One year later…1 candle on the cake!


One year ago we started this blog. Two main reasons: to report about our “flat in Berlin” experience. And to keep track of our renovation adventure, which had just started and needed a bit of a public kick – an official timekeeper online!

One year later, we are going to spend soon our first ever real holiday in our flat in Berlin, having dedicated 1/4 of our weekends in the past 12 months to blitz-trips to Berlin in order to follow the renovation works, sort out paperwork, choose tiles, buy furniture and make the flat feel like our home in Berlin.

One year later, and 3/4 of a global financial crisis later, we’re happy about our choice. It is true, other real estate markets plunged so deep that now there are several “cheap” real estate markets in the world. But we were not just looking for a bottom-fishing real estate opportunity, we wanted something very specific: an apartment with good bones in Schöneberg at a reasonable price, not a seaside flat in Spain or a maisonette in England. In the meantime, garage prices in Rome plunged by 3%. Maybe the Italian real estate market will undergo a correction one day, but the reality is, a 1-car garage in Rome still costs more than a flat in one of the nicest areas of Berlin. Period.

Even looking through the horrifying glass of the bad GDP Germany figures, the Berlin market didn’t seem so bad to us. Altbau became even rarer on the market: with hindsight, it had been a good decision to buy an Altbau flat the year before. Some areas in Berlin did suffer setbacks, mainly because they were overrated in the last months of 2007.

In Schöneberg/Wilmersdorf prices remained amost at the same level of 2007, probably not the lowest price ever in the aftermath of the crisis, – who knows – but we do think of it in terms of value, and to us, there’s fair value in Schöneberg at that price.

So in March this year we decided that we should double up, this time with a smaller flat that we will rent out. Since we had always been fascinated by the dignified posture of the reconstruction flats, we bought a rational post-war 60s flat.  After all, we’re kids of the 60s and we have a special fondness for those difficult years when our our mothers had pointy shoes and nice handbags, our fathers showed off their first car. And we materialized with rosy cheecks in Polaroids. Difficult years in Italy, difficult years in Berlin…

The “cub” flat lies just across the small hill behind the Altbau flat. A slight bump in between gardens is a hill in Berlin, and it doesn’t go unnoticed! From this one in the mid of the 19th century the kids of the Schoeneberg farmers could hear the lions of Zoo roaring across the fields separating “Berlin” from their farms. In the beginning of the 20th century Schöneberg became modern and famous and got its own private U-bahn…Yes yes, maybe we’re Schöneberg junkies after all!

Conclusion, conclusion. This blog is also a retour d’ascenseur. A way to thank the friends, friends of friends and business contacts who answered patiently to our naïve or basic questions in 2007, therefore helping us climbing on our own steep Berlin real estate learning curve. And we thank them by sharing with other friends and internauts the information they were so kind to give us.

This window on the flat in Berlin and its brother, BerlinRomExpress, meant that a few winter evenings were spent on the Mac, blogging. Ugh…not very social, I must admit.

But one year later, if I have to trace back the starting point of new friendships, in Berlin and in Rome, of e-mail correspondances and of interesting Skype conversations across the oceans, well somehow they all started with this blog…brick-and-mortar friendships in the end!

Source: Dr Oetker,


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