It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about our move here. I’ll freely admit that this last few months were hard. We struggled with finding work and a place to live. We were unbelievably grateful for an amazing Aunt who let us stay with her until we truly landed. But there were more then a few depressing days as it felt like nothing would click into place for us.
M was pushing out multiple resumes a week, went on a minimum of 6 interviews before he finally landed a job with the City of Duisburg. Duisburg is located just north of Düsseldorf and is built around multiple harbors on the Rhine river. M started middle of November working for the city upgrading and repairing the traffic lights for the city. It’s a close knit office and he’s enjoying the work. He said it’s very similar to the work he did at his last job working with cellphone towers. Which means that the learning curve is more about learning technical words and Germany’s codes.
We looked 6 months for an apartment in Baumberg. We loved the city and had already made progress in making friends in the school and community. However, real-estate there was slim to none. Coming from the states, I seriously couldn’t understand how NOTHING could be available. But I do need to clarify. If we were willing to live in a 2 bedroom 800 square foot apartment on the 5th floor, then we could find several overpriced options. We finally made an offer on an apartment that was at least 1200 sf, but 2 bedrooms. They accepted another couple – probably someone without 2 kids and would fit /stay longer in the apartment.
The day we were rejected, we decided to expand our search outside of Baumberg and actually found the perfect place in Kapellen-Moers. Kapellen is a small suburb of the larger city of Moers. It is on the west side of the Rhine (previously we were on the east side), and Kapellen has 4 Kindergartens (pre-schools) and the grade school is large and expanding. The last renters here found a new place fully furnished and was willing to sell us most of their furniture! We purchased their couch, kitchen table with 3 chairs and a bench seat, the entire master bedroom set with closets and we bought the whole kitchen. We have 1300 sf in our apartment, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath room (read that as bath and shower only, no toilet) and 1 toilet room. Yup, we are down to 1 toilet. So far so good. The apartment also comes with a huge backyard that is shared use, a maintenance guy that mows the lawn and rakes the leaves, a laundry room downstairs, a drying room for items you want to hang, or if you don’t have a dryer (a common occurrence, I however insisted on a dryer!). Plus we have our own basement storage room (with a lock) and a separate room in the basement just to store our bikes.
Now, you are asking yourself why did we buy a kitchen? Why am I so excited about closets? When you rent in Germany, you get the walls and floor. That is it. You buy or bring all of your own lights (overhead too), clothing closets and even the entire kitchen -not just fridge and stove but cabinets and sink too. Because its not part of the apartment. Closets are not built in and if you don’t like the kitchen, or the faucet breaks, well that’s your problem. You own it. There are parts of that idea I like. If the drawers don’t work, I can now replace them to my taste! But the downfall to this plan is that when you move, it can take you a week or more just to install the kitchen. Ordering a new one? Up to a month for installation. But it is quite easy to buy a 2nd hand kitchen; provided you can make it fit into your new space.
We closed on the apartment in the beginning of December. We rented an extra car (we only have 1), and M was able to drive to work while I was able to move our 14 boxes and clothes over in a week. And because it was December, I also ordered a ton on Amazon and had it wrapped and ready under our first real Christmas tree in our new home.
The tree was an awesome bonus. We bought it at the tree lot across from Aldi. Less then a block from our house, M put it on his shoulder and walked it home. We had shipped our decorations from home and were happy to dive into boxes of familiar items. We had plenty of toys we hadn’t seen in months and the kids played happily throughout the Christmas break.
As an wonderful surprise, my parents were able to come and visit us right away in January! We took them to Amsterdam for a long weekend (its only a 2 hour drive from here) and I also got to see a dear friend and her children over the visit. We enjoyed having my parents here and showing them around. They helped us with an Ikea run and the kids were over the moon excited to play with Opa and Oma every day.
R has now started a new school. We are about a 45 min drive from our old town and the new school is a block from our new place. This move has been toughest on her. She loves the space here and her own room again, but starting over again finding new friends again has been hard. We hope the transition gets easier for her, but also know that it’ll take time.
K had found a place in a Kindergarten in Baumberg. He enjoyed the socialization and his language really excelled quickly while he was there. I was able to secure a spot in a Kindergarten here too. It’s for only 25 hours a week, from 7:30-12:30. I had wished for more time, but this will help continue his language grow and I will get a few hours in the morning to walk to the grocery store. Right now, he throws a few German words around with me, but mostly I don’t hear how much German he knows until he’s playing with other kids. Then I’m blown away with his skills.
A job, an apartment and schools – we can start putting down roots, meeting friends and making a home. Door is open, you’re welcome to visit!