We have been in our apartment for a year and a half now and it is definitely home. The apartment is not at all what we were expecting to get but it’s worked out really well - the top floor of a a converted house that now has three apartments. It was updated right before we moved in, which is really great and we have 1.5 bathrooms, a pretty unheard of perk in Germany. We have all the essentials and some nice amenities, like a balcony, but there are some things that are quite different about apartments in Germany than our apartment in Michigan.
Apartments in Germany
Quiet hours & weekly cleaning
Most apartments have a set time during the day designated for quiet hours. Our apartment’s is between 1 PM and 4 PM and basically means that we shouldn’t be doing anything too loud like vacuuming or nailing things into the walls. It also means you shouldn’t be mowing the lawn or anything super loud outside.
In the same realm of quiet hours, our apartment also has a weekly cleaning list. This means that everyone in the apartment takes turns per week cleaning the common areas, like the stairs, laundry room, etc. It’s something different and is actually something that I’ve heard is specific to our area of Germany.
More converted homes to apartments than apartment complexes
Large apartment complexes with 20 or 30 different buildings of apartments just don’t exist here. There’s one complex close to us but it probably only has about 10 buildings and was built last year. Many people live in an apartment that has been converted from a house. It’s so interesting to see all the different designs and architectures of where people live. There are some large apartment buildings but it’s just one building.
Hardwood floors only
No carpet ANYWHERE! None of our friends have carpet, we don’t have carpet, hardwood floors rule. There’s also tile in the kitchen and bathroom. I really love the look of the hardwoods, which are usually light wood and not dark, but cleaning them is tough. I run the vacuum cleaner and then have to wash the floors. It’s a two-step process that I hate.
Listings are by number of rooms
When you’re searching for an apartment, the listings will show the number of rooms total and not like a two bed/1 bath apartment. For example, we have a one bedroom apartment with a living room and dining room. Our apartment listing said this was a three room apartment because the calculations don’t include bathrooms or the kitchen.
I would have loved to have a more open concept apartment and a separate guest room, but whatever. It will make us appreciate our house some day.
Cold v. warm rent
Similarly, apartments can also have cold or warm rents. The difference is if utilities are included or not. We have warm rent, so our rent includes electricity, heat and water. The company comes to measure our usage every 6 months and we either receive money back or owe money. So far, we’ve gotten money back, which is great!
Our full bathroom is totally open. There’s no separation between the toilet, bathtub or shower. The glass for the shower also doesn’t come out far enough so water from the shower sprays. I love how the big the bathtub is but I’ve probably used it three times since we’ve been here. I know this is a trivial, but I wish we had a tub/shower combo and had more storage space in the bathroom.
Speaking of storage space, there aren’t any closets! Our bedrooms doesn’t have any closet at all, so we have two IKEA wardrobes there and then another wardrobe in our dining room. We do have a little linen type closet in the hallway that stores our cleaning supplies and ironing board, but that’s about it. It’s a far cry from the walk-in closet we had in our Michigan apartment.
Kitchens with a door
Many German apartments have the old style layouts and their kitchens are separated from the other rooms. Out kitchen even had a door on it. And the door opened to where the fridge is, so you couldn’t have the door open and get to the fridge. The first thing I did when we moved in was take down that darn door!
The house that our apartment is in has concrete walls. This does help keep it cool in the summer and resistant to water and fire, but it doesn’t make hanging a picture super easy. We had to use a hammer drill to hang our picture frames and then had to vacuum up the dust.
No air conditioning
I know I’ve talked about this a lot but there’s no air conditioning. I would say 90% of the time it’s not a big deal because it gets really cool at night so we open the doors. But there’s about two weeks that absolutely suck. In August, we had some 90 degree days that were just miserable. I survived, obviously, but I would certainly love some air conditioning.
Really cool windows
This is super random, but I want to mention how cool the windows are! They can tilt, so they let in air but aren’t open all the way. I love to do this when it’s not super hot but I’d like to have some fresh air or while I take a shower since we don’t have a fan in there. I also love our blinds because they are black out blinds that are automatic and electric that I would love to utilize in an American house.
That’s it! I know soon enough we’ll be back in the United States and be spending all kinds of money on air conditioning, so I am going to enjoy this (hot!) time.