• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by emkay

  1. Do Alexa devices affect cats and dogs?

    Very interesting. Seemingly, cats have better hearing than dogs so may well be more affected? Our cat has just eaten very peacefully for the first time in a couple of weeks…now Alexa is unplugged.  
  2. Do Alexa devices affect cats and dogs?

    I wonder if there’s a ‘Alexa Calm my Husband’?   My vet friend said the possible frequency of Alexa is a very new consideration for pet disturbance….not much on Google about this.  Probably akin to Wi-Fi possibly affecting human brains .  
  3. Do Alexa devices affect cats and dogs?

    I wonder if there’s a ‘Alexa Calm my Husband’?   My vet friend said the possible frequency of Alexa is a very new consideration for unexplained pet disturbance….not much on Google about this. Probably akin to Wi-Fi possibly affecting human brains .     Who knows if it’s relevant, though since why husband bought an Alexa blob, our cat only sleeps in formerly never used places, at the furthest places away from it. Now it’s removed (good excuse to get rid of it!) she’s back to sleeping on her usual chair next to where it was.    Who can know what animals sense?
  4. Taschengeld

    We gave our daughter 10€ per week in her mid teens, she’s now 21. Other earning incentives helped too. When my dad visited us when she was about 13, he and my husband had a few too many beers and both offered her 10€ for every 1 Note. 5€ for a 2. Wisely, given the beer consumption, she asked them both for a signed promise!  She very much appreciated the rewards for many years. A deal is a deal!  She also earned her own money offering English tuition. Learning to save and budget helped her too.    Now she’s at Uni, we still give her 60€ per month pocket money though we do have the joy of paying for lots extra. Also, whenever she visits home, she leaves with her car full of groceries etc. Plus ‘poor student’ cash donations. Empty nest is still painful at times. I’d gladly trade our now tidier house for the general chaos of her friends often being here, parties etc…..just happy noise and mayhem. 
  5. Why are you happy today?

    No one can beat your trumpet 😉
  6. Just in case this helps anyone else.  After trying to contact our electricity supplier many times, today I got lucky.  Our kWh price was set in December 2022 to 46.72 cents. Annual Grundpreis 120€. At that time, this was significantly less than the price of changing supplier.    Their own kWh price for new customers is 32.76 cents, similar annual Grundpreis. Grundversorgung price is now slightly higher.    I asked which cheaper tariff we could change to given that our contract wasn’t  price guaranteed. Initially, I was offered 41.00 cents, same Grundpreis with 2 year price guarantee. That wasn’t viable. After a little friendly chat, I was then offered new customer price of 32,76 cents. About a 30% reduction as of 1st March. Price guarantee for 1 year. For January and February 2023, a discount to 40.00 cents kWh for 80% of usage will be calculated retrospectively due to the government price capping.   This change saves us around 70€ per month. It’s certainly worth challenging current prices and contracts.
  7. Just curious about this….at the end of last year, our electricity supplier hiked the price by about 50% at the end of our contract. Switching supplier wasn’t possible as at that time as new contracts were much more expensive.    The new price is not subject to a price guarantee.  Options were then available for new contracts with price guarantee. We decided against these as the price was much higher. Now however, the price we are paying is a lot more than new contracts with the same supplier and that of Grundversorgung. My question is, are contracts without price guarantee eligible for price reduction? 
  8. @Gambatte. I’ve had similar issues regarding Barclays advising of current bank accounts closure. Current account holder for 40 years and mortgage holder for 22 years. I rang them to ask for an extension saying that my circumstances are uncertain. This is true and they extended the closure time by 6 months. Nevertheless, I’m not so sure I can rely on that given that they have sent me another closure letter since.    I managed to open an HSBC current account a few months ago. I submitted DE identity card plus, selfie photo. I sent them private pensions documents with my DE address and, my most recent HMRC self assessment return payment acknowledgment. These documents might well have been within 3 months old.   However, I wasn’t able to open a savings account with HSBC as I was calling from abroad.  If I phone from the Uk on a visit, that would be fine.  Currently 3% interest on first £10k, 1.4% interest on more.   HSBC still state that they ‘may’ need to close accounts for non UK residents.   If your documents aren’t within 3 months old, get some! I suggest that you can contact the HMRC pension service for an annual statement. Do you pay voluntary additional NI? If so, an annual statement can help if requested. This is easy to do….google the contact number when calling from abroad. And, any private pension. Usually takes a few weeks for their reply to a DE address.  Ask HMRC for any kind of information that requires written confirmation.  Ask your house insurer, mortgage company for some written policy update etc etc.    It’s all awkward though probably manageable for another 6-12 months. 
  9. Why are you happy today?

