|Won't you please let us live here?|
The other thing sucking up our free time is looking for an apartment. We knew it was going to be difficult. Despite the continual "Is Berlin hot or not?" playing out in the media (latest on our neighborhood, Wedding, from the New York Times), competition for Wohnungs is fierce with between 6-2.1 billion people applying for every place we've applied for.
Each apartment is a cattle call and we aren't quite adept as the Germans at throwing elbows. I went to one showing in Prenzlauer Berg that had a line down the stairs...for 3 floors! I just laughed and left and we met Ian for a drink. What else is there to do?
I wrote about the process for Applying for a Wohnung in Berlin for German-Way and I have received a slew of advice to help improve our chances. I plan to do them all.
- Bring kids. Everyone loves kids!
- Don't bring kids. Kids just mean damage to landlords.
- Don't mention renovations (...or that terrible cork floor that they apparently just put in - true story).
- Dress up. You want to trick the landlord/realtor into thinking you're responsible.
- Don't bother dressing up or brown-nosing the person showing the apartment. Chances are they are the ones moving out and have no deciding power or the decider isn't there. If the person deciding is there, they are going to be extremely German and pick someone who makes the most money even though you made them laugh. You will feel like you prostituted yourself for an apartment and it didn't work. Your ego will be bruised.
- Bring all your documents. Because German apartments require your life story, this will cause you to spend a small fortune, or at least as much as that dishwasher you are eyeing. But it doesn't matter if you just get the apartment you tell yourself over and over again.
- Send in documents to the contacts they supply at the viewing appointment. Again the amount of paperwork, even digital, will be massive and require sending through google attachments which you hope and pray they are able to open, though all experiences with German Amts (offices) have proved that is not the case.
- Take pictures. You will see so many places it will be hard to keep track. And the times of the viewings will be extremely inconvenient (14:00 on a Tuesday or 7:30 on a Friday - your choice) meaning your husband won't be able to come or he will need to take vacation time to see them, so you will want to show him what the apartment he is pledging to spend thousands on will look like.
- Don't take pictures. This is Germany and privacy is tantamount! Haven't you ever tried looking for a building on google earth and found the building blurred out? Why would they let you take pictures of the inside?
Thanks for the tips, friends. I am sure we will have an apartment in no time. If you hear of a 3 room (2-bedroom American) flat anywhere from Wedding to Neukoelln for 1,000 euros warm - please let us know.
And if you're looking for a place to stay for a week - with pets! - our place is for rent as we try and escape the Germans and fly to Corfu, Greece.