We have a home. We just can’t go there yet.

We have an apartment. We can’t move in until Friday, and the payment details are still a little sketchy, but we have signed about 20 pages of duplicate contract pages, had them stamped (stamps are big here) and paid our 2 months kaltmiete to the agent. Kaltmiete is base rent, warm is with heat, warm water, and other operating costs included.

The takeaway? Unsurprisingly, Germans have strict rules. Including how long each day you can have the window in your apartment open. Our contract has two full pages on that. So watch it.

We’re on the very edge of Prenzlauer Berg, a few blocks away from a very hip neighborhood of bars and boutiques, artists and hipsters. We’re more in the working family area. But most importantly, there is a big Asian grocery store a few blocks away, which we have of course already scouted for tofu, soba and rice noodles, and various sauces. It passes all tests.

The apartment itself is large (pictures once we get an actual net connection), with a hobbit-sized door to the bathroom that’s about an inch taller than my head. Unclear exactly why. It looks out onto a wide boulevard that may be noisy, but is lined with trees that are already filled with birds. No balcony, but that means we’ll have to sit at sidewalk cafes that much more often. We looked at one other that was huge, had shining wood floors and a gigolo bathroom with a tub literally on some kind of pedestal, and fell in love with it, but it was 670 euros, almost as much as we were spending in San Francisco. We’re here to live cheaply, and this place, large as it is, is only 488 euros, or about $600. We can do that.

Just don’t open that window longer than a half-hour. There vill be consequences.