Looking for your first apartment here in Germany can be a challenge, and it also happens to be one of the most pressing, time-consuming, expensive, stressful, and first things you will do in this country. Oh boy!

In the months leading up to your move, you might be fantasizing about your new home, maybe clipping kitchen curtains out of an IKEA catalogue….but be prepared: you’re going to need to buy more than that at IKEA. When Germans move, they take EVERYTHING. The furniture, the lights, and yes, even the proverbial kitchen sink.

This was quite the shock to us when we started looking for our apartment. We walked into one apartment after another with no lights, looking like an abandoned building. The landlord says “so, here’s the kitchen”, and all you see are some pipes sticking out of four blank walls. The bright side? You get to make the apartment your own. The downside? You have one more thing to pay for and then you have to build your own kitchen right after moving here. Thankfully, there ARE some apartments that include the kitchen…look for the word “einbauküche”.

I’ve had the “why the heck do you take your kitchen with you??” argument many a time with Germans. It usually goes something like this:

Me: Why would you take the kitchen? Moving is horrible enough already. First of all, it’s difficult to find an apartment, and needing to find one that would fit/compliment your kitchen only makes it harder. Plus, the cars are tiny, the stairwells are narrow, and most buildings have no elevator. Why not make it easier on yourself and just leave the kitchen behind?

Them: Because if I left it behind then I wouldn’t have a kitchen in the new apartment….

Me: But, if everyone…if they had….if you just….nevermind.

Check back for part 2…