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Old 01-13-2019, 08:16 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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European housing - what's with all the doors and corridors?

I've been watching a YouTube vlog called "Kelly Does Her Thing" —https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdp...PXAJssVWAi-vlg —whose focus is to contrast what it's like living in Germany as compared to the United States. She lived in Germany for a while and when she returned to the United States, her German boyfriend came with her.

She has pointed out some unexpected differences between housing in Germany and the United States. Some of the most surprising to me:

1. When you rent an apartment in Germany, generally the previous renter will have removed all the overhead light fixtures and kitchen appliances. As a renter, you're responsible for providing your own light fixtures and equipping the kitchen. This seems like it would be really annoying.

2. The front door can't be left unlocked. It always locks behind you. In fact, you need a key to operate it from the inside. The craziest thing—you can get locked inside your residence if you don't have the key. Why would you want such a feature?

3. Germans use cash for a lot of things that say Americans and British people use cards. I rarely carry cash. I often encounter beggars on the streets that I would like to help, but I can't because I just don't carry cash. In fact, I avoid businesses that insist on cash payments. Yes, I know there are privacy and security concerns, but the time and trouble it takes to obtain and keep cash is not worth it to me.

4. Beds are really low.

5. You pay an estimated fee for your utilities in advance every month, instead of actual use at the end of the month.

But the most baffling thing to me is—why do German (and I believe other European) residences have so many doors and corridors? It seems like a tremendous waste of space. In large cities, and in Europe specifically, as opposed to America, space is at a premium. Why would you waste so much of that space on doors and corridors?

Why does a kitchen need a door? A door that locks? Why does a kitchen need to open onto a corridor? It's so much more efficient to have a kitchen, living room, and dining area share one big common space with no corridors and doors between them.

Can Europeans explain their views to me on this? Why would you prefer this arrangement and use of resources?

Last edited by Acsenray; 01-13-2019 at 08:21 PM.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:23 PM
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Oh, here's another one that's true in a lot of places outside of the United States and Canada—people dress nicely just to run errands or go to the store. I just go out in whatever I wear that's comfortable at home. Why would you bother?
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:37 PM
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I think some of these are specific to Germany, but related to the locks requiring a key from the inside.

Fire codes in the US require egress doors to be usable without a key due to tragic events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, Cocoanut Grove Nightclub Fire, and the Iroquois Theater Fire

Except as specifically permitted by this section, egress doors shall be readily openable from the egress side without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort.

I am betting if/when a similar loss of life is caused by egress doors that require a key happens in Germany they will also enact similar codes.

Last edited by rat avatar; 01-13-2019 at 08:40 PM.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:42 PM
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My cousin lived in Germany in the 80s & 90s and every time she moved to a new apartment, she had to install kitchen cabinets, as the prior tenant took those with him/her. I thought that practice was insane!
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:45 PM
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Why does a kitchen need a door? A door that locks? Why does a kitchen need to open onto a corridor? It's so much more efficient to have a kitchen, living room, and dining area share one big common space with no corridors and doors between them.
WAG: To make it easier to heat just the room(s) you're currently using?
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:57 PM
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But the most baffling thing to me is—why do German (and I believe other European) residences have so many doors and corridors? It seems like a tremendous waste of space. In large cities, and in Europe specifically, as opposed to America, space is at a premium. Why would you waste so much of that space on doors and corridors?
Could it be relative age? Do newer German residences still have these? Most of the pre-1965-ish residences I've stayed at in America for quite some time have had large corridors, whereas the ones built later have smaller or nonexistent corridors.

I'm not sure about the doors, that indeed does seem to be a difference as only bedrooms and bathrooms seem to have inside doors in America.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:49 PM
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I don't know if, or how, this would apply, but the Spanish (and it wouldn't surprise me if other European economies, as well) had a room tax. Closets were considered rooms and you paid a tax for it (accounts for armoire-type cabinets), stairwells were considered rooms and many stairs were outside the house. "Washrooms" were outside. The cynic in me says the many doors are so you can't claim the entire inside is one big room and pay only one tax.

