Keeping it clean


Don’t ignore this sign – Photo Alie C

As a Brit I was brought up with many cultural stereotypes about Germany and its people. Germans are ‘lederhosen wearing, straight talking, rule following, tidy people’ and since I initially landed in Bavaria, I can definitely agree that stereotypes are born out of truths. As with any country though there are also internal stereotypes, what do the Germans think of each other?

Stuttgart is located Swabia, which is a historic territory which now falls within the states of Bavaria and Baden Wurttemberg, its people, the Swabians, are considered to be the most frugal and fastidious about cleaning of all the Germans. I’ve always been impressed with streets magically cleared of snow and leaves before I’ve even dragged myself out of bed in the morning, windows and steps that are polished and shining constantly. In Swabia cleaning is a serious business. Historically this cleanliness came in the form of a law passed in 1492 to try and keep Stuttgart and its streets clean. In a time before indoor plumbing, this was no mean feat. Continue reading

Airbnb in Germany: The Debate Continues

Souce: Ansgar Koreng CC

Berlin Wedding Source: Ansgar Koreng

Every year, millions of tourists flock to Germany, a number that has been increasing year over year for over a decade. Most choose to stay in traditional forms of accommodation, but an increasing number are renting rooms directly from locals through websites like Airbnb. This has caused to a backlash against the site in many cities with limited housing, such as Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt, and led to a regulatory pushback that has seen the outlawing of unregistered vacation homes and the creation of compliance forces authorized to enter suspected illegal housing without a warrant. But despite this, Airbnb continues to grow in popularity, gaining new listing every day. So, you’ve got an apartment with an extra room, or you’re out of town regularly on business. Should you list your apartment on Airbnb, and what do you need to consider before doing so?

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Applying for a Wohnung in Berlin

When we found out we were pregnant, we knew a two-room (one-bedroom in American) apartment was no longer going to cut it. So we went on the hunt for a three-room, ideally with a balcony, high floor, a little class and great transportation links. Slowly at first, and then with increasing sincerity as the baby finally made her arrival.

PHOTO: Erin Porter

My little Berliner on the Wohnung search

As always, I was horrified at the lack of light fixtures, kitchen and even floors in some Wohnungen (apartments). I checked out the toilets. My wandering eye searched further afield from my preferred neighborhoods (known as Kiez in Berlin) of Friedrichshain to nearby Lichtenberg, Wedding from Prenzlauer Berg. Surely Marzahn couldn’t be that bad…could it? Despite my lowering standards, we are still without an apartment to accommodate our growing family.

Why is renting in Berlin so hard?

The hard truth is that looking for a house in the Hauptstadt is hard. Competition is fierce, rental companies aren’t particularly motivated to make things work for the renter (evidenced by the insane viewing hours – 10:30 on a Tuesday anyone?), and applications take organization, great credit and earnings and a lot of luck. Continue reading