Telltale signs that I may be living in a German apartment

If I need light in the hallway leading to my apartment, I need to press a button that turns the light on for just long enough to climb two flights of stairs. It's a good idea to have my cellphone handy to use as a night light in case I don't make it to my door before the light goes out.

That hallway is not heated.

When I enter my apartment I am standing in an enclosed entrance hall (Flur), where I take my shoes off and tuck them under the stairs. Because there are no closets in Germany, I hang my coat on a hook on the wall. From the Flur I can reach the bathroom, the kitchen (separated from th Flur by a door), and the living room (also separated from the Flur by a door).

To reach the table with my food, I must go through two doors. It is nice to be able to close the door to the kitchen, especially if there's something stinky in there.

My refrigerator is about a third the size of an American refrigerator. I do not have a freezer, which effectively deprives me of peas and ice cream. My fridge is designed to fit inside a kitchen cabinet (and my kitchen cabinets are designed to accommodate a fridge).

I heat my water to make my tea in an electric kettle. Mine happens to be cheap and poorly designed. Still, it boils water in about 60 seconds.

I carefully separate my trash: paper in one bin; glass in another; plastic and metal in a third. Many of the bottles I purchase can be returned to the grocery store, where I feed them into a machine, and get a little coupon that I redeem when I purchase my groceries. Because I separate out so many recyclables and Pfand bottles, it takes me a long time to accumulate actual trash. Unfortunately, this means a faint stink often lingers in the air.

I don't have any cookie sheets as such. I have a deep Backblech that came with my stove, and fits inside it like a baking rack. I am always puzzled that doesn't result in food that's over-baked either on the top or the bottom, but this is never the case.

I have an on-demand water heater in the kitchen, and another in the bathroom. This means that I have an infinite supply of hot water (though sometimes it isn't very hot).

My bathtub does not have a curtain. Nor does it have a door. It has a folding barrier that covers about two thirds of the width. Showers are chillier when you're not really enclosed.

I have a two-speed toilet. I explained how to operate a German toilet in a prior post.

I have a heated towel rack. (Be jealous.)

In my bathroom there is a washing machine. It is highly water-efficient. However, a cycle takes about two hours. It wants me to wash my clothes in really, really hot water, because that--so the thinking goes--is the secret to cleanliness.

90% of the stuff in my apartment came from Ikea: table, chairs, sideboard, hutch, TV stand, art, wardrobe, bed, bedding, rugs, lamps, dishes, pots, silverware, kitchen cabinets, etc.

Like my German neighbors, I am highly conscious of my electricity consumption. I turn lights off when I leave the room. I turn the television off--really off--when I'm not watching.

However, also like my German neighbors, I am not heat efficient. I participate in the great German ritual of l├╝ften, which means that though there is a blizzard outside, I feel the need to open my windows and let all the warm air out, and the cold air in.

It may be that like my German neighbors, I am worried about Schimmel. Yes, mildew may be collecting even as I write this. Opening the window will save me from this fate. I guess.

My windows open in two directions. If the handle is horizontal, I can open my window like a door. If the handle is vertical, my window hinges at the bottom and opens a sizable crack at the top.

I do not have screens on my windows because I live in northern Europe, and there are few bugs to bug me. Also, if I had screens in my window, I would not be able to do any of those things with my windows. And if I didn't do those things with my windows, I might get Schimmel.

My doorknobs aren't knobs. They are horizontal. Thus:

My wife and I do not share a blanket. I have a small comforter with a duvet. She has the same.


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