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About Shenandoah

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  • Location USA
  • Nationality American
  1. Transnational family in a pandemic world :-(

    Folks,   Kind of the opposite situation for me:  I'm in the US and have a step-brother-in-law (my wife's step brother) in Berlin.  He's in his early 80's and I usually come over to Berlin 2-3 times a year to visit, check on his finances, help with things.  He doesn't do computers, so email/skype is out.  I try to call each week to check on him.  He lives by himself and I can tell that the lockdown is really taking a toll on him.     I was in Berlin the first week of March in 2020.  Covid was making the headlines and things were starting to close.  I remember trying to find toilet paper at Aldi, Edeka, or Lidl and couldn't.  I thought maybe they moved it somewhere else in the store?  That's when I asked a friend and he said "Hamsterkauf".  I said what?  He said whenever there is a cold/flu season, toilet paper, noodles and soup sell out at the stores.     I'm hoping I can get back to Berlin sometime this Fall(?), but no telling with the way things are with the vaccine, borders, rules and whatever else.   S.
  2. Buying property in Germany

    fartencore,   You will get a draft (or a couple draft) version(s) of the contract before the reading at the Notars.  You should be able to use Deepl or Google translate to translate the contract to English. If you have any questions or concerns about what is in the draft contract, you will contact the Notar for change/corretion/explanation.  Once everyone has agreed on the final contract, the Notar will set up a time to read the contract to the seller and buyer.     When I bought my apartment in Berlin, the Notar spoke English.  I did not have a translator present but was able to read and follow the German contract.  The Notar every so often stopped and asked if I understood everything being read.  I said yes, since i had to translated version of the contract along with the German one.  He even asked me a couple times what I had for the English translation on certain parts.     You most likely will need a translator, if you are not comfortable in following along when the Notar reads the contract.  FYI, the Notar reads as fast as he can pronounce the words - very fast!  With a translator the pace would most likely be slower.    Keep in mind, when the Notar is reading the contract, this is the final version that everyone has agreed upon.  You will have had a copy at least a couple weeks in advance of when the Notar reads it to the seller and buyer.  There should be any "surprises" at the meeting with the Notar, since all of the details should have been agreed upon by this point in time.     S.
  3. Pay-as-you-go mobile broadband internet in Germany

    Sumarokov-Elston,   O2 and Vodafone both offer cellular data plans with a cellular router.  With O2 it is called O2 my home.  Vodafone has a GigaCube plans similar to the O2 plans. Vodafone also offers a "FLEX" plan where you are only charged in the months you use the device.  You'll have to check to see how their coverage is where you're at.  Might be a better option (more data at a cheaper price).     S.  
  4. Kaykay80,   I don't see how you can divide the heat and warm water by square meters.  It just won't work.  Two people living in an apartment will use "X" cubic meters of water regardless of how big or small the apartment is.  As for heat, some people like their apartment very warm, others on the cool side.  How many radiators are in the Dachgeschoss?  How big are they? Is the Dachgeschoss insulated?  How many radiators are in the main house?  Size?     As a landlord they should set the place up to accurately measure the actual costs.     As LeonG mentioned, join the Mietverein and check with them - as soon as possible.     S.
  5. hellotoy,   Thanks for posting what you found out about "collective heating".  On the other side, I'm curious what is NOT considered collective heating?  No heat at all for the apartment?   S,
  6. Tax return after leaving Germany

    gledisk,   Hopefully PandaMunich will provide some information on your tax situation.     You may not be able to file your German tax return through Elster if you are filing the ESt 1 C (that is the form for non-resident German taxpayers that have a German tax liability).  Elster only has the 2019 version of the form available.  I'm not sure if they are going to provide a 2020 version or not?  I have emailed their "helpdesk" but have not received a reply.     You can find "fillable" pdf versions of the German tax forms through Finanzamt.     S.
  7. Changing locks

    daolim,   As SpiderPig mentioned, you change the lock cylinder on your apartment door.  You'll still need the original key for the building, garage, cellar and the outer gate.     You can buy a new lock cylinder (that comes with 3-5 keys) at Obi or BauHaus for around 30-40 Euro.  There is one screw that holds the lock cylinder in the door.  It takes five minutes at most to change the lock cylinder.     When you move out of the apartment, put the original lock cylinder back in the apartment door.     S.
  8. Glennsche,   Here are a couple of cellular router options to look in to, if you haven't already:   Vodafone GigaCube - they have several different plans, even a FLEX version where you are only charged in the months you use it.   O2 my Home - several different plans offered   You would have to do some research to see what kind of coverage and download speeds you would get at your location.  I'm not sure if T-Mobile offers a cellular router.     Another option to consider is Starlink.  They are in a beta phase, so I'm not sure if they offer coverage in Germany.     S.
  9. LeonG,   You mentioned the Vodafone GigaCube in your post above.  I have the GigaCube FLEX - 50Gb/month for 35 Euro.  The advantage to the FLEX plan is you are charged only when you use the device.    I travel to Berlin a couple times a year and this works out perfect for me.  When I'm not in Berlin, the GigaCube is unplugged and does not cost me anything.     S.
  10. Bimohan,   Those are shotgun pellets, not air gun pellets.     S.
  11. Lidl SIM card with existing number

