Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Finding an apartment

We hit the pavement running monday morning, searching for an apartment that is right for us. Living in an apartment on the 5th floor really makes you appreciate the ground floor, so that is a requirement. Also, a garden so we can just let Oskar out the back door, is also a major requirement. We also need to have an installed kitchen, because many apartments have nothing in the kitchen--no counters, cabinets, nothing--just a couple pipes sticking out of the wall. We are not having any of that action. Because of the job situation, we were thinking about a furnished flat, but the costs and quality of the furnished apartments we have seen was not good. You end up paying 400-500 euro per month more for a furnished place, so we are opting for unfurnished. This means basically buying a whole house worth of furniture. DAMN.

There is a major website used for rentals in Germany, so, armed with Google Translate, we had found 3 apartments that fit our criteria. Actually, 1 of them was up on the 3rd floor, but it was in a great location, near the center of Stuttgart. I made the phone calls to the agents (Maklers) who handle the places and BANG 3 for 3 english speaking! Nice! So we setup appointments. We went out to a suburb of Stuttgart, north of Ludwigsburg, called Freiburg (Freebird haha) for the first one. Here is the ad (you can translate by using google translate or babelfish or something, although there are pics). It was about a 10 minute walk from the subway (which will take you 20 minutes in Stuttgart), had an awesome back garden, and was very quiet. 2 bedrooms, pergo floors, complete new kitchen. We liked it alot.

The second place was near the center of Stuttgart in an apartment block above a grocery store, so that would have been convenient. Here is the ad. This place was pretty 2 minutes to the subway, modern building. But the lady who showed it was shady. She showed us the apartment, we liked it very much, but luckily our friend Annett was with us to translate. The lady was decieveing about the price, the apartment she showed us was actually 300 euro per month more than her ad says. The cheaper one was in another building and looks and feels completely different. LAME. Not sure if we would have taken it anyway (no garden), but we were kinda peeved that she dit that.

Moving on, we went to another suburb in the north called Tamm. Here is the ad.10 minutes walk again to the apartment from the subway. This place was great--quiet, 3 bedrooms (so we could have an office), a very nice backyard with a swingset and a beautiful German terrace with a grapevine running across it. The kitchen was very small, but the appliances (oven, dishwasher,sink, cabinets) were all new. The layout is a little weird, kinda looks liked they added on, but the rooms are generous. The backyard is great and there is only one neighbor above, perfect for us. We wanted to have our friend Annett with us to have a second opinion and to speak with the agent, so we went back again to the apartment. This time, the owner happened to be there too, so we met her (through our translator) and she was a sweet old lady from Croatia. She really liked Mayzie and Annett and was blown away by Jennas knitting skills (Annett's daughter had on a hat Jenna made for her). She told us how she wanted a family in her house, so we got her approval right away. Annett really liked it, too, so we said we'll take it! 

We explored the area a bit. The grocery store is about 10 minutes walk away, and there is a huge shopping area close by with Ikea and mall type stores...thats about 10 mninutes walk away too. The train is great for going into Stuttgart (23 minutes), so when I do start working, that will be easy. There are kindergartens and countryside and bike lanes right around us, so it really is a perfect location. I am sad that we are not closer to the city, but thats the sacrifice we needed to make to have some space. If it was just me and Jenna, we would be in the city for sure, but its not, so we will all be happier with some elbow room.

We walked over to Ikea to see what the damage would be if we got all our stuff there--TV, beds, dressers, washer/dryer, rugs, light fixtures...all that crap will be about 2000 euros. DAMN. I must mention the costs involved in securing the apartment, too. First there is a "kaution", a 2 month deposit for any damages. The rent is 850, so that will be 1700. We get that back at the end if all is in order. Then, and this is ridiculous, there is a fee we must pay the agent, called the "provision". This is 1.8 times the rent, so 1530 euros. For all her hard work at showing the place and putting up an internet ad. LAME. And of course we will never see this money again. So that is a total of 3230 euros before we even move in! Luckily my work will front me this money and I will pay it back over 1 year. Otherwise, that would break the bank for sure, with all the stuff we have to buy.

In other money news, I got my first paycheck. They took out 34% in taxes. I was used to around 30% at home, so I guess the extra 4 % should be expected for the healthcare we get here.

So, we are excited, and our expected move in date will be last week in March. Will be nice to have our own place, and feel more settled than we do now...but not too settled haha. 


DarrenDriven said...

Good choice on the apartment. That little garden house is awesome... and the giant sliding glass doors! Plus it will be nice to have that extra room for when guests need a place to crash. (wink wink)

cliff1976 said...

You can learn a lot about the market and the language by looking at the ads online — both the national and local ones. My wife Sarah did a lot of the research work from the States while I was over here checking out the potential job and getting a feel for the management. Things like 3ZKB, EBK, etc. are essential.

Liz's World said...

I don't know if you've done your shopping spree at Ikea (LOVE that place!) but we have a few things floating around the attic.
2 single beds, one wardrobe, living room table - round with marble top that weighs 4000 pounds.
I think we have 4 bar stools in the cellar that are new. Small, not tall, and not the kind with a back on them. Who knows what else.
How about a black livingroom wall unit? It's lovely, and free. (Oh all right, it's not that lovely, but it is free!) Let me know, I'm in the Stuttgart area.

Liz's World said...

will do on the photos. Price is free. If that's too much, let me know what you would charge to take them!