What’s it like to move to Berlin?


AMBOSSians from the Engineering and Product teams share their experiences.

Moving to a new country or city can feel overwhelming. Dealing with paperwork, shipping belongings, finding a place to live, school for kids, and learning a new language are all things that take time and can make the first few weeks, or months, challenging.

But living in a new country can also be a very rewarding experience filled with both personal and professional opportunities for growth.

We asked a few AMBOSSians about what it was like for them to move to Berlin, some of the things they considered before moving, and what they would do differently if they had the opportunity to move to Berlin again.

Julia Macheta, DevOps Engineer

Julia completed her studies in Copenhagen and moved to Berlin in August, 2020 — one week before she started at AMBOSS.

Where were you living before and what drew you to Berlin?

I lived in Copenhagen but am originally from Poland. I went to Copenhagen to study and thought about staying in Denmark. However, there was a big cultural difference between Poland and Denmark and the lifestyle didn’t fit me. I’d visited Berlin many times before and thought that it’s a nice place which could fit me in terms of my preferences and I really like the vibe in the city. I also like that it’s very affordable.

What was your top consideration when relocating to Berlin from Denmark?

I moved in August of 2020, around one or two weeks before I started working at AMBOSS. Berlin was multicultural and free, in terms of personal freedom. I find Germans more talkative and social than Danes. Being an extrovert, I can’t live without people or in isolation.

I was browsing LinkedIn and found the job advertisement. It was written in a way that I felt I might be a good fit in the company in terms of culture and work style. So I decided to apply and go through the recruitment process.

What would you do differently now if you had to do it again?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. The move was well organized and everything went as planned.

What went well during your first weeks at AMBOSS?

I really like the onboarding style at AMBOSS. All the things that the organization encourages you to discover, such as places to hang out and people to socialize with. That’s really good and makes you more productive, even if you initially don’t spend so much time working. Then you know people, you know where to reach out for help and who to speak with. I also like the homey atmosphere at the office. That felt like home. It’s something you don’t really see at other companies.

Chad Jennings, Chief Product and Design Officer

After having his own startup in the Bay Area, Chad decided with his wife and young daughter to give London a try. In 2012, they moved to London and after some years in London, Berlin seemed like the next great European capital to try out.

What drew you to Berlin?

We’ve loved our time in London and it is a fairly easy place to land coming from the US. Some people in the US call it ‘Europe with training wheels,’ but we always had a desire to have more of a European experience. Plus, with Brexit and our daughter switching schools it was a good time to move. There are also interesting things in Germany going on right now with legal and regulatory changes enabling a lot of innovation in the health technology space.

How did you get in touch with AMBOSS?

I was initially at Heartbeat Labs — a venture builder for health technology companies also based in Berlin which connected me to the health tech ecosystem. When I came across the VP of Product & Design role at AMBOSS, it was a wow moment. I’d worked at an online education company in London and loved creating products to help people learn and grow. AMBOSS also covered the other side — helping doctors learn and support clinical decision making. At this stage in my career it’s important to me to invest my time in making products that have a positive impact on our world.

The size of the company was also exciting. It’s in scale up mode, but is small enough that you can get involved in the day-to-day — talking with customers, talking with doctors, and building teams. I really enjoy nurturing and growing teams, but at larger companies when you have seventy or eighty person organizations in your remit, it’s easy to get disconnected from what’s going on and lose connection with the end customers.

What was your top consideration when relocating to Berlin from London?

When you have children, if you can’t find a school in a suitable location, you can’t move. We needed to look for international schools with openings which thankfully was much easier than when we moved to London. When we first took the leap from the US we were worried about our daughter and how she would handle all the change. But kids are amazingly adaptable. They show up at a new place and make new friends within a few days.

We were also looking for a place where we could live close enough to work and school but still be in the centre of a city. My daughter can walk to school, I can ride my bike to work, my wife has a short commute. You don’t need a car and you can bike almost everywhere. I didn’t realize this before, but Berlin is a city of neighbourhoods. You can access everything you need, from farmer’s markets and museums to beautiful parks within your neighbourhood.

What would you do differently now if you had to do it again?

We made our decision to move rather quickly once an opportunity became available. We wanted to get here before the school year started. It was within a week or two we decided to move and then landed in Berlin so my daughter could start school.

The other thing is that I wish I would have taken more time to learn German when we first arrived. That said, Berlin is a very cosmopolitan city and it’s easy to get by without speaking German even though you feel a little guilty about it.