The grain of salt you should take this with is mighty big.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:51 PM
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WAG: To make it easier to heat just the room(s) you're currently using?
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Could it be relative age? Do newer German residences still have these? Most of the pre-1965-ish residences I've stayed at in America for quite some time have had large corridors, whereas the ones built later have smaller or nonexistent corridors.
Yes and yes. Divided spaces are easier to heat or cool, and this matters if central heating/cooling is not available, or is not standard.

Plus, different social attitudes and expectations. The OP asks why all houses don't have a common kitchen, dining and living area and the answer is because the kitchen is a workspace, dining is a formal activity and the living area is for recreation, and each of these uses has their own requirements and in at least some cases it was seen as simply inappropriate not to separate them - even if you often ate informally in the kitchen, you would still need a formal dining area and that would need to be a separate space from the kitchen.
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:10 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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WAG: To make it easier to heat just the room(s) you're currently using?
My impression is that the climate in much of Europe is much less variable than in most of the United States, so they don't spend as much on heating and cooling as we do. Maybe I'm wrong about that.

Okay, grant that is the reason. Why does the door need a lock?

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Could it be relative age?
The apartment Kelly was showing looked quite modern to me.

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... the kitchen is a workspace, dining is a formal activity and the living area is for recreation, and each of these uses has their own requirements and in at least some cases it was seen as simply inappropriate not to separate them
Do Europeans still feel this way?

Okay, grant that is the reason. Why do these rooms all need to open onto corridors? Why not have, say, the kitchen and the dining room open directly into the living room?

Last edited by Acsenray; 01-13-2019 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 01-13-2019, 10:27 PM
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Do Europeans still feel this way?
Less so than in the past. New houses are more open-plan/interconnected than older ones.

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Okay, grant that is the reason. Why do these rooms all need to open onto corridors? Why not have, say, the kitchen and the dining room open directly into the living room?
They often do. Partly its a matter of what's optimal given the layout of the site. But partly it's also because of the sense that the living area or the dining-room shouldn't be a thoroughfare. People going from, e.g., the front door to the kitchen should have to pass through the dining room or the living room, which may disturb people who are dining, or reading, or watching television, or whatever.

Generally the more formal the house, the greater the degree of separation bewteen spaces. But a pretty standard arrangement is for a front door opening into a hallway, which contains the staircase to the upper floors, and off which the kitchen, the dining room and the living room open. There's often direct access from the kitchen to the dining room (for service) and sometimes from the dining room to the living room.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:26 PM
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But a pretty standard arrangement is for a front door opening into a hallway, which contains the staircase to the upper floors, and off which the kitchen, the dining room and the living room open.
I read something about German sitcoms copying the US style with front doors opening directly into the living room. I’ve never seen any myself, so I don’t know if that’s true.

Japanese houses are more similar to the European style, with doors between rooms and an entry hall.
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Old 01-14-2019, 12:14 AM
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I read something about German sitcoms copying the US style with front doors opening directly into the living room. I’ve never seen any myself, so I don’t know if that’s true.
I would guess that up until the 1940s or 1950s, American house design was much more likely to involve separate rooms connected by doors, and to involve a central hall or corridor. Open-plan and interconnected house design then became fashionable, but it was a generation or more before the fashion was taken up in Europe and, even then, not to anything like the same extent.

Front doors opening directly into living rooms may be convenient for dramatic purposes, or simply for ease of set design/construction. But where do you hang up your wet coat and leave your dirty boots and dripping umbrella?
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:01 AM
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South Asian houses often have a seperate outside enterance for drawing rooms. Typically you have a verandah outside where you will leave that stuff.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:13 AM
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2. The front door can't be left unlocked. It always locks behind you. In fact, you need a key to operate it from the inside. The craziest thing—you can get locked inside your residence if you don't have the key. Why would you want such a feature?
I've lived in Germany all my life, and I don't recall ever seeing that. Sure, you're generally able to lock a door from the inside, but you don't have to, and if you don't, operating the handle is all you need to open it. The door generally can't be opened from the outside without a key, though.

