The Change Will Do You Good
At this point last week, my life was in chaos. Everything my wife and I owned was packed in a multitude of boxes and we were hours away from moving to a new house. As the hours ticked by, we spent our time trying to find the things we still needed, but in the fury of packing, had put at the bottom of any number of boxes. By 9PM, my wife and I had begun to seriously consider giving up all our worldly possessions to join a Franciscan order of monks (or nuns). By 12AM I went through the solemn ritual of packing up the television, unscrewing the last of light fixtures and finally going to bed. The move was happening, regardless of our stress levels.
The following day was the culmination of months of work. From July onwards, we had hunted for apartments, hired a removal company and completed any number of mundane tasks. It is hard to say what the differences are between moving in Germany and moving in the UK, but what I have learned I offer up to you readers as a simple guide.
Make Friends at the Recyclinghof
If you are anything like me, you will have at least one drawer or cupboard in your home that contains random items, from batteries to old birthday cards. Until we actually started packing, I was under the impression that I was a fairly organised person. That was until I began opening drawers and realised that the past version of myself had been trying to sabotage any potential move, by placing useless items in any space he could find. The realisation that much of what I owned was obsolete rubbish, we decided that we should clean house and throw as much of it away as possible. This meant multiple visits to one of the many recycling centres in the local area. I’ll be honest, I’m terrified of these places. The men, and it is usually men, that operate these centres can at first appear to be the archetype of the surly, impolite German. This is of course justifiable, given that the people (myself included) lose 100 IQ points the moment they enter the gates of the Recyclinghof. The best way to endear yourself to the employees in these centres is to make their lives easier by going through rubbish and separating everything. This task is laborious, but appreciated. By the time we came to throw away our last car full of unwanted items, the guys had given me a nickname “chief” and felt comfortable enough to make fun of my shiny white legs when I turned up in shorts. Despite the ridicule, they were happy to help us and voluntarily helped empty our car, all because we had made their day a tiny bit easier.
Warn the Neighbours
Depending on how much you have to move, it might be a good idea to book an area to park a van. This can be done by contacting the city or it can be requested when you hire a removal company. If done correctly, in the days before the move, signs will be erected telling your neighbours that an area of the street will be reserved between certain dates. This avoids the issue of having to ring around the neighbours, asking if they could move their cars. However, double check. Although we had the street booked at our old house, at the new house the street had not been reserved. What followed was a series of difficult conversations with our new neighbours, several threats of calling the police and finally a lovely conversation with an irate police officer, who seemed unmoved by our pleas for clemency. Although we avoided the multiple fines that can be issued in cases like this, our ears are still ringing from the dressing down served by one of Germany’s finest.
Price Comparison or Quote
Moving house can cost a lot of money, regardless of how you choose to do it. Having seen first hand the disaster that can occur when a move is reliant on volunteer labour, we hired a removal company. We did this by using a price comparison website. Although we did get a decent price, we had to estimate how many boxes we would have. Warning: You will always underestimate how much you have! We ended up having to send an apologetic email, once we realised that the we had underestimated by about 50%. Although the price comparison site saved time, it would in retrospect have been a better idea to have companies come out and give us quotes. An accurate assessment on the ground will minimise the chances of your removal team turning up without certain equipment. In our case, the team could have used a furniture lift, given that our apartment is on the 3rd floor. As it was, the removal guys faced lugging large pieces of furniture down the stairs.
Keep the Removal Team Sweet
Once the guys from the removal company had arrived, we made coffee and chatted about logistics. From that moment onwards, we plied them with baked goods, coffee, Fanta and pizza. In return, they worked their arses off. When we arrived late to our new apartment, we told them that we could just start the unpacking tomorrow and although we had asked them to build our bed on arrival, we would happily sleep on the floor. This was laughed off initially, but after further conversation, one of the removal men turned to my wife and stated that it didn’t matter how long it took to build, it was the principle that mattered. They said they would do it and they did. Whether this was influenced by free pizza or whether it was just how they did things, I will never know. What I do know is that they frequently went beyond their role to help make our move a success and I can only surmise that this was because we didn’t treat them like servants. Sure, they took a lot of smoke breaks, but demanding they hurry up was hardly likely to make the move go any faster. What did make the move speed up was working as a team and 15 gallons of fresh coffee.