Americans often experience culture shock when witnessing what’s considered normal in other countries, from built-in silverware compartments and reserved pregnancy seating in Korea to women-only parking spots in Germany.
Now, a Reddit thread about what surprises Americans about living in Europe provided yet another shock about life for apartment hunters in Germany.
“In Germany, apartments don’t normally come with a kitchen. It’s purchased/installed by the Tennant. Sometimes you luck out but not usually,” a Reddit user wrote in a comment that received thousands of its own comments and replies.
“Excuse me WHAT,” asked Redditor @twnsqr61.
“Meanwhile here in the US, my roommates and I were shocked and appalled that our place didn’t have a microwave when we moved in…” commented @soulanine.
Why don’t German apartments have kitchens?
The reason why German apartments don’t have kitchens boils down to two things: strict tenant rights laws and the overall high number of renters compared to homeowners in the country.
Live in Germany explains that more people rent in Germany over owning a home. In fact, the site notes that as of 2022, Germany had “the lowest percentage of private property owners by far within the EU.” Over the last 30 years, 57% of German households were rented, and only 43% of households owned their own homes.
According to 2017 data from the Institute for Public Policy Research, the average German tenancy is 11 years, so renters also stay put for longer periods of time in their apartments.
Because of the preference for renting, Germany also has strict tenant rights. Many Germans end up renting for long periods of their lives and view the contents of their apartment — kitchens included — as investments that they have made and should own.
The tenant laws allow Germans to own specific contents of their apartments, right down to the cabinets and sink, even when they are no longer renting the space the kitchen was in. So, when a renter leaves, it’s within their rights to take everything that they own — right down to the kitchen sink.
Alise Jordan, an American who moved to Frankfurt, Germany, explained on her blog that German landlords are “not obliged” to include kitchens in apartments they rent out. Jordan noted that the German custom means that renters can bring their own kitchens upon moving in, lowering overall rental costs and allowing tenants to design a custom kitchen that meets their own needs and budget.
Jordan also explained on her blog that it is possible for renters to lease an apartment — usually referred to as a “flat” — with a kitchen, but it will cost more. German apartments that do include a kitchen have their own name, Einbauküche (EBK).
Americans react to German apartments
TikTok is full of people shocked over how German apartments don’t include kitchens. TikTok user Jenny (@b3llatora), who identifies as a German immigrant, also explained that the German tradition of taking everything with you when you leave a rental can include everything — right down to electrical lights and fixtures.
“This is F***** WILD to me,” laughed @marylouwhoo83 in the comment section. “I would lose my mind with wires just….hanging out.”
The Reddit thread was full of varied reactions about the German custom.
“This finally makes sense to me. When I moved into an apartment in San Francisco, the previous tenant was German and he kept trying to sell me his light bulbs and other things. And I’m like, they’re not yours and you don’t get to take them when you leave, so why the fuck would I pay you for them? It was so surreal but now it makes sense. Apologies, Detlef, but I didn’t understand your frame of reference,” added Corvallismoss in the thread.
The Reddit thread even inspired some people to realize that the German tradition of taking the kitchen with them could be what inspired the saying, “Take everything but the kitchen sink,” because Germans can, quite literally, take everything they want when they move out of a rental.
As some commented, the design of German kitchens versus typical American kitchens may explain why German kitchens are often more modular and streamlined. That’s because of how often they need to be moved.
“IKEA kitchens are your best friend renting in Germany! If you move, you just buy one maybe two new cupboards and your kitchen fits into the new flat!” commented @appleuser972847938 on Jenny’s TikTok video.
But according to Reddit, from an American perspective, the German tradition just doesn’t seem ideal — especially if you have to move a lot.
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The post Americans on Reddit just learned a ‘bonkers’ fact about apartments in Germany appeared first on In The Know.
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