American Expat in Germany Moves to the Suburbs and Promptly Drinks the Kool-Aid

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“German boxes on the hillside, German boxes made of ticky tacky…” — Photo Credit: futureatlas.com — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/

I’ve done a lot of complaining about the horrible neighbors in our apartment building here in Hannover, Germany, but not anymore! My German wife found us a sweet house to rent, located in the suburbs outside the city. Have you ever seen The Stepford Wives? What about The ‘Burbs or Poltergeist? Our new neighborhood is exactly like that; so perfect — so pretty, quiet and squeaky clean — something is clearly amiss.

I went jogging the other day and saw a police officer casually directing traffic (exactly 2 cars) to allow a line of children to pass safely on their bikes. He was even smiling and high-fiving the kids as they went by. He didn’t arrest a single one of them. Didn’t even ask for identification, and not a single sobriety test was performed. Amazing! Maybe I’m just a jaded American accustomed to the omnipresent threat of police intervention, but I just wasn’t buying it.

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“None of this is real…” — Photo Credit: Newtown grafitti — Subject to copyright — https://www.flickr.com/photos/newtown_grafitti/

On my way home, I saw two women chatting on the sidewalk, both of whom were pushing strollers with fresh babies inside. They actually waved to me and said hello. As I unlocked our front door, one of our next-door neighbors greeted me warmly as well. The man even smiled. Where’s the famous ‘cold shoulder‘ stereotype everyone likes to slap the Germans with? Where did all the pushy, impatient, off-putting sons of bitches go? Oh, that’s right; they’re in the city.

I guess I just didn’t realize I was a suburbanite at heart. After leaving the city, I can already feel my testosterone levels dropping. My testicles are shriveling up like salty raisins. My gut is growing and my soft white man-tits can finally fill a B cup. This is it — the real deal; I’m growing up. The next obvious step is to get a dog, name him after a famous composer with a contrived twist, like Fetchtwig van Barksoften or Wolf-fang Pottychaos Notsmart, and get used to the sensation of picking up his shit at the park. After that comes the requisite baby, minivan and total frontal lobotomy. “Take both lobes, Doc — I don’t want a single one of my former aspirations to wake me from my slumber.”

I’m just kidding. There’s nothing wrong with suburban life or having kids. Hell, if my German wife ever decides she wants to make little half-breed Teutons, I’ll be singing a very different tune. But until then? You’ll find us at the beer garden, because the hedonistic gods ruling our zero-responsibility lifestyle demand a pilsner sacrifice.

Beer on the Maschsee

Hey, if you’ve got a sec, you can read more about my expat adventures in Germany here. Thank you for stopping by and have an awesome summer!


 

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22 thoughts

  1. In Hamburg, I rented in Harvestehude/Eppendorfer Baum area for 7 months. Have a friend who lives in Poppensubuttel. Not very (~10km) far but man…night and day difference in how people interact. Same thing, Mom’s with kids in strollers smiling, people waving. I sorely regret not getting an apartment in that part of town while I lived there. THAT is the Germany I wanted to experience, not the “other”. :( Good on ya that you’ve gotten there :) All the best! Looking forward to Husum from 4Oct to 15 Dec… NOT.

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  2. Hmmm…I think it is apartment to house scenario. Sounds like life is good :). You have reinforced the idea that we need to keep the little house (in the city) even though we are shriveling up in our old age (kidding, sort of…)

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  3. Oh, dear. Now I’m marginally frightened to look at places when I try for German grad schools programs. Because the suburbs scare the ever-loving pee outta me. (Note, I live in the sprawling American suburbs now and I want to drag my half-dead carcass to the big city for a permanent stay. It’s like a slow Kryptonite death.)

    I also gasp in (fake) pain at the prices of apartments the size of shoeboxs anyway. It’s not the size, it’s the weird quirks. Like a 10 m2 apartment where the shower’s not actually big enough to try and turn in. A crevice is not a shower, for pity’s sake.

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  4. Germans smiling? Move out of there as fast as possible – it is probably an outlet from a german form of Bedlam! Germans do not smile. It is not in our genetic code! A friendly german means one of two things: He wants something from you. Or he has done something really horrible – and is now very pleased you don’t know …

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  5. I believe you are expected to keep your front garden extremely tidy at all times. I have seen German home-owners outside in the pouring rain, mowing the grass, weeding and trimming their hedges. Ordnung muß sein.

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  6. Wicked! It is so inhumanely difficult to find affordable housing in Hannover! One could think it’s the coolest city in Germany… Glad you are adjusting to the suburbs by cranking up the crankiness! Love the dogs’ names but you will now have to come up with a German version. Can’t wait!

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  7. Just wanted to tell you how awesome your blog is. I can imagine how much work it is to put together…It’s much appreciated! Look forward to your next post, as always!

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  8. Congratulations on your new move. Welcome to the German suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs of Manchester, and my family now live in the countryside of Cheshire. Lovely…..for a short while!
    In Berlin, I live in the compromise of both the city and the suburbs. I’m not exactly in the sticks and I’m not in the city either. The best of both worlds!

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    1. I’m thinking about moving to Berlin. I’ve never lived in a super-urban area but I do want to give city life a try. What you’re describing sounds really nice. Could you tell me what area that is please?

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  9. Germans are friendly indeed. I am going to visit Berlin next month. I read a lot of posts and my opinion is that there is no such thing as ‘cold shoulder‘ German. Thank you for sharing your article. Best regards!

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  10. I think it depends on where your suburb is. I lived in an old Dresden communist sky scraper (neighbors were awful), small apartment on the outskirts of Hamburg (neighbors were awesome), apartment in tiny town by the Baltic sea (neighbors equally split between super awful and super sweet) and now a big apartment in a suburb of Berlin (neighbors are mostly very nice but everyone else in Brandenburg is seriously awful). I’m definitely moving back to the Chi-town suburbs after this. People in the midwest are SO nice and no one tries to kill us with their cars back home.

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