Walking around

Tomorrow I'll reply the questions you've had about my apartment (you can still ask if there's anything you want to know, I haven't had much time to respond to your questions recently) here.

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Help needed from people who live in Berlin (use this e-mail form if you don't want to write in the comment field):

- I need to find a good Steuerberater/in, anyone who knows a good one (I need help filling in the papers for the Finanzamt to get my Steuernummer and later on for other economy stuff)? Someone who speaks English would be to prefer, since Johan wants him/her too.

- I (we) must fix a health insurance, what do you recommend?

- Have to buy a pretty huge amount of basic white paint for our apartment, the closest Baumarkt is Hellweg - anyone who has any other recommendation? We're not able to pay much, so cheap but good alternatives are preferred. Also preferred is a nice handy paint shop instead of the big Baumärkte.

Vielen vielen Dank!

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  1. Hi.
    For the last 9 years my insurance is TK, I´m pretty satisfied with it.
    Does Johan have one already?

  2. No, we both need to fix it :) Thanks for the tip!

  3. Lovely views of Berlin...you're really showing us reality...it's great. Hope all is well. I will contact all the people I know who live there and ask them to pass by your blog!

  4. hi sandra,

    my last health insurance was securvita http://www.securvita.de/
    they are pretty new, pay lots of alternative stuff and are reaaly nice. they are in hamburg so averything goes either via phone or internet. they cost as much as any other.
    for paint i discovered a great non smelling, high quality paint (for anything i just needed one coat of paint) at http://www.natur-am-bau.de/
    i don't remember how much it was but it's really worth the price (if you ask them by phone, I think they just have this one wallpaint - comes in 10 liters). they are tucholskystraße prety much across CO.
    all the best,
    ps: some days ago i say you across the street and was frozen in shock as suddenly virtual life met real life;)

  5. as i mentioned via twitter before you should try to become a member of the künstlersozialkasse. its an artist health insurance. its much cheaper but you have to comply ... but i think this shouldn't be a problem :)

    all the best

  6. wow thank you for the tips!
    i will definitely apply for KSK, i've heard it's a hard procedure but absolutely worth it. for a swede paying health insurance is something completely new, but i totally understand why. in germany i don't have to give 50-55% of my income to the state.

  7. Hi!! I've just discovered your blog via wikstenmade, if you don't mine I link it, is it ok? I really love your photos!
    Just today I've post about Berlin! it's a wonderful city! I'll keep reading you!!
    Neus* from www.tinynicethings.blogspot.com

  8. anja > i will definitely check out that paint, thank you! next time you see me, say hi if you want :)

  9. nice to read that someone else also give you the hint with the KSK ;-) It is not so difficult to get into it... but they need approximately three month for their decision... but then they pay you back your costs for the insurrance...

  10. Hi Sandra!
    Yes, KSK! Here is an English description of the KSK -->http://bit.ly/gKT0r8 (it's a PDF, I hope the link works).
    And Miriam is right, they mostly need about 3 months to decide, BUT sometimes even more (it took 6 months when I applied). Some people hire a consultant to help with the paperwork. And you have to be insured BEFORE you get into the KSK, because the KSK is not a health insurance! That means you still have to decide between statuary and private insurance. Wäh, complicated. :(

  11. Ehm, STATUTORY insurance, of course ;)

  12. Great photos. I love the red squirrels! Something we don't see much here in the UK.

  13. Hi Sandra, unfortunately I can't help you out on the Steuerberater/ Baumarkt stuff since I don't live in Berlin ;).

    But what I can say is that you won't make a mistake by choosing Allianz. It's rather expensive, but they are one of the biggest insurance companies in Germany, and very reliable. They also provide lots of other insurance options: Hausrat-, Unfall-, Haftpflichtversicherung and so on. If you want something cheaper I would recommend you to google them first, and see what other people think of them (- sure you would've done that anyway).

  14. I wish I was on this walk. Great shots, amusing and fun

  15. The hotdog guy! I spent some time in Berlin and we used to laugh at it everytime we went by...mostly at the bottom though, because it looks a bit yuk!

    Best of luck in your new place!

