Weissensee in the area close to Prenzlauer Berg, sometimes called the “Caligary Kiez” or the “Weissenseer Spitze”
How long have you been living there?
What do you like most about your neighbourhood?
It’s close to the centre but at the same time rustic. It is not too fashionable but still has many funky areas.
Are there any aspects you don’t like about your neighbourhood? For some people, once you live outside the Ring, you’re as good as dead, so while I don’t feel that way, it is an image thing for the neighbourhood. It is still quite rough around the edges, with far too many “Spielotheks” and empty stores than nice ones, but it is improving. Also, that it is relatively far from any international or bilingual school, certainly from state-sponsored “Europe Schools”.
Where do you most like to go in your neighbourhood during the Spring / Summer months with the kids?
The Weissensee Lake and the park around it, which includes a deer-compound (? not sure, maybe roe!) , a so-called “Plantsch-Becken” (water playground), and of course many playgrounds and a beach.
Where do you most like to go in your neighbourhood during the Autumn / Winter months with the kids?
If it snows, the playground on the corner of Ostseestr and Prenzlayer Allee has a nice slope for younger kids to sled. If it is just grey/cold, there is a very good puppet theatre in the Brotfabrik but also e.g. a nice children-friendly cafe, Emma T., on Lehderstr. (but not a real children-cafe, e.g. only books, no games/toys etc.). Farther on but also in Weissensee, there is a really nice Familienzentrum called Frei-Zeit-Haus and even farther there is a HUGE indoor playground called Tommys Turbulente Tobewelt.
Are you aware of many other international families living in your neighbourhood?
We sometimes meet other international parents (mostly “mixed couples”) in the playground. There are also a couple of bilingual kitas in the neighbourhood
Do you think your neighbourhood is suitable for families who can’t yet speak German?
Yes, certainly. However, in general, people like it when you at least try to speak to them in their own language and/or ask whether you can speak English with them, and not assume - as it seems to be the case in some neighbourhoods in Berlin - that “you don’t need German at all to get around”.
Is it easy to get around your neighbourhood with public transport or is having a car more vital where you live?
I wish there had been an U Bahn but we have 3 Metro Tram lines (and another superb line - better than the metro ones - the Tram 12) running through the neighbourhood, so I think no-one is more than 5-minutes walk from a tram that runs all day/night.
What is the quality of playgrounds in your neighbourhood and do you have a favourite?
There is one directly near our house, so it is obviously a favourite. Further on, in two directions, who have really fabulous ones - around the Weissensee Lake and in Humannplatz. Another good one is in Mahlerstr., which is already in another area of Weissensee, the Komponistenviertel. I with there had been an adventure playground, though, those are so cool.
Did you find it easy to attain a suitable childcare spot in your neighbourhood?
I think the Kita situaiton is *slightly* better in our area, not much better though.
Are there any bilingual schools / kitas in your vicinity?
Yes, there are two bilingual Kitas. No bilingual school unfortunately.
Do you have a favourite child-friendly restaurant or cafe nearby?
Emma T. mentioned before is nice, and there is the Osseria, which is - while full of antique stuff - quite child-friendly (staff and atmosphere).
Can you describe your neighbourhood in five words / adjectives?
down-to-earth, developing, affordable, happy, artistic
Do you have any tips for a family considering a move to your neighbourhood? Consider it carefully school-wise (if you want to go to an international school), but otherwise it is a great place to live.