Tuesday, November 15, 2011

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 6/ Communication)...

Will I be able to call you? Can you call me? Of course! It's not as hard as you may think to communicate across countries. Germany isn't on some other planet without definite signs of life or technology. We do have phones... we do have internet. It's just like it is in the US. Our internet connection is a little slow since we live in a very small village further away from everything, but we get great connection for the first 10 days of the month and I am always able to chat or send messages through the ever so faithful FACEBOOK!

Our cell phones however, were not transferable from the US to Germany. As long as both the soldiers name and spouses name are on your orders, AT&T will cancel your current plan without a fee (I'm not sure about other US plans... but I'm sure it should be the same). We had to purchase new ones here in Germany. But on base we have a small TKS phone office (T-mobile). First you may want to find out what service all of your friends and co-workers use. There is another service called Vodafone, but most of the people we speak to use T-mobile... so you get to talk for free (mobile to mobile). If you choose the wrong provider, you may end up having to pay to call some of your friends if they don't have the same one :( . We were able to set up our service the day after we arrived. John got a small plan for 29 euro that did not include much data. But for me, I need to check emails for my business so mine was around 59 euro. We got our phones with our plan for only 1 euro. And yes... they do offer IPHONES!!!! I wanted to use my iphone, but you have to find out how to unlock it and I just don't feel like finding out how to do that. I hear it's a pain in the butt.

For our home phone, we added an unlimited long distance option for only 5 euro! So I can call any of my friends and family back in the US and not have to worry about long distance charges. Sweet right? Easy Peasy! The only set back is the time difference, but once you figure out what works for everyone... you are good to go!!!!

Can my US friends and family call me? Not without a fee :(. BUT... a couple of my Germany friends have Vonage. From what I understand, they have it set up so they have a local US number. So their US friends and family can call them without the extra fees. I'm not exactly sure how it works, but it might be something to look into if you plan on receiving a lot of stateside calls. I am on FB alot checking for messages from clients and things... so if anything my people just ping me real quick and tell me to call them. It works for me :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 5/ Finding a House)...

I love this one :). I did tons of research before I got here looking for living arrangements. Quite honestly... none of that research needed to be done. People told me to hire a real estate agent, but there really wasn't a point (especially when there was an extra fee involved). I also searched far and wide on all the Classified websites. I found a few that were adorable, but you really can't KNOW until you get here.

Anyways... we had an incredible sponsor. Probably the best. I keep hearing bad reviews about sponsors, but Jason was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! He really prepared us and put us on the right track to what needed to get done. The day after we arrived here in Germany, he drove around with us looking at available houses. We were told to do a search on AHRN.com to see what our options were. We printed off several homes that met our requirements and we were off! There was one house that stood out to me on our drivebys. It was the one I had my heart set on. I hadn't even seen the inside yet... but it was PERFECT for our family. Just PERFECT! It was a little out of our price range, but we figured out that we could make it work with what we were alloted for OHA and our utility supplement. Seriously... the army pays you EXTRA for utilities in Germany???? How easy!!

On Monday morning I went to the housing office and they gave me the letter of exception to allow us to live off post. But they would only allow us to make appointments to view 2 homes. I immediately told them I wanted to see this ONE. And we were off again. We went to the second one first but it did not make me happy one bit. Next we landed at our cute little cottage... the one I had my heart set on. The landlord was friendly and even made an exception to their pet policy. We smiled every time we entered a new room. I felt at home. We had to have it. And we did. We signed for it 2 days later and it was ours.

I am still in love with it. We have a yard! A garden! A 2 car garage! And no backyard neighbors... just open fields. I keep begging them to let us stay here longer than 3 years... but we will see where life takes us when the time is right. Until then, I am happy in my little corner of the world :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PCS'ing to Germany (Part 3B/Pets)...

I got distracted and have not written in nearly 3 months! It has been a busy 3 months. Arriving in Germany, getting settled in our new home, setting up my business, and learning the lay of the land. I don't think it's possible to explain everything that has happened in those 3 months. We love our new house, we love Germany, and to top it off... Our doggies came home! All that fuss about getting them shipped over here and it was kind of easy! When we left, it was the middle of summer. Most of the airlines told us they were not allowed to ship pets at the moment because the temperatures were too high and it would be dangerous for the animals. So we left them with our parents. We are forever grateful to them for caring for our babies for 3 months. The paperwork was ridiculous. The shots were all updated, but they needed the forms to be signed in BLUE ink. What is the difference right?? Then they had to get a health certificate within 10 days... and have a raised stamp. Mom's vet didn't have a stamp so she had to drive 2 hours away to get that. Well guess what... all that leg work and the airport didn't even ask for the paperwork! I was a little surprised when I've heard customs horrer stories about dogs being shipped BACK to the states for not having some miniscule piece of information. Oh well... it is done... they are home, and I am enjoying a nice relaxing visit with my mom :).

If anyone ever runs into issues shipping pets... just know that it is cheaper to ship them ACCOMPANIED! Sending them unaccompanied was going to cost us over $3000! But with my mom, we just paid for her ticket (maybe $800 with taxes)... and then another $200 per crate when she arrived at the airport and checked the dogs in. Much cheaper, and if you get the ticket early enough... it will be even lower!

The point is.... My babies are home!