International relocation is expensive, there’s no doubt about it. While you can save money by doing things like scrubbing your own flat rather than hiring a cleaner when you vacate, and packing and driving your own moving truck instead of paying a company, you can only cut so many corners to save money. Of course, if you happen to have the benefit of a private company, the military, or an aid organization like the Peace Corps that’s taking care of the brain-popping logistics, it’ll ease some of the brain strain and the money drain, but if you’re going it totally alone, be prepared for a hit to your bank account.
Though we’ve gotten to be pretty savvy movers, one area that continues to challenge us is the cost of extended-term accommodations, typically while we’re searching for a new flat or house. Hotels are often insanely expensive, and even when the price might not seem terrible for a single night, if you’re planning to stay for an entire month as was the case for us when we moved to Switzerland and again now in Germany, suddenly that $75 a night room amounts to $2250 for the month. Add to that the fees most hotels add for having a pet (x3 for us with our dog and two cats), and we could buy a small chunk of land in North Idaho for that price!
For folks wanting to not only pay less but for those looking for a more unique travel experience, Airbnb has sprung up to fill the gap left by hotels in a rather gigantic way. Offering shared accommodations, private rooms, and entire home rentals in everything from castles and sailboats to yurts and tree houses, it’s been a great solution to our dilemma with travel accommodations. We stayed with two different Airbnb hosts when we moved to Switzerland, and once again, Airbnb came to the rescue when we couldn’t find a single suitable place to stay near Göttingen when we arrived November 1st.
Our rather unusual first home in Germany turned out to be a “sleep barrel” on a horse property in Körle, about a half hour’s drive from Göttingen. Without hesitation, the owner accepted our reservation request almost immediately after we submitted it, welcoming us and the two pets traveling with us as if it’s totally normal to travel with a dog and a cat. We arrived later than expected at nearly 11 pm, yet the owner greeted us as soon as we arrived and gave us a key to the adorable little barrel that would be our home for the next three days.
Other than a few brightly sparkling diamonds in the sky, the night was pitch dark when we arrived, so we couldn’t see what the countryside was like. Exhausted, we followed our host around as he gave us a tour by flashlight, then gratefully unloaded our plants, pets, food, and luggage into the tiny little space, quickly filling the two small benches in the curved room adjoining our bed.
The next two mornings we awoke to pea soup fog so thick we still had no idea what our surroundings were like. We didn’t mind, since it merely added to the charm of our warm and toasty home away from home.
During our stay, Travis and I drove in to Göttingen each day.
While he worked in the lab or took care of new employee business, I hung out in the MPI cafeteria scrolling through endless apartment listings, haunting his workplace like a ghost with unfinished business.
When we left our sleep barrel in the morning, it was foggy. When we returned in the evening, it was dark.
The surroundings were so pretty and the sleep barrel was so “us” that we debated about adding additional days to our stay, particularly since we didn’t have alternative lodging arrangements for our check out date.
It was crazy cheap at just 25 euros per night. We didn’t mind the unusual bathroom arrangements; located 25 meters away in the horse stables, we shared the facilities with riders who frequented the stables. We had hot showers, a warm and comfy place to sleep, a full kitchen at our disposal, and the best cappuccino from a coffee machine that I’ve ever had. Normally all of this would have seemed luxurious by our travel standards.
Plus I absolutely loved being able to pet the friendly horse who snorted a greeting each morning through the stable window while I made coffee. I really wouldn’t mind living in a barn all the time really…
We didn’t even mind so much the commute each day to MPI.
The deal breaker was that we didn’t have internet access. Though the listing and the owner stated it did, it was spotty at best. The only place Travis could get a signal was standing just inside the front door of our sleep barrel with his back against the door. Bizarre, right?
Again, normally when we’re traveling we don’t care about that, but right now it’s essential for us to be able to look for apartments, research medical insurance options, find out about bank accounts, schedule appointments, apply for visas, and the list goes on seemingly endlessly. Our romantic little sleep barrel just wouldn’t work for the entire month.
The night before we were supposed to check out of our Airbnb in Körle, another host picked up our reservation request for the following day. This time we were able to book it for over 2 weeks, until the 19th. Yet again, Airbnb came to the rescue.
With our next accommodation finally booked, we awoke on the morning we were to check out to find that the sun had graced us with his appearance, melting away our little fog pocket.
Though the air still held the crisp chill of fall, we could finally see the peaceful views from our front porch.
Repacking the car, we were ready to check out by 9 am.
The only time we’d seen our host was during our first night when we’d checked in, but since he left a message that he was at work when we were ready to check out, we merely dropped the key in his mail box.
I said goodbye to the little black pony that came out to say hello each morning, and we mapped to our next Airbnb in Bühren, another little German village 45 minutes north and considerably closer to Göttingen.
Would we like the place? Would the pets be ok there? Would we really have WiFi?!
If you’re traveling with pets and like unusual accommodations with most modern-day amenities, this place is great. Not only did they welcome our dog and cat, but you can also stable your horse there for 10 euros a day.
If you don’t have your own internet, don’t plan on being able to use their WiFi. It’s spotty at best in both the sleep barrel and in the stable clubhouse.