I was married, for the second time, in 2009 in the city of Berlin in Germany. I had known my husband for 12 years at that point and we had been together for 7 years as a couple.
My husband was born and raised in Germany. He started taking me to his home country shortly after we started dating. We decided to get married in Berlin because that city holds such a special place in our hearts. Restaurants, beer gardens for Peter and boutiques for me. Christmas time is also very special for us in Germany. Time spent with Peter’s family, the outdoor Christmas markets, drinking Glühwein and last minute holiday shopping are all so special. New Year’s Eve celebrations with all night fireworks throughout the city of Berlin is magical and fun.
Before long it became clear that holiday time in Berlin was becoming more of a tradition. We were also enjoying spending summers there as well. Soon, talk of renting or owning an apartment in Berlin became the subject of frequent conversations in our home. And, although this was a nice dream to have, how on earth was this going to become a reality? How would we afford it? What if I didn’t like being there more than a few weeks at a time? What about work? Many questions swirled and fears arose. I can’t do this until I retire and by then I’ll be too old. I can’t even afford to retire. Maybe I could get a job there or work as a military hygienist. Ugh! Then what’s the point if I have to work and not be able to travel in Europe, while in Europe. It all seemed like an impossible dream. One that I am writing about while sitting at my desk, looking out onto the balcony from my beautiful apartment in Berlin’s trendy Prenzlauerberg neighborhood.
You see, a dream met with focus and determination, becomes a reality!
Less than a year after our wedding, our financial situation was in serious jeopardy. Job loss for me and limited opportunities for Peter in the recession. Instead of being a victim to my circumstances, I delved into my real estate investing education and more debt. But, I was laser focused and committed AF to succeed. The details of that journey are the subject of an entirely separate blog post. Many lessons along the way for sure. But, suffice it to say, once we honed in and focused on Berlin, we took actionable steps to make it happen.
At first, we worked hard at achieving a measure of success in real estate investing. Working on growing capital and cash flowing investments while researching real estate in Berlin. Berlin is a relatively inexpensive place to live, especially compared to the Bay area where we live. When the market conditions were right, we decided to purchase an apartment. That was not as easy as we had thought. We had some capital for this investment, but as foreign investors, our down payment costs would run between 50-60% of the purchase price. Yikes! So we put our brains to work and got creative. In the midst of all of this, I got the bright idea to have us try out for House Hunters International (a cable reality TV show on HGTV). I thought if those folks could do it, so can I.
Within 4 years of declaring the dream, we purchased our little cozy home in Berlin. A year after that, our story was told (sort of) on House Hunters International and we had our 15-30 minutes of fleeting fame. You can message me privately if you want the link to the episode. It’s funny!
“Dream, Declare, Deliver”
Yes, it took some work and planning, and was stressful and challenging. We made it happen and now we get to enjoy the results before it’s too late to enjoy. And, because we are investors too, we have the best of both worlds. Having an investment property with a little cash flow to pay the mortgage, and a place to call home while visiting our favorite city in Germany. We get to live our dream and continue to build on it.
What’s next?? I declare 3 months out of the year spent living and traveling in Europe. Stay tuned…..