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Sunday, June 19

The trials of apartment hunting... or Apartment Hunting Trials

We expected apartment hunting to be tough here but we didn’t realize how tough until now that we’re experiencing it. There are all sorts of barriers to getting a good apartment of your choice. Before we moved here we told our agent what we were looking for- unfurnished apartment with balcony, in or close to the city center and public transportation. Simple enough, right? Wrong! Unfurnished means, everything is removed from the home, including all personal furniture but especially kitchen cabinets and appliances. Those things are considered part of the tenant’s belongings so off they go with the tenant and everything else they owned. Same with closets and bathroom cabinets. Basically, an apartment includes the four walls (with rooms and a bathroom or two) to live in; everything else we have to provide until we’re ready to move and then we’d take it with us too.

So now we’re looking for unfurnished apartment with fitted kitchen. Then there’s the older building without lifts. This was to be expected for us and isn’t a big concern for myself or him however our parents would not appreciate 4 flights of stairs. In which case, they would never leave the apartment.

One of the biggest barriers to apartment search? Language. When the landlord or their agent sees that we aren’t native Germans or German speakers, they aren’t interested. Thanks to all those Americans that rented temporarily. Actually we’ll be one of them. When Germans move into a home, it’s permanent. Not 1 year or 3 years permanent, 15- 20 years permanent or even life permanent. While speaking with our agent she told us stories about grandparents renting from a landlord and passing the apartment down to their children and grandchildren when they’re adults. That’s the other big barrier to getting an apartment we want. We know we’ll be here for 3 years definitely but beyond that is anyone’s guess. Therefore landlords are hesitant about renting to us because we aren’t “permanent”.

A little about the tenant selection process; when apartments go on market for new renters, the potential tenants do a viewing with an agent present. If interested, the potential tenant completes a form that includes salary and job information and planned length of stay. Based on those answers, the landlord picks a tenant.

For example, we saw an apartment we loved that came with fitted kitchen, extra closet space, across from our (already) favorite Greek place, Delphi, in the city center and most importantly, the rent was remarkable. We didn’t get it because the landlord picked a local that didn’t work for Siemens. We saw another apartment that I would do anything for last night but it already looks like we won’t get it because of all the previously mentioned factors.

Obviously we haven’t been lucky enough be picked in the two apartments we’ve bid for; the second one is still a potential but from the sounds of it we better start looking for something else. And even though two apartments doesn’t seem like a lot, I'll put it in perspective; it’s rare that an apartment that meets our criteria goes on the market, according to our agent. That and we've been been here for 2 weeks, and if we sign the lease now we will move in August but the longer this takes, the longer we’re stuck in a hotel apartment. So the rental market for new tenants is a tough game here.

Of course there are plenty of apartments that have lifts, fitted kitchens and landlords that are ready for us to move in tomorrow, unfortunately those are not our top choice either because of the area or their surroundings or the lack of surroundings.

The good thing is…. Americans think space is a factor; there isn’t much space in Europe and everything’s tiny. Some of that is true however to our surprise when we asked for 85- 100 square meters, we’ve gotten in that range and every single apartment we’ve seen felt spacious. Ironic?

My favorite thing about apartment hunting so far has been a naked woman sighting through a balcony. We were looking at a decent sized apartment that had ton of space and a balcony the size of a small living room. As we were looking at the view from the balcony we spotted a woman on her terrace, gardening in the nude. Nudity is very common in Europe, which I am prepared for, I just wasn’t expecting to see it on a terrace, gardening. The downfall to that apartment was a very small kitchen; a kitchen big enough for 1 person to stand. Cooking being a passion of mine, that wasn’t a sacrifice I was willing to make. And a naked gardener wouldn’t be pleasing to our guests either.

1 comment:

  1. Wow that sounds like a frustrating process. Stay patient and good luck! Oh, and these guests have no problem with naked gardeners, just FYI.