expat wife Archive - Anja Angeli

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What every expat needs to know about housing in Germany

When faced with the prospect of moving to Germany, one of your first concerns of course will be about where and how you will live. Your biggest priority will be to know how housing in Germany differs to what you have experienced before. Let’s take a look at the top things that every expat needs to know about housing in Germany.

Your home is one of the most crucial factors in the success of your new life as an expat and you want to make sure you feel at home, so you want to be prepared for what you will find. With prior information and research you can make your move much less stressful. So here are the essential things that you need to know about housing when you are moving to Germany as an expat. 

The most important things to consider when looking for a property in Germany:

Be prepared

One of the biggest surprises is that rental properties are leased completely unfurnished. So not what you would consider as unfurnished, maybe without sofas and tables, no - completely bare: appliances, light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, bedroom closets etc. 

You might find that now and again there are kitchen cabinets left in a kitchen, but this does not happen often. On the positive side, the rent is lower and you can choose what kitchen you’d like to have, but fitting a kitchen is an effort you not necessarily do not need when you are busy with all the other tasks of moving. Nevertheless it is feasible and you should consider apartments without a built-in-kitchen ("Einbauküche") as an option to broaden your choices.

Be quick!

It is worth making some time to really think about what you need from your new property, because when you are looking for housing in Germany, you have to be quick! The speed at which properties move, particularly in urban areas, is a recent phenomena for everyone, whether they are new to the German market or not.

Due to the fast-moving property market, when you do find something that you want, you will have to be decisive. Be prepared to make compromises – everyone, locals as well as expats, have to when they are looking for a rental property in Germany. If you see something you like, make sure that the vendor knows that you really like it and are serious about it. Then snap it up.

If you don’t – it will most likely be gone! One secret tip for Expats - never mention that you might be moving in 1-2 years, a time frame of at least 3-4 years is most desirable for landlords, especially private ones. Since a recent change in law they have to pay the real estate agent fee or take care of the renting out themselves - so no wonder they want long term tenants.

Some knowledge of the language

It will also help things along if you are able to speak some basic German and have your application documents at the ready too.

Some private landlords won’t be able to speak English well, so they may worry that they won’t be fully able to communicate with you.  

Conversing in a little German will reassure the landlord that they won’t have any problems when it comes to communicating with you. They will also appreciate the effort that you have made. The application documents that you will need are: your employment contract, statements of income for the last three months, passport and if you have references. Put it together nicely in a folder, maybe with a picture and a few nice sentences, it will increase your chances!

How to look for apartments or houses in Germany

The biggest place to find properties is on the internet. Top floor apartments are the easiest to find, but they can get a bit warm in the summer and air-conditioning is not a common feature.

Things to consider:

  • German rental contracts are notoriously detailed – a ‘masterpiece’ of German rules and regulations. Thus, it is a good idea to enlist some help to go through it. 
  • Two crucial things to check are that it is an unlimited contract with a legal cancellation period, which is usually three months. It is also a good idea to check whether anything has been listed in the remarks section.
  • Rental prices vary from city to city, but generally the bigger cities are more expensive. One important thing to consider is that your rent will be around 30 – 40% of your net income.
  • You will also have a by now so called “second rent”, the "Nebenkosten". This “second rent” will cover your utilities, such as water, heating, garbage, insurance etc.
  • If you are living in a Swabian area of Germany, you may even find a little sign hanging on your door with the words "Kehrwoche" on it. A Kehrwoche sign on the door means that it is your turn to clean the communal areas!

There are a lot more nuances to finding your new home and settling-in. Besides coaching expat partner I have relocated many expats to Germany and can support you with all the crazy hurdles and challenges of moving to and settling-in to Germany. Do you have any experiences you would like to share? What were your strategies to find a good place? Please let us know and thank you for sharing!

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"Expat Joy and Success in Germany"

a fabulous community - where you will meet like-minded people, exchange experiences and get valuable information and tips.

