I like to have things planned out, to know what’s coming up next. But as we all know, plans don’t always stick. Things change, life takes a different path than we expected, and we have to figure out the next step. I think Andy and I have been itching for a change for a long time now, and as many times as we tried to make plans for the upcoming months, nothing really stuck. Well, we’ve finally put ink to paper, and changes are coming.
We’re moving to Berlin!
I really didn’t think an almost five month trip would propel us into moving to a different city, but somehow that’s what happened. After three weeks of traveling around Italy with my parents, Andy and I had a month in Pisa where the plan was to work, explore the city, and take day trips around Tuscany. But that’s where it all started to fall apart.
Suddenly we were in this tiny city (90,000 people is tiny to us) and we were too far from the center and the transport sucked and we felt like we were living in the suburbs, and we cracked. We felt so isolated that somehow it made us realize how isolated we were starting to feel at home in Freiburg, too.
For months after our time in Berlin, we talked about how great it would be to live there. But for many reasons, moving just seemed like too much of a pain in the ass. So we shelved the idea. But that isolation in Pisa brought the idea back to the surface, and we started talking about it again.
Pisa was followed by a disastrous attempt at a relaxing vacation in Morocco and an unscheduled week in Sevilla trying to recover from it. By this point we were talking seriously about moving to Berlin and thinking we wouldn’t even stay in Spain through mid February as we originally planned. Within days of arriving at our month-long rental in Sevilla, we had an apartment on Airbnb booked for Berlin for mid January to mid February.
Finding an apartment in Berlin
The idea was to check things out, see if we still felt the same about Berlin after spending another month of winter there. Neither of us has ever been to Berlin during warm weather, and if we still love it in the dead of winter, summer should be fantastic. We also thought we’d spend more time checking out different neighborhoods from a could-we-live-here perspective.
What ended up happening was we were so convinced of our decision to move to Berlin that we started digging through apartment listings online every chance we got. We made a list of what we wanted in an apartment, which helped us eliminate almost everything we saw, at least from round one. Then we saw one that looked promising. Andy sent over an email, and we had an appointment set for our first full day in Berlin.
Despite the horror stories of how difficult it is to get approved for an apartment in Berlin, especially as a freelancer, our experience was the complete opposite. The agent didn’t mind that both of us are freelancers, and we got approved within a few days. In a super competitive rental market, we managed to get approved with no issues for the first (and only!) apartment we looked at. The biggest hurdle was trying to read the crazy 26 page contract, of course in German.
It’s not an April Fool’s
Our move-in date is April 1st. We now have just over six weeks to figure everything out. Things like finding long term renters for our apartment in Freiburg, figuring out what we can and can not put in their lease, hiring movers, and the insane piles of paperwork Germany seems to love so much.
As I mentioned in my last post, traveling and working at the same time didn’t really work for us. We have no intentions of packing away our passports, but I think it is highly unlikely that we will take another extended trip next winter, especially one that involves us working from the road. A little bit here and there is ok, but it’s too stressful when we have our full workloads to deal with.
Sometimes change is good
We both like big cities, but neither of us has lived anywhere as big as Berlin. (Atlanta’s population is about 450,000, Freiburg’s is 230,000, but Berlin is 3.5 million.) The new apartment is in the Friedrichshain neighborhood, which is in the old east. It’s 10 minutes walking distance or less to three different forms of public transportation, a few blocks away from restaurants and bars, and about two minutes from a grocery store.
There are more opportunities for us to make friends in Berlin, and more opportunities for contracts for Andy. He’s already found a board game group he likes. I’m excited about all the fresh markets and the different food options as I explore some major changes to my diet. There’s a bowling alley a block or two away, and I have been on several leagues in the past, so maybe I’ll take up bowling again. There are tons of things to do in Berlin all year round, and we both love the international vibe, the grit, the quirkiness.
I think living in Berlin and having a home in a city we love will be good for us.
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