05-18-2019 Moving to Germany
Imagine my consternation when the company told us we’d live in a couple’s home for three months until our household shipment arrived. What? I had visions of us trying to communicate to the owners the toilet didn’t work or trying to prepare meals while being underfoot with complete strangers and an entire slew of other daily issues that could arise.
Despite those reservations, we boarded a plane at Washington Dulles Airport for the long trip overseas knowing we would not see our family for at least three years. Thankfully, we brought our VoIP phone system with us and use the internet for overseas telephone calls. But I digress.
My husband’s mentor greeted us at the airport. How he became a mentor to my husband when he had just arrived in Germany a few months before, I’ll never know. We dropped our luggage at our temporary residence not in Stuttgart proper. Instead, our mentor escorted us to a small village called Bonlanden in Filderstadt. The mentor told us we would have to “stay awake” until bedtime to reduce the effects of jet lag. Well, super. It had been an exhausting month, and I needed to sleep.
Since I had been in small villages before I wondered about the home we would live in for three months. Three months is a long, long time. But when we dropped off our bags, we were elated to find our housing was an attic apartment in the couple’s home with our own entrance, kitchen, and bath.
It was small. Tiny. But I was thankful we didn’t have to share a bathroom, kitchen and living spaces with them and the unit was relatively new so that was a bonus.
The other bonus was the owner’s wife spoke some English and would change our towels and bed linens every week. Maid service too? That was awesome.
My husband’s boss stopped by when we were unloading and wanted to know if the unit was acceptable to us. The bedroom and living room had a vaulted ceiling, but the boss’ concern was the twin beds. We both were fine with the sleeping arrangements. The headboards were at the lowest end of the vaulted ceiling. We couldn’t even stand up straight at the head of the bed and we are short people. No matter, though, we’d make do for three months. After all, we were living in Germany. A place neither of us had been before and it was an adventure in the making.
And while the living room only had a day bed with a few hard chairs–no comfy sofa for us – but the bathroom more than made up for it.
The kitchen was adequate, and we even had a little balcony overlooking their cute garden. We knew God took care of us with our housing needs. Has God ever met your housing needs in a great way?
Moving to a Foreign Country?
Over the years, my husband and I have traveled all over the world. Moving to Germany proved to be the most arduous moves of all time. We had moved several times in the nine years we lived in California including a cross-country move from Ohio to California.
I thought I knew all there was to know about moving but this time, there would be an international mover and a language barrier. Speaking fluent Italian would not help in Germany, or so I thought. But I digress.
When my husband lost his job at the end of 2007 and couldn’t find work, his job became looking for work but there were few positions in his field. We knew we’d have to move at some point but neither of us dreamed we’d be moving out of the country.
After praying for months for a position, the sale of our home was on the horizon. When the house sold, we placed the bulk of our furniture and household goods in storage and moved to a small apartment near the house we sold. I continued to work my part-time job, and he continued to look for work. One job kept presenting itself and included a move to Germany for what would be five years or longer. Neither of us wanted to move to Germany. But when every opportunity fluttered away except the German position, we knew the solution was clear.
We had two things in our favor: we didn’t have a house to sell and our passports were current. But we needed to sell our cars and put more things in storage. In the space of a few weeks, we considered what was important to ship because we could only ship five thousand pounds. Sounds like a lot but it’s really not. Basic household goods and clothing add up real fast.
The international movers explained our possessions would be in transit for three months. Three months? Now I had another dilemma. We were moving in March which meant we technically were still in winter and would be well into summer before our possessions reached us. Thus, we packed our suitcases with clothing for two seasons.
Since we had already pared down our possessions to two storage pods, I went through our apartment and determined once again, what I could take with us, what we could sell or pitch and what needed to go into storage. Another daunting task.
Next, I realized I needed a whole slew of documents to take with me and luckily I had time to track down all the documents. Planning an international or even a national move? This is a must-have list.
- Travel documents
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Divorce papers
- Child custody papers
- Adoption papers
- Driver’s licenses
- Medical records
- School/university transcripts
- Insurance policies and your insurance agent’s contact information
- Be sure to research international health care coverage at least three months before departure
- Tax records and your accountant’s contact information
- Power of attorney, last will and testament and your attorney’s contact information
- Bank statements and your banker’s telephone number
- Shipping company documents and contact information
- Storage facility documents and contact information
Download copies of moving checklists if you know your move is soon and work through the checklist. Some items on checklists that movers provide will be not applicable to your family but the lists are invaluable.
If you have planned or have moved across the nation or across continents, what are some things you wish you’d have known to make your move go smoother?
Adventures coming soon!