Munich - the Opposite of Berlin?

Where would you prefer to live?

7 year old boy in Lederhosen
The Ambassadors of Germany. MoMo Productions-Stone@getty-images

Many young people from all around the world are coming to visit or even to live in Germany and many of them just have one goal: The big B, das dicke B, the Bundeshauptstadt: Berlin. It is not any longer a secret or a Geheimtipp that the capital of Germany is the place to be in the Bundesrepublik. But what about the other major cities? There are of course other places worth taking a closer look for people planning to live in Germany.

I have already written about Hamburg before. But today I'd like to introduce to you the third-biggest German city known for its Beer, Brezn and the FC Bayern München - Of course I am talking about Munich.

The living German Cliché

It is often said that Munich or München as it is called in German is the opposite of Berlin and in many cases, this is more or less true. The Capital of the Freistaat Bayern (Free State of Bavaria) is located in the south of Germany, whereas Berlin is more or less in the north. But besides geographic aspects, it is the way of living which makes the difference. Munich is a very traditional city and as the capital of Bavaria the center of Bavarian culture and heritage. There is a reason why most of the clichées about Germany become true in this place with its 1.5 million inhabitants. Here you can find the Hofbräuhaus, the Oktoberfest, many beer gardens with one-liter-mugs and probably the best beer in Germany.

You can also see people wearing Lederhosen and Dirndl and the flag of Bavaria with its white and blue lozenges is not only visible at many public places, but also tall buildings are sometimes enlightened in these colors. The inhabitants love their culture and their city and often look at other places with a trace of pity in their hearts - which is a common ground with the inhabitants of Berlin.


Strict and Clean, but not Sober

Being the capital of Bavaria, the rather strict Bavarian laws are of course also enforced there. On the one hand, this makes Munich one of the safest places to stay in Germany with a lot of police and not many places where you have to walk a bit faster to get through safely at night. On the other hand, it is sometimes a bit more stressful, especially for young party-goers. The shops close at 8 p.m. and after that, it will be rather difficult to get a bottle of beer because of the lack of small shops like the Spätis in Berlin or the Kiosks in other parts of Germany. But besides that, the beer culture can be seen everywhere. Drinking an Augustiner Bräu or one of the other five beers brewed in Munich outside at the Isar river or at the Englischer Garten is very common and more like a tradition of the hard working Bavarians to enjoy their Feierabend. 

Laptop and Lederhosen

The working-hard attitude is the other side of the city. Compared to Berlin, Munich is a “rich kid” and you can see that in many places. The public transportation system is excellent, the streets and parks are clean and you can find big international companies all over the place. The slogan "Laptop und Lederhosen" describes the ambivalence of this place really good.

Tradition meets high-tech-engineering. Big companies like BMW, Allianz, Linde or Siemens have their headquarters here, which makes Munich and its inhabitants wealthy. But the high standard of living also has its downsides, like e.g. the mile-high rents for flats or rooms. Especially for students it can become an odyssey to find an affordable room in a WG (=Wohngemeinschaft), especially in the central districts. Yet, Munich is far from New York cities where rents seem exorbitant to a German observer.

The Village of a Million

With many universities and schools, a lot of young people are making Munich vivid and are  giving it a very individual and hip flair. Districts like Schwabing, Maxvorstadt or the Glockenbachviertel are well-known for their lively night-live and bar-culture. And everything is “furnished” with a special Bavarian touch.

There is a reason why the city is often called the "Millionendorf", the village of a million inhabitants. It is familiar, cozy, but sometimes also a bit overdue. You can't find as many bars, clubs and free spaces in Munich as for example in Berlin or Hamburg, but if you know where to look, you won’t die of boredom too quickly. 

All in all, you could really say that Munich is the opposite of Berlin. But is that really a bad thing?