    MadAxeMurder,   Good questions.  If someone wanted to "steal" your number, they would need to know several pieces of information:  Name, Address, Birthdate, cellular provided and account number of the cell phone.  I'm guessing that's part of the reason you need to verify your identity with an official document when signing up for a cell phone plan.  There would also be a method to track down the person that ported your number.     For example, let's say your cell phone suddenly stopped working.  You contact your provider and they say you ported your number out to xyz carrier.  There would be a trail to follow through the cellular providers to the person that ported your number.     The other way around:  In order to sign up for a Lidl Connect sim, you have to go through the registration/identification process.  Only after you have completed that process will you be assigned a phone number and the sim card activated.  At that point you can port over your "old" handy number to Lidl.  If questions came up about the "old" handy number, O2 and Lidl know who has that number because that person had to go through the registration/identification process.    That's not to say that if someone really wanted to "steal" your handy number they couldn't.      S.
  12. Lidl SIM card with existing number

    MadAxeMurder,   This may be TOO MUCH information, but here is a link to a website on German cellular providers.  It also outlines the "Identification" process much better than I could describe.  They also are fairly up to date  on information, cost and details of various month to month and prepaid plans:   I'm not sure if you knew this, but O2 does offer a prepaid plan that does not have a monthly cost:  O2 my prepaid 9ct. This is similar to the Lidl Connect Classic plan.  There is no monthly cost for this O2 plan, but you need to have money on your account to make a call or send a text.  Calls are 9ct/minute, texts are 9ct/each, data is 99ct/30mb per day.   S.  
  13. Lidl SIM card with existing number

    MadAxeMurderer,   The Video Identification process is handled through a couple different firms.  One is Postident, anohter is WebID.  Here's the process:   Once you have your Lidl sim card, you need to register and activate it.  On the Lidl Connect website you select the Sim Karte Freischalten link and enter your Rufnummer und your Freischaltnummer.  Both are found on the sim card.  Here is a link to the website:     On the bottom part of this page, they describe the Video and/or Postal Identification process.  Here's what you need (from their website), if you're doing the Video process:   Please have the following data ready for registration: Surname address Date of birth E-mail address your current bank details, if applicable For legitimation via video call you need: Computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone with an internal or external camera (minimum resolution: 640 x 480 pixels) Valid German identity card (also temporary), valid passport (also temporary) or electronic residence permit (German) with identity card or passport Stable internet connection with a speed of at least 500 kbit / s   You do not need any banking details.     I'll add the following:  I visit Berlin a couple times a year.  I do not live in Germany nor do I have a residence permit.  I've done the Video Identification process a couple times using a computer using free wifi with a VPN in Berlin.  When you start the Video Identification process, you can select which language you like to use.  I've done both English and German.  After a minute or onger you'll be connected with one of the Identification employees through a video call (similar to skype or zoom).  They will ask for you to verify your name and address.  In my case I used my family friends address in Berlin.  I do not think they actually check this address.  Next you need to show your proof of identification.  In my case, I held up my US passport to the screen so they could verify my identity.  After that, your sim card should be activated within the next couple of hours.      The entire Video Identification process lasted a couple minutes:  verify name and address, check identity document, done.     Hope that helps.   S.    
  14. Lidl SIM card with existing number

    MadAxeMurderer,   When you get your Lidl Connect classic sim card, you will activate it following the current procedures (video registration or post office registration).  The Lidl Connect classic will have a new/Lidl handy number.   The new Lidl Connect handy number is on the sim card that you ordered.   Once the Lidl Connect sim card is active (you can make a call/send a text), you should then complete the Lidl Rufnummernmitnahme form and email it back to them (or mail it).  In the top part of the form put your new Lidl Connect handy number and below that your name and birth date.  At the bottom of the form put your O2 handy number and O2 account information (O2 is the carrier, your account number, etc).     Normally you would NOT cancel your O2 service until your O2 number has been ported to Lidl.  Hopefully you won't loose your old number.   When Lidl Connect ports your number from O2, the current/new Lidl Connect handy number will be replaced with your old O2 handy number.     S.
  15. Lidl SIM card with existing number

    MadAxeMurderer,   I keep a Lidl Connect sim card active for when I travel to Berlin a couple times a year (not recently due to Covid).  When I'm not in Germany, I switch my plan to the "Classic Plan", which has no monthly charge.  When I plan a trip to Germany, I usually switch my plan to the "Smart S" plan (unlimited talk, unlimited text, 6gb data).  When I'm back in the US, I switch my plan back to the "Classic Plan" (no monthly charge).  Lidl Connect is on the Vodafone network.     When you port a handy number, you fill out the porting form from your NEW provider, not the old one.  In your case you'll fill out the LIDL form since you're moving your handy number to Lidl Connect.     I took a look at their website and the form you fill out to port your handy number to Lidl Connect.  You can mail it to their customer service address OR you can email it to them.  I didn't see a fax option?  The way I read the form, you need to already have a Lidl Connect sim card that has been activated.  You fill out the form listing your Lidl Connect handy number (not the O2 number you are porting), Name, Address, etc.  Towards the bottom of the form you fill in the information about your current provider (O2 in your case):  handy number (your O2 number), network (O2), account number, date of the end of your contract (if there is one).     I would purchase a Lidl "Classic Plan" sim card package for 10 Euro.  It comes with a 10 Euro credit.  The handy number is on the sim card in the sim card package.  You'll need to register the sim card either through the online video identification website or go to the Post Office.  The registration process is listed on their website.      Currently you'll get a 25 Euro bonus for porting your number to Lidl Connect.  They will subtract 6.82 Euro for the cost of the port.     S.