What if I never get used to this?
I’m not an easily adaptable person. I don’t often go with the flow. I panic too easily, worry too much and cry at things even I sometimes don’t understand. But I find myself in this life where we are home part of the year and somewhere else part of the year, constantly putting myself in situations where I have to adapt and go with the flow. I’m picky about beds, and yet if I’m not at home in Freiburg, there’s a very high chance the bed I’m stuck with won’t feel as comfortable. The kitchen will never feel as useful or practical as ours at home.
Our hope for the Berlin apartment
Andy and I have been in Berlin for about two weeks now, and I’m struggling a little more than I’d like to admit. We rented an apartment for the first month with the hope that we’d get to know the neighborhood, settle into the apartment, and consider staying for the entire three months. After all, it would be so much easier to not have to move again, and the rent is great.
But reality sucked
Instead we decided within days that this was not the place for us. Despite our handy apartment checklist, there’s no way we could’ve known what we were in for before arriving. The apartment is located on the ground floor and the windows face the small inner courtyard. This means even on the occasional sunny day, it still feels dark and gloomy in here. The bed is firmer than either of us would like. We have to turn the sinks on just right in order to make sure the water heater actually kicks in and we get hot water. Though somehow we never have a problem with the shower.
Aside from the lack of sunlight, the kitchen is probably the part I hate the most. Most of the lights in the kitchen either don’t work or only sporadically work. The kitchen supplies are minimal at best. There is only one pan, and it really does look like it’s about 50 years old. The knives are barely sharp enough to cut paper. There are only three forks in the drawer. The owner of the apartment doesn’t actually live here, so overall it just doesn’t feel warm or homey.
Our futile apartment search
We decided we had to find something else for November and December and started looking for other apartments. I thought we had a good one, but at the last minute it fell through. All the others we’ve found are 250-300 euros more per month, and we can’t even look at them ahead of time because they currently have renters in them.
Ultimately we decided the extra 300 euros a month was better spent on activities and eating out a little more often than we would at home. We want to experience as much as we can in Berlin anyway, and being out of the apartment makes us feel better.
Trying to adjust
We bought a new pan. One of ours at home is slowly starting to die anyway, so we’ll just bring the new one home with us. We bought three more forks from the euro store, so at least we have six now. I’m going to buy a new knife because if it takes me an hour and a half to cut up my week’s worth of salad again, I’m going to lose it. The landlord is going to see if he can figure out what’s wrong with the kitchen lights.
So yes, we’re trying to make adjustments and deal with the situation we’re in. But I still can’t help thinking how much I hate this apartment, and can I really handle it for another two and a half months? I know we’re always going to be dealing with less than ideal apartments as we travel, what if I continue to freak out because of it? The thought of NOT traveling freaks me out too, so that’s not an option. I feel like I used to be better at adjusting on the road, is that skill diminishing with age? How do I make myself more adaptable and flexible? What if I just never get used to this?
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October 17, 2013 @ 8:58 AM
I don’t have many words of advice, but I can do the encouragement part. Think positively about the things that are good about the apartment! Eat your meals outside. Whatever changes you need to make, you can do it and it’ll get better. 🙂
October 18, 2013 @ 10:38 AM
Thanks Sally! I know we’ll make it through our time in this apartment, and I feel better already just having made the decision to stay instead of dealing with “should we stay or should we find something else?” I’m mostly worried about continuing to freak out about stuff like this as we continue traveling. But I guess I’ll figure that out too eventually.
October 17, 2013 @ 1:59 PM
I hope the place you’re moving into today is much better! Change (even positive) always brings transition, so be kind to yourself!
October 18, 2013 @ 10:40 AM
We’re not moving. We decided to stay in the not-so-great apartment because everything else we found was too expensive and/or too far from where Andy’s working. But I’m guessing maybe you saw my FB update yesterday that confused so many people. It was poorly worded. When I said “I don’t want to move today” it was in reference to how exhausted I was, that I didn’t want to move from my chair. Nothing to do with moving apartments. Oops!
Beverley | Pack Your Passport
October 18, 2013 @ 12:10 AM
Ali I’ve been in this situation and I’m not going to lie; it totally sucked. My former boyfriend and I had rented a studio apartment in Sydney and after moving in realised that we’d made a terrible mistake.
The toaster could only be used by placing it on top of the hob, the kitchen table had to be used to prepare food, the fridge blocked one of two windows, the bathroom cupboards were moldy and the flat was riddled with cockroaches and spiders.
I absolutely hated living there but we decided to make the best of a bad situation: we spent a lot of time out of the flat, luckily it was summer so we could go to the park or for walks etc.
Once our tenancy came to an end, we rented a room in an apartment in Surry Hills with a flatmate who was hardly ever there – this apartment was perfect for us.
Something will come up for you guys, I think it’s just a case of waiting. I know it’s crappy at the moment and it’s probably getting you down being in an environment that you really hate, I know it did for me.
Fingers crossed for you guys, I really hope you find something soon. xx
October 18, 2013 @ 10:42 AM
Thanks Beverley, I really appreciate this! I know I’ll make it through our 3 months here, and it is only 3 months, so we won’t be looking anymore for a new apartment. I just worry about continuing to freak out about stuff like bad apartments as we continue to travel. I like my comforts and I like being home, but I love traveling too. My mind just hasn’t adjusted to the compromise yet I guess.
