Thursday night, we were too tired to try the German restaurant across the street. Bill walked down the hill and picked up a pizza from Pizzeria da Divya. Yep… this was an Indian owned pizzeria that also served Indian food and had wine, candy, and chips for sale, along with other beverages. I was particularly happy to hear they had wine. Bill brought back a Hawaiian pizza and a nice bottle of red.
Originally, Bill had planned to visit the housing office at Wiesbaden, since they won’t help you unless you attend their housing briefing. Bill says he suspects this is a requirement mostly to help justify keeping staff around. Wiesbaden seems to have a lot of on post housing, some of which looks pretty decent. I don’t know how many servicemembers are able to rent off post housing, but I do know that the Wiesbaden housing office will assist contractors, while the Stuttgart housing office will not. In Stuttgart, contractors are on their own to find a place to live, while G.S. and military folks get help, such as it is.
When we lived in Stuttgart the first time, we did manage to find a great house using the housing office. We found our current home on our own, with help from Bookoo. If we take the house we ultimately accepted, we will have found that one through Bookoo, too. Other sources of housing come from AHRN (Automated Housing Referral Network, which we used three times in the U.S.) and Immobilien Scout 24. A lot of real estate brokers also have Web sites where they offer homes to rent, some of which also appear on the other sites.
Our first appointment was at a huge duplex rented by a guy who called himself “Big Al”. Bill wasn’t able to attend the housing briefing, because Big Al said he was only available to show the house at the time when the briefing would be occurring. Ultimately, we decided it would be better to see Al’s house than try to attend a briefing consisting of stuff we probably already know. I don’t know why they don’t make the briefing an online module like they do so many other things in the government and military. It would be so much more convenient and save time… but again, they probably do it to justify their staffing levels.
I wanted to stay away from duplexes, mainly because I’m sensitive to noise and I have noisy dogs and like to make music. I don’t like sharing walls with people, although we currently live in a duplex and have great neighbors. The trouble is, you don’t always know who your neighbors are going to be. I don’t want to deal with noise or neighbor issues. The best way to combat that is to find a free standing house. Unfortunately, free standing houses in Wiesbaden are in short supply and they are very expensive.
Big Al’s house was relatively inexpensive at 2650 euros (plus other costs) per month (bearing in mind that we currently pay 1600 plus “other costs”). Al and his wife, a lovely Kenyan lady, had a young son and would be moving back to the States. They lived in their home for seven years. Their original landlord sold it and they really liked the guy who was their second landlord. I actually kind of like Big Al’s house, although it was a bit trashed when we walked through, because they were in the midst of moving out of it. The walls were dirty and there was crayon on the wall, as well as a Hello Kitty placard on the door of the fireplace, which they said they didn’t use. I could tell the landlord was not going to be a stickler about neatness.
Al’s house had a cute kitchen, a pantry, a walk in closet in the master bedroom, and four bathrooms, one of which had an enormous tub. My favorite part was on the fourth floor, where there were two large wood paneled rooms. I could see myself using one as a studio/office and the other perhaps as a bedroom.
However, the house had a little yard with no grass in it and a tree that had shed a lot of unraked leaves. I could almost let the dogs roam in the yard, except there was a part that wasn’t fenced securely. Having had to chase Zane and Arran before, I’m not wanting to risk letting them loose in any area that isn’t really secure. I would have had a nice view of the Autobahn, which isn’t exactly inspiring. It looked like a lot of houses were being built there, too.
But then it dawned on me… that house had four fucking floors! I pictured myself dragging the vacuum around, cursing the steps. I pictured us trying to heat the house, although Al told us the heating system was recently replaced. He said their bills were high, but that might have been because of his wife, whom he said liked things warm owing to her African heritage. I was glad to see there was no carpeting, but I just felt like we’d be swallowed there.
I did basically like the house, though, even if it reminded me ever so slightly of Converse, Texas, which isn’t a super happy memory. I didn’t think parking would be too much of an issue, although I wasn’t too wild about the neighborhood. Also… and this is a BIG thing. It would accommodate our bulky American furniture.
After we visited Big Al’s house, we went back to GL Suites, where the dogs were waiting for us. On the way there, we stopped at the big Edeka for some food and wine. At the end of this post are a few photos of that excursion. I love Edeka. I think it’s my favorite of all the German grocery stores so far.
At 2:00pm, we had an appointment at a much newer house in a different area. I had high hopes for this house, which was being managed by an American guy who is married to a German, works on Clay Kaserne, and runs a side business managing properties. He said the house was owned by his German friend, who is a police officer. It was a pretty nice place– immaculately clean and modernized, with under floor heating, and a super modern kitchen with a huge double sided fridge offering crushed ice and an induction stove. The kitchen was open to the living area, which had a little fireplace. It was on a corner lot with a view of trees and a little creek, as well as a large lot being rented by the landlord and available for use by tenants. I think the rent was about 2500 euros or so. It had two bathrooms, three bedrooms, and an office and storage room in the basement. There was no vent for my dryer, but we probably could have gotten it equipped. Also, there was plenty of parking. There were two outside spaces and a single car garage, and a couple of spots out front.
To be honest, we probably would have taken that house if not for one major issue. The house would NOT accommodate our furniture. Bill and I have two king sized beds. We have most of our bedroom suite, with only a TV hutch being kept in storage. Only one of the rooms in the police officer’s house would potentially accommodate our beds. All three rooms had ceilings with sloping ceilings, which don’t go with tall headboards. Also, I have an Eckbank Gruppe, and there was only one corner in the living room that would accommodate it… and it was not in the area that was obviously meant for a dining room table.
Bill was kind of crushed. He liked the house a lot. If I’m honest, I found it a little too modern looking and sterile, although I also appreciated that it was very updated and even had a security system. I kind of liked the neighborhood, since it offered some views of nature. It wasn’t super crowded, like all of the other neighborhoods we visited were. However, it was located right by a bus stop and had huge windows requiring custom made drapes that wouldn’t translate in the United States.
And… I just didn’t want to have a situation in which we had our beds in rooms with dressers and the like in another room. Also, I didn’t find the ground floor office very inspiring. If I’m going to write, I need to be in a space that is kind of inspirational, rather than subterranean. Not that anyone but me really cares if I write… I mainly do it to stay sane.
Pictures from our Edeka excursion…
Sonnenberg is nice!
Wine store! This is separate from the supermarket and offers all kinds of beverages and other assorted items, like wine glasses and pet supplies. We got Zane and Arran a new toy there.
I think they might even offer tastings!
But it’s just drinks, really… and candy and ice cream and such. If you want to shop for food, go next door.
And your fall wreaths…
I could explore Sonnenberg more.