Moving From Berlin To Brighton: My Experience
Everyone tells you that it’s difficult to move abroad, but no one really tells you about the differences you’re going to face, so I decided to sum up my experience about moving from Berlin to Brighton.
I moved to Brighton, because my girlfriend was going to do her Erasmus year at Sussex University and I wanted to be with her. That was my motivation to move.
I love Berlin like no other place, so I would need something spectacular waiting for me to move somewhere else. But nothing was waiting for me in Brighton; I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have a place to live and I was just hanging out for a few weeks before I started my internship with the City Girl Network/Brighton Girl.
To be honest, I’ve had a difficult time adjusting to life in Brighton for several reasons and this list is solely based on my experiences and my personal opinions. Although I’ve only lived here for a few weeks I can say with absolute certainty that I couldn’t live here for a longer time than the remaining 6 months that I intend to stay.
By writing this list that contains a fair amount of negative sides to Brighton I don’t mean to shame anyone that enjoys living here, but to point out some aspects that I find troubling.
Brighton is small.
Brighton’s population makes up 6% of Berlin’s population, which I knew before I moved, but only fully realized when I arrived in Brighton. I had been to Brighton about 5 times before I moved, so I had pretty much seen the whole city by the time I lived here permanently. I used the first few weeks to explore the city and wander around on my own, which really showed me what’s going on in Brighton and what isn’t.
Watching sunsets like this at the beach is definitely something you can’t do in Berlin.
Rent is really expensive in the UK.
I knew that the UK is more expensive than Europe, but I didn’t quite expect the average price for a tiny 8sqm room to be about £550 (which equals 620€). I honestly have a hard time understanding how young people that don’t come from rich families are able to afford living in Brighton with the average wage in service jobs being about £8 per hour, considering that those are the kind of jobs most students work in. The incredible rent prices definitely put a stop to the charme of the little town that is Brighton. According to a recent study that The Guardian wrote about, millennials spend three times more on rent/housing than their grandparents did and there’s no doubt that this is the case in Brighton, too.
It’s incredibly frustrating how millennials get blamed for everything that the last decades’ economy did to mess with our possibilities of ever being able to escape living in rental properties, having children while living in big cities and being able to work a reasonable amount of time without fearing that we won’t be having any money leftover to provide for basic needs like food and electricity; for a lot of people living in gentrified cities this is the case now and I can speak from personal experience.
Lack of diversity & romanticising the small town life
I have talked to a lot of people (white people to be precise) about their experiences in Brighton and their general perception of the city. I’m astounded about how everyone kept saying how diverse and open-minded it is.
I don’t really know where people get the idea from that Brighton is super liberal and diverse, when Brighton’s population from my perception is made up by about 90% white upper middle class people and maybe 10% foreign students. I, as a woman of colour, have felt more outlandish in Brighton than anywhere else I’ve been before, which I didn’t expect before moving to Brighton after hearing everyone say how multi cultural it is. Out of everyone I have seen in the city maybe 1 out of 10 people wasn’t white, that is really not much at all.
I don’t know, but I have the impression that people in Brighton think that they are way more queer and liberal than everyone else and I find it a little irritating how you can praise a city so much for being pretty much a typical small town that is experiencing its first wave of gentrification and the symptoms involved. I feel like it is unnecessary to promote Brighton as such a liberal, queer city when compared to London it is a bourgeois resort for those that might even fear the multicultural melting pot that London embodies.
One thing that bothers me in the UK in general is the lack of decolonization, the praising of the monarchy and the privatization of everything which makes living here even more expensive.
Brighton is slow. And I like it.
I love Berlin for its size and huge population, but it can be pretty stressful to navigate through the city when you’re in a hurry and need to go somewhere. I like that Brighton is so small that you can pretty much walk everywhere and aren’t stressed, because you just missed a train. Of course busses can be stressful too, but with the relatively short distances you might as well walk for a bit.
Brighton does feel like a holiday resort by the sea where no one’s ever in a hurry to get somewhere, which is nice for people like me who need to escape big cities like Berlin for a while.
It’s really relaxing to be able to take a walk by the seafront every day, to breathe fresh air and simply enjoy life in a small city. It cleared my head and helped me focus on what I really want and need for my life.
ABOUT PUb CULTURE AND GOING OUT
Before I moved to the UK I didn't really understand why it’s such a big thing to go to pubs almost every night, but now I get it. After having seen and experienced how tiny houses and rooms are in England I understood why people need to leave their houses to meet up with friends. My own room in Brighton only fits my bed and that’s about it; no capacity to have people over when your room is only 8sqm.
But I don’t mind leaving the house, because I like British pubs, the bar staff has always been really nice from what I’ve experienced and the cidre is amazing. I’ve only recently been to my first pub quiz ever and really liked it, things like that aren’t popular in Berlin at all.
Since I moved I’ve been to the cinema a few times, gone to a lot of different pubs and cafés and met a lot of friendly people.
Brighton is really vegan FRIENDLY.
As I expected Brighton, as a gentrified city, has a lot to offer for vegans and those interested in a plant-based diet! To be honest, I was quite shocked when I saw how amazingly cheap and well stocked the British versions of LIDL and ALDI are. Compared to Germany, they are vegan’s dream come true, because they not only offer pretty much everything essential for a vegan diet (like couscous, rice, vegetables, soups etc.) for a really cheap price, but also have an incredible variety of ready meals that are vegan and are really tasty. For everyone who is new to Brighton and vegan I’d also recommend checking out ASDA at the Marina, because they have the best offer in terms of vegan cheese, plant based yoghurts and milks, meat substitutes etc.
When you’re out in the city you’ll be able to have at least two vegan options at every café/restaurant and 100% of all cafés offer plant-based milk, too. I don’t really get why that’s not the case in Berlin, since it is a Mekka for vegans…
I’m sure there is a vegan brunch somewhere in Brighton that can compare to my favorite brunch in Berlin, but I haven’t found it yet…
Being home away from home.
Although by now you might have the impression that I hate everything about Brighton, this is not quite true. I have difficulties ignoring how expensive it is, because Germany in general everything is way cheaper, whether it’s public transport, going out for drinks, rent, eating out,…
Not being able to adapt to having to spend more money now is my own issue and shouldn’t reflect on the city but on my home country and the standards I’m used to from living in Berlin.
I definitely feel good in Brighton, I enjoy meeting friends here, hanging out in the cities and exploring new cafés and bars every day and although I feel like I’ve already seen everything I’m sure there’ll always be more for me to stumble upon.
Walking through the North Laines is something I like to do a few times a few, because all the shops and cafés there are really cosy and cute!
I love Berlin more than any other place I’ve ever been to which makes it difficult for me to adapt to a new place, because I WILL always compare it, whether I want to or not. That again should not reflect on the other city (in this case it’s Brighton), but on my love for my hometown which is far greater than anything else. So maybe after reading my little declaration of love for Berlin, you might understand why I’ve listed some negative aspects of Brighton.
I definitely don’t hate Brighton, i’m just a little homesick.
Written by Michelle Pantke, who can be found as @badwolf95 on Instagram.