  16. i'll try to think about an english speaking steuerberater or a consultant who could help with both health insurance/KSK and tax issues (will have to ask around a bit). - meanwhile, regarding paint: i wouldn't go with any cheap range dulux paint but rather a house brand by either obi or bauhaus (which is my favourite). their regular house brand doesn't break the bank and covers well, which is crucial when painting over walls with heating dust and nicotine stains. as my ceilings are very high, i've also had good experience with thinning regular white 'dispersion' wall paint with a bit of water (sounds crazy, but makes it more easily paintable and still covers a treat).

    what i found is super important with apartments in former east berlin: be sure to check if the walls have previously been painted with regular 'dispersion' paint, or limescale (this rubs off a bit like chalk when you move your hand over it) or oil paint. these paints don't mix - you can't overpaint limescale with regular paint.

    sorry to be so verbose... hope this helps!

  17. I bought all my wall colors at MaxBahr, that´s a building center, which is quite cheap. They also mix your wish colour. The nearest center for you is probably in Niederschöneweide...

    I can´t help you with a Steuerberater, cause I never needed one before. The insurance I am really satified with is the Techniker Krankenkasse. Allianz is much too expensive !

    I hope you feel home very soon :)...

  18. Try KSK, it´s not as difficult as it may seem to get in. Once you managed to fill out all the forms, time to relax and wait... . I personally go the KSK plus private insurance way, which is more expensive than statutory insurance, but i´m an angsthase so my health is worth the big bills ; )

  19. oh, and every paint with a "ÖkoTest sehr gut" tag should be a good choice..

  20. Can't help with the insurance or paint questions as I live in the States but just wanted to say that the squirrel picture is amazing! I've never seen red squirrels before, ours are all gray.

  21. sounds like you have a busy day ahead...good luck with the paint trek. Love the pics....not sure about the possibly sleezy hot dog man tho? Dayle

  22. Try to get one of the statutory health insurances. The basic fee is more or less the same for all of them, they differ in some services they offer. KSK is probably a good choice for you, and it's affordable.

    Allianz is a private insurance company and it's one of the most expensive ones. If you get in touch with them, they'll try to sell you a lot of their products that you probably don't need.

    You have to have health insurance. Everything else is optional. If you don't have kids, don't buy any other insurances, except maybe a Haftpflichtversicherung (it pays if you accidentally do damage to somebody else's posessions; it shouldn't cost more than 100 € per year). Forget Hausratversicherung (unless you have valueable household goods and furniture), Unfallversicherung, Risikolebensversicherung etc.

  23. If you removed the wallpaper in your apartment, you might have to use something called "Tiefengrund" first, or you get pieces of the wall onto your roll with the paint. You will see if you need it once you try painting. And you mentioned that a smoker had lived in the apartment - friends of mine moved into an apartment where (even though the wallpapers where removed), the paint couldn't stick to the walls because of the nicotine sitting in there. They had to use special "Kneipenfarbe". But I hope it isn't that bad.

    And yes, Natur am Bau in Tucholskystr. is great. And i Kreuzberg close to the Eisenbahn Markthalle there is a little shop for organic paints.

  24. Oh, you moved to Berlin! Lovely apartment! My friend was in Berlin one month ago, and she said there was really interesting place called Creuzberg. Full of ecological shops etc.

  25. i'm so happy i started following your blog
    i love reading about your new life there- and your pics are amazing.
    congratulations on the flat and everything else!

  26. my steuerberater - when I lived in berlin - was britt stein in prenzlauer berg. http://www.britt-stein.de/ - she is really ok and not too expensive. you live in friedrichshain, right? a friend of mine has a steuerberater in boxhagenerstraße. I don't know the name, but it's between intimes-cinema and warschauer straße on the right side of the street. my health insurance was TKK - it's ok but I think you will find something better. you should try to become a member of the KSK - but as you said: it's a hard procedure and it tooks a few months... good luck!

  27. I love every one of these photographs! Just lovely!

  28. Hey, I would suggest KSK as well.
    But it is not THAT easy as some people here said... It took them NINE months to accept me and I had to send them piles of bills and texts again and again.
    Techniker Krankenkasse would be a good choice as well.


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