Sunday, March 31, 2013

{ quick update }

Dear Friends & Family,

I'm still in the process of writing about our journey in Paris, but I wanted to give you a quick update on other things going on in Berlin.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that our clocks didn't move forward the same time as the US. So if you're still keeping track, we are back to being nine hours ahead. I'm writing this at 5:** pm, and it is 8:** am in California. So good morning to you!

We're excited for the time change. Not only does it mean we have more sunlight, but we are really getting into Spring. It snowed the other day, but by the next day it had already melted. I have a feeling we'll start complaining when it starts raining...

Other news....we got offered an apartment!! Well, three actually. We declined them all though. We decided one was not in the right neighborhood, and the other two, albeit great apartments, were both over the budget if we included the cost of the furniture we'd need, the appliances we'd have to get, and all the other necessities we'd have to factor in. So yes, we are starting our search over. We are being more strict with the budget because we realized how much we want to explore Europe while we are living in Berlin, and we can't do that if we are not able to save money.

At least we know it is possible to find an apartment...

The Prindles

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

{ the search continues }

Dear Friends & Family,

In the past month or so, John and I have been looking at 3-5 apartments a week. In the beginning we didn't submit an application because we were not sure of what we were looking for. Now we know which neighborhoods we really want to be close to, we know which trains we want to live near, and we definitely know we do not want linoleum floors...

...I think this week I hit a wall. John and I normally look at apartments on the weekends, but John had lined some up through the week. I'm losing track of what we've seen, when we've seen it, and where we've seen it. It's all just blurring together. The cold doesn't help. I know there are places in the northern east coast that have it worse than us. We haven't gotten any lower than 8F (I thought it was higher than that, or it occurred in the middle of the night/early morning).

So, I might have scared my parents by posting the apartment that was in dire need of a renovation...I should post more examples of apartments in Berlin (thanks for reading my oh so interesting blog, btw). 

We looked at an apartment in Neukölln that had a different layout than what we've seen. It was two levels with the upper level being the top floor with skylight and a balcony. Two things on John's wishlist. The only catch was the upper level was a bedroom that had it's own front door entrance, and the stairs inside the apartment was on the narrow side...the bathroom is on the lower level. I would not want to have to go downstairs in the middle of the night when I am half asleep. 

Here are some pictures so you know what I'm talking about...
{separate entrance to the bedroom with a closet adjacent}

{bedroom with balcony and skylight}

{close up of the balcony}

{stairs to the lower level}

{an accident waiting to happen}

{lower level}

{open kitchen layout}
{small showers in Berlin}

Mom, Dad, I hope this gives you a better visual. 

We are still on the hunt, and I think we are really narrowing down what we want and do not want. If we're going to be here for 2-3 years, we want to make it really count. We want to find a place we can really make into a home, that and we do not want to have to move and do the whole process all over again. (emphasize on really, really really really)

So that's our update; More apartment hunting for us. Hopefully the next pictures I show of an apartment will be our own. Cross your fingers, and while you're at it, send some more of that California weather over our way. Spring is almost here (last I checked in 15 hours), and next week we should get some sun and be in the high 40's low 50's. I can't believe that is my new definition of warm...

The Prindles.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

{ apartment hunting }

Dear Friends & Family,

John and I were lucky enough to have a place provided by the institute when we arrived. Plus side was its proximity to his work, and the down side was it being far from the neighborhoods we enjoy going to. 

We are currently outside the S-Bahn circle at Oskar-Helene-Heim, and John's work is just a few stops away. All the red arrows inside the circle are the neighborhoods we hang out at. The two on the bottom are in Kreuzberg, and the top at Eberswalder is in Prenzlauer Berg.

{ U-Bahn Map }

The first apartment we looked at was off Rathaus Neukölln, but unfortunately we were not a fan of the neighborhood. We looked at another apartment near Nollendorfplatz, but the place was very small and not what we wanted in an apartment. 

A few weeks ago we looked at two apartments. One was off Görlitzer Bahnhof, but  the apartment was quite a walk away from the station. We're not only looking for the right apartment, but it has to be in the right neighborhood close to a train station. Yes, we are being picky right now. We don't plan on moving again once we find our home. 

Our second apartment was in Prenzlauer Berg. We just discovered this neighborhood when we went looking for Iron & Resin at Peter Fields, a small boutique that carries I&R, Deus Ex-Machina, and other motorcycle inspired items. 

Apartments in Berlin are somewhat similar. Two rooms means one bedroom and one living room. The bedroom is usually very small. Most bathrooms come with standing showers, although some have bathtubs. The most common feature is a long hallway with all the rooms connected. The buildings are usually built in the early 1900's, and they all have high ceilings with old doors. Every room has a door. 

Our requirements for an apartment is that it has to be an old building with wooden floors and high ceilings. I would love a kitchen that has a lot of shelf space. We've seen some places with decent kitchens. We've seen some apartments that try to pass off a kitchen in a hallway. No oven. Just a sink, a mini fridge, and two hotplates. We've also seen a kitchen that had a shower in it. True story. That apartment had a hobbit door to the bathroom, dark and narrow with no window. Of course it was in a gorgeous neighborhood close to two U-Bahn stations. 

Today we looked at two apartments, and we submitted applications to both apartments. We've submitted one last week, but we never heard back from them. It's tough trying to find an apartment in Berlin. Today both places had over 20 people waiting to look at the apartments. The first apartment we looked at was on the third floor. As we were scaling up the stairs, we could still see people outside lining up to get inside. 

Hopefully we will find something soon, but it's a great opportunity for John and I to get acquainted with the different neighborhoods of Berlin. We've looked in the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg, Neukölln  Schöneberg, and Prenzlauer Berg. 

Here is a very empty apartment that was for rent. They required the new tenants to renovate the place in exchange for three free months of rent. If this was in California, we would have submitted our application in a heartbeat. It's much different in Berlin when you don't have the proper tools and the means of transportation to get supplies. But you get the idea of what a Berlin apartment looks like...
{ hallway with connecting rooms }

{ a standard living room with two windows. this included a balcony }

{ some doors have windows }

{ this is usually the bedroom with one window}

{entrance to bedroom }

{ kitchen looking towards the hallway }

{ this is considered a big kitchen }

{ one of the few bathrooms with a tub }

{ some bathrooms are narrow }

{ not much wiggle room out of the shower }

So this has been what we have been up to the past few weeks. We spend most of our weekends looking for apartments and checking out flea markets in between. We are loving all the different restaurants, bars, and cafes Berlin has to offer. We stay away from bars during the weekend nights because they still allow smoking indoors here. 

And here is a fun fact. We are now eight hours ahead instead of nine! Our time doesn't change until March 31. 
The Prindles.