We finally “closed” on our new house! House hunting was quite discouraging because all the ones we were really excited about were already rented by the time we called on them. We found two other houses we loved, one was way out in the country with amazing views, but would require quite a drive to work each day. The other, a tad closer with a fabulous yard, had no practical way to get from the garage to the house. The front of the house was turned into a separate apartment and was not connected to the interior of the house, so to get in the house you have to enter in at the basement and walk up a flight and a half of stairs. Less than ideal.
The house we chose is an older home but very large for a German home (5bd, 4ba) and has an even larger yard (no.1 requirement for a houseful of boys). It doesn’t look like much from the front (most German houses are well shrouded by trees and bushes) but the backyard is amazing. It’s located in a little village on the border of Kaiserslautern city limits completely surrounded by forest. There are trails everywhere, so although we’re only a few minutes out of the city it feels much further. There’s a nice forest path that leads from our street to the woods where there is a Spielplatz for the kids to play.
|View from my bedroom balcony|
Some things you may (or may not) find interesting about German homes:
European streets are extremely narrow and most people park on the street, so our big American style mini-van is a tight squeeze. If there’s another car coming one of you just has to pull over to let the other pass. Almost all garages are detached and are rarely used to park a car. We have a long driveway and a large garage, but it’s so narrow near the house the van can barely fit past, so I definitely won’t be parking in our garage. I’m thinking it would make a good photo studio?
When you buy a German home the kitchen and lighting are purchased separately. Fortunately we are renting and a kitchen was already installed, but we did have to purchase lighting for the main living areas. Kitchens here are *tiny*. The oven is very small and the sink is even smaller- I almost get claustrophobic when I look at the drainer taking up half my sink space. Refrigerators are also very small, but fortunately the military gives us one to use while we live here. And of course, no garbage disposal because everything is recycled including fruit and vegetable waste.
Heating is all done by oil through those little radiators installed in each room. I was introduced to this type of system first when we lived in New Hampshire. I also have fond memories of freezing all night in my apartment in Vienna 7 years ago, so this is not completely new to me. Fortunately this house also has two wood burning stoves and they’ve just re-insulated the entire house as well as put in a new heating system, so hopefully it will be a warm winter.
My favorite thing about German homes, and I can’t figure out why they haven’t caught on in the states, are the rolladens. They’re a security window that pulls down and completely seals the outside of the window so you can sleep in total darkness and it makes you feel better knowing your house has “armor”.
It’s basically a law here that you air out your house every day to keep the mold away (all windows open from the top to let a little air in, or if you twist the handle a different way the entire window opens up). Quiet time (Ruhezeit) is every afternoon from 1-3 and every evening from 8pm to 7am (depending on where you live), all day Sunday and holidays. This means no excessive noise- no lawn mowing, washing clothes, or other noisy things. It’s against the law to wash your car at home because of chemicals seeping into the ground water, and you’re limited to one BBQ per month so as not to disturb your neighbors with smoke. I think we are probably the only ones on our street who have children, so it will be interesting to see how much trouble our noisy boys cause 😉
It’s nice to finally be in a house and know that we won’t be moving for at least 2 1/2 to 3 years (the longest we’ve ever stayed in one house before was 2 years). The rest of our things won’t arrive for another few weeks, but at least we can get started settling in and then I’ll post pictures of the interior.
We’re in Paris this weekend, having a great time exploring the city. Will post pictures next weekend (hopefully we’ll have internet hooked up by then). Au revoir!