As of Friday the 2nd of December, I have moved out of the hotel and into my own apartment. I was in the hotel for three weeks, and the only thing I really miss about it so far is the Internet connection- I don’t have one yet in the new apartment. I’m still waiting for Kabel Deutschland to come install my blazingly fast Internet.
Finding an apartment here in Regensburg has been extremely, extremely tricky. I started looking online before I even travelled to Germany for the first time, but apartment-hunting online is always a challenge.
Here are some things that are different about apartments between the US and Germany:
- In America, apartments are big managed affairs with a single leasing office- you walk in and choose a cookie cutter floor plan and just get the next available unit. Here, most apartments have a single owner and you’re renting from them.
- An unfurnished apartment here typically has no appliances- not even a refrigerator or stove. If you want those items, you have to look for a unit with a built-in kitchen.
- Apartments here do not have closets. This is why those big wardrobey things from Ikea with the sliding doors are so popular. And yes, I’ll wind up buying one.
I started to view apartments in person as soon as I could during my first week here. I had several problems right from the start. For one thing, I don’t speak German yet. This made a lot of things very confusing to me. There’s a line on the apartment search website I was using which translates roughly as “Rent without Bail.” This didn’t make any sense until a co-worker looked at it and explained that was a poor translation for a deposit.
My co-workers were an immense help to me during this process. They helped me figure out where things were. Several of them showed me listings and sent possible apartment info my way. One of them made phone calls for me and translated paperwork for me. Two of them actually went with me to look at apartments. I would never have been able to navigate this without them.
Every time I viewed an apartment, with only one exception, there were always two or three other people viewing the apartment at the same time. Apparently, the University changed their enrollment rules this year, so there are twice as many students enrolled as there normally are. They all started in September, about two months before I got here. And they all wanted one bedroom apartments.
This relegated me to using the services of an Immobilien, the rough equivalent of a leasing agent who takes a substantial cut. It nearly doubled the cost of getting an apartment, but that extra bump in price is the only reason the apartment I finally got wasn’t taken by a student.
The only apartment I saw that didn’t have several other people looking at the same time was a place a few kilometers from the city center, too far to walk to much of anything. It had all the appliances, inluding a pretty great cooktop and a washer, and it was huge. However, it had grey carpets and as soon as I walked in, I felt depressed. I’m pretty sure that’s why it was still available, to be honest. Which brings us to the apartment I finally rented.
The place I got is close to the city center, it’s convenient to bus and train stations, and it’s pretty much exactly where I want to be and the rent is very reasonable, now that I’m done with the Immobilien’s fees. It’s got a living room, pictured above, a separate bedroom, a bathroom with a stand up shower rather than a tub (which is my preference any way,) and a place for me to install a clothing washer. The floors are brand new in that light wood you see above. There is a small built in kitchen, open to the living room. It provides a stove and a half-height fridge, pictured below.
The apartment is mostly empty at this point- I moved in on Friday and it’s only Sunday. And Sundays are impossible days for getting anything done, because nothing is open here for shopping on Sundays. The one thing I did manage to get into the place before I moved in was a bed, an Ikea Malm:
I spent Friday night assembling it before I finally went to sleep. I may have to post my thoughts on Ikea another time. Maybe after I get one of those wardrobe things I mentioned earlier so I can actually store my clothing in some place other than my suitcases.
As an aside, posting here will be pretty light until I get the Internet connection hooked up in the apartment- even now, I’m sitting in front of the San Francisco Coffee Company in the Arcade in order to use the Internet connection. And have some nice peppermint tea.
Beats sitting on the floor in my completely empty living room, I guess.
Man, I need some chairs.