • Fort Hahneberg (one of the last fortress buildings in the Prussian style in Germany)
  • Gutspark Neukladow (idyllic country park)
  • Garten Fraenkel (The listed country house garden is one of Spandau’s most beautiful public green spaces)
  • Atelier Burgwallschanze (small cultural center which is available to artists as a workshop and venue for events)
  • Kladower Hafen (Waterfront and ferry pier)
  • Gatower Windmühle (historic windmill hill from 1845, the trestle windmill is fully functional)
Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf is the former center of West Berlin and is also known as City West.
It is considered a high-end district in terms of living, it offers a fabulous selection of restaurants and shopping and is host to the famous Kurfürstendamm,  the Charlottenburg Palace, and some lovely parks.
Living in this district is highly sought after and can be expensive. The most famous landmark is the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächnis Kirche, situated on the main avenue Kurfürstendamm (Breitscheidplatz), which was damaged in WWII and left as a symbol of remembrance.

This area is what is now known as City-West, the heart of the former West Berlin. From here, it stretches out towards the West with West-end, where you can find the Olympic Stadium and down towards the South-West into Grunewald, which is one of the wealthiest parts of Berlin – home to large scale Villas and many foreign Embassies and Diplomats. Towards the east, it meets up with the lively and bustling Schöneberg.

Rental prices average around 16€ per sq m (2021 – source:


Very green (Lietzenpark), Apartment living in the inner city part (Wilmersdorf, Charlottenburg & Schmargendorf) and single-family homes and villas out towards West-end & Grunewald.

Landmarks & scenes

A visit to the Kurfürstendamm, or Ku’damm as Berliners call it, is one of Berlin visitors’ top priorities. The world-famous boulevard in the west of the city is not only a shopping mile – strolling down the Ku’damm is also worthwhile because of architectural and cultural highlights.

The Kurfürstendamm is the lifeline of City-West and is one of the most famous streets in the world, it is 3.5 kilometers long and is located between Breitscheidplatz and Halensee. Berliners and tourists stroll on the wide sidewalks past elegantly decorated shop windows or take a seat in one of the numerous cafés. At the corner of Joachimsthaler Strasse, Berlin shines as a world metropolis – all around the Gedächtniskirche, large department stores, and fashion stores, in the direction of Olivaer Platz, well-known luxury brands showcase have their flagship stores.

  • Charlottenburg Palace – built between 1695-1713 in the Baroque style. Surrounded by a beautifully landscaped park.
  • Olympic Stadion – situated in Berlin-Westend, built between 1934-1936 for the 1936 Olympics.
  • KaDeWe – Berlin’s most famous luxury department store, shopping to your heart’s desire. Situated at Wittenbergplatz.
  • Grunewald Forest – When the Berlin Wall still stood, the Grunewald was the largest forested area in the western part of the city, and often enough, overrun by strollers and bike riders. Today, it has become much quieter in the “Green Forrest”. But it is still beautiful. All through the year, the 3,000-hectare large forest is a relaxing place for walks. To the west, the forest is bounded by the Havel. (Source:

When you move abroad, it might not only be your family members of the two-legged kind you want to bring – your pet is coming too! Or you want to get a pet while living in Germany, here is what you need to know.

When moving to Germany from outside the EU, each person is allowed to bring in a maximum of five animals as part of their „personal or household items“. The animals must be your pet and not brought to Germany in order to be sold. Animals brought into Germany do not have to be quarantined if they have the proper vaccinations and if they come from a country on an EU-approved list.

If you are considering going into furnished temporary living upon moving to Germany, you must check with your landlord regarding pets as this can be an issue, or perhaps consider bringing your pet at a later date when you have organized a more permanent arrangement.

The authority responsible for the import of pets is the Zollamt, for more information please click here.

Further information on registering a dog here.

When acquiring a new Pet

If you are looking to add a new ‚four-legged‘ family member to your household, then make sure you keep these points in mind:

  1.  Although there are no official pet-bans, if you are renting, it is very important to let your landlord know about any pets.
  2. If you own a dog,  you must register your dog with the tax office right after moving to Berlin, since there is a dog tax that every owner has to pay in Berlin. Currently, this tax is around 120 euros per year for the first dog and 180 euros for each additional dog. 
  3. In case your pet is involved in an accident or damages property, every owner is required to take out liability insurance.


