Happy family with boxes moving into a new home and sitting on the floor

Family moving to a new house (lenanichizhenova (123RF))

Finding a place to live off-post in Germany is hectic, exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. To read all about that process, read part one of this story here. The fun doesn’t stop once you find a place; you have to actually move in.

Getting your house inspected

Just because you’ve found your new rental doesn’t mean that you get to move in immediately. We found our place within the first two weeks of moving to Germany, but our move-in date was still another two or three weeks away. We ended up staying in our temporary lodging hotel suite for the full 30-day allotment because of some bureaucracy behind the scenes.

The housing office sent out a representative to our new place shortly after we submitted the “we picked this one” (not the official title) paperwork. She went around the property, ensuring that it was move-in ready. Then, she and our new landlord conversed in German and finally, spoke to us in English to ask questions or ask if we had any further questions.

Setting up utilities and internet

Before officially moving in we had to set up electricity and gas in our name. This meant discussing the utility options with the landlord and then making a trip to the UTAP office on-post. We had to sit through a Wednesday morning presentation all about UTAP before being allowed to even consider the program.

We also needed to establish internet service. Thankfully, our landlord had a sales agent who helped the previous tenants and was able to set us up with a great plan. We had some issues setting up the router when it came to us from DHL, and our agent was able to communicate with Vodafone for us and get us connected.

Obtaining loaner and permanent appliances and furniture

Despite the 30-day timeframe between arriving and moving into our rental home, we still managed to move in before our household goods arrived. The hotel we stayed in for our TLA had utensils, cookware and appliances readily available in our room, but I found myself with nothing for cooking in our new home.

The ACS Loaner Closet thankfully provided kitchen and dining essentials, so we didn’t have to purchase much while we waited. Keep in mind that U.S. appliances will not work with European voltage, sometimes even with a transformer (we found that one out the hard way with a coffee bean grinder). We ended up purchasing a European microwave and coffee machine at the Exchange. However, those looking for cheaper options should keep their eyes peeled on Facebook marketplaces for PCSing families who don’t want to bring their European appliances back to America.

As far as furniture is concerned, the housing office set up an appointment for us to receive loaner furniture. There are two types.

First, there is the furniture that is loaned for the duration of your time in Germany which includes an American-size refrigerator (German ones remind me of the mini-fridge you get for mancaves and dorm rooms) and clothing wardrobes (closets are uncommon in Germany).

There is also furniture you receive until your household items come which includes chairs, a couch, end tables and beds. Keep in mind that loaner furniture is convenient, but meant to be temporary; so, it may not be the comfiest thing you’ve ever sat or slept on (but it’s free which is my favorite price).

Making it a home

Now, to make this house a home. Much of my house is furnished by IKEA in Kaiserslautern. I am currently writing this article from a desk I bought from them. Media Markt, Saturn and Globus all sell appliances. As a bonus, all of these places will accept a VAT form so you can save money off the taxes.

My refrigerator and pantry are filled with food and drinks from the local Wasgau grocery store. My favorite program of theirs is buying our beer and water in crates and then returning the empty crates and bottles. This usually results in us receiving a 10-20 euro discount on our next grocery purchase. Aldi, Edeka and Netto are also good choices for groceries; I just happen to live closest to Wasgau.

With our newly established internet, we discovered that German Netflix is way better than American Netflix in terms of what is offered; but we also discovered that we had to purchase a VPN to access streaming services not currently offered in Germany.

Once we were moved into the house and all set up, one of the neighbors even added us to the neighborhood What’s App group (though I have to Google Translate much of what is written). I was officially living in Germany.

author picture
Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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