We have found a home and have been going through the leasing process. It is a bit different here in Germany and we are lucky to have a relocation company that is helping us through everything including translating all the documents to English so we know what we are signing. I have mentioned before how you have to apply for a house that is available and then you wait to see if the landlords like you or not. It is a rather competitive market and we lost our first house option due to that (not everyone is excited to rent to Americans). However, we did make it through the process to our second house and have the keys in hand! All we need now is for our furniture and all those goodies to arrive so we can move in. Can’t wait to get out of this hotel!
I thought I would share a couple of comments that were added to the lease by our relocation company to make sure us crazy Americans followed all the rules.
- To avoid mold and damage in the house, it is appropriate to air the home 3-4 times a day for 10 minutes each. If you are not home all day then you should air the home in the morning and in the evening for at least 15 minutes each time. They went into very specific details about this. Like the windows must be fully open for the entire 10 minutes. This is expected to be done year round which means wide open windows in winter. This is mentioned 8 times in the agreement. 8 times! This is apparently very serious business.
- Renovations: If you get a home with freshly painted walls and redone floors then it is expected that you will paint the walls and refinish the floors before you move out. This means every single room. You have to be careful with this a bit as our home was listed as completely refinished but the walls were not painted so we had to make sure to document this so that we don’t have to paint the walls when we move out.
- “Carpets, blankets, bed rugs, furniture etc. are only allowed to be cleaned outside between Mondays and Saturdays at the designated area, but not between the hours of 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 7a.m.”
- “It is not allowed to leave items, particularly bikes, baby carriages etc. in yards, in hallways, staircases and drying rooms unless otherwise specified.” So you can’t leave the kiddos bike out in the backyard. It must be put away and not in the hallway.
- “On Sundays and public holidays it is not allowed to hang laundry outside. It is not allowed to hang laundry in front of the windows or on balconies facing the street”
- “The main entrance to the house / apartment block must be kept locked between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and between 2 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Sundays and public holidays.” The relocation agent also made a point to tell us both locks (the regular door lock and security lock) must be locked.
- “A “period of quiet” is from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. (This is a legal regulation in Germany and has to be followed). If the tenant listens to music or uses any other mechanical devices (e.g. washing machine) it must be ensured that no other tenant is disturbed.”
That is it for our quirky new house rules. I think we can manage to follow those though I do think keeping the kiddos quiet from 1-3pm might be a little rough but that might just be our new nap time.
The recycling system here is also INSANE. If recycling was an Olympic sport then all Germans would get a gold medal. But that is a story for another day.
We’ll keep you posted when we can finally move in!
To celebrate our first complete week in Germany I present to you a Top Ten list of things we learned. The good, the bad and the awkward.
- You have to pay to pee. If you are at a public location such as the park, train station, etc. then you better have some spare change if you have to tinkle. We had a heads up on this procedure from our adventures in England but it is still surprising to any American that you would have to pay to pee. As a pregnant woman, you better believe I have an entire change purse fully loaded and at the ready.
- The first German word I learned was Ausfahrt (insert giggles here). The word Ausfahrt means exit. It is absolutely everywhere. Follow the Ausfahrt signs to get out of the parking garage, exit the Autobahn, etc. Now maybe I have the humor of a junior high boy but come on! You know that word looks like a$$fart. I mean seriously! How can you not giggle a little every time you see a giant sign that says Ausfahrt. Hilarious and helpful word to know.
- Amusement Rides are dangerous (sort of). We ventured to a fair down by the river that was for younger children. They had the traditional fair food (cotton candy, giant pretzels, slushies, etc.) but when it came to the children’s ride everything changed. One of the rides was children riding in a crate down a track that looks like it was made to transfer boxes out of a truck. No guard rails in case they fell off the sides. I must say they all seemed very happy though. The bounce house was also there but there is no net or walls on the side. Instead parents kind of gather on all sides and its your duty to protect any child that may fall your way from making it to the ground. O LOVED this. And then the mother of all craziness: climbing beer crates. With this activity there is a harness and an automatic belay, so not super dangerous it just looks terrifying. They start standing on like 3 crates and then once the child gets their balance they are handed another crate and they must add it to the stack and then climb up. They get rather high. It looks very challenging and from a physical therapy perspective looks like a great high level balance activity. The overall goal is to get to the top and ring a bell. In all of these rides, no one got hurt it just was a little shocking to see because there is NO WAY any of this would happen in America. In the end though, everyone was having fun and that is all that matters.
- Eggs are not refrigerated. I looked all over the grocery store to find some eggs until I finally realized they are not in the refrigerated section. They are sitting on the regular shelves like a box of cereal. Still taste good!
- No such thing as a free bag. Europe has started an initiative to get rid of the plastic bags that you get everywhere you go. They started this recently (a year or so ago) so when you go to the grocery store you need to bring your own bags, purchase reusable bags or buy paper bags. I think its like 5 cents per paper bag. I saw a news article the other day that stated that England alone has dropped its use of plastic bags by 80% over the first year that this tax was in place. This is a country that was originally using 7.6 billion plastic bags per year so that is SUPER impressive. I think America should get on board with this idea. I think it is brilliant!
- No one drinks tap water. No one! When you go out to a restaurant no one will bring you a free glass of water. You can order water (still or bubbly) but you can’t get a glass of tap water. I looked into this a little bit and there seems to be no clear answer to why Germans do not drink tap water. Some people theorized that it is due to the poor water quality after World War II so there is a generation that grew up not being able to drink tap water and they passed that tradition down to their children. This is just one theory but doesn’t mean it is the answer. Tap water in Germany is perfectly safe to drink and is heavily regulated but the tradition continues. Either way you have to buy bottled water at the restaurant in order to drink water. Which brings us to our next point…
- Beer is cheaper than water. No joke. At the restaurant the bottled water is typically 2.50-5.50 (euros) small to big sizes. A glass of beer is typically 2-4 euros. Beer is cheaper than water, which is a cruel, cruel twist of fate for this preggo lady but hubby doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
- Never leave home without an umbrella. Seriously though. Never!
- Google Translate is everything. When using Google Chrome as your Internet browser, a handy dandy tool called Google Translate will pop up and offer to translate pages from German to English. Yes! Yes! A million times yes! This has been extremely helpful. It has its own quirks but I don’t know what we would do without it.
- German Chocolate is amazing! But you already knew that. It is seriously super delicious and it makes everything better. It was worth the trip!