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Apartment Hunting (episode 4 – A Happy Ending)

29 Sep

After weeks of searching, cold calling landlords, and visiting like crazy, the apartment search is finally drawing to an end (for the second time)!

Apartments lost in translation…

It’s certainly helpful to have someone to help you deal with the language barrier, but having too many intermediaries can also lead to confusion.  The effect is something like playing telephone.  On your end everything is ok, but on the landlord’s end it’s a totally different story.  I guess you could say this is something like what happened with the first apartment we thought we had found.

You cannot have a fairy tale ending without out at least one villain and a few setbacks, right?  In our case, it came in the form of a shady real-estate agent, a nasty landlord, and their sneaky decision to break a rental contract behind our back.  It ended with the first seemingly perfect apartment getting rented right out from under us.

So, a little over ten days ago the apartment search started all over again!  We had to deal once again with landlords that would literally hang up on us the minute we said we had a pet.  Actually, having a dog or cat just about amounts to having the pest when apartment searching here.

The language barrier was also definitely still a problem.  Although I have progressed from no German at all to what we could call baby German, this is just not enough to impress.  In this situation you inevitably have to involve some kind of go-between if only to translate in the beginning.  At the same time, when you are dealing with kind landlords and fairy godmothers you can be more trusting and this is less of a problem.

In the end, it turned out that good apartments do come to those who just keep looking!  And so the apartment search saga has officially come to a happy end.

The Apartment Search Saga:

Episode 1: My Cat is a Globetrotter

Episode 2: I’m leaving and I’m taking the kitchen with me

Episode 3: Get Your Paint Brushes Ready


Apartment Hunting (episode three – Get Your Paint Brushes Ready)

24 Aug

How many of you out there have actually taken the time while renting to repaint your apartment?  Sure, white walls are can be boring, but they are also practical.  Now imagine that are not given the choice.  You have to repaint your apartment, whether it needs painting or not.

Paint now or paint later.

When you move into a new apartment in Germany, you generally are given two options – either you paint the apartment when you move in or you paint it when you move out.  Simple enough.   I must say that in some extreme cases, I would gladly repaint.  In one of the apartments I looked at each kitchen wall was actually painted a different color: green, orange, yellow, and blue.  I will not even go into the pastel purple horror of the master bedroom, and the glittery painted drawing that adorned the space on the wall at the head of the bed.  To each his own, but honestly I am not even sure you can paint over that kind of decorating.

What surprised me is the apparent lack of concern for whether or not the walls actually need to be repainted. They tell you up front when and if you will have to paint and it is basically part of the contract.  Let’s say you move in, stay for a year, and do not in any way mess up the paint.  Well, you still will probably have to paint, or fork over your security deposit.  So, breaking out your paintbrushes would be the cheapest option by far.

Based solely on my limited experience here, I have found that about 90 % of the apartments I visit require painting.  With this new factor in the mix, the odds of finding the perfect apartment (i.e. no painting to do, built-in kitchen, cat-friendly) seem slim. Yet there are a few deals to be had, even for those of us who are the hardest to please, and something tells me that there may be a happy ending in sight!

More to come soon!