Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Emigrant's Dilemma, Chapter 3: Running the Numbers

Yesterday, my Yahoo horoscope said it was a good day to face a task you didn't want to do, because it would prove easier than you thought. That was enough of a goad for me to sit down and start putting together a budget for this move. I divided it into three categories: Berlin, Trip, and Montpellier. The first is for expenses I'll incur here, the second for the forthcoming Berlin-Fes-Montpellier trip, and the third for money I'm going to have to have once I get there.

Weirdly enough, the figure I came up with is very, very encouraging. I don't have all the money yet, but I'm working on that. And it's a worst-case figure, in any event: I spent an hour the other day paging through websites dedicated to renting, very much like the one I used to find this place, and discovered that even if I have to use a real-estate agent, which, given everything, I may not have to, my total move-in would be around €2100. That's rent, security, "charges," and agent fee. I'm going to have to not only raise this by June 16, when I start looking, but I'm going to have to figure out a way to get it after I hit town. I do not want to go running around the Fes Medina with a couple thousand euros in my pocket.

Another encouraging thing was running into someone whose friends had just moved from Berlin to Brittany, and who remembered how much the moving van cost. It was far less than I'd thought: around €1500. But that brings up a question I haven't figured out yet: how much the last day costs.

Let's say I get the movers in, they empty the apartment, and now what I want is to be at the new place when they get there. How on earth am I going to do this? It's at least a 14-hour drive, and I don't want to do it alone. In fact, I can't do it alone: if I rent a car, the drop-off fee would be equivalent to actually buying one! Plus, of course, when I did drive, I took two days. That's too long a haul for me.

So what are my options? Can I ask the movers to hold off a day? Flying is prohibitively expensive, but taking the train isn't: I can start in Berlin at 8:32 and get in at 9:48 in the evening, but where do I go? To a hotel overnight? The apartment will be utterly empty, as only a European apartment, devoid of lights and everything else, can be. But I'm equally sure the movers won't move me in at ten at night.

This is where I'm stuck. As soon as I can calculate costs for the last day -- and for the movers more accurately, since I haven't actually called any yet -- I can come up with a solid figure.

I guess I should also start looking for a Nachmieter, someone to move in here, but I don't want to do that until I secure the next place, although interested parties should get in touch. With any luck, by the third week of June, this should all be worked out.

Then comes the next stage. Scary. But I think I'm up to it.


Sean said...

You could find cheap movers via, which I did when moving from Duesseldorf to Berlin, and yes they did move me in at 10 at night.

But buyer beware: They were totally incompetent, damaged some of my stuff, and had to make a second trip (which thank God they didn't try to charge me extra for) because they showed up unprepared to move heavy things and with too small a truck.

Anonymous said...

hmmm..that's a mixed recommendation at best. anyway ed - since i know how much you have been looking forward to this move - i am getting excited for you as well!

Anonymous said...

Any decent moving company will have storage facilities that can be used as a buffer. There's absolutely no reason why the stuff has to be driven to its new location right after the pickup.

Olaf said...

Ed, forgive me for asking if you already answered this 10,000 times, but why Montpelier? France, I understand, if for nothing more than the food, although I can't imagine the music scene is as broad as Berlin's. But is Montpelier a secret as yet undiscovered by those-yearning-to-become expatriates? Is it actually possible to stay ahead of the moneyed hordes and find a comfy compound there?

Ed Ward said...

I bookmarked that auction site, but yeah, that's not a great recommendation. Having been burglarized by the movers when I moved here from Texas, I'm very wary of moving companies as it is.

Olivier, I think you're right there. So much to check on.

And Olaf, to be honest, I hardly participate at all in the Berlin music scene at this point. I've totally lost the thread of what's new, and, more tellingly, don't much care. I like Montpellier because it's centrally located for transportation (major east-west rail hub, terminus of north-south line), it's sunny and warm like Texas, has a big student population and a high-tech sector, and I can read and write the language better than I can here. And, of course, the food and what people's attitude towards it tells you about their attitude towards life: compare and contrast Berlin on that!

Anonymous said...

OK but why Montpellier rather than, say, its great rival Toulouse?

Olaf said...

Ach! Forgive my misspelling of Montpellier. Apologies.

Yes, sadly, Berlin chow is not why I travel there, and yet I keep hoping that it can't resist influences from the east and west forever.

Oh wait, I forgot--these people are Prussians at heart. Never mind.

Paulos said...


flying down to Montpellier isn't all that expensive with the low cost airlines. Ryanair go to Montpellier from Frankfurt once a day; you can find flights for about 30€ to 60€ + the cost of getting to Frankfurt