October 18, 2013 @ 7:25 AM
Not being able to relax and enjoy the space you’re calling home (for now) is definitely a bummer. I hope that with the money you’re saving, you’ll get to enjoy more of Berlin and make some happy memories OUTSIDE of the apartment 🙂 Hang in there!
October 18, 2013 @ 10:44 AM
Thanks Lauren! Yep, this place is definitely cheaper than our budget, and way cheaper than the apartments we considered splurging on. We will certainly put that money to good use enjoying as much of what Berlin has to offer as we can. Thanks for the encouragement!
October 18, 2013 @ 11:18 AM
I know this feeling. We’ve definitely had a few apartments since we started traveling that I just didn’t feel comfortable in, and it’s hard to ignore. In Thailand, we had a wet bathroom, so the shower was just uncovered in the middle of the room, over the toilet. It bothered me every day. It makes such a huge difference when you can’t come home to a place you love at the end of the day.
October 19, 2013 @ 2:10 PM
Thanks Jessica! Glad to know it’s not just me. I *hate* those showers that get the entire bathroom wet! I guess it’s good I’m not dealing with that here!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
October 20, 2013 @ 5:05 PM
I completely understand why you guys tried to set up an apartment before you arrived in Berlin, but hearing your story and the dud that you wound up with, I am just so glad you only committed to one month (though I guess you might wind up there longer). I don’t even like prebooking hotels any more because you just never know what you might get.
I will say that even if you do have to stick with this place, I think you’re looking at things in the right way—the one good thing about not loving your base is that nothing is a better motivator to get you out and exploring than that! I hate staying in dorms, but in certain places where I know I just want to be out exploring as much as possible anyway, I figure they act as an added incentive to do just that!
Also, does anyone like those showers that get the whole bathroom wet? They are the worst, though I’ve somewhat resigned myself to them after 14+ months in Asia. The prices you have to pay for a Western bathroom are just not worth it to me.
October 21, 2013 @ 4:46 PM
Before we left home, we rationalized that just booking a few days or even a week and then spending that time looking for a place to live for 3 months would cost a few hundred euros, which didn’t seem worth it when monthly rent is only a little more than that. And a big city like Berlin isn’t the kind of place I’d want to show up at with absolutely no reservations and have to lug all our stuff around to find a hotel or whatever. Though I’m sure people do it. I’m glad we didn’t commit to the entire 3 months up front, but yes we did end up just staying in this apartment. It didn’t seem worth an extra 300 euros a month to go somewhere else. It’s tough, but I already feel better just knowing we’ve made the decision and we can move on.
Yes, those showers are awful! Although still probably not as bad as squat toilets. I can’t stand those! I will pay extra in Asia for a bathroom with a western toilet.
October 23, 2013 @ 9:43 PM
Well, the good news is that it’s short term and 3 months will fly by. Just get out and about more and you’ll be a Berlin expert by the time you leave there.
October 24, 2013 @ 10:58 AM
Yeah, it’s already getting better. I guess I’m more concerned with having a hard time adjusting to every place we travel to. But I’ll figure it out, I’m sure!
October 27, 2013 @ 6:09 PM
It’s difficult to live in a place, even if it’s short term, and have it not feel like home due to being uncomfortable. I guess just do whatever you can, even just small things, to improve your living space and it will feel better! Hopefully you can enjoy your time there despite this and enjoy your time exploring Berlin!
October 28, 2013 @ 11:13 AM
Thanks Lauren, we’re already doing a little better. One of the best things is for us to get out of the apartment frequently, which is good anyway because we want to see as much of Berlin as we can while we’re here.
October 29, 2013 @ 9:42 AM
So sorry that your place sucks (your photo and caption about the tetanus shot made me snort out loud, though. Hilarious). If it helps, bad apartments happen to all of us, but it won’t always be like that. Most places, I find, are what they say they are. 🙂
October 29, 2013 @ 11:02 AM
Thanks Gigi! I’m already feeling a little better about the place now that we’ve been here a month and we’ve made the decision to stay. It also helps that we’ve met the owner and he’s really nice and helpful, and he’s fixed a few things. Still not the greatest place, especially with the lack of sunlight, but we’ll survive.
November 5, 2013 @ 1:45 AM
It does seem like, with some minimal expense and trips to the market, you might be able to make yourself feel more at home. The sunlight thing is a bummer, but maybe that will encourage you to get out more when the sun is out.
I’m just trying to put a positive spin on things- In your situation I’d bee feeling the same way.
Keep your head up- you are in Berlin and not in the USA 🙂
November 5, 2013 @ 9:00 PM
Thanks Erik! Yeah, we’re getting there. A few new things for the kitchen and lots of going out to see the city helps. It’s still not a great place but I’m trying really hard to adjust because things like this are bound to happen again if we’re going to lead a life filled with long term travel.
December 11, 2013 @ 8:44 PM
Sorry to hear your apartment is kind of a drag. I get super depressed if I don’t love where I live — maybe that’s why I used to move every 6 months. 🙂 I hope things are better now!
December 12, 2013 @ 11:16 AM
Thanks Christy! We’ve gotten a little more used to the bad apartment, but we’re definitely looking forward to a few weeks at home in January. I never realized how much I’m affected by my surroundings in this way, but it’s definitely something I’ll take into account in the future.