7 things to know before renting your first apartment in Germany

It took us about 18 months to furnish our first apartment in Germany. We were inexperienced, new to a country that spoke a different language than us, and our unforeseen expenses were higher than I would have liked (like radio tax and automatic contract renewals). We learnt things that I couldn’t have imagined – like drilling a circle in the sink to install a tap or cutting wood slab to make kitchen island. But we did all that, made our home, and learnt.

I wish someone has prepared me for it. I hadn’t come across any blog posts about pains of settling in Germany from a South Asian perspective, or a break down of things I would need to learn in order to make a liveable home. 

So, I thought to become that person. To help prepare people who are uprooting their lives in Pakistan (and South Asia) to settle in foreign lands. Lay bare the ups and downs, not to discourage but to empower with knowledge, so one is prepared – mentally, physically and financially.

And in the honour of my new yellow armchair, let’s start with furnishing your first home in Germany:

  1. Do not expect to be done in a month or two. Keep an open mind and give it time.
  2. Be prepared to do all kinds of things. You can hire help but it will cost a pretty penny. If I were alone, I probably would have outsourced at least some of the work but as a couple, we managed to do it all by ourselves. Just know that you will have to do many things for the very first time.
  3. YouTube has tutorials for almost everything. If you can’t figure something out, Google it. Watch a video. I once paid 160€ to mend a lock, which we did the next time ourselves – with 7€ supplies, 20 minutes and a YouTube tutorial.
  4. When purchasing, start with needs and basics – bed, mattress, stove, wardrobe, dining table, and so on. Decor will have to wait.
  5. Delivery time for online shopping for home items is at least 3-4 weeks.
  6. Bauhaus has all the building supplies you could ever need.
  7. IKEA has all the basics. You could also look elsewhere though (including home 24, Höffner, Wayfair and Möbel Eins).

And most importantly, keep your expectations realistic. Just don’t compare it to back home. This alone will cause you more stress than all things combined.