Zehlendorf (more specifically an area called Schlachtensee).
How long have you been living there?
Nearly a year
What do you like most about your neighbourhood?
We are very close to nature. Within 15 minutes, we can be in the Grunewald (a very large forest) or be walking around a gorgeous lake (Schlachtensee). On the flip side of being able to enjoy the outdoors, all of the necessities are very accessible. While I sometimes miss having a car, we live within walking distance of three decent sized grocery stores, a "drug store", two pharmacies, several restaurants, a lovely neighborhood coffee shop, a few bakeries and two Sbahn stations. We have a very child-friendly neighborhood.
Are there any aspects you don’t like about your neighbourhood?
We are considered Berlin, but sometimes I feel as if we are still pretty far out of town. It takes 40 minutes to arrive at the Zoologischer Garten train station from our place. However, we live very close to the S1 line, which means we can be at Potsdammer Platz (in the middle of everything) in 30 minutes and at Friedrichstrasse in 40 minutes.
Where do you most like to go in your neighbourhood during the Spring / Summer months with the kids?
There are four playgrounds within a 5 minute walk of our place. As I mentioned earlier, the lake and the forest are practically at our doorstep. On Clayallee, you will find a restaurant/cafe by the name of Lebensart, which you can have a lovely brunch/snack/lunch at on their back patio as your child plays on their small playground with a sandbox.
Where do you most like to go in your neighbourhood during the Autumn / Winter months with the kids?
As our daughter is still quite young, we haven't visited many indoor playgrounds or been to any indoor swimming pools (which I look forward to next year). There is an indoor and outdoor play area in the coffee shop called "Mittelhof" near the Zehlendorf Sbahn station, which is nice (and to my knowledge is the only child-friendly cafe in the area suitable for very cold days).
Are you aware of many other international families living in your neighbourhood?
Yes. Zehlendorf is in the former "American Sector", and the US Embassy is here. We didn't move here for that reason (we're American). We just thought that the area was not so city-like, and a friendly area to raise a child or two. Aside from the Americans that we have bumped into here and there, a lot of diplomats from all over the world have their homes in Zehlendorf. The JFK International School is also located in this part of town, as is Pforms (another international school).
Do you think your neighbourhood is suitable for families who can’t yet speak German?
Absolutely. There are FEW people here that do not speak at least a little English. When you walk down Clayallee (which is considered the 'heart' of Zehlendorf), there are days you would hear mostly English.
Is it easy to get around your neighbourhood with public transport or is having a car more vital where you live?
We do not have a car, and while I still would like one occasionally, my husband and I have lived in Germany now for almost 9 years without one. We walk a lot, but public transport is very reliable and we do have a membership in a car sharing company, so we can rent a car on very short notice.
What is the quality of playgrounds in your neighbourhood and do you have a favourite?
The playgrounds are relatively well maintained in our neighborhood. There are several, and it's hard to choose. I think it would really depend on the age of your child/children and what their favorite activities are. There is an amazing climbing playground on Potsdammerstrasse not far from Zehlendorf Eiche that my daughter loves in the Gemeindewäldchen Zehlendorf.
Did you find it easy to attain a suitable childcare spot in your neighbourhood? Yes. We were very fortunate that there is a Kita in our apartment complex that had an open spot the week we moved in. Our daughter loves her 'teachers' and the other children. We are working on getting her into an international Kita after she turns two, but she is learning in German and is getting immersed in it during the day, then in the evening it's all English for her.
Are there any bilingual schools / kitas in your vicinity?
Yes, JFK school has a sister-Kita on Schopenhauerstrasse between the Schlachtensee and Nikolassee Sbahn stations. Pforms has a bilingual/international Kita accessible by public transport, there is also Kiddies International near the US Embassy which is a bilingual Kita. Kiddies is in the process of building a few more in Zehlendorf as well. As far as bilingual schools for older children, I believe JFK is the only one in Zehlendorf.
Can you describe your neighbourhood in five words / adjectives?
Clean, quiet, child-friendly, welcoming and VERY green.
Do you have any tips for a family considering a move to your neighbourhood? You may pay a little more to live in Zehlendorf, depending on the part of Zehlendorf you choose. However, if you are looking for a part of Berlin that has good access to the heart of the city without actually living there, it is worth it.