The apartment hunt is on, and while it is difficult enough in a language and city you know well, it is quite another story in a new city among native speakers of a foreign language who sometimes do and sometimes don’t know what you are saying.
And as easy as it may have seemed just 4 months ago to find the perfect 3 room (2 bedroom) apartment with a balcony facing the sun for around 700 Euros, it seems now to be quite impossible in an ever-changing real estate landscape. And not only is it a challenge in itself to find a this steal, but very often the apartments are missing what would be fundamental in any other country I know of, a kitchen…and a closet.
How can that be? you may ask…well really I don’t know, but Berliners are used to having to put in their own kitchens to tailor them to their individuals wants and needs, (which very frequently consist of an IKEA butcher block, a 25 year old stove, and a standard sink that looks from about 1995.) They pick their own fridge, dishwasher, washer/dryer should they choose, and hell, sometimes even their own floor! While this concept seems crazy to an American who is not used to having choice and very frequently is not even allowed to paint the space they are in, the renters in Germany are given total freedom to renovate and update as they see fit for “their” home, at their own expense.
I think some of it has to do with the idea that once you move into a place, you expect to stay for many many years, (I’ve heard stories of Germans living in the same home for 25 years, always paying their landlords on time,) so you really want to make it your own. And while it’s a nice concept, life happens and I can think of only a million circumstances in which you would need to move out before you’re on your deathbed…all of which would not make it worthwhile for me to buy and build my own kitchen.
And so the search continues for my perfect apartment with 2 or 3 rooms, a balcony facing south in a trendy neighborhood, with a fully fitted kitchen, a bathroom with a tub, and an elevator… Finger’s crossed the search pays off!