The title of this post may be a bit misleading. Actually it is my income that does not count.
The German and I would like to build a house. We are getting tired of paying rent. We are also thinking that if we ever decide to have kids that making the child sleep in mommy's office with all of her books might be considered child abuse.
My in-laws (and a lot of other people) think that we should buy a house. However, I would like to "Americanize" my house. That is, I hate wall paper and want flat, smooth, painted walls. And I want closets. German houses do not have closets. Everyone puts up these huge wardrobes in their bedrooms. Nope. Don't like it. Want a closet. I figure that buying a house and renovating it a la Claire would be just as expensive as buying a house.
We sent several building companies requests for information. We have looked at a lot of interesting plans and seen some pretty cool houses. This is my favorite (it is the musterhaus, OK 185). It has a walk-in closet in the master bedroom and enough space for kids and all of our books! Unfortunately, the house costs about 150,000 Euro.
We have also picked a town that we would like to move to: Wildeshausen. It is a very cute town and it has all the things we are looking for. Schools for kids. Check. Near the highway. Check. Doesn't smell like manure. CHECK!
I am quickly learning that building a house in Germany is a lot different than in the States. First, we have to go to the city and find out if there any lots available. In Wildeshausen there is not much left. Most of the lots are going for about 50,000 Euro. Unfortunately, because we are dragging are feet, it looks like they may put us on a wait list for a lot. Great. Once you get a lot, you find a contractor and architect to build your house. Many Germans do as much as they can. I more of the "please just get it done in 6 months and let me know when you are finished" type.
Once we realized that a house was going to be about 200,000 Euro, we decided to go to the bank to see if we can get some money. Well, the German can get money . . . but I cannot. It seems that because I am a free-lance teacher and a small business owner, my income does not count because it is not stable. Let's review my working situation:
I teach one class a semester at University.
I currently have a contract to edit and revise a book in English for one of my professors.
I teach about 15 hours of English per week for a language school.
I teach about 10 hours of private English lessons, and am trying to build my own business.
Hmm. So I will not tell you the exact figure that I make a month, but let's just say that it is far less than I thought it would be given that I am 28, have about 5 years of work experience and a PhD. However, the figure is not miniscule and adds a comfort zone to our household budget.
The woman at the bank said that it does not matter. They can only give us a loan based on what the German makes. Because we already have two loans (one for a car and one for my student loans), we can only get a loan for about 75,000 Euro. The woman at the bank said that they would only consider giving us more if my in-laws would put their house up for collateral.
Then to add insult to injury, she looked at us (more me than the German) and asked, "Well, do you plan on having children soon?" I starred at her.
"You just told me that I cannot afford a house. I certainly don't feel like I can afford children."
"Well, I only ask because during your maternity leave you may face a more difficult monthly budget."
"What does it matter?? You said that my income does not count anyway!"
"I did not mean it that way. I just want you to be aware of the situation."
Yeah, lady, I am very aware. I am so aware that it keeps me up at night wondering what the hell I am doing wrong in my life. As you can tell, the entire discussion was discouraging. I think I am going to be stuck in this apartment next to the cow field for ever.
Anyway, I have to go back to work now. I have lesson plans to finish. I also have several meetings and exams to give at University and I have to turn in my syllabus on Tuesday . . . It is sad to think that all of this does not count.