5 tips for finding the right home at KMC
“A home is a gentlemen’s castle until its queen arrives.” Finding the right home in the KMC (Military KaiserslauternCommunity) can be a big challenge, especially if you decide to go on a summer holiday in Europe when everyone is looking for the perfect home. Some of you may have moved to Germany without your family having hoped that it would be easier to unite the family according to their location.
If you are coming to Germany for the first time, you might experience a slight “culture shock” when you look at German houses. What you thought was a walk-in closet turned out to be a bedroom for the children. The fridge was so small that you can’t even imagine eating half a day of food. The freezer is big enough to hold a few ice cubes, and oh my God, there’s not even a garbage disposal or a garbage compactor! The German landlord has never heard of it and will try to explain how the garbage is recycled.
Fortunately, the house has a single garage, but it has to be opened manually without a remote control. The truck doesn’t even fit into the garage. The bedrooms are tiny and a tape measure would be very practical. You are now convinced that your oversized American furniture does not fit into what you perceive to be a small house. Your American box spring bed will not make up the winding stairs, and the landlord is not willing to take the stairs apart just to bring your furniture up the stairs. The only way now is to get the furniture through the windows. I hope they open completely!
Here are my five tips on how to find the right home for you and your family. I hope this information will help you in your decision.
The right school district
You must make sure that you find a house within the school district that you want to visit with your children. If you are not within the boundaries of the school district, your children may not attend that particular school. It is best to get an updated list from the school itself, which village or city belongs to which school district.
Types of apartments in Germany
The average home of economy for E-1 to E-7 will have 2-3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, fitted kitchen, garage or carport. The bedrooms are much smaller than the bedrooms in the USA. There are fewer bathrooms and mostly the second bathroom has only a shower, a toilet and a washbasin. Detached houses with a small backyard are always preferred to terraced houses or apartments.
It all depends on how much you use. Most of the time you pay your landlord directly for the heating if you have a gas heater. The utilities are estimated based on the consumption of the previous tenant. If the previous tenant was German, the energy bill was probably half the American tenant’s energy bill. If you have an oil heater that is currently cheaper than a gas heater because everyone has switched to gas, you may have to fill the heating oil tank yourself and therefore do not have to pay the landlord.
Garbage and electricity can be set up as direct deposits if you register these services under your name. The German landlord will most likely remind you to get energy-saving lamps and turn off the light when you are not at home. Make sure you register with your VAT office for UTAP, which will save you a lot of money on your extra copies.
Remember that it may be worth finding an energy-efficient home or simply getting used to turning off your lights or turning down the heat. At the end of the year, the German landlord/lady will provide you with a reconciliation of your utility bill. If you are lucky, you may get money back and if you consume too much energy, you could pay hundreds or thousands of euros at the end of the year.
Down Deposits / Down payments
Most landlords require a deposit of at least 2 months unless your rent is very high and it is normal to make a one-month deposit. The landlord/lady will deposit your money into an interest-bearing savings account and refund you the money plus interest, less the damage you have caused to his property.
Finding a Realtor/Search for a real estate agent
If you are a military, you will not receive a refund for a broker, but public service employees and many contractors can do so. However, you will receive a promotion bonus based on your rank, which can be quite high. You can use this money to pay a real estate agent, buy curtains for your new home or buy an additional transformer, which most German landlords / ladies sometimes refuse.
Remember that brokers will have the best homes on the market. Often they also receive a commission from the owner who wants to make sure that the broker selects the right people to see the house.
A real estate agent also knows the area and has access to houses that are not on the list or in the AHRN. The agent can also help you get to know the area and can act as an interpreter in case the landlord/lady does not speak English. If you are lucky enough to stay outside the post office in a TLA apartment, there is always the possibility that the company owner can help you find a house quickly, as your time in a TLA usually expires after 30 days. Some TLA owners offer free home search assistance if you stay in their TLA for 30 days or longer. In other words, you will not be charged a “finder’s fee” and the owner will help you find a nice house and assist you with the housing contract.