My wife and I are a unique situation, we are one of the 1/8 couples that suffer with infertility and are lucky enough to have a family. The fact that Max and Mathilda are alive is miracle and I’m forever grateful to Berlin for the beautiful family that it has given me.
The last few months have been rough on our relationship and my health. In my most recent posts you can read about just how hard it has been. Sleep deprivation and several illnesses have pushed my body to the limit and it has forced me to reflect on my situation and make some changes.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I have decided to focus on being grateful for what I have and just how lucky I am. One of the greatest gifts that life has given me was meeting Olivia and moving to Berlin.
“Apart from the infamous bar and club scene Berlin is an amazing place to have a family.”
When most people think of Berlin they think of club mate drinking, 20 somethings lost in cities hedonistic under belly. I was once part of this ephemeral scene but the long Berlin nights now seem like a distant strobe lit memory.
There are many sides to Berlin and it is a city that caters for everyones needs. Apart from the infamous bar and club scene, Berlin is an amazing place to have a family. If we lived in any other country in the World, we would not be able to have the life that we do now.
Here are some of the reasons that Berlin is a great place for infertile and fertile parents:
IVF Covered By Health Insurance
4 years ago, when we began on our IVF journey, IVF was covered by our health insurance. There is one catch, you need to be married. Olivia and I married very quickly once we discovered that we could not have a family naturally. Some would think that this is not very romantic. I would say that they don’t have a clue. The commitment and hard work that goes into IVF treatment is only for the strongest of couples.
“most health insurance companies covered the cost of IVF treatment.”
It used to be the case that most health insurance companies covered the cost of IVF treatment. When we found out we needed to go through assisted reproduction there was only one company that covered it 100%. That company is Knappschaft and they covered three full treatments. The price per treatment is roughly €7,000.
“living in Berlin means that we saved over €21,000″
Being married and living in Berlin means that we saved over €21,000. That it is a lot of money for a young married couple. The fact that we did not have to pay out of our own pockets saved us a lot of stress. My heart goes out to couples that have to pay for treatment and suffer through the hardship of the IVF process.
It was not so long ago that I was at rock bottom and I thought that I could not have a family. It is amazing how much your life can change within a couple of years. Every day when I write in my morning journal, I take time to say thank you to Berlin for giving me a family.
“many health insurance companies in Berlin now pay 50% of the costs.”
Just after our final IVF treatment, the healthcare system changed. It is no longer the case that IVF is fully covered by health insurance. There is a silver lining though, many health insurance companies in Berlin now pay 50% of the costs. If you live in Berlin then you are lucky to be in one of the cheapest places to get IVF treatment.
World Class Hospitals
The hospitals in Berlin are amazing. I come from country where the healthcare system is total mess. Health Insurance in Berlin is compulsory. Every employer must pay health insurance for their employees. On average it costs somewhere between €350 – €400 per month. If you are unemployed then the state pays the helath insurance for you.
After Olivia fell pregnant, we thought the hard times were behind us. Our joy was short lived as Max and Mathilda were born 10 weeks early. 10 weeks is a shit load of time during a pregnancy. Olivia’s pregnancy was cut short by 25%. The day of our twins birth was a rollercoaster of emotion. It was both the scariest and happiest day of my life.
When they were born, they weighed just over 1400 grams and needed life support machines to survive. They lay fighting for their lives in the NICU for 6 long weeks and it was all covered by our free health insurance. It is estimated that it costs $3,000 per day in the NICU. It would have cost upwards of $300,000 for our twins stay in hospital for 6 weeks.
The Cost Of Living Is Less Than Most Major European Capitals
On top of IVF being (partly)covered by health insurance and the amazing neonatal care the city is also one of the most affordable capitals in Europe. I know that rent prices are on the rise but comparatively speaking it is much cheaper than most major capital cities in Europe.
“We have an beautiful 3 bedroom centrally located apartment and our rent is just under €800 per month.”
We have an beautiful 3 bedroom centrally located apartment and our rent is just under €800 per month. The charming “Altbau” (old build) apartment has huge 3 metre high ceilings and is 110 square metres in size. It is more than enough space for a family of four.
The one downfall is that we live on the 4th floor without a lift. Instead of seeing this as a hinderance, I see this as a free gym. Carrying shopping and two babies up 92 steps is the most practical workout that I can think of.
In Berlin, couples get 14 months of paid paternity leave to share amongst themselves as they wish. In our case, I took 2 months and Olivia took 12 months. Our dream apartment is so affordable that when Olivia finished her one year of paid paternity leave we could afford for her to stay at home with the kids for almost another year.
In Berlin parents are entitled to take up to 3 years paternity leave with the first 14 months paid. Olivia took one year unpaid as the twins were too young to start Kindergarten. Kindergarten in Berlin runs on a similar schedule to the school year. It begins in August. Our kids were only 10 months old last August so Olivia was forced to take a year unpaid leave .
“In Berlin parents are entitled to take up to 3 years paternity leave with the first 14 months paid.”
It is hard to believe but in less than month they will be starting in Kindergarten. One of the greatest things that the Berlin social system has to offer is the free Kindergarten places. When I look at the extortionate prices of Kindergarten in other countries I count my blessings. We will send our twins to Kindergarten for 4 years and it is completely free.
“One of the greatest things that the Berlin social system has to offer is the free Kindergarten places”
As cities go there are not many better than Berlin for raising a family. IVF is more affordable than in most countries, the neonatal care is out of this World and the Kindergartens are free. I did not even go into child support money, the abundance of playgrounds, free education and the vast green spaces for children to roam freely.
Yes, Berlin is the hub of nightlife in Europe but there is another side to this cosmopolitan melting pot. For all the Millennial party animals that have decided to grow up and have a family, there are not many better places than Berlin to raise a child.