As you can well imagine, we have some major items on the to do list. Perhaps the biggest item of all — the one that has so many contingent items and a lot of associated stresses — was securing a rental home in Germany. We can now check that item off our list (at least I am 95% sure we can).
Housing was so stressful for many reasons. Online research is limited and naturally difficult for non-German speakers. There are furnished, partially finished, and unfurnished homes available in theory, but in reality, many are rented before you even finish reading the listing. The adverts are very different, listing total number of rooms, but not necessarily providing number of bedrooms. The market in Munich is incredibly competitive and handled differently than it is in the states. Landlords can receive applications, and decide on whom to bestow the privilege of renting their property. They do not need a reason to accept or deny an applicant and they do not need to follow any timeline for responding. Offering more money for rent is not done (and would not make a lick of difference, we are told). The landlords can ask for any kind of documentation that they feel will give them a good idea about the applicant; there is no exact protocol, so anything can go. It seems that if you can make a good impression, and if you are the type of tenant they envision for their property, you stand a decent chance. We are working with a fantastic relocation specialist, and having her expertise and language skills also made it possible to check this item off our list.
So where did we end up?
We did a lot of neighborhood research and we were able to view seven different homes around Munich, four of which were strong contenders, and for two we submitted applications. We ultimately chose a neighborhood called Schwabing, located very much in the heart of the city. It is an urban environment in all the best ways: our street is lined with shops, butchers, grocers, clothing shops, apothecaries, bakeries, restaurants. Although it is urban it is very much a residential neighborhood. Lots of families, lots of kids. In the neighborhood there are churches with regularly ringing bells. There are small play parks for the families. There are some funky antiques shops. While it is a great neighborhood to explore, it isn’t as densely touristy as Aldstadt. It is easily walkable within the neighborhood and easy walking to other areas of the city. Public transit and biking are both other great options for getting around. The apartment we chose is a brand new construction in a 1910 building, which is pretty cool. The apartment is about the same size as our current home, with a nice balcony for some outdoor living. All the windows have the rolladens (black-out metal shutters), which was a huge sell for me. And we were adamant that our home have a comfortable guest room for mom (who promises me she will visit as often as possible) and any other family and friends who find themselves in Germany over the next few years. Here are some pictures from the home and the neighborhood.