Saturday, June 22, 2013

Military Move to Germany: Part 3

If you missed Part 1 and 2 you can click below to read them:

Finding a car and a house.

The military community generally isn't very sympathetic.  Ain't nobody got time for that.  I don't mean they are cold and uncaring;  quiet the opposite.  There just isn't a ton of sitting around and lamenting about things.  We get them done.  Soldiers are gone for weeks, months and a year here and there and spouses don't sit around and say, "You poor thing."  Instead they may list the number of times their spouse deployed. ...."I remember our third deployment..."  etc.

Years ago when I was a Captain on active duty stationed in Germany I had a co-worker/friend named Cyndi.  Cyndi's mom came to visit and she could not believe it when another friend needed a car (I can't remember why) and Cyndi gave the friend in need her car to use.  "I can't believe you just gave someone your car to use," her mom gasped.  That's the kind of thing we do in the military, especially when living overseas.  

 The military pays to send one vehicle so we sold our 12 passenger van and kept the car.  After about two weeks, our car arrived! 
The last time we moved to Germany, 7 years ago, we brought a Suburban.  It was just too big to get around the teeny European streets and parking garages.  Sadly we sold it.  But, we found an 8 passenger Mercedes van that ran on Diesel.  This thing was built to fit in the German/European streets and parking lots!  And, each of the 8 seats was a full size seat.  We drove it for almost 4 years and had to sell it when left because it has German "Specs" and can't be driven in the US. 

The choice is US specs vs. German spec.  If we buy a German spec car, we can't ship it back to the states.  However, we thought we would get another German Spec van with 9 seats this time because of how easy it is to drive here,  the generous size of the seats, and we'd have a extra seat.  We looked for used cars online and went to about 6 places to look at these vans.  One of the places we went looked like Iraq.  Lines of used cars and little cubicles that were "Offices" for the owners of about 50 individual used car dealers.  There were no other women inside the perimeter. Our dealer wasn't wearing a shirt.  He was from Romania and was very happy.  We test drove a van that my husband wanted to get because the price was right.  However, there were holes in the inside panels, dirt that looked like graffiti lined the seat-backs, and there was no air-conditioning in the rear.  We didn't get it.   

 I really wanted to get a German van with 9 seats so that we would have an extra seat.  I gave up that idea when my husband reminded me that we lost a ton of money when we had to sell our van before leaving last time.  That would probably happen again this time so when we found out our friends were selling an 8 seat US spec mini-van we took a look at. 

That was it.  

The van still has the new-car smell, the AC works front and rear...and, hey, no holes in the panels nor graffiti looking dirt!  My friend kept saying, "You're getting a GREAT van."  
We can even keep it when we move back to the States if we want.  

We've been living out of a suitcase for about 5 weeks now.  We're in an Army Guest Lodge which is basically a hotel.  Breakfast is provided.  Maids make the bed and clean the room everyday!  Ah.....

Okay, okay.   We need to find a place of our own...without maid service...  

Did I mention I'm doing most of the car and house German?  Texts, emails, phone calls and appointments all in German.  I speak German, but I'm not fluent.  So, everyday I feel like I've just taken a test.  I'm so thankful I took German in Junior High!  My concern is that just when I think I'm understanding the realtor (Immobelien)  they may actually have said, "There is a zebra in the backyard that comes with the house"  and I just say, "Ja."  So far, no zebras.

Back to the house.  The military provides houses in Germany when they are available.  They are available for some people here now, but not for a family of 8.   So we get to live off-post, "on the economy."  I love living in the little German towns with the local backeries, grocery stores, ice cream cafes.  Unfortunately, with the other military posts closing there a ton of people looking for houses now and very few available to rent.  

We've looked at about a dozen and haven't found the right one yet.  

 Recently I've heard a few people say, "What is God trying to teach me in this situation?"  Come on.  It's summer break.  I don't wanna learn!  Well, maybe it's patience for me.  I've been uncharacteristically patiently waiting for a house that would work for us...6 kids, a dog, homeschooling, close to a bakery, close to the military post, a place for visitors if possible,  and a place for about 15 bikes! 

When we first started looking for houses I was speaking to a German woman who helps people transitioning here with the military.  One of the landlords wouldn't let us rent his house because he said we have too many people for the house.  That's legal here.  I told the woman what he said.  She said that German landlords don't like alot of children.  I said that some of them told me "Congratulations" after asking how many children we have.  She said, "Yes.  They say, 'Congratulations, but You can't rent my house!'"  We've had about six landlords say we have too many people for their house...even one that was over 3500 square feet. 

How German houses differ from US houses.  German houses rarely have closets.  They use schrunks.   There are no garbage disposals.  Kitchens are often teeny.  Refridgerators are about half the size of those in the US.  The Army will lend one to families if they can find a place for it in their house.  The electrcity is 110v so most US electrical equipment doesn't work unless it's dual voltage or you hook it up to a transformer, which can get expensive.   German washers and dryers are small and take forever to run through a cycle.  They don't have door knobs- there a door handles.  They are usually smaller.

It's a process.  A slow process.  We'll get it done.  Almost 20 moves in 26 years.  Like I said above about listing number of deployments, we also list the number of moves we've had. 

Hope you enjoyed the three part series. 

No comments:

Post a Comment