When we live in a different country, we tend to still do things the way we’re used to. It is only by trial and error that we know if we’re doing something right or wrong. This is not to say that what we’re accustomed to is incorrect, but it merely means that others might have a different way of dealing with things and we probably should be more flexible.
For me, building great relationships is very important. This is one of the reasons why I loved my job at Mitsui because there was so much emphasis on networking, working in harmony and building relationships with colleagues (in Singapore and overseas). It is the sort of value which I strongly believe in and try to adhere to. I don’t only apply this value in the work environment. I pretty much do the same even for apartment hunting.
Earlier this week I thought we were going to get the apartment I blogged about here. But if you’ve been following me, you probably know that it fell through (more about it here). Of course we were disappointed and got stressed out as the contract for our current tenancy will be running out soon.
A couple of days after our application was rejected, we were contacted by Topp Immobilien. Mr Topp was professional, patient, understanding and most importantly, I liked the way he conducted business. He organised a meeting so that we could meet the landlady in person. Contracts set aside, and in his words ‘look each other in the eye’. And I promise you we all stopped what we were doing and looked each other straight in the eye. He emphasised a lot about having a good landlord-tenant relationship and that both parties need to have a common understanding before signing the contract. The meeting gave the landlady an opportunity to learn more about us and I thought it was fabulous as we also got to know her better.
We talked about things we can and cannot do to the apartment (eg. can’t drill the titles – duhzzz!) and if there were any ‘rules’ or ‘German customs’ which we should be made aware of etc. As foreigners living in Germany, I think it is only polite to show interest in German culture and learn their ways of doing things. You don’t have to like it but at least put in an effort to not offend others. It’s pretty much the same as being aware that when you’re in Japan you should NEVER (multiple by a million times) stick your chopsticks straight into your rice bowl!
I think the Germans (the agent and the landlady) really liked the fact that we showed some common sense and were trying to learn to fit into their community. We liked the fact that the relationship between us and the agent/landlady isn’t based entirely on what’s written in black and white. There is a common understanding that we want to make the apartment our home (decorate and help maintain it) and that they will be as supportive as they can during our stay there.
Finally, we’ve got our permanent place sorted! Phew… that’s one thing sorted. Here’s a preview of what the place looks like BEFORE we move in (and I swear that this is DEFINITELY OURS for sure!).
We’re really excited to get bits and pieces for the place this weekend (hopefully!). Bring it on 15.06.2012!