Apartment living

In a large city like Berlin, most people live in apartments and only outside the city are there houses. My host family and other German friends live in the suburbs, so I don’t have much insight on apartment dwelling in Germany.

Household Essentials

Air Conditioning
Only in July and August do temperatures soar in Berlin to merit air conditioning, and even then, it is used only in moderation. Many Berliners do not have air conditioning in their apartments and houses.

Paper products

Tissue boxes are not very popular. Instead, people carry individual tissue packets. I, a chronic allergy sufferer, found it inconvenient to carry a tissue packet with me everywhere in the house just to be prepared in the event I sneeze! It appears that both paper napkins and cloth napkins are used at meal time, with no particular preference to either.

Home Space and Rooms

  • Living Room
    Because most homes are small, there is usually only a living room and no family room. Therefore, the living room is the hub of family life and is designed to be functional. For example, the TV is typically located in the living room.
  • Kitchen
    Kitchens are typically quite small with equally small appliances. Smaller dishwashers and refrigerators are standard. The most shocking difference between German and American kitchens is that most German kitchens have soda streamers to turn tap water into sparkling water. And I quickly learned that most Germans only drink sparkling water because flat water doesn’t “taste as good.”
  • Bathrooms
    In very old apartments and homes, a toilet and a small sink are enclosed in a separate room from the bathroom containing a shower and tub. Modern and renovated homes tend to put all the facilities in one space. If the shower and tub are one unit, there may be half walls in lieu of shower curtains that go across only half the length of the tub, which is not practical, resulting in wet floors. The electric current is 220 volts (instead of 110 volts in the U.S.), which makes hair dryers hotter and heat hair faster. The result is a faster hair drying time, but the hot temperature dries out the hair more.
  • Bedrooms
    Bedrooms do not include built in closets, but they have wall units or freestanding armoires for hanging garments. Windows have either traditional shutters or more modern rolling shutters that make the room completely dark for sleeping. Teenagers spend a lot of time in their bedrooms, not only to sleep, but also to hang out. Therefore, some bedrooms tend to have more conveniences, such as televisions.
  • Garages
    Most city dwellers have only one car and many apartment buildings have limited or no parking. Finding street parking takes patience, but this is typical in most big cities. Freestanding homes in the suburbs generally have their own garages, which are small and reserved for the car and garden tools.