    Thanks so much. Infection level seems to have reduced to near normal. Needs double checking next week after antibiotics have stopped. 
  10. I’ve not had the best of experiences with UK letting agents. My current 12 month fixed term tenancy agreement expires in May 2023. The current tenant may extend by either another fixed term or monthly rolling agreement. I’ve just asked the letting agency what increase they would recommend. They recommend that I don’t due to looming recession, house price fall, cost of living crisis etc. They also stated that there’s a higher risk of the property remaining unlet for longer.    I've been caught out with this before when a previous letting agent always advised not to increase the rent for nearly 8 years. When I changed to the current agent last year, the rent was increased by 45%. A double edged sword though given the additional DE progressionsvorbehalt tax since 2021.   Do any other TT UK landlords intend to increase rental this year? Any other advice from anyone else’s letting agency?   Although I intended to keep my UK property for as long as practical, my current circumstances might mean that I sell sooner. I got a valuation in January 2022 prior to a fairly extensive upgrade.  New windows, carpets, decorations etc. The current agency has valued at the same price. Despite, a current drop in prices, I thought that since the start of last year, prices increased significantly. Zoopla.co.uk house price on my property does suggest a steady increase during 2022. Although, their overall valuation is unrealistically high.    Is anyone else considering selling? Any other advice from other agencies?   Many thanks in anticipation.
  11. Why are you happy today?

    After surgical removal of a very large colorectal mass and extended stay in hospital due to severe post operative infection, I finally received the biopsy results.   Four magical words…..No evidence of malignancy.
  12. I meant that an asking price is agreed between vendor and agent. The agent then markets at that price. The end selling price could vary +/-.  Back then, agent commission was based on the actual sold price. Same as in the UK. At the time we bought, my mother in law wanted to sell her house though wanted 30%+ more than any agent’s valuation. All agents declined her instruction. Too much time and effort for them ti accompany every viewing with a vendor unwilling to negotiate realistically.
  13. Not in any specific way. I just check the gas meter regularly during spring and summer. Last year, it didn’t increase between April and early October. 
  14. Not really astonishing at all.   Vendor gets 2-3 valuations from Maklers. Chooses preferred Makler, signs contract to sell for agreed selling price.    In those days, 2012, actual selling prices were mostly agreed under asking selling price. We purchased at full price to avoid risk. Plus, we had pre approved finance. Simply a quick and uncomplicated sale. It must be very much more difficult for the younger generation these days hoping to buy property. 
  15. We’ve noticed too that houses that need to be sold via an agent, are the difficult ones. Having said that, we wouldn’t wish to sell privately just because we wouldn’t be aware of all implications.  Where we live, as a seller, we wouldn’t have to pay the Makler, just generally sign as exclusive contract for them to sell within usually 3-6 months.    Our lovely elderly neighbour over the road left her family home (she was alone in a large property)  to move into luxurious senior care home  before Christmas.  Her family have maintained the house since then. No doubt, it has been sold to a favoured person within the family’s circle of acquaintance. No chance of it being sold via a Makler. 
  16. Writing Google review on behalf of Wife

