Hunting for apartments in Berlin last year was bad, I thought.
A few weeks more than exactly a year later…
Now it’s just absurd.
At first I was annoyed…now I just laugh.
“Don’t push and shove, people. You can calmly wait until the others are finished looking and come back out…there isn’t much to see anyway!” the agent today said, shouting to the line of us waiting down two flights of stairs.
And he was right…the place was a tiny, ugly hole.
But I appreciated his honesty. Rare in a real-estate agent.
Last year when we looked we found the prices had risen sharply since we’d left 5 years before, and the supply of apartments had dried up. We found the ‘cool’ neighborhoods nearly impossible, we found many places requiring ‘provision’ (a bribe to a real-estate agent), we found lines of 10 to 20 people at each apartment viewing, we found the mood of everyone involved to be annoyed and hectic, and we struggled to find a place.
But then, we were looking for a three-room flat…everyone wanted a three room flat. Finally though after about 3 weeks of looking we found a decent place, finally found an owner that rented the flat personally and didn’t ask for a bribe, and it was not too far away from where we wanted–at least at the edge of a livable area.
This was a far cry from 2002, when it took us six days to find a place. Then we were the only ones looking at the apartment, the only one interested (there were three empty flats in the building), and we talked with the owner herself, signed the lease at her home and everything was happy and dandy.
The city then was actually tearing down unowned empty buildings, blowing up numbers of perfectly good apartment blocks, the old communist ‘plattbau’–housing prices otherwise would have had to fall, according to supply and demand.
God forbid, housing prices ever fall.
What would the landlords do?
No…this year is different. Now only landlords tear down their buildings.
Now there are still empty flats…but squatting is no longer tolerated whatsoever.
The police toss squatters out.
And the landlords either renovate, or they just leave the place empty to good old-fashioned speculate, a la 19th Century.
What has changed?
Well…apparently every stupid hipster douchbag in the known world has found Berlin on the map and decided to flood into this city, and obviously they have money to just waist, money to burn.
And then there’s the IT workers, the German government workers and now even all the German spies just moved here.
Germany being the only economy still half working in the European Union and Berlin being the only tolerable city in Germany (for anyone with any taste)…it seems every Spaniard, Brit, Greek, Nord and Italian is buying their ticket to come here.
Not to mention the Japanese, the Russians and even a few Americans.
Not to mention all the Germans from every other state in Germany.
and their ham…
and their chocolate cake.
And no…I am not included in that.
I don’t have money to burn, first of all, and second of all: I fucking studied German (GERMAN, not grafic design!), I speak the language as fluently as any foreigner ever will (or even, much more fluently than Schwabians, to be sure) and I even Berlinere a bit on my best days, and I moved here not because it is hip, not so I could be a cool groupie, not because I got a big job (god no)…I moved here orininally almost ten years ago, because it was full of hard history, restless ghosts and it was ugly and fucked up.
All these new fuckers are just moving here like they would buy a new pair of shoes. And they want the town cleaned up, full of bars and clubs, and then they settle down and have kids and want the bars and clubs shut down so they can have quiet (just ask Mitte).
They are pushing out the real Berliners, the punks, the old folks, the immigrants, the real artists and real freaks, and even the junkies (Bowie and Reed wouldn’t have move here today that’s for damn sure.)
No, now…because of all these greedy wannabe artsy fake fuckers, if you want a place…and this is anywhere within the city, not just the ‘cool’ neighborhoods.
(adult warning–the following is a touch gross)
First, you have to strip down butt naked in front of the agent…
…bending over to show them all your tatoos and let them sniff your ass (called a Schufa, basically a credit check)…
…then you kneel…
….and begin with a bit of rimming while similtaniously giving a reach-around…
…and then if you’re lucky, if they like what they see…
…you get to suck or lick the unwashed genitals of the mangy SOB agent…
(being sure to swallow anything that comes out)
…while they spank you, insult you, laugh at you, and twist your nipples till they bleed…
….after splashing whatever they have left on your face…
…they plop a turd right in your mouth (Three months deposit)…
….and this, all the while the dozens of other prospective renters watch on, gang-fucking each other and jostling to be the next in line for the honor to be humiliated.
It’s kind of fun.
If you’re into that kind of thing.