Monday, January 24, 2011

The horrors of finding a flat in Munich

There comes a time in every blogger's life when their blog is the obvious and most efficient direction for a rant. I haven't ranted angrily about anything for a long time, as far as I remember. The last times were probably at the beginning of my stay in China, when I was struggling with Mandarin and my thoughts about various aspects of Chinese bureaucracy there were far from appreciative. Looking back, most of these rants have turned out to be misguided, and I was simply not seeing the situation from the wider perspective that I should have been. Since then I've realised that as a traveler I should either be amused at the bizarre situations that I find myself in, or thank my lucky stars that I don't have to live with them permanently. Had I gone into the last Sichuan trip with a closed mind it would frankly have been hell. Luckily I saw it for what it was and spent a lot of time laughing at how ludicrous the various situations were.

Anyway, so that brings me up to now, and I hope that I will look back on this post with light amusement in a few months time when things have calmed down.

I've been in Munich for around 4 weeks now. I love this city already, the diversity is absolutely spectacular in terms of culture, cuisine and possible activities, and the people here are amazingly friendly. That being said...

I still don't have a flat! I've been searching now for almost a month and the situation is looking increasingly hopeless and I'm seeing (if not reaching) the end of my tether. I found a fantastic place yesterday, much more expensive than I had been hoping for when I first arrived here, and completely unfurnished (not even a kitchen) but my perspective has been starkly shifted as I realised that things weren't going to be as easy as I'd hoped and I had to alter my budget and possible scale. Unfortunately there were 10 other people looking around this flat at the same time and there had been many more before me. I told the agent that I'd like to take it and she said that I should send an email and I may be called in for an interview with the landlord. Unfortunately when I sent my details I was told that I wouldn't be able to take the place because I was only going to be here for 2 years! WTF am I supposed to do!!!!

The agent' fees are a joke here, they 're the highest I've ever come across. The sellers market rules. The famous 'provision' means that on top of the normal deposit, you pay the agent 2.4 months rent. and never see it again. That's it, agency fees for renting a flat, and at Munich prices that's going to be around 1600 euros, before you've even started moving in.

The prices themselves are very high, but what's worse is that most of the places are unfurnished - completely. They're bare walls, and a bathroom, if you're lucky. No kitchen, no bed, no washing machine, no nothing! If you want a furnished place then very often you have to buy the furniture from the previous owners - another 1500 euros, and then have to try and sell it the other end of your stay. Again, WTF!!!

So, I've now visited perhaps 20 flats (they go quickly so it's not every day that I can find a new flat that's gone on the market and hasn't already been taken) and either they've been ridiculously small (a kitchen and bedroom all in one for 700 euros!) or way out of my price range, or if they're withing budget and scale, I can't have them because I'm not here long enough. I don't know what to do!

Actually looking at flats isn't the problem. It's a pretty good way to explore the city and I've seen some fantastic areas that I've walked around before seeing the flats, thinking how amazing it would be to live there. The problem is that until I have a flat, I don't feel that I can start my life here. There are so many things that I want to do. I want to start taking intensive German classes in the evenings. I want to start cooking again. I want to take a photography course. I want to get into a good schedule so that I can get into the office early and work full days without having to go out for a couple of hours to see a flat. I want to start a regular Chinese exchange. I want to entertain for new friends. I want, I want, I want...I know, the cessation of desire and all that being the path to fulfillment, but frankly when you're searching for a flat, that all goes out the window.

So, I'm frustrated, not pissed, but really frustrated that I haven't even left the starting blocks here. This year is a very important one for me. I have only a two year position here, so I need to be thinking about applying for new positions again in 7 months (Why do I do this!?) so the pressure is on to get some good work soon (this is actually on pretty good track at the moment with quite a few projects running well with people in the department here and a few with various other international collaborators). But still, I need this sorted and I need it done soon.

Munich is supposed to be the hardest city to find accommodation in Germany, but it feels like extra effort isn't going to make it come any quicker. I feel like I'm swimming in the quicksand of the Bavarian real estate market and I don't really know which way to go to get to shore.

Don't take this post as a depressed moan, but just that I need to get out my deep frustrations at how bloody hard it is to find a flat here.

Rant over. For now.

3 comments:

Sheryl R. said...

Hi Jonathan,

I have just read your blogs about finding a flat in Munich. Right now, I feel the same way. I'm from Scotland and I have manage to find an internship in Munich. I'm suppose to start in less than a couple of weeks and I'm worried I won't find a flat in time.

I was wondering if you have any advice?

Many thanks,
Sheryl

Jonathan Shock said...

Hi there Sheryl, do you want to send me a mail on jon shock with a dot in between with the gmail ending. I'll see what I can do to help.

J

mloopalu@gmail.com said...

And I'm another one. Honestly, this is impossible. If you have any advice I would be very thankful.

best wishes,

m