Tag Archives: moving to Berlin 2015

Happy in Berlin- our one-year anniversary!

glucklich in berlin Suzanne Forbes 2016We’ve been here one year today.

To celebrate, I walked over to the doctor and paid nothing, and took my prescription to a random Apoteke and paid 7.73€ for my Advair Diskus (copay $35 on Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO when we left), no waiting. Then I went to a supermarket and bought couverture, candied orange peel and Kerrygold Irish butter (all expensive luxury items in the US).

I also bought a Kinder Egg for my husband. We live in the land of the free.

Then I came home to our beautiful flat, where soon D. will arrive to enjoy his four-day Easter weekend. Tomorrow we’re going to an Easter Friday dinner at the home of Australian friends who live across the street from the goth club in Prenzlauer Berg. I’m making chocolate orange flapjacks, with Lyle’s Golden Syrup I got at KaDeWe. I feel like we won the lottery, every day.

I have this new thing I do, since our shipping container arrived. I lie in bed next to my hubby, listening to the silence of our building and the courtyard, and I just…relax. I lie there, completely at peace and unafraid, with everything in the world I need. I listen to the silence in my own head, where for so many years there was a cacophony of terror.

I can’t begin to express our gratitude to the family and friends who got us here and helped us stay. You saved our souls, our health, and maybe our lives.

Glücklich in Berlin by Anna Depenbusch.*

Hello, how nice you here to go good to see, it seems you
I think you are happy in Berlin
Your big dream to many years finally be many seems true
Part of me wishes you good luck THEREFOR
And a part of me wants you here her back

Yes, it’s nice if you tell me who you meet and so you had play
In dieser city you know your way
I mean who longs as home?
A part of me is very happy for you
And part thinks: Berlin War ‘Not for me

Too big, too small, too close, too far
The one goes, the other remains
I envy you was’ somehow lied
but it’s great, you have hit the jackpot

You say you’re now in the middle because everything else makes no sense
Because here begins the wide world and it sounds true life
Part of me wonders What is the whole search
And part hopes that you are happy

Too big, too small, too close, too far
The one goes, the other remains
Part of me wishes you luck with all your heart
And a part of me wants you here her back

Too big, too small, too close, too far
The one goes, the other remains
Part of me wishes you good luck
Part of me wants you back
to envy would ‘somehow lied
but it’s great, you have hit the jackpot

Hello, how nice you here to go good to see, it seems you
I think you are happy in Berlin

*lyrics courtesy google translate. I am sure I could get a better translation, but I really like this one.

*ps if you’re coming to visit though could you bring me some American deodorant. German low-aluminum-content stuff is no match for perimenopause sweats and I smell like a horse sometimes.

Happyfuntimes at the Ausländerbehörde

If you are a foreigner hoping to stay in Berlin longer than 90 days, you must make yourself known to the Ausländerbehörde.

outlander_Aug_2015_Suzanne_Forbes - EditedThe Foreigners’ Registration Office or Aliens Department decides your fate. How long you get to stay, what kind of work you can do, what family members can come, everything.

Weirdly, it’s a quite relaxed and not-at-all terrifying place.

It’s a big shabby government building, but there’s a pleasant courtyard with trees, benches and lawns, where people are always picnicking.

There are signs everywhere, but there are no signs saying “No eating and drinking” or “no cellphones”, and everyone is enjoying a beverage, feeding a baby, talking on the phone, whatever.

And whenever you go you see someone you know- like the rockabilly girl with the black-and-white hair, who I’d seen at a flat viewing just a week earlier.

“Did you get that flat?” “No. We found something though.” “Did you find a place yet?” “No.” It’s impossible to find a place here.

This was our second visit, and our first time on our own without our “fixer”. But we got a super-nice case worker who spoke English and our appointment went fine, although the husband was denied the coveted blue card because he lacks a four-year degree and his Associates Degree isn’t in computer science. So our application was switched over to a regular work visa application, which unlike the freelancer visa we have now would allow us to get on German state-type health insurance. Which is basically the point of this whole move. Now we wait a couple more weeks to see what happens. If the regular work visa isn’t granted we appeal.

We have passed through eight of the ten major hurdles to this move.

1. Find a short-term place to lease where we can put our names on the doorbell and get registered with the Burgeramt. We used coming-home.de. It was expensive as FUCK, but crucial to a full-immersion-in-the-system life here.

2. Get a German bank account (majicked by our fixer). We have Deutschebank. Our bank manager looks like a porn star.

3. Get our address registered at a Bürgeramt or Citizen’s Registration Office (you need an appointment; there are no appointments, no one speaks English. Thank the Goddess for our fixer).

4. Get health insurance the visa office will accept. Currently we have ALC. It is cheap but not good.

5. Get a freelancer visa before our 90 days Schengen visa is up. The binder I brought to the appointment had thirty documents in it, all of which had been brought from the US or carefully prepared here. Our fixer got us two years, because she is amazing.

6. Get a full-time job offer for the husband. This part was fairly easy- they are desperate for programmers here. Although please note that he is considered lucky to be offered less than half of what the position would pay in the Bay Area. Programmers have zero special status here. Our delightful porn-star-looking bank manager is considered as valuable a white-collar worker as any programmer and is as well-paid.

7. Apply for a work visa for that job. This part is pending.

8. Find a flat (sublets and short term are easy; an unlimited lease, where you could quite possibly stay the rest of your life in rent-controlled comfort, is insanely hard.) I started researching a year before we left, studying the major German rental sites, and once we got here I looked informationally for three months, getting the lay of the land. Then once the husband got his first check from the new workplace, I looked every waking moment for six weeks.

Getting German health insurance is nine and getting our shipping container here is ten.

It’s been one of the longest, most stressful and tedious summers of my life, but now we’ve signed the unlimited lease on our gorgeous flat I feel like it’s all worth it.