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But the most baffling thing to me is—why do German (and I believe other European) residences have so many doors and corridors? It seems like a tremendous waste of space. In large cities, and in Europe specifically, as opposed to America, space is at a premium. Why would you waste so much of that space on doors and corridors?
Lots of houses are pretty old; building large open spaces simply wasn't practical with the building materials of the day. For newer houses, I'd WAG that it's just the way houses are 'supposed' to look, by now.

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Why does a kitchen need a door? A door that locks? Why does a kitchen need to open onto a corridor? It's so much more efficient to have a kitchen, living room, and dining area share one big common space with no corridors and doors between them.
A part of it is a dislike for thoroughfares and efficiency of heating, as has already been mentioned. However, in the case of the kitchen, another part is to keep cooking smells out of the living space.

Last edited by Half Man Half Wit; 01-14-2019 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:54 AM
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Front doors opening directly into living rooms may be convenient for dramatic purposes, or simply for ease of set design/construction. But where do you hang up your wet coat and leave your dirty boots and dripping umbrella?
In my experience, in the suburban homes where these open plans are most common, the front door is not necessarily the door most commonly used by the residents.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-14-2019 at 01:57 AM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:23 AM
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My cousin lived in Germany in the 80s & 90s and every time she moved to a new apartment, she had to install kitchen cabinets, as the prior tenant took those with him/her. I thought that practice was insane!
It's not insane. It's just considered "furniture". In American, we take our couch, TV, curtains, lamps, and beds with us when we move. The washer and dryer are often owned by the tenant as well. In Germany, in addutuon to those things previously mentioned, cabinets and light fixtures are also considered furniture and our owned by the tenant. You wouldnt expect the previous tenant to leave behind a tv and dressers. Same with kitchen appliances and cabinets.

Your cousin would not have been buying a new kitchen everytime she moved. Rather, she should have been taking her old kitchen with her and installing it in the new apartment.

Also consider that in Germany, and probably much of Europe, renting a house is usually a long term thing. Leases are often 10 or 20 year deals.

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Old 01-14-2019, 04:39 AM
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European housing - what's with all the doors and corridors?

In Japan, the kitchens have cabinets but appliances such as refrigerators are the tenants’. Also, since AC is done with room units, that is also supplied by the tenants.

Taiwanese apartments come with more furniture, including —sometimes — an odd bed or such.

Last edited by TokyoBayer; 01-14-2019 at 04:40 AM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:47 AM
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Corridors! We used to dream of living in corridors.
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:16 AM
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2. The front door can't be left unlocked. It always locks behind you. In fact, you need a key to operate it from the inside. The craziest thing—you can get locked inside your residence if you don't have the key. Why would you want such a feature?
Are you sure you can't open it from inside without a key? I've had doors that lock automatically in the UK, but they always had 2 different settings- if you just pull it closed, it can't be opened from outside, but can be opened with just the handle/knob thing from inside. You also can lock it from the inside ('deadlock it'), which might mean you need two keys from outside, and one from inside. We never actually used that feature.

My flat in the UK requires a key to open the door from the inside, but it doesn't lock behind me automatically. I'm not especially a fan, but it does mean you can't go out forgetting your keys (unlike the place with auto locking doors).
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:46 AM
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But the most baffling thing to me is—why do German (and I believe other European) residences have so many doors and corridors? It seems like a tremendous waste of space. In large cities, and in Europe specifically, as opposed to America, space is at a premium. Why would you waste so much of that space on doors and corridors?
I've been thinking about this, and I wonder if the space being at a premium actually cuts the other way in some cases. It's all well and good to have one big common space if you have enough private space elsewhere, but what if you don't? If the bedrooms aren't large enough to be much more than bedrooms, couldn't the house feel smaller if the only other place to go was the combined room containing the combined living, cooking, and dining space?

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Old 01-14-2019, 05:48 AM
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There's locking and locking. In the UK, I'm used to a Yale (spring) lock, that will automatically lock behind you, requiring a key to open from outside, but opens from inside by turning a handle (there is also a snib so it can be deadlocked from the inside as well if you wish). External doors will usually have an additional mortice/deadlock (insurance companies insist, but I've never used mine).