What else should someone considering a move to Berlin know?

Especially for people coming from the US, it’s a lot easier than you think. Ultimately companies support you and there’s a big expat community. It always feels conceptually like there’s this big hump to get over but there’s not.

Compared to London and America, Berlin has a small, close community for product, design and engineering. Most startups are around the same areas, you can bike between all the meetups (back when we’d meet in person that is).

AMBOSS provided a relocation coach that spoke English and helped us navigate getting an apartment and the bureaucracy in a different language. Doing that yourself can be a headache, but having the relocation coach made things much easier.

There are german lessons sponsored by the company. There’s a good expat community here that helps with questions. There are Slack channels for finding doctors. There’s lots of support from people who have done it before. AMBOSS is also very supportive of young families, we have many young families in the leadership and founding team.

Asma Ben Salah — DevOps Engineer

Asma joined AMBOSS in December, 2020 and spent her first week in Berlin quarantining. Moving from the south of France, she joined her partner and had a completely remote onboarding experience.

What drew you to Berlin?

I was in Berlin at the end of December in 2019. I love the Christmas spirit here. It’s cold, there’s a lot of chocolate and cookies, it’s super nice!

My boyfriend was already in Berlin and I was in France. We talked about whether to live in France or in Germany and after a long discussion, we decided to move to Berlin. I found that there are lots of job opportunities and challenges here for people working in IT and Software Engineering.

I applied to AMBOSS on LinkedIn. After the first interview, I fell in love with the company and the idea because I haven’t seen many similar platforms to AMBOSS. There aren’t a lot of applications or websites that are for empowering people in the medical world. I just loved the idea so I applied.

What was your top consideration when relocating to Berlin from the South of France?

The city itself. It’s diverse, there’s a lot of culture, I’m sure I will meet lots of people from different backgrounds. That’s very important for me. Discovering other cultures and meeting new people. It’s a dynamic and lively city. I think people here are warm and very accepting. I also love the cold. I think I am the only Tunisian who likes the cold and grey — there’s something about it I find fascinating.

For my first week, AMBOSS sent me a laptop and everything I would need to work from home. They checked in on me to see if I needed anything, and if everything was working properly.

People are very welcoming here and that’s very nice.

What would you do differently now if you had to do it again?

I should have brought a lot of croissants and cheese! It’s my first week so I don’t miss a lot of things yet other than the food. I don’t see a lot of cultural difference from living in France to Berlin.

Michael Green, Backend Developer

Michael moved to Berlin from London in November, 2019 with his partner. They had visited Berlin, loved the atmosphere of the city and decided to move.

What drew you to Berlin?

As a software developer, I’m quite interested in tech and Berlin has a really good community around tech. There’s a lot of exciting companies, interesting events, meetups, and conferences here. For someone that wants to live and work abroad only speaking English, this is a great spot.

I’m also really into Electronic music and Berlin has a lot going for it and is a great place for that. The atmosphere of the city attracted me. London is quite similar, it’s quite multicultural and you get people from every other country just like Berlin. This combined with being a good city for technology and tech companies it was the perfect mix for me.

How did you find and eventually join AMBOSS?

I started looking at job boards, like Stack Overflow Jobs and Berlin Startup Jobs and started applying to companies there. AMBOSS looked really exciting so I applied. I started off with a video interview and then they invited me over for a face to face in Berlin. It was a really easy, nice experience. The HR department was always there to answer questions about general admin stuff like finding an apartment and getting your address registration, in German called your anmeldung. It was nice to have that lifeline because it can be quite overwhelming.

What would you do differently now if you had to do it again?

I wouldn’t worry so much about the difficulties. Before I moved, I was really scared about not knowing how to speak German, not knowing how different countries operate with general admin stuff. It turned out to be a lot easier. There’s a really big community of expats and German people tend to speak English here. Once you know a bit of German it’s easier. I only know basic German but AMBOSS offers a budget for German lessons.Having the community of AMBOSS also made that easier.

AMBOSS is quite a big company now but it still feels like a startup. Before COVID, there were weekly or bi-weekly events. It’s nice to have that foothold when you move to a country and don’t know anyone at the start.

Ready to take the leap and join the AMBOSS team in Berlin, Cologne or New York? We’re hiring for a number of roles across the Engineering, Product and Design teams. Come work with us!