According to Berlin laws, Dogs must be kept on a leash. However, there are various parks and areas in Berlin, where dogs are allowed to move freely. On the outskirts of the city, you will also find some large wooded areas where your dog is allowed without a leash. In the city center, there are also multiple „Auslaufgebiete“. Check out the following: 

  1. Schlachtensee/Krumme Lanke Auslaufgebiet
  2. Grunewald (Hüttenweg)
  3. Hundeauslaufgebiet Wannsee-Düppel
  4. Hundeauslaufgebiet Jungfernheide
  5. Hundewiese Tempelhofer Feld 
  6. Hundeauslauf im Park am Gleisdreieck 
  7. Hundeauslaufgebiet Stadtpark Spandau

Adoption Process: 

 There are a couple of steps to adopt your pet in Berlin. After confirming your decision, you will be asked to answer multiple questions about your living conditions and to bring with you your ID to undergo the provisional registration. Furthermore,  you will have to pay an adoption fee, which covers the care costs, vaccinations, microchips, and castration. 

Although there are various provisions when it comes to bringing, buying, or adopting your pet, Berlin is a great place for pet owners and their four-legged friends!


Strolling around Berlin’s streets, you have probably noticed little gold-coloured cubes (10x10cm) which are embedded into the pavement- these cubes are known as Stolpersteine and they hold huge significance.

Stolpersteine, translating to stumbling stones, is a project by artist Gunter Demnig honoring  Holocaust victims. Berlin has been home to this project since 1996, and today has around 9115 Stolpersteine have been placed throughout various districts. The project started with Demnig illegally placing Stolpersteine throughout Kreuzberg for 50 persecuted Jews. Each Stolperstein is placed in front of the last residence of the victim, in order to remember their name and history. Demning has often used the phrase:

„a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten”

which he clearly emphasizes with his art. The stones begin with “here lived” following the person’s name, where they were born, birth date, date of deportation and the date on which they were murdered.

This project has become the largest decentralized monument in the world. In comparison to many other memorials that commemorate a group of victims, this monument focuses on the individual, by placing only their name on the stone. To this day, much effort is put into the project, as Demnig oversees the installation of each individual Stolperstein and works together with a team of 8 people (as of May 2021). The cost of installing a Stolperstein is around 120 euros, which considering the significance and work put into each cube is quite little.

To honor their memory, the next time you pass by a Stolperstein take some time to read the victim’s name.

For more information please see:



„Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.‘

Elie Wiesel – a quote from his book Night-

By Cilia Trendelenburg & Juli Buchanan



Come with us and discover the icons of the Berlin landscape and the history behind them. From the famous Brandenburg Gate to the deep remembrance at the Holocaust Memorial – this is what makes our city special!

Brandenburger Gate: Survivor of two world wars and embodying a dead zone during the Cold War, this historical sight is undoubtedly THE most famous landmark in all of Germany! Dating back to 1788, when King Friederich Wilhelm II of Prussia ordered the gate as a symbol of peace, it was one of 17 gates that provided access to Berlin at the time. Architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, in charge of coordinating the project from 1788 to 1791, used the Propylaeum (the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece) as inspiration for the Gate. The famous statue on the top of the gate is called the Quadriga, where Irene – the Greek goddess who symbolizes peace – guides the chariot with her four horses. After WWII, only one of the heads of one of the horses survived the bombing, which now can be found at the Markisches Museum. Although, before the fall of the Wall, it was viewed as a symbol of divided Germany, the Brandenburg gate now represents a symbol of reunification and freedom.

Siegessäule:  the Berlin victory column was designed by architect Heinrich Strack, who was hired to design the column after the Danish-Prussian war in which the Prussians defeated the Danish in 1864. By the time of its completion in 1873, the Prussians had also defeated the French and the Austrians. Due to the second victory, the extravagant “Victoria” statue was added on top of the column. The column’s original location was Königsplatz, but the Nazis moved the column in 1930 to where it stands today. Due to this move, it actually survived the bombings of WWII. However, this move has also stained the reputation of the column, as some connect it to a Nazi symbol. Either way, it is worth a visit and walk to, or from the Brandenburg Gate.

