Man muss: Buying a German kitchen

This is kind of an important thing to know if you’re moving to Germany, and it’s slipped my mind to write about just because luckily, we have never had to do it. All three of the apartments we’ve lived in have been fully furnished (though “fully” does not mean comfortably or even really fully – but that’s for another time and another post). If you go apartment hunting in Germany, find a place you like, sign a lease, and then show up on move-in day…don’t be surprised if all of the kitchen appliances are missing when you get there.

I’m not talking on the level of blender and toaster. I mean the entire kitchen is probably going to be gone. Dishwasher, sink, fridge. Light fixtures. Cupboards. Faucets. Ventilator. Pipes. Cords. You will be faced with a mess of gaping holes and sad wires connected to nothing. And you will likely be hungry, to boot. In Germany, it’s normal to simply buy a “kitchen” and move it with you to your next apartment. I’m not sure where this tradition stems from, since as far as I know, it’s not the norm in many other European countries (Spain, Italy, and France, for sure). It seems like a self-perpetuating mess and I’m so glad that we have not had to do it, especially since it would run us a couple of thousands euros at the absolute cheapest.

IKEA is a typical store to turn to, but there are usually smaller, local stores as well. I know from friends that it’s possible to hook everything up yourself, which seems like a recipe for disaster. Anyone have any stories about their “küchen”-buying experience? Is this common in other countries?


9 responses to “Man muss: Buying a German kitchen

  1. Hi Sam,
    I think much of it depends on what “type” of kitchen it is. If it’s an “Einbauküche” [= built in and fitting to the millimeter] then it’s very difficult to take it with you on moving and have it fitted again to a new room of a different size. In that case the previous owner/renter might negotiate with the new one for a reasonable price to leave the kitchen. If, on the other hand, the kitchen is just a jumble of cabinets, cupboards, machinery etc. then people usually take it with them on moving and mostly all the new owner/renter finds is a sink with a cabinet. “Fully furnished” [= “möbliert”] is something you usually only find for one- or two-room appartments, say for students or itinerant workers [apartments for the latter are usually called “Monteurszimmer”].
    I have absolutely no idea what this German tradition originated from.
    Best regards from southern Texas,

    • I have heard of people negotiating to buy the existing kitchen, so it’s good that it’s an option. All of our places have been moebliert, for better or worse.

  2. This is definitely the case in Spain. When you rent an apartment, the expectation is that it will be “pelado” (:peeled, completely without fixtures. It’s so extreme that some places don’t even have light switches.

    • When we first moved here, I spent a lot of time wandering around the Uni and reading want ads taped up by students…a lot of them talked about selling entire “kitchens” and it really made me question my knowledge of German 🙂

  3. Well, I’ve bought two kitchens so far (you can get pretty cheap used ones on ebay or ebay kleinanzeigen btw ) and I’ve only lived in three different appartements in Germany since I moved out my parents’ home 10 years ago. I think that the habit of taking your kitchen with you comes from several things: when you move into a house/appartment that doesn’t have a kitchen you must buy one. Now it is yours, you might have spend a lot of money on it. Then you move and you think: well I might fit all kitchen things into our new place, maybe I just need to buy a new counter top, and the kitchen is still good anyway. Than this is far cheaper than selling the old kitchen. Because you will not get much money for a used kitchen definitively not enough to buy a new one. So you take the old kitchen with you and the next person has to buy a kitchen… My parents still have the kitchen they bought for the appartment they moved into over 30 years ago. It now lives as storage in the basement but it is still there, 4 moves later.

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