Tag Archives: Moving Germany

Lofty Dreams of a Kitchen with a Fridge

And here begins my great kitchen debacle… Being an American, and maybe a foreigner, or maybe just being a person who has rented an apartment ever in my life, I am truly puzzled by the German tradition of excluding kitchens from rented apartments. While some owners have caught on that including a full kitchen ups their rental value, others still hold to the notion that people enjoy carrying their kitchens with them from one flat to another.

My dreams are not this grand!

As the educated adult that I am, when I hear the word “kitchen” I have lofty dreams of countertops and refrigerators that reach higher than my waist, maybe even a cabinet or two, but I have found I am often alone in my dreams. What used to be the legal minimum in Berlin, (but no longer is,) was the inclusion of a stove and a sink. Now it is up to you to fend for yourself in the world of IKEA or Media Markt to put in place the household items you once took for granted.

As I am on the brink of signing a contract on an apartment, (I have learned since arriving here that if I call it a lease everyone looks at me confused, so contract is a safer term.) I have learned that my definition of kitchen and my landlord’s definition of kitchen are quite different things. While we discussed him putting in a kitchen however I would like, with new countertops and all, apparently the simplest, “What does kitchen mean to you?” was lost in translation.

I have been walking around with my head held high, confident that a dishwasher and larger fridge would be placed perfectly next to my granite countertops and matching overhanging cabinets and shelves. Silly me. Apparently “kitchen” in this particular instance means putting countertops on top of the mini fridge, (in the U.S. this would be likened to what you may put in your dorm room freshman year at college) and surrounding the sink…What might fall beneath those countertops, you may ask? Well so did I, and I have yet to receive my answer.

Something's missing...or is it?

So after the great search for an apartment seems to almost have reached its end, another roadblock nudges its way in, taking the place in the form of, “Is a complete kitchen a dealbreaker, or no.” Sadly, I must admit that yes, yes it is – either that, or it’s another 1k Euros out of my pocket for cabinets and additionals that I would prefer to spend elsewhere, say, on flights…or food.

Definitions of kitchen are welcome commentary!

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The Perfect Search

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!