View Full Version : Mini Retirement in Berlin
06-15-2009, 03:29 AM
This posts is to encourage anyone to practice the principles in 4hww. It works and I haven't really applied that much yet.
About me: I'm a native German that moved to California in 1993 at age 23. I spend the next couple of years hustling to blend in. Learn the language and get ahead in a monetary way. I started a community driven website in 99 purely for fun. It became somewhat successful to a point where I had to dedicate full time care to it. Its my job for the last 3 years. I also started to take more vacations and single days off to simply live and not be part of the big chase.
I'm lucky that my wife feels the same way and we don't try to keep up with people around us (larger car,house,boat etc).
I just read the book and it was like a wakeup call to take things to the next level. I hired a guy to do my daily web chores giving me more room to stick to important work. That translated into measurable improvements at my work.
Next I changed the way I deal with email. My weekends improved. My family gets more quality time with me now. I'm actually there now.
Next I just rented a furnished apartment in Berlin for 1 month (550Euro). We are leaving n 2 weeks for a small tryout of a mini retirement. We is me, my wife and our 11 month old son.
Always ask yourself what is the worse thing that can happen.
Thank you TF and staff.
Good choice coming to Berlin, we are loving our mini-retirement here. Though you might find it somewhat easier to blend in being native German and all, my Deutsch is progressing quite slowly.
Let me know if you would be interested in meeting up for a bier oder kaffee and comparing notes, we will be here until June 9th before moving on to Mannheim then London then home again. Like you, I'm also here with my wife and daughters (2 and 3), it's definitely a different experience travelling around with young kids.
06-23-2009, 08:49 PM
Hi Klaus and Sadu! (and all other readers)
Count me in for Berlin! I have been there many years ago (1992) and I imagine it changed quite a bit since then. I am excited to see the changes.
I'm sure both of you will have moved on by the time we go there. We are at t-minus 3 months. (We are myself, my wife, two kids 14 yrs and 10 yrs. - I wanted the kids to get a taste of this before they get older and more involved with school, activities, college planning, careers, kids, etc.)
The basic plan is to reserve a cheap hostel/hotel in Prenzlauer Berg prior to arrival, and give ourselves about 4 days to find an apartment. The kids are interested in going to school for the three months (really =) ) and the school I like so far is the JFK school. (Kids like homework) It might be a challenge. Is the german school system particularly welcoming to foreigners?
The astute reader will notice I lifted the plan verbatim from the book. My question: Does this work? Are there other things I should consider in these plans?
Thanks for your help!
I did the 'book 4 days' thing in Dublin as per the book and it didn't work for me at all.
The problem we found was that it wasn't enough time to find a place to live. When we tried to extend our stay at the prebooked apartment, they didn't have any vacancy. Running out of options, we signed up for a house that wasn't ideal, but this wasn't available straight away so we ended up spending 4 more nights in a cramped, totally overpriced hotel room. Thoroughly miserable for all concerned.
Having to pay a fortune for parking in the inner city apartment we booked was a total hassle as well. This was adding about 20 euro per day to the cost. And then there's the extra cost of hotel-based internet access (in our case another 10 euro per day), we needed this as our way of finding a car + everything else you need.
When we moved to Berlin, we booked an apartment in advance and I would highly recommend doing this. We booked using http://www.rooms-in-berlin.com - their commissions are pretty steep, but ultimately we found a fantastic apartment in a great part of town and the stress levels have been minimal. www.exberliner.com also has rental listings in English.
My advice would be to skip the 4 day booking, and just reserve something online. The money you would have spent for the 4 days can go into the commission instead. Use Google maps to make sure it's handy to shops / parks etc. Prenzlauerberg is a nice part of town, as far as I can tell anyway.
Of course everyone's situation is different. My kids are 2 and 3, so generally speaking it's more challenging to get anything done with them in tow.
06-24-2009, 07:46 PM
Thanks for sharing your infos and sharing your experience. It is always good to know when exceptions and eventualities will occur and how we can learn from them. I will give the links a go. Thanks again!
I have sent a letter of inquiry to the JFK school which seems to be a good fit for our children (exposing them to a bi-cultural environment). I understand that they are a selective school (giving priority to DOS dependents?).
Does anyone have any suggestions for navigating the Berlin school system as a Plan B alternative? Thanks.
09-25-2009, 12:25 AM
We ended up staying in Berlin and booked the place ahead of time. I used: www.kijiji.de (It appears that ebay acquired them?) to find the apartment. Being a native German helped to use the local classifieds rather then the international ones targeted for experts or tourists.
Berlin was my choice because its large, culturally rich and very international. Berlin is also inexpensive in terms of rent once you are outside the center. Public transportations is plenty. I rented a car the entire time so the exact location didn't matter to me that much. Low rent did.
I was concerned that the place would be suitable. What aided me in my search was to look up the area via google maps. My place was located 2 house length from the Spree river. Link (http://www.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=berlin&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=44.60973,63.28125&ie=UTF8&ll=52.453015,13.524996&spn=0.004211,0.011812&t=h&z=17&iwloc=A). Living close to water has to be good was my reasoning and it worked out perfect.
We stayed for 30 days.
I treated the trip like a re-location rather then vacation. We bought groceries and ate at home a lot. We had days where we didn't do anything but instead just hung out around the house or strolled around the hood. There was never a real rush to go out and do things to get your moneys worth.
I am originally from Hamburg and we made 2 short trips to that town. My wife and me felt somewhat more comfortable in Hamburg as I knew my way around and was able to meet with friends that also have small kids.
The overall costs of the trip where kept low due to an apartment vs. hotel and off-days (Wed/Thu) flying. Booking rental car away from train station and airport etc.
I spend time reading blogs and reflecting on business ideas.
We took our Vonage router and telephone with us to keep a US line. I had to buy two 220v power supplies for both at Conrad Electronic. Our place had broadband internet.
I already had one Vodafone prepaid SIM and I just bought another one plus phone for like 20Euro so we could talk to each other. Vodafone to Vodafone calls are free. No monthly fee.
I let go a lot of my business and empowered one of my guys. I spend the last 2 weeks before the trip training him and there was no real monetary loss. I called him once or twice just to check in.
- We never had a baby sitter the entire time and it added stress. We felt like going out but where tight down. Solution: Hire local sitters or go to a city where we know people.
- I didn't work much. That by itself is good but I also felt empty at times as I love my work. The apartment we stayed at didn't have a work zone. Solution: Rent office space or go outside to find work zones (coffee shop, library ?)
- Too short. Solution: Go for 60-90 days
Next destination Spain/Portugal and Hamburg.
I agree, 60 - 90 days is the right time for Berlin. We lived there for 2 months in a furnished apartment and it was the best 2 months of my life.
Berliners are so friendly, the public transport is the best I have seen in Europe, and everything is cheap. It also feels very safe, despite the graffiti everywhere and people with weird body piercings :)
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