Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wanted: German Home, Close to Post

Matt and his girls take a rest at Heidelberg Castle
We have settled into our guesthouse, with internet only in a tiny corner of the house, right by the door - one reason why I haven't updated the blog very much. Here's an update, finally.

We spent one evening exploring downtown Heidelberg a bit. I will say that I like Cascais in Portugal a bit more - but, Heidelberg is certainly nice enough.

Downtown Heidelberg

The language barrier is much tougher than it was in Portugal. I've studied French and Portuguese. I "get" Latin languages. For the LIFE of me, I can't figure German out. I can't get my tongue around the words and I have a feeling sentence structure isn't going to make much sense to me. I have to sign up for a German class ASAP (must nail down a sitter first). Fortunately, enough Germans speak English - more so than Portuguese and that's helpful.

We met up with our great friends from Portugal, now stationed near Stuggart (just over an hour's drive from where we are). It was so nice to meet up with them again. We had a little BBQ made up of German food and fresh veggies and some great wine. Then, we walked down into their tiny town and walked around. The girls played at a park and then we went out to dinner.

Lila figuring out the pulley

The girls checking out the water system at the park. So cool!

Dinner with Anna and Chris! Reunited with them after 11-months

As far as the house situation goes - it's complicated. We are looking and it's a bit tougher than I thought it was going to be. The housing office on post has several listings in our housing allowance price range. However, the bigger houses, with storage and a room for Matt to brew, are a half hour away from post. The closer ones are more cramped. We found one town that we loved - but, the houses we looked at there didn't meet our needs. I absolutely don't mind a smaller place - but not if it doesn't have any storage. We left several of our things behind in the US (in storage). We do not have a lot. How the Germans get by with even less than we have now, is beyond me. They have big bike trailers to tow around their kids - where are they storing them

We have looked at listing on German websites and used a translation sheet to sift through houses (Matt is given all the credit here). Unfortunately, 99% of the houses listed require you to pay the realtor two or more month's rent!! We just don't have several grand to throw around on a house that we'll only be living in one-two years! So, we know we're going to have to settle. How much so, is the question...


Angie said...

I think I would go with the longer commute. Nearly everyone in Hohenfels lived off post, many 30 or even 45 minutes away in different directions. I'm sorry that it isn't easy, though.

Natalie said...

Angie, the bigger houses are expensive to heat in the winter, from what we hear. Andrienne told us to be careful with that. And, if we live far out, I'll have join a gym in town. I'm not driving 1/2 hour one way to get to an on post gym. At least, I don't want to. The whole situation is frustrating! I will mention it to Matt though, it's certainly not out of the question. The other thing is that these neighborhoods don't have Americans living in them - which is fine - but, if most everyone is living on post or closer to post, I'm one of the few driving longer distances to meet up with people and then people don't want to come out my way b/c it's "too far." Just some things we're thinking about...

brenda said...

Chad looked at over 29 homes here in Belgium...and we live 20 min. from his work. Our house is large and does cost a TON to heat, but we love it! It make take a few months to find the right house, but it is worth it. Are you guys only spending 1-2 yrs. over here, not three?

The Dunns said...

Nat - Housing is authorized to pay a realtor one months rent to help you find a house if they give you a letter of nonavailablility. Ask them about that. Then, you contact a (preferably English speaking) realtor and tell them you can pay only one months rent. They will usually work with you for that.

The Dunns said...

I didn't have much time earlier, so I wanted to add...

I felt the same way about the language my first week. I still think things in French or Spanish when I'm trying to figure out how to say them in German. Wait a month and I think you will feel quite a bit different. It does start to make sense and the phonetics and sentence structure are similar to Latin languages. I'm sure you and the girls will pick it up fast!

I've heard that the average time in TLF here is 40 days, so wait till you find the right one. I know Matt is on a real time crunch and hotel life is not fun, but you will all be happier if you pick one that you love instead of just setting on something too quickly.

Wish I could be there to help. We move into our house and accept our loaner furniture, unaccompanied baggage, and HHGs next week. :) Yikes! I'll be thinking about you!