I am officially signed up for intensive German language classes through VHS for 4 days a week, 4 hours per day. The first available class wasn’t until November 3 but it is OK, DuoLingo works until then to get by, plus I’ll get us moved into our new place and start my own job search.
Apartments Finding Fun Facts:
In Germany, you don’t have one or two realtors show you around various available apartment listings. Each apartment has its own realtor. It’s lucky if one realtor has multiple listings of interest. That means you have to reach out and make separate appointments with every individual realtor for the areas you want to see. We don’t know how single working people who are transferred here do it. The only way we have been successful within the 60 day timeline we were given is by splitting up. One of us finished attending the in-processing classes, and the other spent the week meeting with realtors and fiercely searching and connecting with realtors online.
Bookoo is a good (mostly English) website to use among the German sites like ImmobilienScout24 etc and online newspapers. It’s like a better, prettier, safer Craigslist. But like anything in Germany, it closes on Sunday. Yes that’s right. The website closes down every Sunday.
Additionally, the German realtor doesn’t get commission from the building or landlord, the renter pays. Get ready for this, 2.38 times the rent is the going rate of commission unless you can find something through the housing office for 1.5 or rarely commission free. So, on a $2,000 a month rental, you are responsible to pay upfront, a commission of over $4,000, plus the security deposit which is also 2 months rent. Needless to say, be ready with about $10k in cash upfront just to rent a place in Stuttgart.
But wait there is more. The majority of rentals in Germany don’t come with kitchens or light fixtures. Yes, when people move out, they literally take the entire kitchen with them. Thankfully, the apartments we are looking at are willing to negotiate the kitchen into the rent or are brand new construction so will have a kitchen included. With the lights on the other hand, we aren’t having the same luck. A trip to IKEA and a German video tutorial on how to wire ceiling light fixtures are in our near future.
Even though Stuttgart is a relatively modern city, based on the places we have seen, finding apartments or houses with more than one bathroom (no matter how big) is very hard to come by to live close to downtown. A shower you can stand in is also still a luxury as most houses have tubs with the hose attachment to sit and “shower”. Listings state the number of rooms in the home not specifically bedrooms and bathrooms. For example, a 3 room apartment could mean 2 bedrooms and a living room with an unknown number of bathrooms or kitchen space. Viewing the floor plans is vital. Lofts and Penthouses are desirable in the US, but in an old German house the roofs are mostly triangle-shaped so much of the space is lost unless you are under 3 feet tall, plus the top floor generally means a walk-up. The usual city luxuries are the same as anywhere; having a dishwasher, washer/dryer, parking and elevators. We learned one interesting thing however, communal laundry rooms really aren’t communal. The room itself is shared, but you bring your own washer/dryer. Every apartment has a designated spot and people respect it.
After a few weeks of searching, I got tired of meeting new realtors and narrowed it down to 4 to make a decision. Of course our favorite is the furthest drive from work and very modern which is not at all what we envisioned ourselves living in when relocating to Germany. There is still the nervous feeling that what if there is something better because [fill in the blank], but at the end of the day, we would be sad if there wasn’t and we lost out on the one we both liked. Fingers crossed all goes well by the end of the month and we will have a move update with pictures to share.
1. The car has still not arrived.
2. There is no public transport direct to base and the free shuttle bus only runs certain hours meaning there is no way to get back to our hotel when working past 7pm or on weekends. Taking it day by day figuring out different ways to get to/from work until the car arrives. We only had to cab it once so far due to a train strike this week.
3. The hotel we were living in didn’t have availability for us to extend to stay about 4 times. We had to email them almost daily to check in if something opened up, change rooms from one building to another twice, and now move into a new hotel (further away) until the apartment is ready. The work van picked us up to move us thank goodness. You can imagine the suitcases we have now accumulated. Winter stuff takes up so much space!
4. The clothes dryers at the hotel steam dry. Not sure if all German dryers are this way but I definitely thought I was doing something wrong when our clothes were hot and still seemingly wet after several hours. Turns out, that was correct and as soon as they hit the cold air laid out around the room, in a few minutes they are dry.
5. It’s pretty awesome that our only disagreement seems to be whether to go to Prague, Paris or another German city for the weekend. The goal is to go to one trip every month. No matter where we go we are grateful to be seeing and experiencing new things every day.