I call it a “Germany” house rather than a “German” house because these quarters in no way resemble German houses. They are quite sterile and prison-like on the exterior but they are as homey as you want them to be on the inside.
We have found ourselves in the blessed situation once again to be assigned to a unit that has five bedrooms – more than we had in Texas! Several years ago the Army renovated a few 24-unit buildings and created 12 larger apartments in each building. This allows for big families to fit more comfortably in military housing.
This is exactly what we had in Wiesbaden. The floor plan in that house was super simple. Facing the house, on the left were the living room, kitchen, dining room, and office. Basically, a square with rooms in the four corners, very open. Starting midway through the building and going all the way to the right were the bedrooms, a bathroom, and laundry room.
The Stuttgart floor plan is slightly more elaborate. On the left are two bedrooms (Anna’s and one we’ll use it as an office), a bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen. The hallway, rather than being a long, straight bowling alley, turns halfway through, leading to the right half of the building which houses the rest of the bedrooms and the laundry room. I’m thinking I’ll like this floor plan more than the other, but I’m not 100% sure yet. Only time will tell.
NOTE: If you are a detail nut like I was about this floor-plan and the video on YouTube I link to, they numbered the rooms differently. I’ve labeled this to match the video.
I believe the square footage here is a little less than in Wiesbaden, but I’ll know more once we get the furniture in. I’m pretty sure the overall length of the unit is shorter by several feet.
The process of getting housing here in Stuttgart is incredibly vague. In a Facebook group designed for people who expect to move here, the number one question is “what can I expect regarding housing?” As badly as anyone wants to answer and to give the newbie hope, no one can. The answer is literally, “You’ll just have to wait and see once you get here.”
They have a rule in place that if they can provide you with a house within 60 days you are required to live on post. They need to keep their units occupied, which makes financial sense. However, the rigidity of the rule has caused some families to have to live on post who want off, and some to live off who want on. It seems to me that if the unit is filled, it should be up to the housing employees to make the decision but they are required to go by the letter of the law.
Here’s an example: because of our family size we are automatically granted a CNA: Certified Non-Availablity. This gives us the opportunity to completely skip the on-post list and start looking off. However, we want to be on post. I’d love to be able to hand that letter to another family who wants it. Say a family of four wants to be off post to experience the German culture more fully. If housing has a unit for them to move into within 60 days of arriving, that family must live in that apartment. I feel that the rule is just too strict.
That is getting into the weeds and won’t matter to the vast majority of people who read this, but there will be one or two people who appreciate the details. Possibly someone PCSing to Stuttgart who wants to know what the housing situation really is like. Or Kari. She really likes details.
And so the hotel is filled with people waiting to find out if there will be a unit available for their family. Some with fingers crossed that there will be, others with fingers crossed that there won’t be. And their wishes aren’t able to be considered by the housing employees.
Here are a few more details that are going to be a bit loose… Matt may need to reword some if for me. Before we got here we were instructed by our friend, Heidi, to make our hotel reservations ASAP. I believe I did so in July, and for 60 days (the longest they allow). We selected Panzer because it has the majority of in-processing, the Chapel with Matt’s office, the PX, the USO, and a small commissary. It was a no-brainer.
- We submitted a letter at in early fall to housing stating that we were going to be here 28 December
- Once we cleared Fort Hood we were put on some magical list.
- A month or so before we arrived we found out Matt would have to go to a housing briefing before he could ever go talk to anyone at housing. Fortunately, while we were still in Texas, he was able to sign up for the first briefing they held after our arrival.
- Matt began the in-processing briefings on 3 January. We were told that once he had done the housing briefing he request an appointment with the housing office. At 10:30 that morning he texted letting me know that he had gotten an appointment with housing for NOON! My heart started beating out of my chest! That was not at all what we expected! Deep breaths. I knew that our friends and family, and my parents’ entire church, have been praying that we’d get a house immediately, and I was hoping for such news, but I was mostly excited to KNOW something. I was unwilling to get my hopes up.
