Friday, February 19, 2016

Living Small in Munich, Germany

Living small in Munich comes partially out of necessity. Munich is the third most populated city in Germany after Berlin and Hamburg, but has the highest population density (source).  
For a frame of reference for American readers, Chicago is the third most populated city in the US, while NYC is the most densely populated (source).   So it's no surprise that Munich continuously appears in lists of Germany's most expensive cities and why you will hear locals and expats alike lamenting about the price of rent and recounting the horrors of their apartment search.

But on the other hand, I've always found something charming about living small.  I'm a bit of a self-proclaimed minimalist (especially when it comes to packing and traveling) and living in a small space helps keep out the clutter and accumulation/purchasing to worthless crap. Not to mention, smaller apartments are easier to clean and less expensive to heat.  We're extremely lucky in that our building's basement has a separate room for hooking up a washing machine and hanging clothes to dry, as I looked at flats where that had to be done within the apartment itself. Washing machine taking up those preciously few square meters plus the moisture issues involved with constantly having wet clothes drying in a small space....no thanks! Another big plus is the Kellerabteilung, a small storage area in the basement which can be locked up and thus keeps suitcases, boxes, etc out of the apartment. This helps make up for the fact that, like most apartments and houses in Europe there are no closets, only wardrobes, cupboards, and all sorts of other creative storage systems. 


I've been putting off posting pictures of the apartment on the blog because I keep telling myself that it's ''not done yet''. Yes, there are still some things which we would still like to add and change, but this is the February 2016 version of our ''work in progress''.

So, here it is, the oh-so-tiny, but oh-so-cozy Munich flat-


The apartment begins, as expected, with an entry area.  Here shoes are kicked off, jackets are hung up, and a small bookshelf holds keys, umbrellas, sunglasses, a phone book, and the WiFi router. 



Walking straight through the entryway we come to the kitchen. Like most European households, this apartment has what Americans would consider a teeny tiny fridge and freezer.  From my experience (which includes also living with families with children) this miniature system works out just fine. People tend to grocery shop more often and eat fresh foods the same day which they are bought, so seldom have I thought to myself - this fridge is too small. Actually, the freezer in this apartment is slightly bigger than at the last apartment, so I suppose that's my cue to stock up on ice cream. 


The other wall where the trashcan and vacuum cleaner live
Behind the little wooden door we find the boiler, refrigerator/freezer, and a wee bit of storage space

Of course, every apartment needs a bathroom.  Whoever designed this apartment certainly didn't want to waste any square meters in this department, so there is a shower, but not a bathtub. But considering that I don't have any small children or animals to bathe, it serves my purposes just fine.




Convenient and space efficient towel hangers, plus the radiator which I often leave my towel
on so that it will be nice and warm when I get out of the shower. 
Why yes, that is a buffalo in the rain/shower on the shower curtain.
May not have been my first choice, but I got it from the previous renters. 
And now to the main attraction - the living/sleeping room.  When looking at apartments, it quickly became clear that anything bigger than a one-room apartment just wasn't going to happen. In Europe, of course, one-room means really one room and not one bedroom. What is nice about this apartment though, is that it isn't a true studio in the sense that the entry ways, kitchen, and living space blend together in one big happy open floor plan. Having the kitchen as a separate space in which one can actually spend time made this apartment stand out among the many other one-roomers. 

Anyhow, given that the main living and sleeping areas are all in one room, I've done my best to section it off into some different spaces. 

First off, a little panoramic shot. As you can see, the bed is partially separated by the two short bookshelves and the large bookshelf next to the desk gives that work area a more isolated feel.  All of the cords and cables for the lamps, printer, etc are neatly tucked away and organized thanks to my handyman Mario. 
Here's the wall which isn't pictured in the first shot.
Yes, that's a full laundry basket and my gym bag (I told you it wasn't perfect!)
Otherwise we've got another bookshelf, a cupboard for folded clothes, a hanging system and
some more storage (remember, no closets).
This right here, this is my happy place. The previous renters had a leather couch there which I bought from them (along with all of the other furniture in the apartment, actually), but it was rather small and just didn't feel very cozy. So, the day bed/couch came to be and the leather couch is hanging out in the basement storage area. The colors here are my favorite and it is just such an inviting corner of the apartment. Plans are in the works to potentially mount a TV on the opposite wall, but for now you can find me reading, surfing the internet,and sipping tea in this cuddly corner. 

Given how difficult it was to find a flat in Munich, I'm thankful every day for this cozy little place which is really starting to feel like home. 


Monday, February 1, 2016

The unexpected weekend kitchen remodel

When my landlady called me up Wednesday evening to let me know that her Bulgarian handyman friend was in town and could come over to replace the faucet in the kitchen sink, I was thankful that we would finally get that pesky little thing taken care of. The faucet hasn't been properly intact since we moved in, which causes leaking and makes doing to dishes extremely clumsy.

Her friend, however, had other things in mind when he saw the condition of the countertop. It turns out that since the people living here before never said anything about the leak there was quite a bit of water damage to the countertop, especially in the area around the faucet.  So he decided that since he was here anyway he would replace the entire countertop as well as the faucet.

So off the went to the hardware store and were back a couple of hours later. And just to clarify, the 'they' I am talking about included my landlady, her handyman friend, and her two small sons.  Since she's a single mom, she had to bring them along and they attempted to entertain themselves in my tiny apartment for allll those hours.  I felt pretty sorry for them, especially since the project dragged on and on.

Around 17:30 the project got to the point that the handyman didn't think he needed any more help and mom and kiddos headed on there way while handyman worked for a couple more hours and got to a stopping point. And since my kitchen looked like this when he left....


.....my plans to heat up the borsch I had cooked the night before  were completely ruined. I was just glad that there was bread and salami in the cupboards, otherwise it would have been a rather hungry evening.

So Sunday he was back to work in the kitchen while I once again sat around bored in the other room and after almost 9 hours (!!!) of work in addition to Saturdays 6 hours or so, the never-ending kitchen project finally came to an end and I could finally make myself that bowl of borsch!


Already last night I noticed that only warm/hot water is coming out of the kitchen sink, although the cold water is still working in the bathroom. Also the dishwasher doesn't seem to be properly connected to its water source, so perhaps yet another visit from the handyman is coming up soon.

Never a dull moment here...