Renting Apartment with Anmeldung, a Real Moon Shot

To say my Berlin love affair has been tumultuous is an understatement. It’s taken three years and counting to finally get to a point where I can register. All I want to be is a TV tax paying a member of German society. But in some ways finding an apartment with Anmeldung or a job, is like asking which comes first: the chicken or the egg?

This wild goose chase started back in 2015, I was young, dumb and poor, so what does a young person do in this situation? Move to Berlin of course. Why not? Berlin is basically Peter Pan land for all the lost souls in the EU. I am a dual citizen of Ireland and the US, so being 22 and idealistic enough to run away to a new country, Berlin sounded perfect. Perfect it was not, and about four months later I had no money, one of my best friends was sexually assaulted, and my mother was just diagnosed with cancer. So it was goodbye to Berlin and any hope for coming back.

I spent the next two years in Queens, New York helping my family. I worked at a high fashion clothing store where I was underpaid, overworked and eventually moved on to a little corner bookstore in Greenwich Village. For the most part, I was keeping busy and trying to help my family as much as possible. But a year into everything I started getting little flashbacks from the summer of hell in Berlin: and maybe it was a case of Stockholm syndrome, but I kinda missed the ‘wet blanket’ city of Germany.

Berlin is a no man's land, where I felt I could do everything, yet always limited because of my poor German. So eight months ago, I decided why not try it all over again? I’m about due for another breakdown, so at least it will be in an interesting city. I saved my year's tax return and after the 2017 election in the US, I found myself exclusively participating in demonstrations and protests in my free time.

The political climate in the US actually helped me save money and my dream became a reality, I moved to Berlin in September. I saved enough that I could go to language school for at least 6 months and pay just about enough rent. Of course, there were many obstacles along the way, like getting locked out of an Airbnb apartment while the host was in Malta, which left me staying on a couch at a friend in Pankow and walking through half of Berlin in Chinese slippers to the closest locksmith (this happened).

It’s been the opposite of easy, but living in Berlin gives me some kind of hope. I’m currently in a mad job search, but I am positive and I’m happy I decided to give it another try. The Anmeldung is not just a regular part of Berlin to me, it is a step in the direction of finally being legitimate enough to live in this city. Although I will admit it’s been fun telling people I haven’t registered although I’ve been living here for five months now, it gives an air of rebellion that isn’t intentional but I pretend it is.

The first time I left Berlin, I felt a huge weight of relief off my shoulders, but this weird city grew on me and now I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. In a couple of weeks, I will be finally registering to be a resident, and I cannot wait to be seen as a legal resident of Berlin, it’s taken me so long to do this and I can happily say now, that I want to live and work here. Let’s face it, I don’t think any other city would have me at this stage.

By Siobhan Pryce

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