East Side Gallery: with 1,316 meters in length, this gallery is the longest open-air gallery that exists worldwide. The gallery, consisting of the Berlin Wall that separated west and east, is now made up of various artworks, which artists put on the wall after it fell- redefining this gruesome border. It not only acts as a memorial for the people trying to escape eastern Germany, but it also portrays a sign of freedom. The famous drawings on the Wall vary from  Honecker and Breschnew kissing, to a Trabant (east german car) bursting through the wall.

Berliner Dom: One of the largest Protestant churches in Berlin is located on Museum Island. The Berliner Dom has origins back to 1465  when the catholic St. Emanuel’s Chapel was named a collegiate church, which translates to “Domkirche”. In 1750, the church was completely rebuilt. Later, In 1892, the Dom was completely refurbished showing more and more resemblance to the Dom which can be seen today. However, after WWII, the Dom suffered significant damage which was only temporarily fixed. Thorough renovations started in 1975, due to funding from the German Government it finished 27 years later in 2002.

Jewish Memorial:  the 19,000 metre² (200,000 ft²) area covered with 2,7000 thousand concrete slabs so-called „stelae“ is known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or the Holocaust Memorial. It was opened in 2005 and designed by architect Peter Eisenman, dedicated to the more than six million Jews who were murdered in WWII, the genocide known as the Holocaust. The idea of corroborating the victims of the holocaust in Berlin only appeared in the late 1980s. However, although government funding was quickly available, it took another 10 years of political debate to agree on the design of the project.

Written by: Cilia Trendelenburg


Steglitz-Zehlendorf is one of the more affluent areas of Berlin – the idyll and tranquillity, far from the big city’s hustle and bustle, provides a much sought-after balance.  Above all, The district is characterized by quiet residential areas, forests, and tranquility provided by the proximity to the numerous lakes.

Steglitz is closest to City-West and very urban. It is considered a middle-class residential neighborhood with excellent shopping facilities. It is well connected to the rest of the city by U-bahn and buses. Schloßstraße in Steglitz is a shopping mile, it features several malls and all the typical high street stores, restaurants, supermarkets and a weekly market.

Dahlem district is one of the most expensive residential areas in Berlin.  It is a science research location, home to the Free University of Berlin (FU), numerous research institutes, and many museums have been established here.

As you travel further South-West to Zehlendorf, Schlachtensee, Nikolasee and Wannsee almost 50% of these districts consist of water and forest. Several lakes attract the inhabitants of Berlin to the cool water in hot temperatures. Particularly popular is the Großer Wannsee, and its lido opened in 1907 – but the other lakes of the district are also worth a visit.

For those seeking recreation, numerous sports clubs and the Botanical Garden offer a balance to everyday life. The area is home to several international schools and a large English-speaking community.

Rents in this district are high, but there is a choice between social housing, city villas, and single-family homes.

The western part of Zehlendorf with Wannsee, Nikolassee, and Schlachtensee is upscale and exclusive. In the south and east, the residential areas are simpler and somewhat less expensive. Steglitz itself is still very urban with mixed rents. Lankwitz and Lichterfelde have a more small-town feel and have more reasonable-priced rents.

Zehlendorf Mitte also features a town center with a large variety of shops, doctor’s practices, restaurants, and the Zehlendorf Rathaus.

There are also small ‚town‘ centers in Dahlem, Schlachtensee, Mexicoplatz, Nikolasee, Lichterfelde and Wannsee – all with opportunities for bakeries, grocery shopping, bookstores and restaurants.

Places of Interest:

About the author

Hi there! I’m Juli, I have german roots but I grew up in New Zealand and have been living in Germany since 2004. I love sharing my passion for Berlin and all it has to offer with new ‚Berliners‘ and through my work as a freelance Relocation Consultant with IRC I have the opportunity to do so.

The most important ingredient for a successful international transfer of your employees is the timely approval of all necessary applications. Our many years of experience with all the formalities of a visa application, the work and residence permit as well as the local authority procedures enable us to provide you with the best possible support in this process.

Our distinctive expertise and our excellent contacts to the authorities guarantee a speedy issue of all necessary permits for a smooth employee relocation. Entering Germany for a short-term employment relationship or starting a new job requires more than just arriving at the airport. The specific bureaucratic requirements of the Federal Republic of Germany, with different processes in the individual federal states, can be confusing and lead to unnecessary delays.

You can rely on our competent and comprehensive solutions and professional support for the relocation of your employees within Germany or for your intra-company assignees from abroad to Germany. IRC accompanies you and your employees with all requirements of a successful move.

Pin It