The reality about becoming an expat wife

With one flick of the aeroplane doors it is gone. The independence, the choices, the freedom to do what, when and how. It is then that you realise the extent of your sacrifice. That becoming an expat wife in Germany means everything that you took for granted has changed:

You have sacrificed your independence.

And your joy.

The confidence and ease that come from having history in a place. The insider knowledge of where to buy, what to do, how to get. Great fun if you are on holiday. But as an expat wife in Germany – it is exhausting.

Exhausting because it is what you have to do everyday. Your life as an expat in Germany requires you to learn, discover, build and adapt - it is overwhelming.

But you have no choice. You have to make this work.

And so you push on. Through the red tape, the grey fog and the ever-returning blue of loneliness in a foreign country.

From the supermarket to the lack of your own bank balance or ability to converse– it is a never-ending puzzle that you must solve.

Unable to master the daily tasks or your emotions you feel like a failure.

But you have to be strong, for your children, for your partner – so you help them get through.

Then who helps you?

Without a job, you are left to help yourself. And you have tried.

But you can’t do this on your own.

As the nytimes.com reports, ‘expatriate spousal dissatisfaction is the biggest reason that assignments fail’, ‘more than 80 percent of those not working wanted to work’ but there are: ‘cultural issues’, ‘foreign languages, licensing’, ‘certification’ and all the other obstacles to deal with.1

What you so desperately want is a conversation with depth. An honest chat about you, with someone who cares.

And just you.

Not the children, the husband, the place or the house. Just you.

About how you feel deep down inside. About the crushing loneliness, the loss, the boredom and confusion. About the people, your worries, your relationship, your fears.

About everything and anything.

A meaningful conversation. To get it all off your chest and find a way to move forward.

You need a change. You want help to get through this. And that is why so many expat wives are turning to expat coaching to get the special mix of specific support that they need.

Whilst loved ones back home can bring comfort for a moment, they can’t help you in your daily struggle to get through. You can’t fully explain how bad it is to them. You have to be a “grown-up” and end the conversation on a positive - to at least hang on to that last shred of dignity.

But deep down that is not how you feel. An expat coach works because they are independant from your family, friends, husband and children. Their only purpose is to support you.

To help you to find your identity in this relocation. To provide you with the emotional and practical support that you want whenever you need it. Everyone needs to know that they have a lifeline who is only a phonecall away.

Whether you need to talk, cry, laugh or scream – your expat coach is here. And that is what you have been missing.

Someone to talk to about how you really feel, without judgement. Someone to give you the tools to help you to access the local culture and community. A sage who can help you to move forward and find success and fulfillment from your expat life in Germany.

Emotional support for you, from someone who understands your experience and cares about you personally. This is the missing ingredient in arrangements for relocations.

All of the time is spent on practical organisation, then you, the expat wife give emotional support to everyone else in the family – leaving you with none.

But you are not alone.

Research by Yvonne McNulty of the Singapore University of Social Sciences highlights the intense experience of an expat wife. She reports that: becoming an expat wife creates ‘identity and isolation issues’. Expat spouses can be left feeling ‘resentful, lonely and anxious’, which can ‘cause longer-term marital problems’. 2

So the important thing to do is to get help from an expat coach and begin to move forward.

You didn’t know that becoming an expat wife would mean that you would lose your independence and joy. And you won’t. Together we will find your purpose, rediscover your joy, and help you to make your expat life in Germany a success.

Listen to my webinar today: 5 steps to finding success and fulfillment from an expat life. Find out how I can help you to find your identity and rediscover your joy in your new expat life in Germany today.

Do you agree? What are your experiences in becoming an expat wife? Have you got any useful tips on finding a job or becoming a part of the local community? We would love to your stories and experiences of life as an expat spouse. Add your comments below.

Join my FB Group

"Expat Joy and Success in Germany"

a fabulous community - where you will meet like-minded people, exchange experiences and get valuable information and tips.