4 years, 4 moves.
We weren’t planning to keep this pace, but here we are again. We’ve lived at our little rowhouse on Flachsäcker for 16 months now- the longest we’ve been anywhere together- and we’re feeling the itch. It’s time to move.
At this point, we can’t actually imagine what it’s like to be in one place for more than a little over a year. In each place, that amount of time has been enough to feel quite settled- furniture arranged, boxes unpacked, photos hung, cabinets organized. When you know that your time is limited, you have a greater incentive to create home as quickly as possible– to have a place of comfort, stability and hospitality.
We saw this house literally the day we arrived in Germany, super jet-lagged, super pregnant and in the peak of PCS (that’s permanent change of station for the non-military folks, the term for whenever we move to a new base) season when it can be tough to find a good place. We were feeling the pressure to settle down quickly, strongly preferring not to bring our newborn back to our tiny temporary living space on base. For the most part, it’s been good to us and there are many things we’ve loved. It’s in a quiet, friendly neighborhood, conveniently close to the autobahn we take to base and also to the main city, Kaiserslautern. We have a beautiful network of trails out our front door, a lovely park with a pond, the zoo and a playground behind our house. A five minute walk brings us to a metzgerei (butcher), a bäckerei (bakery), a nice little German restaurant for our schnitzel cravings, and possibly the best döner joint. We have great neighbors, a small fenced yard for Kaia, and a surprising lack of weird European house features (like chartreuse bathtubs or bright pink fireplaces).
We’ve learned to be quite creative with the lack of storage common to homes here in Europe. When we first arrived, I wondered if Germans just had less stuff and therefore didn’t need the closets and cabinets we’re accustomed to finding in American homes. In truth, we discovered that German homes are full of added shranks (large cabinets or wardrobes) sometimes from wall to wall.
Challenge taken. Our linens are being stored in an unused wicker hamper in our room. We hung IKEA shelves and hooks in our kitchen for spices and coffee supplies and mugs to free up more cabinet space. We put our loaner microwave and American fridge in the garage and learned to live out of the dorm-size fridge in our kitchen, which allowed us to add a little island for additional work space.We each have a small basket for toiletries in the bathroom. Without bathroom cabinets or the ability to hang anything on tiles walls, we bought a cheap piece of counter to put on top of our washer and dryer for a space to stack towels and laundry supplies.
We’ve purged, consolidated, donated, and sold items. I appreciate that we’ve been able to pare down our possessions and be more mindful about what comes into our house. Because everything is out in the open, I care much more about the aesthetics of, say, our dustpan and our dish brush. More than ever before, I’ve repeated to myself “have nothing in your home that you do not consider to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
This house, and really, the reality of frequent moves, as taught us to value having less, and I hope we can keep this mindset forever and maybe never get to a point where we have an attic or garage full of mysterious boxes. But right now, honestly, I’m really excited about having a place to store our vacuum when it’s not in use. The thought of a laundry room, a pantry, an office space and a better layout for Daniel to play makes me downright giddy. And mostly, decent landlords, but we won’t get into that.
For a number of reasons, we’ve come to realize that while there are many things we’ve enjoyed about this place, it’s not the best for our family for the rest of our time here in Germany. For once, we’re not moving terribly far- our new village is about the same distance from base, just in the opposite direction. Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been busy sorting out a hundred details- hiring a local moving company, taking care of utility accounts, transferring services, organizing, packing. It’s a hassle, no doubt, but worthwhile in the end. We can’t wait to settle into our new place this weekend!