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Posted by Sabina McKenna

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The idea of leaving your home country to live overseas for a few years is something that’s captivated twenty-somethings for generations. For decades Australians have flocked to the world’s most romanticised cities, places like New York, Paris, or London, looking for that something.

The twenty-something hustle continues in the European-party capital that is Berlin. Whether you’ve visited, lived in, loved, or hated this city there is one common thread—that you went to a good party. But despite its rep for ragers and raving there is much more to Berlin than we all think. Freedom and individuality colour the city’s inhabitants, who are young people from all over the world working in fashion, art, music, or likely something similar. And whether that work was found there too or in a country nearby like London or Paris; a home base in Berlin is within proximity to other European cities. Making it the perfect place to make sure you remain a part of everything Europe offers.

Berlin’s big-Euro-city counterparts often exclusively champion hard work and making it big, but Berlin is the place to lay your own path—even if it’s a leisurely one—making the city’s allure something completely different for every individual who embraces it.

In conversation with four ex-Australians come Berliners, we spoke about what a creative’s life in Germany is really like and what took them there in first place.

01. Claire Collins, Model

How long have you lived in Berlin?

Since the summer of 2015. Which is usually when everyone comes here for a holiday—like I did but I ended up staying. It’s been about two years since.

What made you want to move there and what do you do?

I’d been coming every year since 2012 which was amazing, but it was nothing compared to what it’s like now that I live here. I work in fashion as a model, so it’s good to be so close to other countries in Europe as I mostly travel for work and there aren’t many jobs in Berlin. But that gives me the opportunity to miss it… I kind of moved here on a whim; I wanted to take a risk and get to know the city apart from its touristy/party-town rep. It has changed so much since I first got here so it feels pretty special being a part of that.

What is your average day like?

Most nights there are events on in Berlin, usually a fashion collab with great DJs, like my fav: Honey Dijon. She played at the Boiler Room birthday party on Monday, and then the Moncler x Stylebop party on Wednesday—such a good week! There is so much freedom to do whatever you want here, but it isn’t always about the crazy clubs every night like everyone thinks.

What do you love most about the city?

The people. Everyone moves to Berlin around the same age and with similar interests. I’ve lived in Paris and London and that is probably the biggest difference between those two places and Berlin; It’s so easy to make friends and get really close to each other in this kind of environment.

Is there anything you don’t love?

The language barrier can be a bit isolating at times. It’s always hard to move to a new country not knowing their language. You can get by in Berlin because most people speak english, but I do feel like I’m missing out on another side of it sometimes.

Photo courtesy of IMG Models

02. Adam Munnings, Model and DJ

How long have you been living in Berlin?

Since late May this year, so roughly five months.

What are you doing in Berlin?

Continuing the hustle. I moved to Berlin to give myself the gift of a reset and restart. My first project here was an exhibition I had of some digital print works I’d been making since I arrived here. It was my first solo exhibition called ‘DREAMSCAPES’, so that was a moment for sure. Other than that I’m a barista a place called The Store as well as serving some rad food and wine at a joint called the Industry Standard. I also somehow fell into a role in a TV series doco called ‘The Perfect Grey’ which should be out early next year. So far I’ve been following the highs, lows, and very highs of being here and taking it as it comes.

What about it do you love/hate?

I love the sexual liberation and freedom throughout the city. There’s such a beautiful balance of harmony and anarchy in the sea of amazing people living here. I’ve never seen ego get in the way of anything. I also love the music of course… Oh and the cheap rent, wine, beer, and halloumi sandwiches.

Have you lived in any other cities?

Yes, three years in Tokyo and four in New York City.

How do they compare?

When I moved here from NYC I expected far more similarities but was surprised to find the two cities are worlds apart. I love them both, and NY will always hold a special place in my heart but Berlin comparatively is just so impressive. The way people approach their lifestyles and professions is just so motivated. Everyone is so genuine, art oriented, sustainably considerate, and far-less concerned with just the money. I can’t help but imagine that Berlin shares a similar energy and magic to what NYC would have had some 25 odd years ago.

Photos courtesy of Jose Morea & Ricky Kwok

03. Rachell Bo Clark, Dancer

What do you do in Berlin?

I’m an independent contemporary dancer and yoga teacher.

How long have you lived in Berlin?

For a little over three and a half years. I tend to go wherever my projects take me, so I’m coming and going all the time. I love leaving Berlin, but I also love returning—it’s a bit of a paradox. I always get a rush when I get off the plane or train and walk back to my house. It’s nice to feel like the city is familiar; it is starting to feel like home, which I forget when I leave and get surprised by when I return.

What do you like most about it?

Berlin is a city full of dreamers. It’s a place where you can get lost, but also where you get super productive and inspired. I’ve never come across any other city that gives you the sense of freedom you feel in Berlin. There’s nothing like the feeling of riding your bike around the city when the sun is shining with good tunes playing in your ears; just seeing where the day will take you.

What sets it apart from home?

The endless possibilities and opportunities. The cheap rent and lifestyle; being in a big city, the people, the parties, the sense that anything is possible; the continuous influx of new art and performances, and the falafel of course!

Is there anything that’s a struggle?

The influx of people coming in and out of Berlin can be a little exhausting. Being here for a few years I’ve made many fast friends and great friends, but then they all eventually leave. Though the good thing is that once your old friends are gone there’s always a handful of new people entering your life to fill the gap. After all, I’m also participating in this transient lifestyle—leaving for a weekend, a week, a month, and then returning—it’s the artist’s life. But it can be draining having to continually establish new bonds and settle back into life here.

Photo courtesy of Bea Rodrigues

04. George Downing, Photographer

How long have you lived in Berlin?

For around a year and a half.

What made you want to move to Berlin?

I can’t say exactly; just a feeling I had. I was keen to get out of Melbourne and find my feet somewhere else. I hadn’t planned to stay so long but a lot of very fortunate things fell into place to keep me, so I took that as a sign.

What kind of work do you do?

I do some freelance photography work, but not as much as I’d like. I’ve found it difficult to make a living off taking photos here… I do some PR work for a startup, which pays my rent and allows me to work remotely, which is good for now.

What is the hardest/best part about living there?

Self-motivation is difficult. It can be such a relaxed and slow city but simultaneously can pass time so fast; it’s always slipping away. This duality is so hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it; it’s both the hardest and best part about Berlin.

How does it compare to home?

In Melbourne, I always felt the need to constantly be doing something. Berlin is almost the opposite, and that’s a real double-edged sword. It’s so easy to get lost in just enjoying living in such a beautiful and exciting city that you forget about your personal goals (whatever they may be) and suddenly six months has passed. And, in my experience at least, no one’s going to hold you accountable for doing nothing—people are here to have fun and take life as it comes.

Photo courtesy of George Downing

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