House Hunting in Germany, Part 2: The Stairs of Doom
You can find the other chapters of this series here…
In the previous post, I left off with the notion that something wasn’t quite right about The Dream House when we stepped inside. Perhaps it ended up being entirely made out of candy and had previously been occupied by a witch, but that wasn’t the case.
Truth be told, there really wasn’t anything off-putting about it… at first.
It was cute and cozy, with built-in bookshelves, a wood-burning stove, and a window framing a scenic view over the kitchen sink (all things I’ve always wanted in a house, for some reason). I’d already started picturing where we’d put our furniture when we began to make our way to check out the bedrooms, which were all upstairs.
But… my heart sank as soon as I saw how we would be
getting climbing up there.
To get up to the second floor, which was more like a loft, really, you had to go up a twisty, metal
ladder stairway with no railing and large gaps between each step (Note: we’ve since learned stairs like these are not at all uncommon in Germany). Immediately, my brain started conjuring up all of the different ways in which my children might fall down (or through) them.
I tried to keep my cool, but panic must have been written all over my face, because the landlord quickly started talking about how he could come up with a baby-proofing method of some sort.
Honestly, the stairs would have been pretty neat if our boys were much older, but in this season of our lives, I think I would have felt better about having a hole in the floor with a fire pole running through it. Nevertheless, we completed our tour, and the boys hesitantly scooted back down the stairs on their bottoms while I cringed and sweated all the way.
But, that yard. And, that sun room. And, that view.
When we got in the car, my husband and I talked it over, and we agreed that, although the stairs were indeed a snag, we’d figure out a way to make it work. This was our dream house, and the boys would eventually learn how to use them safely. I felt silly for overreacting.
We decided we’d pray about it, sleep on it, and let the landlord know we wanted the house in the morning. However, that night, I hardly slept at all. I tossed and turned and turned and tossed as I dreamed up a hundred different nightmarish scenarios in which our children tumbled down The Stairs of Doom.
The next morning, I told my husband I was having major second thoughts about the house because of the stairs. Thankfully, he said he understood, and admitted he’d been worrying some about about having to drive the thirty minutes to work on windy country roads in the wee hours of morning during winter time. That got me thinking about the village not having a market, and the likelihood of us being stuck in the house without a car 30 minutes from the nearest base where we would be having most of our appointments, and…
We agreed, The Stairs of Doom were definitely a deal-breaker, but we’d been too blinded by our eagerness and excitement to consider all of the other things that would have been less than ideal for our family.
So, feeling a little deflated, back we went to square one, only this time we came up with an inventory of things we didn’t want in our new house, and re-designed our wish list around them. We also asked for advice from our sponsor and other friends and co-workers who’d been here a while, and we were able to come up with something a little bit more cautious and realistic.
The List, Re-visited
- No tricky stairs.
- Close to work.
- In a village with a market.
- Something affordable in a safe neighborhood.
- At least 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.
- Preferably an extra room for guests.
- A storage area.
- A backyard or nearby playground for the boys.
- No sellers fee (apparently, some landlords charge a hefty fee on top of a security deposit and first month’s rent).
- High-speed internet availability (we’d learned, depending on where you live, it could take months to have internet set up).
- Gas rather than oil for heating (we were also advised that oil is paid for in bulk and can be pretty expensive).
- With some element of the charm we fell in love with at The Dream House.
Over the next few days, we did some careful hunting online and came up with a short list of houses that seemed to meet our new criteria. After making a few phone calls, we’d only been able to connect with one landlord, but we ended up playing phone tag with him for the rest of the day.
That night, we’d been invited to have dinner with our sponsor’s family. When he came to pick us up at our hotel, we asked if we could drive by the prospective house on the way just to get a feel for it and the area, and see if it was even worth making an appointment for a look inside. This house wasn’t at the top of our list, but it was by far the closest to work for my husband.
So, off we went…