First I thought, I would not write this post. I have had so many to do and this may end up offending people. But then, I read Brian’s comment on my previous blog posts and I was excited to share. Brian moved from the U.S. to Germany a few years ago. He was also an Ann Arbor resident before and like he keeps saying, now he owns the largest English library in Ludwigsburg. I miss our random conversations at times :-). Anyway, finally now we have moved out of twenty hotels and have gone through the process of finding a house in Ann Arbor. And unpacked boxes apart, we’re all set. In the last 3 years, I’ve changed apartments/ cities and homes 9 times (not exaggerating) so I do have standards and opinions. Oh well, here goes!
We land and see our first house the very next day!
My husband being the Ann Arbor veteran was coordinating with a known realtor from Germany itself. We had shortlisted houses in July/ August and finally the day after we landed, we had two viewings. We were certain that everything has to be walking distance from the Arbor Brewing company (the center of town- I am not a beer drinker, before we give me other reasons).
The first house was walking distance from everywhere, and from Y (YMCA is naturally not hip and too long). We went ahead to see the house from outside first. Luckily we met a couple of neighbors. They had also spent time in Europe and had come back to Ann Arbor (it could not be any place else in Michigan). It seemed all pretty nice till my eyes fell on a poorly maintained kitchen garden which was being used by the neighbors next to our house (not theirs). They promptly apologized but promised not to do anything about it till next season.
Next we went in with the realtor. From our 65 meter square living in Europe, this seemed like mega. We didn’t quite know what we would do with so much space. We went to the kitchen next and opened the closets. It did feel like the shelves would definitely break if we kept anything on them. The windows were from the 50s and I could not bring my mind around to how could they hold the heat in dreaded Michigan winter. Our eyes were also German and piercing at the poor quality. How would the landlord ever rent this place with such poorly maintained housing.
We recalibrate our standards soon. It’s NOT Germany.
With my nose curled up, we moved ahead to the next viewing. Soon I realized:
- carpeted houses are far more common than a usual laminate/ wood floor
- the walls of the houses are not made of anything concrete enough to hold sounds. You might as well be sleeping in the same room as your neighbors
- the shelves, fittings, appliances may not may not be maintained and in some cases not even cleaned well enough
- the windows are thin and definitely not the usual three pane / energy efficient ones in Germany
- most houses are much larger than we are used to
- snow removal/ yard maintenance is a thing
- houses closer to the city are the oldest and much worse
- no one is responsible for maintenance and you have to get lucky to find a landlord who cares
We decided to go in to the one that we first saw. The landlord agreed and we sent in the application from our end to seal it. A day later the landlord decided to rent it to someone else who could move in sooner. This would never happen in Germany. Of course your application may get denied (in Munich that’s not uncommon) but no one would agree first to later disagree. A decision is a decision that stays. Reliability mean different things to different people I guess.
Our realtor reminded us that this was a home seller’s year. And another person said,
You can sell a house faster than bread in Ann Arbor
Our House Comes With Orange Chinars
We saw plenty terrible houses in between full of landlords with no maintenance but plenty pride. I called more people than I can recall. I made more calls in one week than the three years in Germany. All the house rental websites are junk. But I like the Zillow interface. It’s easy and provides for a good search experience. We saw the photos of this house although it was outside our 2 mile radius. My husband wasn’t so keen, it was quite far. Meanwhile, one realtor had started arguing that 3 miles really wasn’t far.
Our new landlord met us in the garage full of DIY paints, and everything household. The first thing he told us was that he was changing windows. We were going to get them new. Even before I could see the place, I wanted to say yes.
Our neighbors are German. While the only time our Ludwigsburg neighbors spoke to me was on the day we were leaving, this new neighbor already offered us refreshing coffee on a cold day we were trying to get going.
I love how orange the street is. We have a yard full of leaves that make crunchy noises, and on FaceTime my mom already said that it’s like we’ve moved into the girls’ college (Kashmir, where she studied). My dad saw the stairs inside the house that reminded him of Peer Bagh too. I love the street and can walk to the fitness class, the super market and the stadium. Now, all we have is a house full of unopened boxes and unending space.
- I wish the autumn went on forever
- I hate the Orange Chinar leaves going away
- I’d like snow but not necessarily the everyday grey
- The house comes with a fireplace and I just got a library card
- Our spice pantry rack feels larger than our LB kitchen as a whole on some days 😀
- We got a gas stove for quick Taj Mahal tea options and Moghul Chai
- You do the math, like the Americans say
Ken once told me
I feel it’s home only once I come back from the first holiday.
Guess it’s time to plan one.