We are in the new apartment! This is our second week in the apartment and it is starting to feel like a home. Our actual furniture won’t arrive for a few more weeks. It is set to arrive in Germany on November 23rd or 24th but then we have to wait for it to clear customs. It can’t get here fast enough. Moving into the apartment has been the first step in feeling settled but living in the new apartment with rental furniture makes it feel a bit like and airbnb. Getting settled in Munich has been a different experience and we have come to realize that it is going to take more work then just unpacking.
Before moving I tried to do some research on what to expect once we arrived. We knew that most apartments would come without a kitchen but we hoped to find one with a kitchen in place. From talking with people and exploring the city we knew the two areas we wanted to target but other than that we felt like we needed to have an open mind. I worked with our relocation person and given our family size and the target neighbourhoods I had two options to chose from. That’s it two. We had heard from multiple people that housing in Munich is really tight. Apparently there is a housing shortage in the city so not only are there not a lot of apartments available but the ones on the market are really pricey. Then we have the family size. The birth rate in Germany is low and Munich is a city of singles or married with no kids (according to the relo person) so a family with three kids targeting two desirable areas of the city really narrowed our options. What I didn’t know before viewing the apartments was that renting is a long term agreement here. The lease has no end date and most people stay long term, that’s why you have the flexibility of installing your own kitchen. The previous tenants where here for 10 years, so when tenants do move out they renovate it. I went to view the two options and it was reassuring to know see that interiors were being painted and floor replaced. Because so much is invested in between tenants they are very particular about who they will rent to so the application process included an interview. Luckily both apartments had an existing kitchen so after viewing them and giving Jamie a general rundown I had to just make a call.
We ended up renting an apartment in the Nauhausen Nymphenburg neighbourhood. It’s central within the city but feels really residential. There are mature trees and big sidewalks everywhere. Lots of people out for walks and riding bikes. There is the Nymphenburg Schloss just down the road surrounded by a huge park. The canal is just two blocks down from our house and it freezes in the winter and we have been told it is full of ice skaters. The neighbourhood is gorgeous and everything we were looking for; we are really happy.
The apartment itself will be great. A few things I didn’t fully appreciate before moving here. When they say unfurnished it truly means unfurnished. There were no lights in place, a few of the rooms had bare bulbs hanging from wires but you put in all your own lighting when you move in. While we got lucky with the kitchen in place I didn’t realise that meant no cabinets in the bathrooms or closets. Our last two places didn’t have closets, or built in wardrobes for you non Americans, in the kid’s rooms but it was a selling feature that the master had its own built in. This place has no closets at all, no linen closet, no wardrobes, nothing. Before moving in I had been thinking through what to do with the kitchen, the cabinet space is minimal, but the first night as it got dark I very quickly realised that lights were priority number one. So the next day I found myself standing in Ikea with a list of 17 lights that needed to be picked out, it was a long trip.
Since we don’t have all of our stuff yet I have been working on getting the basics in place. We are trying to strike a balance between setting things up so we are comfortable but at the same time there is only so much money you want to invest in a rental. We’ve gotten creative with bathroom storage instead of installing cabinets, I have big plans for some open shelving in the kitchen once Jamie’s tools get here. I’m also trying to be creative with storage without looking like a cut and paste of the Ikea catalogue.
Right now we are 75% there. The apartment is coming together and feeling more comfortable everyday. Once we have our own things, especially our beds, it will like home.