    I can’t comment on your situation as spouse in this matter. However, I’ve heard of quite a few local businesses being very badly affected by instantaneous negative google, tripadvisor etc reviews.    These reviews can be damaging for businesses for a long time. In this day and age, do people with complaints usually raise their issues with the business owner directly? Most business owners would seek to find solutions and/or compromise? Direct online reviews can be unfair without previous discussion with a company’s management.  True service must be judged on a company’s ability to resolve disputes/complaints. And no, I don’t have a business hence not affected by reviews!
  17. Short answer, yes.   The vendor had engaged a Makler Friday….selling price agreed upon. In those days, offers were likely to be less.  We paid full price. Handwritten description completed. Saturday morning, I heard from a school parent friend that she thought the house might actually be for sale after letting might have been a possibility. We knocked on the door (directly across the road from our flat) immediately to ask, verbal deal done same day as we could show that we already had finance approved.    We still had to pay the Makler fee. Slightly reduced due to minimal involvement. He was a very decent Makler and found us other mortgage offers though the one we already had was most favourable. He also attended Notar meetings. 
  18. I’d also ask if 4000 kWh per year for gas for your friend’s house is correct? My mother lives in the same size house, 110 years old and uses 35000 kWh of gas. Smaller 1980’s flats and houses near us also use 20000 kWhs+   We use 11,000 kWhs for 150 sq meters living space according to the latest Grundsteuer sizing (Wohnfläche). The overall house size, built in 2007 with very good insulation and heating system, is about 210sq meters from cellar to roof. Our gas consumption is far less than than older houses half the size in our small town. Mainly due to solar energy to heat water. Usually only beneficial during regular sunny spells from around April to September.  The solar water heating only works when there are something like 3 consecutive days of mostly sun.    Just to add to your question of how anyone chooses suitable house size. Obviously, there’s personal choice and available budget. For us, it was a case of limited choice of properties available to buy in our town and surrounding area. Especially as we had already had to make a decision on our daughter’s secondary education prior to purchase. We were unwilling to change school after year 5 start. And, certainly didn’t want long commute to school or work….10 minute drive to school, 20 minute drive to my husband’s place of work. Good train connections too.    We were extremely lucky to find our house that hadn’t yet reached the open market. Me asking everyone we met for over a year that we were looking for a property to buy actually paid off! Our choices were a 1980’s larger detached self built house with very questionable build quality that required much modernisation. Or a much smaller 1960’s terraced house. Modernisation also required There are many of these terraced houses in our town though renowned for cellar flooding, poor build quality and insulation. All options within 20-30k€ price difference.    Our 2007 built house was perfect for us. Now our daughter has moved away to study, yes it’s on the too big side. However downsizing isn’t easy either with the overall cost of doing so being far higher than than that of the UK for example. We’re happy to stay here until we find our perfect next home and location. 
  19. Does anyone have any recent experience of making a UK will from Germany? I’ve spoken to a few solicitors from my UK home town though all have said it’s not possible without a face to face meeting.    Can anyone recommend a UK solicitor or, any of the online will writing services.   Many thanks in advance. 
  20. I wasn’t sure in which thread to add this so thought maybe a new one might help others trying to help injured wildlife.    During our time in Germany, we’ve often saved wild injured birds, bats and small mammals. It’s always very difficult to find veterinary help for wild animals. Most vets, Tierschutz, NABU etc say they can’t/are not authorised to help wildlife. However, there are many individuals and small charities that can help. And, a few vets. These are not too easy to find when a situation urgently arises.   Today, my elderly neighbour phoned me to ask if I can help an injured wood pigeon that was in her garden. Seemingly with a broken wing. Still in my nightwear plus coat and boots , I managed to gently corner the pigeon, lay a light cloth over it and then placed it into a newspaper lined cat carrier.   I’ve always been advised that injured birds should be immediately placed into a box not too much bigger than the bird, or similar with air holes. Then kept in a quiet dark room to reduce initial stress. Shallow water dishes can be added a little later. Suitable food too. This alone has helped exhausted racing pigeons we’ve found. A few hours later, they are fit again to fly. Sometimes an overnight quiet time is recommended if there’s no visible injury. Baby bird rescue is often ill advised as parent birds can usually care for their offspring….unless, there’s an obvious injury or threat.    Today, a few bird rescue places said that an injured bird must be treated by a vet (most don’t treat wildlife). If a wing is broken, the bird must be euthanised by a vet and can’t be done by some/most bird rescue charities. Some law states that injured wildlife must be rehabilitated and be returned to their natural habitat. For birds, a minor healed leg injury might be survivable in the wild. Not being able to fly, no.    I took the wood pigeon to a vet that does treat wildlife. Thankfully, not too far away.  Despite a full waiting room, my rescue bird was seen to instantly and X-rayed.  No breakage anywhere. It will stay overnight at the vet and examined by a wild bird expert later today.  And given pain relief etc. Hopefully if all goes well tonight and tomorrow we can collect the bird and take it to a wild bird sanctuary.   For anyone who cares about and could help injured wildlife, it’s really useful to find as many contacts as possible in advance. Local Facebook/Instagram groups can help a lot. Vets and Tierschutz can often make recommendations.   If anyone can add any other suggestions, that would be great. Maybe different Bundesländer have other guidelines?   Every creature deserves its place on Earth. Sometimes us human can help 😊  
  21. Helping injured wildlife in Germany

    A few calls I made to wildlife rescues today had answer machine messages that suggested calling police, fire brigade etc. 
  22. Making a UK will from Germany

    Well, I don’t think anything like this would happen to me. I’m just not sure what would happen if the solicitor ceased trading. They don’t store at the National Probate Registry either.  Best that the original will comes to me for safe keeping. 
  23. Making a UK will from Germany

    Would you want the original to be in a different country and only a copies nearby? I asked why I couldn’t copy the emailed version twice and get the same witnesses sign both copies.  Belt and braces! No, the solicitor can only sign one copy that would be the original. 
  24. International schools in Berlin

    I’m not familiar with schools in Berlin. I take it that these are international schools and that you intend both of your children to attend the same school?   Are you planning to stay in Germany until both children finish their German education?   Asking for anyone else’s previous experience isn’t necessarily helpful as much has changed over the last few years. When did you apply? I understand your concern as school acceptance influences all of your other decisions. Sorry if I misunderstood, do you have a third child too? If so, what age? You really do need to ask each school directly when you can expect their decision.    I’m also not familiar with US grading. What age are your children? Age ranges per school year here can vary by up to around 2 years.   Do you feel that German education might be appropriate? This could be possible with a good supportive school plus, initially intensive private tuition. Going back 1-2 school years is very normal for any child. Longer lasting friendships would be far more likely.    My daughter started at a German gymnasium aged 10 without any German language skills. 2-3 years of private german tuition was essential. She graduated with a very good Abitur and now studying at a German university.   If German education is a possibility, I’d highly recommend that your children learn as much German as possible before your move here. If your own German isn’t perfect, find a tutor who’s German is. My Gernan prior to moving here wasn't good. Best that your children don’t learn anything that needs to be corrected later.    I don’t know what was involved in applying to the schools that you’ve already applied to. I can recommend however that previous teacher’s appraisals, test results and many examples of schoolwork (including art), very much helped my daughter to gain a placement.    I wish you all the very best.