- At noon we arrived and signed in. We were immediately taken to our assigned housing coordinator and over the next thirty minutes found out that there were a few options. We really liked the sound of that!
- At this point I’m leaving the bulleted list because I’m transitioning from the normal experiences one would have to our own.
Before I continue on our experiences of the day, here are more details about the 5-Bedroom units on Kelley Barracks. B units are in the center sandwiched between the end units, A & C. They are slightly smaller than the end units, by approximately 5 feet in length. That is quite noticeable in a few of the rooms, so the coordinator wanted us to look at both kinds of units.
There are two “pros” of the C unit: obviously the extra five feet of space which made the living room, a bathroom, and what would have been Anna’s bedroom noticeably larger. The other pro is that it was on the bottom floor. Quite convenient!
The B unit has cons that are the inverse of C’s pros: it’s smaller and it’s on the third floor. Lots. Of. Stairs.
I spent months looking at and envisioning our stuff in the unit in the YouTube video
online. Thanks to the video and the floor plan housing emailed to me, I had virtually placed my furniture and selected which rooms would house everyone. I could walk through the house and see my home.
The video was of a B unit… C was in reverse and both Matt and I felt totally discombobulated in it. Because of that were leaning heavily toward the B unit in spite of the stairs and size difference. As we were leaving the B unit we were fortunate enough to meet our upstairs neighbor and two of her kids. It was a God-ordained encounter if ever their was one. That “chance” meeting sealed the deal. Not that the people in the other stairwell wouldn’t have been great, but there was something so friendly and genuine about our upstairs neighbor that there was no question. She gave me the scoop about the stairwell: “Everyone’s friendly but nobody’s nosy! No drama.”
SPEAKING MY LANGUAGE!
Matt and I took the tour of the two houses without the kids. Matt had more in-processing meetings to attend so he wasn’t able to go back out to the house later that afternoon to show it to the kids. They loved it and don’t even mind the stairs…. yet. In fact, for some reason Carson didn’t want to be on the bottom floor so we told him this may be the one special treat God had in mind for him.
The first thirty seconds of the video I took holding the phone vertically. I noticed and decided that, rather than let it go, I wanted to fix it. This is why there’s a break in the filming. Please disregard the craziness of the family going through the house. It was honestly the calmest first-walk-through we’ve ever had!
I plan to do another walk through with the phone at a later date, before our stuff comes, so maybe I’ll update this post with a better (shorter) version later.
Here are images of the walk through with drawings on them to help orientate you and captions above each when necessary. These are stills from the video so please forgive the blurry images and my comments with each are assuming you watched the video.
Below: This picture is from our balcony. I am including it because it gives you an idea of what the stairwells look like on the outside.
Below: I was standing almost exactly where Parker is when I videoed them coming in the front door. The door you see behind him leads to the balcony.
Almost the same picture as above but you can get a better idea of where the entrance hallway is and where the kitchen is. My back is to the hallway to the rest of the bedrooms.
In the above picture I was standing about where the top arrow is pointing to the hallway to the back bedrooms. Below, I’m standing in the middle of the living room with my back to the balcony doors. Bailey is about to walk into the kitchen.
Below: I’m standing in the kitchen, just barely. You can see the arrow to the balcony. From here you can see the little hallway that has the front entrance, the bathroom to the left of Anna’s room, Anna’s room, and the office.
Above: If you see where I’ve written the word, “bathroom,” that is exactly where Bailey is standing in the image below. He is facing the front door. So when we walk in the door we are literally standing in the hallway with the main bathroom on our left facing the door to the office. To me it’s a strange floor plan but I can’t wait to make it our home.
With that, the initial tour of our new home is complete. I’ll try to do another walk-through and post it without the kids in the video.
I’ve since gone back to the unit just to say hello to the upstairs neighbor again and to give her my information. We had a good chat and I really look forward to being her neighbor and her friend!