Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Last Saturday marked the "end of an era" with regard to the ownership of my car. My "Miku" drift car is gone, sold to a fellow enthusiast who intends to use it exclusively as a track car. I'm glad to hear that it will continue its life on the track, I just wish I could somehow track it's progress as such. The car has been with me for over 10 years and I've learned a lot throughout my ownership experience--how to drive and master a manual (standard) transmission, how to perform maintenance including swapping out and upgrading the entire engine & drive-train, how to drift, and more. But every good thing has an end and I must say farewell as I prepare to disembark and relocate myself to the birthplace of my beloved car--the land of Germany.
I've been saying goodbye to nearly all my possessions and junk I've accumulated over the 4-5 year span that I've spent in Seattle--hoping to whittle everything down to fit within 3 pieces of baggage. It's going to be a struggle and will require much donating and throwing away (and for now the suspension of the Spectre cosplay project). I also still need to find a place to live in Germany before I arrive.
Preliminary apartment searching has proven to reveal some interesting things about the German housing market. First being the existence of "commission." There isn't any craigslist activity in the area I'll be moving to so most of the apartment listings can only be viewed through agency web-sites. These sites make it somewhat easy to view or browse many different units, however, if you find an apartment you like and want to reserve or rent, you must pay a commission fee to these agencies. How much? The standard commission value is 238% or 2.38x a single month's rent. So the commission fee for a €500/month apartment will cost €1200, not cheap. Other things of note: there are often cleaning fees of around €100 that are charged on move-out to "clean" or restore (?) the unit. I've heard some places would require you to repaint the unit to avoid the cleaning charge, however, if the landlord doesn't deem your paint job fitting, then you will be charged anyway--what a hassle.
One final observation I noticed was the common lack of refrigerators in German apartments and flats. This contrasts with American rental units as refrigerators are considered a standard amenity like toilets--meaning almost no renters actually own their own refrigerator. In Germany, the inclusion of a fridge seems to be hit or miss with most apartments being a "miss"--necessitating the purchase of a mini-fridge.
These differences will require some minor adaptation though I hope I don't come across too many other huge surprises / culture shocks along the way.