Andrew and I are lucky enough to live in temp housing for the first month we're in Germany so we're able to take our time looking for an apartment. Finding an apartment in Germany of course, was not as simple as we expected. This past year we spent countless hours watching "International House Hunters" in hopes to prepare us for this experience. We promised ourselves we would not be "that" couple... you know the one who has a huge house in Texas and wants an apartment in the middle of Paris, and is appalled that their budget can only afford a studio apartment? We went into this apartment search with a little bit of knowledge of what to expect, but of course there were some interesting learnings.
We used the websites "Immobilien Scout" and "Immowelt" for our apartment searching. Both websites are in German, so it usually resulted in a lot of "guess-clicking" to figure out our needs. This ends up taking us a bit longer with the searches, but at the same time... we're learning new German words out of necessity! (aka zimmer = room)
Here are some interesting differences vs finding an apartment in the US:
1. Einbauküche: This became one of our favorite words. I think it basically means 'fitted kitchen'. Because... most apartments in Germany do NOT come with a kitchen. The previous tenant will take their kitchen with them! And this is everything, the fridge, stove, oven, cabinets... EVERYTHING. Which means, you need to buy your own kitchen (or buy it from the previous tenant). Sometimes they will just have a picture of an IKEA catalog, which means buy your own. So if you find an apartment with an "Einbauküche", this means you get to keep the kitchen that is currently there! (a rare, but wonderful find).
2. Lights: This is another one that the previous tenant takes with them. Crazy right?? They take all of the lights, light fixtures, light bulbs, EVERYTHING. So when you move into your new apartment, you're left with hanging wires.
3. Zimmer: This means "Room" in German. In America, you'd think if the apartment you're searching has "2 Zimmer" this means its a "2 bedroom". But it actually means its a 1 bedroom. This is because they count anything other than the kitchen, bathroom & hallway as a 'zimmer'. So you can find a "1 Zimmer", which is actually a studio apartment. Or a "3 Zimmer", which could be a living room, dining room & bedroom.
Here are some additional differences that we were not completely surprised by:
4. Closets: It is EXTREMELY rare to find a walk in closet, let alone an actual closet in your bedroom. I always wondered... "who buys those big wardrobes at IKEA?" ... Well it turns out, Andrew and I are one of those people. We actually do not have any closets in our entire apartment!
5. Fridges: I've always heard that fridges in Europe are smaller than the ones we have in the US, and its completely true. The fridge in our new apartment is about half the size of our last one, and the freezer is only a tiny box inside the fridge. (what am I going to do with all of my frozen fruit for my smoothies?!). Friends & Family at home: appreciate your fridge. So it looks like our "old-American" routine of doing our weeks worth of food shopping on Sunday wont be working. But I guess it just means we'll have even fresher food more often!
Once again, this was a very interesting learning experience in Germany. And we have officially signed with our new apartment in St. Johannis in Nurnberg! So the next exciting challenges: mastering IKEA & learning how to drive a manual car!