Monday, July 13, 2015

It's Official

It's official, we're going to Germany. Here are some facts:
  • It is cheaper to buy a round trip ticket (knowing you'll pay penalty fees to change the return flight) than to purchase one way tickets. So, we purchased our round trip tickets, guessing at a return date and departure city.
  • Europeans use credit cards much less than we do. We're planning on reacquainting ourselves with ATMs while we're there. Funny side note, we just sold a bicycle and have a lot of cash. We don't know how we'll spend it all in such a short amount of time. We typically use credit cards for EVERYTHING, so handling cash is "weird". 
  • It is not easy to wire money. Cash is definitely used more frequently there, however, how does one pay rent? Is it ridiculous to pay several thousand a month in cash? Seems like it. But the rental agency doesn't take credit cards or Paypal at the moment. So, wire transfer it is. But, we don't have a local bank. We do all of our banking online. So, we had to go to the notary (Twice, as the first time we got the wrong documents notarized. Thanks to the nice notary who didn't charge us for the second go.) to notarize official requests to our bank to release the money to the overseas bank. Here's the thing, our bank will only send Dollars. Their bank wants Euros. There is no way for the bank to figure out how many exact Dollars to send so that their bank gets the correct amount of Euros. And the exchange rate changes so frequently, that there was no guarantee that what our bank sent, their bank would receive. We had to "guess" as to how much to send and hope it was good. We erred on the side of caution and ended up sending about $5 too much. Better that than being short on our first month's rent.

    Now, all of this happens electronically. However, it does not happen immediately. You can send an email to your buddy overseas and it'll probably get there within minutes? But we were told to expect the money to arrive in 5-7 business days. What? The biggest concern we had was losing the rental property. We had already tried to rent a few other places and lost out to other bidders. So, we were worried that if our money didn't come in time, someone else would be able to pay faster and take the apartment away from us. We called the rental agent. They spoke English. They assured us that the apartment was ours, that they'd wait for the money. I just hope no one goes to jail and needs money immediately for bail. It takes a lot longer and lot of red-tape to get an electronic-wire transfer!

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