I wrote several weeks ago about the challenges of apartment hunting in Munich and introduced you to our small (very empty, very white) attic apartment. Since moving in at the end of September, we’ve been busy making our place into a (colorful) home. We were lucky to get several major pieces of furniture from family: our dining table, bed, desk, and a cabinet. Julius already had bookshelves, and I brought… basically nothing for the apartment. I came to Germany with three suitcases containing clothes, shoes, two framed pictures, several books, and a couple of small, packable keepsakes. We considered having some larger things shipped from the States, but in the end, decided it wasn’t worth the cost.
So, we still needed a lot of things to make the apartment functional and attractive and cozy! We had wonderful friends and family give us generous monetary gifts for our wedding, so we had a budget, and a long list of things to buy. I think every couple setting up house together for the first time and every family that moves overseas and leaves their possessions back home is probably overwhelmed, even intimidated by their list when they total up all that they need. Where do you begin? And how do you find affordable things?
A few items had to be purchased right away. Our place didn’t have a refrigerator, so we placed an order for one immediately. We also needed a washing machine. eBay.de was the place for these. Both were “buy it now” items (no anxious betting), and the refrigerator shipped as a new item, while the washing machine just had to be picked up in Munich.
Our first big shopping adventure was a trip to Ikea in Eching. We spent several hours on the web site ahead of time, making a list of things we wanted to see in person, and writing down the item numbers for things that we already knew we wanted. We ended up bringing home two shelves, a cabinet, a sofa, a chair… and a ton of little things (trash cans, kitchen items, etc.) Then we got to assemble it all! A second trip to Ikea a few weeks later was in order and we got dressers. They just have everything — even things you don’t know you need — and its all pretty affordable.
We’ve also found deals at our nearby Baumarkt (home improvement store). We got several lamps there on clearance. This is also a good place to buy brooms and mops and buckets and toilet paper holders. We also wanted to paint our kitchen cabinets and got all the necessary supplies and some much-needed advice there!
My favorite place to score deals on home items though is the Flohmarkt (flea market)! There are several in Munich. This month we went flea-marketing two weekends in a row at the Freimann Flohmarkt (open Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 6 AM) and the Olympiapark Flohmarkt (open Friday and Saturday at 7 AM). I’ve decided there’s almost nothing I like doing better on a Saturday morning than strolling through a flea market, hunting for treasure and haggling with the vendors. You do have to rummage through quite a bit of junk to get to the good stuff, especially at Freimann, but it’s worth it! The Olympiapark flea market is larger, it’s on concrete instead of gravel, and the stuff seems nicer (less trash). However, there are more furniture pieces and rugs at Freimann.
At the flea markets, we found curtains for both rooms, some art work, flower pots, a tea pot, a pillow case, and a big rug (30€). Here are some pictures of our finds, in context.
So… in short, I recommend the flea market experience! Get there early on a Saturday. It’s no fun in the rain. Bring cash.
Though it is still a work in progress (and it’s always good to have a little project), our apartment is really coming together. And despite the fact that I left a lot of my “treasures” behind in the US, the place really feels like ours.