We’ve now been here for two months or so, and we’re both sure the move – however gruelling it could get at times – has been one of the best ideas we’ve ever come up with. The weather in general is fabulous, and it will only get more fantastic during the winter; life is slow and cheap; we have already met quite a few great people; and we already have many plans in the works (after we complete the most crucial tasks of renovating the flat and building a music studio, that is).
Downsides? Houseflies, an occasional cockroach and – contrary to our expectations – mosquito. We blame the latter on the damn water reservoirs nearby, but the situation will be under control once we take the time to install netting in all the strategic spots. Not that it’s much of an issue as it is, really – in comparison with the exsanguination experts of Izola, Slovenia, the local mosquitoes are, quite surprisingly, of the NON-tiger variety; rarely encountered; and not nearly as bloodthirsty or abundant, especially not during daytime. Cockroaches, on the other hand, can be absolutely repulsive, and I’d like to see how happy all the loudmouth vegans – I’m not talking about dietary choices here, but rather about people who can’t shut up about their veganism and about them and only them being life-preserving and enlightened, unlike all us evil non-vegans – would be about sharing their beds with one of these:
Unfortunately you can’t tell from the photo, but this plump specimen measured around 6 or 7 centimetres. But what’s a wee little cockroach or three in comparison to a Berlin winter…
The flat renovations are taking a while, mostly because we’re doing almost everything ourselves; and now that we have completed the most urgent tasks (renovating and furnishing the bedroom, bathroom, and especially kitchen, which was a massive pain in the behind due to all the odd-angle corners involved), we are no longer in an extreme hurry to get it all done. Of course, some things also tend to progress relatively slowly due to the infamous Canarian time warp, as well as because it’s simply impossible to get everything in one place – which is why we have, among other things, also become experts in locating this valve or that screw in a variety of local hardware stores. Thus one is often forced to become an angry shopper for entire days at a time instead of pretending to be a plumber/electrician/painter/builder/carpenter/whatever. But it’s all good – after a bit of hard work (and some annoying shopping), the results are all the sweeter: every little thing we accomplish around the flat is ours to enjoy, not some landlord’s. (And I’ve also managed to lose quite a bit of weight, to boot – but worry not, I have quite a few kilos to spare.)
Another issue has also been turning out well. Namely, when we saw the apartment building for the first time, we noticed that the planned car garages in the basement were unfinished and abandoned (and would definitely remain that way due to the access ramp that’s even hard to navigate on foot, let alone in (or on) a vehicle of any kind – don’t ask what they had been thinking, I don’t believe anyone knows, really). Thus the basement, accessible from the back of the apartment building, is currently empty, horrendously filthy, and in total disarray. However, we immediately saw what must have been (fortunately for us) a massive turn-off for any potential buyers before us as a potential chance to “appropriate” a part of the abandoned underground and turn it into a music studio. It turns out we were right, because most of the residents cannot wait, in fact, for someone to clean up the mess beneath the building and close it off in order to keep out the naughty kids who occasionally use the deserted “dungeons” as a nice “reverby” place where they can set off firecrackers (and get up to who knows what sorts of mischief). By now we have “attained” several allies in the building, including the guy who’s actually in charge of it as a sort of caretaker, so after he speaks to La presidenta, we should be able to start cleaning the place and building several rooms for everyone involved to use. If everything turns out the way we’re hoping, I’ll soon be able to get up in the morning and meander down to the studio in my underwear. After braving the eternal darkness, rain, and bitter winds of Berlin for half an hour every time I wanted to get something “musical” done for the last five years, that’ll be a massive improvement.
Speaking of music… Fortunately, everything we’d had shipped arrived here about three weeks later, and it was all undamaged, which was a massive relief:
Needless to say, I was extremely happy with the movers and can only recommend them to anyone facing similar logistical quandaries involving the transportation of sensitive equipment from Germany to the Canaries (the company is at http://www.en.mobiltrans.com/).
As for the rest of the bureaucracy… First of all, the matter of the real estate agent claiming we had somehow miraculously succeeded in short-changing the bank. Nocturnal Attorney reviewed the documents related to the purchase of the flat and told us the following: “Sure, give the real estate agency another 3000 euros – if you’re totally nuts. Just don’t speak to them anymore, and if they contact you, refer them to me. But make sure to claim all the documents as soon as you can.” Instead of charging us for the advice, he told us to buy him a beer when we get the chance.
Getting our paws on the final documents took a while, but not due to any menace on the part of the agent we had hired to get everything in order. The delay was apparently mostly caused by heat and the persistent local distortion in the space-time continuum: in the end it took the agent in question several weeks to produce the papers. But finally she did produce them – after shrugging off any complications that the real estate agent had been hinting at, as the real estate agency could no longer lodge any complaints. After all, the real estate agent had stated the “accidentally reduced” price on all the relevant documents, which we had then verified with Nocturnal Attorney; all the paperwork had gone through at the notary’s months earlier; and a month or two earlier the agent in charge of the documentation had already paid all the taxes and fees in our name. As we had already expected, it turned out that the real estate agent had made a mistake herself on the very first document she produced, after which everyone involved kept replicating the error – until it had already been far too late. Apparently – as she never called again – the real estate agent must have eventually realised that there was nothing to be done, not even if we all wanted to: it was now impossible to cancel the contract, as the whole process had been completed long before somebody finally spotted the problem. We did feel bad for the real estate agent, who probably lost her commission in case of this sale; but, truth be told, it had been nobody’s mistake apart from her own. Besides, as I may have already mentioned, I certainly don’t harbour much sympathy for real estate agencies, let alone banks: they have all been involved in skewering people and screwing them out of their life savings for ages, especially during the last “financial crisis”, and I really doubt they’ll lose any sleep over some petty change they might have misplaced along the way. Hell, it’s incredibly fortunate for us that they happened to come up with a special unintended discount in our case – not only because our budget was so limited, but also because judging from the stories we’ve heard around here it’s usually the other way around.
Anyway, in the end we bought our apartment for EUR 45,000 plus 3,000 in taxes and about a thousand in other related fees. The monthly instalment for our loan is significantly lower than our rent in Berlin had been. Needless to say, the price was far lower than it would have been for any comparable flat in Slovenia, let alone Berlin (not to mention that its location is slightly more favourable). Furthermore, as we had expected, the local real estate prices are still climbing rapidly, and a few weeks ago we noticed that a bank is now selling another flat in the ground floor of our apartment block. It’s the same size as ours, but without the two terraces, obviously; completely empty and in dire need of renovations as well; and they want around EUR 76,000 for it. I don’t know if they’ll actually sell it for this kind of money or not, but I suppose we’ve even managed to pull off a nice investment, especially if we ever decide to sell what will by that time be a completely renovated flat – simply due to quite a bit of luck and some common-sense prudence, I suppose.
AH – and, last but not least – we’re getting fibre optics in a few weeks. Supposedly it’ll be a radical 300Mb/s symmetrical connection, which is simply insane and should definitely prevent me from ever bitching about the lousy local internet connections ever again.
This brings my longwinded intercontinental relocation tirade to its end. I know it’s a “tl;dr” wall of text that not many people will ever bother to read, but my main intention was to jot down these things mostly for myself, before I end up forgetting everything… And if some of the yammering somehow in any way helps anyone who might be thinking of doing something similar, all the better. I will probably keep posting occasional “updates” from the Canaries, but I’ll come up with another series of blog posts: the “Grumblin’ Ole Geezer’s Volcano Lair” series is hereby concluded.
Oh, before I forget: here are some photos…