8.19.2008

Double-edged

As I speak with other expatriates regarding housing, I realize how lucky Max and I are when it comes to our own experience here in Germany. In truth, I probably haven’t gushed enough about my landlord and his wonderful house, now my home, along the Weinstrasse or Wine street.

Let me put it to you this way: Up until this point and without a doubt, my single, most favorite aspect about life in Germany is Tom-- known to some as “the landlord”, but known to Max and me simply as “friend.”

I met Tom at the end of my house-hunting trip to Germany last October. My company-sponsored guide knew of him and had an inking we would click. Max could not be with me in the search for a new home because he was being sworn in as a U.S. citizen, so I ended up viewing the property and meeting with our potential landlord all by my lonesome.

It turned out to be a meeting that will go down in the Mandy history books. My guide had been correct in her assumption. Tom and I did click. In a purely platonic, landlord-tenant way, we experienced love at first sight.

It’s been nothing but a honeymoon ever since. Tom and his girlfriend, Bridget, have become our closest companions in Germany. We go out as friends, have met each other’s families, and are even planning an overseas trip together to New York. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how different our German experience would have been without Tom. He has introduced us to the best local hangouts as well as a number of fellow townspeople, and helped us develop a solid social circle of friends.

But at the same time, he is my landlord. And his home--a thoroughly modern, completely redone, 1000-year old dwelling and 7-year community renovation project that was barely lived in--is now my responsibility. I am its caretaker. And the burden of it all is sometimes overwhelming.

With its stainless-steel kitchen island and staircase, lustrous, white Italian marble flooring, I feel as though I live in a glass house. And while I can prevent major stones from being cast at it, I can’t stop my dog’s paws from causing tiny scratches on the floors or my guests from occasionally placing porcelain dishes directly on the stainless steel countertops.

I am an imperfect resident of this near-perfect dwelling, and I am having a hard time distinguishing between acceptable wear-and-tear and catastrophe. And every time I find a new, albeit minor, imperfection of unknown origin, I can’t help but have a coronary. Because at the end of this expat experiment, I have to formally hand the house back over to my friend and landlord. And I just want to make sure our honeymoon isn’t over once this happens.

Business is business, and pleasure is pleasure. But what happens when the two mix? Anyone got examples that don’t end in disaster?

8 comments:

kenju said...

No, I don't, and it's a puzzle. Perhaps you care careful enough that he won't notice a few of the dog's scratches. But maybe you should ask him what he considers acceptable wear and tear.

I'm sure he'd consider you a dear for worrying about it/

Global Librarian said...

Don't know how it works in Germany, but in Switzerland everyone has apartment insurance. Any problems will be fixed using this insurance after you move out.

Which is why I didn't completely freak out when my husband dropped a heavy, crystal picture frame on the floor. Not only shattering the frame, but also putting a rather large ding in the all-wood, parquet floor.

A couple of pieces of wood will definitely need to be replaced! But our insurance will take care of it.

Business in business. And any business person knows things can and do happen. Money fixes anything that might be considered beyond normal wear and tear.

Jill said...

Your house sounds so darn nice... I'm wallowing in my jealousy of it right now... You should see my floors, the walls in my kitchen, dare I say... the bathrooms.

American in Norway said...

We have two homes which we rent out here in Norway. We always expect some wear. I am fine, as long as I feel like our renters respect our property. I doubt you are going to have any problems. : ) It sounds fabulous!

running42k said...

Wear and tear that you describe sounds like just normal life.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I don't have any examples but I will tell you that a house just insn't a home unless it's lived in - and by lived in I mean normal everyday bumps and bruises that create charachter and history. Enjoy your house as well as the freindship and try not to worry so much about the day you have to hand over the keys...

Anonymous said...

Tom knew you had a dog, which is part of why you chose the place. He has to expect some of that -- it's the risk he runs for taking a dog (and why some others won't). But I agree with the above, if it's too much, money will fix it and the friendship will last!

meno said...

If he's an experienced landlord, he will expect this sort of thing.

I am agog at having counters that you can't place dishes upon.