Well, this time just across town. You might know that it didn’t work out for us to stay in the apartment where we have been for our first month in Berlin. It was annoying the way it worked out, but as a result of miscommunication between the landlord and the manager, we put in an application to rent an apartment that is actually going to be sold. It can’t be sold with tenants, apparently.
But, we had a plan B and we checked with them and they still had an apartment. It’s unfortunately on the 5th floor of a elevatorless building. It’s not all bad, actually. No upstairs neighbors, and it should be quiet even though we’ll be right next to a train line and on a busy street (I know, hard to believe, but when the train went past I almost didn’t notice until I saw it through the window). We won’t be as close as we are now to our German classes and Lucy’s job will be further away, but I think we will be alright.
Not having a signed lease has delayed several things, though. In Germany, everyone (not just foreigners) has to have their address on file with the local city hall. We haven’t been able to do that without our lease, and so we can’t apply for our residence permits (which are separate from but require the address registration). Those permits need to be done before we have been here for three months, so it’s better we get that started right away.
We also need “tax cards” which partly define our tax bracket. There is a system of tax classes (single, married with unemployed spouse, married with both working, and a couple weirder ones) and you have to have on record which one you are. We actually have a choice of two ways to do the tax classes, but they seem pretty much the same because our salaries are similar. If you and your husband or wife make significantly different salaries, you can do some strange thing where you base most of your taxes on the bracket of the lower salary — anyway it is weird and doesn’t apply to us. As you can see, we are already learning about the famous German bureaucracy. So far it hasn’t really been bad, but it’s hard to know about things you should do that aren’t common or don’t exist in the US.
One such thing that we just did was set up our personal liability insurance. It covers things that we do like breaking something that belongs to someone else (even a museum), or injuring someone somehow. I have never had such insurance in the US, and I really don’t think it is common like it is here. It isn’t too expensive here which is good. Maybe someone knows why it isn’t popular in the US? I am sure, though, that I have never heard of someone in the US dropping someone’s guitar (for example) and then getting it paid for through some kind of insurance. Car insurance, of course, I have always had, and there is a liability component there. No car now, so no car insurance to be bought.
It’s the little things like these that let you know you aren’t in Kansas anymore. Anyway, I will leave you with a picture from a beer ad that I have been passing on the way to work. It cracks me up every day, and I don’t even know why. I guess I will have to say goodbye to these guys.
It’s the guy up front sitting that really kills me — what is up with that expression? “Well, yes, perhaps I am passing gas at this very moment, but we’re all friends here in this tiny but well-ventilated dinghy, so I am just going to smile and enjoy my day. Damn it all, I feel good. Have a deliciously smooth <insert German beer brand>, won’t you?”