Decrepit breweries and stables have been converted to communal offices decked out in colorful Ikea furniture. Achingly cool coffee shops with names like Betahaus and St. Oberholz are packed with programmers in their 20s and 30s hunched over shiny new laptops. And even as the city’s unemployment broadly remains high, vintage clothing stores selling patent-leather Dr. Martens boots for 180 euros, or $235, entice technology transplants from across Europe with promotions in English.
“I got sucked into Berlin,” said Henrik Berggren, a Swedish college dropout who moved here in 2011 to work on his e-book venture, ReadMill. “It became clear that this was the place to be.”
More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital has gone from a cold war relic to one of the fastest-growing start-up communities. Engineers and designers have flooded into Berlin in recent years, attracted by the underground music scene, cutting-edge art galleries, stylish bars and low rent.
Hours after landing at Tegel airport, Mr. Berggren, a bearded 33-year-old computer programmer, found an apartment with two 20-something Germans in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods for just 300 euros, or $390, a month. A few days later, he secured a cheap office for his four-person team, a space they shared with several other start-ups.