Renting in Frankfurt (And Giessen)

Started January 20, 2017
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,

This is the story of temporary residences in Germany.  In July, 2002, I took up a short-term assignment in Frankfurt and we needed to find a place to live. Now, places to live are important to us so, even though we were assured of only six months of employment, we had requirements for our new urban place.  We wrote to family and friends about the settling  process (click on image to the right), but this "houses summary" needs a bit more detail.

Finding rentals in Germany is expensive, since agents charge two months rent and landlords require two or three months up-front deposit.  And we were looking for a relatively spacious in-city location.  Our agents, Irmi and Peter, showed us several places, some bigger, some smaller, some newer, some older, but we ended up with one of four apartments in a remodeled old building in Sachsenhausen, one of the nicest parts of the city.
The building was owned by the railroad company and held some of their offices on the ground floor and two apartments on each of the next two floors.  Inside, the place was clean, but bare.  We would be the first occupants since the building had been remodeled.

The kitchen (left) was empty, as is normal in Europe.  Each room was bare, white, walls; nothing built-in like cupboards or closets.  Again, European standard.  One of the selling points was a car park in back, since many apartments in Sachsenhausen expected residents to park on the always-crowded streets.

The bathroom was also pretty empty, but spotless, so by the time we left, we had agreed on a two-year lease.  Did I say we only had a six-month job?


The real selling point of this apartment was the location.  First, Frankfurt itself is remarkably beautiful, with the Main River running through it.  We had been going through the airport for years, but had never appreciated the city for itself.  While the downtown skyline is reasonably famous, residential neighborhoods are scattered all around and easily reached by streetcars and subways.
The "Sudbahnhof" or South Main Station was l00 yards from our door and streetcars ran in our street.  The underground systems, both the large "S-Bahn" and smaller "U-Bahn", had stations left and right from us.  (Their tracks ran beneath our building.)

Sachsenhausen's largest commercial street, Schweitzer Strasse, ran from our corner to the Main River, an easy 20-minute walk past restaurants and shops.  The center picture is of the Mexican restaurant near our end, a favorite despite the shooting we witnessed the first Sunday afternoon we ate there.  Really.  On the right, is one of the most traditional restaurants in Sachsenhausen, where we were introduced to apple wine (no beer served) and huge chunks of meat.  All our visitors were taken there.

2e1_52_boxes.jpgOf course, moving in was not without some struggle.  Marianne had to buy a kitchen, something she accomplished in about four hours.  Considering the weeks we had debated over kitchens in earlier places, her efficiency was amazing.

Boxes arrived from in about a week after leaving Kiev.  Somehow, the small truck emptied more into our place than we thought it could hold.  We also had to go out and buy a full set of appliances, since ours had all stayed behind with our own renter. 
The boxes did come in handy, however, since the new kitchen did not arrive for a few weeks.  NO matter, pretty soon Marianne was up to her great cooking.

The living room started out pretty bare, even after our new black furniture was delivered.  Lamp was nice, though.  Assembling IKEA "closets" went well enough and we even had matching "work stations" quickly installed.

The best part of our new place was that it was reachable by family and friends.  Kiev had always been tough to get to, but planes fly into Frankfurt from around the world and trains and autobahns efficiently connect it to all of Europe.
Gabby was one of our first visitors, but she arrived exhausted after the flight from San Francisco.  It was easier to get to Frankfurt, but not without loss of sleep.  She even brought along a boy-friend.

Mamo, Marianne's mom, made the trip as well and brought her laughter to the home.
Cousin Klara and her husband made the drive over from Budapest, a short 15-hour jaunt for them.

Once we had all our gear, Marianne could do real cooking, even fancy meals for just the two of us.  I was spoiled (and still am.)

We met Robin and Art as soon as Marianne started working at the Rhine-Main air base school, so they were among our first most frequent guests.

We also had a chance to entertain our fellow Goethe Institute German-class students and our teachers.  We were at least twice the age of any other students, but it was always fun.

Just for flavor, two seasons of apartment area scenes.  We have dozens of better stories on the 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 diaries.
Winters were not the same as Kiev, but snow did visit from time to time.

Night walks along the "Ufer" (river bank) were always an evening walk attraction in better weather.

Finally, a picture spread of the Frankfurt apartment, as we remember it, fully decorated and clean (as always.)

Entrance and us in our out-on-the-town costumes.

The living room, master bedroom, and guest room.

The kitchen and office

A few of our acquired antiques.  (Clock was actually new, but it looked old.  Still does.)

Out in back, our cars were protected, more or less, from the weather.  (A varmint did eat into the Porsche's wiring, but that only happened once.)

So, that was our Frankfurt house, but this diary isn't done yet.


  We moved from Frankfurt because of job changes.  For me, that meant a shift from a project based in Frankfurt's neighbor Offenbach, and for Marianne that meant somewhere new to replace the closing Rhine-Main school.  Initially, her location was determined by luck-of-the-draw in the DOD Schools' job lottery for displaced employees.  She won Seoul, South Korea. 

As flexible as we have been, that was not part of our planning so she refused the offer in hopes that something more local would show up.  It did, but in Giessen, an hour north of Frankfurt and three hours from my new home in Bavaria. She took the job, in hopes of transferring a year later to a school commuting distance to our new home.  (That didn't happen, but retirement after 38 teaching years did.)

The result was that our move from Frankfurt went in two different directions.  Marianne's things for a one-year stay went north and everything else went south, with me.  The story we told the family at the time is found in the diary linked on the right.

Reviewing our photo record, we have a more complete description of the farm apartment she rented while teaching at Giessen.

The apartment was a "Ferienwohnung" (vacation home), upstairs in one of the farm buildings.  It had been nicely remodeled, with IKEA kitchen, furniture and decorations as we were told.

The bedroom was a sleeping loft with a view down to the living room and out to the farm yard and barn.

Marianne's boxes were easily emptied into the available storage and pretty soon she was up and running in the kitchen.  This move remains a record for us in terms of ease of moving in.

Meanwhile, back in Frankfurt, we were not done quite yet.  The movers took away our hardly-used bicycles and everything else, bound for Pommersfelden, our new Bavarian home town.  (The August 18, 2005 story we told family is linked on the left.)

The last activity was fulfilling our duty to return the apartment to the condition in which we received it.  This is a common German rental requirement and, with two months rent deposit on the line, it had to be taken seriously.  Rather than try to match the off-white shade all walls had been painted in, we opted to redo everything in standard hardware-store white.  Apparently this is also a normal German custom.  Neither of us had done house painting in years and it was three days of hard work.


In the end, the place looked pretty darn good.  The next renter had bought our kitchen and lighting, for some bargain price I'm sure, and all the other spaces were returned to their clean, bare, as-received condition.  We got our money back and left for a new adventure.

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