Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Setting up an apartment in Austria

Nate installing window blinds in our bedroom
Nate is skyping with a friend from home right now, talking about moving in and setting up an apartment. As I listen to the conversation and Nate explain things, I'm realizing how many things are different about setting up a home here than in the States. We've gotten used to all of the differences by now, but it's quite a different experience!

Here are some differences:

  • Apartments here (and I think in most of Europe) do not come with closets. So in addition to buying most of our furniture, we have also had to buy free-standing wardrobes for every bedroom. It's nice, because you can decide how they are laid out and organized, but it's time consuming to buy and build them!
  • We choose our own light fixtures! I've never rented an apartment with bare bulbs hanging from the ceiling before. This makes for a lot more decisions!
  • The windows also do not come with blinds. Needless to say, the first night we slept in our apartment, our neighbors could see right in! It felt weird, so we went out and purchased blinds the next day.
  • Many of the building walls are made of cement, so you need a special drill in order to drill holes in the walls. It's very loud and a little more difficult, but the screws and nails hold very well!
  • In addition to not having bedroom closets, most apartments do not have any build-in storage. We are, for example, installing shelves in our storage closet and buying a wardrobe from the front hallway for coats. We also installed extra cabinets in the kitchen for more storage space.
  • Balconies are important here and growing plants on your balcony is a must here in Austria. We are going to work hard as creating a comfortable balcony with seating, a small (electric) grill and lots of plants! Not to mention, we will also use our balcony to hang clothes to dry in the sun. It will take some maneuvering and planning to fit all of that on our small balcony.
  • Building your own furniture. From what we've seen, there aren't very many affordable furniture stores here that compete with IKEA's prices. Since we were outfitting an entire apartment at once, we needed to buy all of the furniture at Ikea and put it together ourselves, because it would have been too expensive to do it any other way. Although Ikea is popular in the U.S. as well, this is certainly the first time I've experienced starting from scratch and building this much furniture all at once!
  • The last several apartments we had in the States came with a washer and dryer. That is very rare here! We just bought our washing machine last Friday and when we move, we'll take it with us. Also, it's common for the washing machine to be situated in the kitchen or bathroom here (ours is in the bathroom).  And dryers are a luxury - few people have space for them.
All this to say, this is why it will take us weeks months to settle in and make our apartment a home. We make a little progress each day, but there is still much to be done. If you want to come visit, wait until the summer time!