16 February 2010

We've moved.

(Hmm. I'm going to try writing on our little Eee PC netbook, so that I can watch TV on my Mac at the same time. Our move finished Friday night, but the telephone/internet was only hooked up today (5 days later) and we weren't able to get the computer/TV interface hooked up before the German went back to Munich. I'm still not certain how we are going to set the intricate layout up, since the relatively frequent crashes require handy side sofa access, but that's not an easy commodity in our current set-up.)

The move was... exhausting.I am tremendously grateful that we went with one of the two companies with the ground-to-balcony lift rather than one of the two estimates from companies operating solely with back-power. Even though it cost twice as much, theoretically, I think the move would have taken two days without the lift, rather than one, and therefore the price would have been the same but with a tremendous amount of damage to our possessions and with our new neighbors hating us passionately for making their lives heck for two days. Although our old building was relatively modern, with a large elevator (requiring only that the furniture on our second level becarried downstairs to elevator access), our new building is a real Altbau, with a flight of stairs up to an elevator that can fit our family (two adults, two small children) only when we are feeling affectionate. Even if one would have wished to use the elevator for moving, it couldn't be done: it's terribly slow, very small, and the button for use can't be pressed until the door closes, so a person would ahve to ride with the (small) boxes. In addition, the stairway is winding enough and we are high enough (third floor European, 4th floor American) that it would be physically impossible for teams to pass each other. Long story short: we made the right decision.

I was sorry I missed the car being towed (driver felt those big signs forbidding parking between them was optional, I guess) while driving the kids to school. Amusingly, others on the street were moving the next day and while we were over there cleaning up on Saturday, another car was being towed. While here, when the truck arrived to unload, the driver blocking the way was alert enough to move before the tow truck arrived. In each of these three observed cases a policeman was there the entire time. I thought it was as 1. a defense against charges of damage to the twoed vehicle, 2. because these are public streets, not private property, and 3. in case the owner became violent. The German thought they should have been able to use the Ordungsamt instead, but I think the prior reasons are why they could not.

It's also clear why people just don't move that often: the expense is too great. Another Berlin blogger mentioned that she sees other friends moving annually in Berlin: I assume that they must either have their moves paid for by work or that they own no possessions. We used to move all the time in the US, both as singles and as a couple with no kids.We moved ourselves, with the help of U-Haul and an occasional friend. That's just not possible anymore, for us,without elevators. Moving a couch, dining room table, bookcases and desks, beds and wardrobes: this is not something anyone would do on an annual basis. That's not even thinking of moving a kitchen, as most real Germans do. We did move our refrigerator (purchased to be delivered here in time to be brought up by lift), our freezer, our washing machine and dryer. As well as lots of boxes of books and children's toys and some boxes of clothes.

We had gotten an estimate on painting and putting in a floor in the bedroom (although we were very lucky in that most of the apartment is floored and that there is a kitchen, the apartment desperately needed painting and there was no floor in one bedroom) but although I had gotten it from the husband of a friend, the estimate was so high that we didn't even bother to go back to him to discuss it: perhaps that's the American in us, but I think it's just an insult to be so far away from reality. We decided that we would have Bauhaus do the floor (as that's where we would have gotten the laminate anyway) and the total was significantly less than X's estimate for doing so.

So, in addition to professional movers (if one owns furniture, heavy stuff), there's :
  • the provision of 2.38 months (or provisionfrei, if lucky),
  • renovations on the old apartment and perhaps the new,
  • the three months standard new security,
  • the legal right of the prior landlord to keep their three month's security for up to 1 year (and hope one doesn't need legal insurance to actually get it back),
  • the cost of moving phone/cable (because contracts aren't breakable due to moves and they charge you for flipping that switch),
  • the cost of forwarding mail and packages (not free in Germany)
  • the overlap in apartments (hard to get out of, since landlords often won't show until the apartment is empty)
  • moving the old kitchen (if it will fit in the new apartment) or changing it to fit
  • moving all lights
I can't imagine being able to afford to move, as a family, frequently.

We also picked out colors (yeah, colors!) and bought our paintand then googled around and looked for the equivalent of Campus Paint pros. We found them, but we also found a handyman who did painting and minor electrical and handywork (such as curtains, etc) for an hourly wage. We hired a babysitter and then I taped the kids' room and painted the lower third): I'm painting it as a Finding Nemo room, like I last did in NY, and the bottom third is Ocean Blue, while the upper 2/3 is sky blue. When I get the energy after unpacking everything, I need to use a template and paint a wave on top of the ocean, then add Nemo stickers and artwork, with a large dark blue bathmat for the floor.

After I went home, the German and A. spent the next two days painting the place and it looks amazing.

The living room and office (connected as a Berliner room) are celadon. The hall and bathroom are white, the kids' room as above, and our room is lilac. We have gorgeous plaster details on the ceiling in the office and our bedroom (all the ceilings, trim and above what I think is the picture hanging line, is white) and we haven't figured out yet what to do for lights, so we are using our torchieres. The kitchen still isn't finished- we will do it on Friday, but we ran out of paint last week (the coverage was strangely short, even after a primer coat)- but it will be a medium-light chocolate. That's a real departure for me, because I'm not an earth tone person. But the floor and the cabinets are Buche and the wall tiles are institutional (puke) green (as was the previous paint job) and according to the theory, those "colors" go with brown. It's true: they do. It even makes the Buche less hideous.

I'm interested to see how immediately happy I (and the kids) am here: Oma and Opa were surprised that the children were glad to be in their new room. They aren't used to children being able to take change in stride. I think a large part of it is finally getting some color on the wall. This has been the longest time I have ever lived without painting my walls: even in university, moving every year, I always painted. In all, since leaving my parents' home, I have lived in 16 different houses/apartments and only in the last two years in Germany have I not painted the walls within a month. Even without curtains it feels homey.


Lynda said...

Now that is odd.. oreneta just posted that she has moved 16 times.. you just posted you have moved 16 times... and I have moved 16 times!!

Moving in Germany is really not fun. Must admit I have run out of steam and enthusiasm... there are still many things to do in this house.

An Altbau would be lovely. Those high ceilings.

Salt & Bread for you and yours... good health..

G in Berlin said...

Thank you- I am feeling quite jolly now. We have a wonderful little bakery two doors down and I think if I'm not careful, that may become a hole in my budget: the kids are wating Kasekuchen and I am munching on a Campingbroetchen right now:).
But I have moved 17 times, if you count out of my parents' house. I'm not counting temporary living facilities, either, where we haven't signed a lease, like the short term accommodations when we moved here, or the WG for the summer in NYC.
We are a well-traveled lot, aren't we?

Paula said...

salt and bread and a virtual broom for a clean start to your new home! I remember your love of vivid colors and how you would paint each new abode just so. Have you ever looked at full-spectrum color paints? Pricey, yes, but oh so beautiful. The bedrooms in our home were wallpapered; I've changed the wallpaper in our room and Miss A's, and one day will strip the paper in the others and paint!