On the Continent, I'm familiar with combination locks that act both on a spring as above, and with an extra turn or two of the key, from inside or outside, act also as a deadlock.

It comes to much the same thing in the end. One advantage of the continental type is that, once inside, you can keep the keys in the lock - then you always know where they are!

Last edited by PatrickLondon; 01-14-2019 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:17 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I would guess that up until the 1940s or 1950s, American house design was much more likely to involve separate rooms connected by doors, and to involve a central hall or corridor. Open-plan and interconnected house design then became fashionable, but it was a generation or more before the fashion was taken up in Europe and, even then, not to anything like the same extent.
My last three residences—a one-bedroom apartment and two houses of approx 1,000 sq ft—were all built in the 1940s and 1950s. They are all open in the kitchen/dining/living areas. The front doors open into the living areas. Corridors and doors are only in the bedroom and bathroom section.

In fact, of all the residences I’ve lived in in my life I have never lived in a place where the kitchen or living room have doors. The only places with an entrance hall have been my parents’ large suburban houses where there’s no need to use space efficiently.
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Front doors opening directly into living rooms may be convenient for dramatic purposes, or simply for ease of set design/construction. But where do you hang up your wet coat and leave your dirty boots and dripping umbrella?
You have a coat closet off the living room. Even in my parents’ houses, if your umbrella or boots were excessively wet or dirty, you left them outside.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:29 AM
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As an "European" (a Finn, in my case) I find this thread funny because almost all of those points sound like Germany-specific things. Out of the first 5, only 4th might be true here as well (not sure what counts as a low bed) and our new apartments and houses don't really have any more doors and corridors than US houses.

For things like cash use we probably use less cash than people in US and in our neighbor Sweden they are getting really close to a cashless society, to a point where many places do not even accept cash any more.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:30 AM
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There is a UK building regulation that says you have to have a minimum of 2 doors between a kitchen and a bathroom/toilet. I have friends who live in a tiny 1 bedroom studio flat with a combined living room, bedroom and kitchen. There's a tiny corridor no more than 2 foot long with a door at each end to satisfy this reg. The doors have to open outwards as the corridor isn't long enough for them to open inward.
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:44 AM
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coupla things... first being the obvious. There is no 'European' way with these things, and what seems strange about German style homes would be just as strange to a Brit or an Italian as an American.

Secondly, on the kitchen doors things, one thing to consider is local building regulations. For example, in homes in the UK, you must have a fire door between the kitchen and the 'fire exit', which in apartments frequently means the hallway. I'm not up on the intricacies of building regs, but it certainly applies to multi residential properties (ie apartment blocks).

Building regs obviously vary wildly, but that may be one explanation.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:33 AM
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Germans use cash for a lot of things that say Americans and British people use cards.
Switzerland is the same way. There are people who actually use the 1000 franc note (roughly the same in USD) for personal transactions.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-14-2019 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:56 AM
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As an "European" (a Finn, in my case) I find this thread funny because almost all of those points sound like Germany-specific things.
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coupla things... first being the obvious. There is no 'European' way with these things, and what seems strange about German style homes would be just as strange to a Brit or an Italian as an American.
Well, I chose my thread title and OP specifically to get responses like this, so thank you! If this is all just weird German stuff, please, people of Europe, tell me that!
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:55 AM
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Having a separate kitchen keeps all the cooking smells away from the rest of the house.
Do you really want your main living area to be smelling of curry, or fish, whatever, a lot of the time? Yes, I know there are extractor fans but they can't catch everything.

And we keep the kitchen door closed while cooking because too much steam sets off the smoke alarm in the corridor outside!
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Old 01-14-2019, 12:51 PM
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There is a UK building regulation that says you have to have a minimum of 2 doors between a kitchen and a bathroom/toilet. I have friends who live in a tiny 1 bedroom studio flat with a combined living room, bedroom and kitchen. There's a tiny corridor no more than 2 foot long with a door at each end to satisfy this reg. The doors have to open outwards as the corridor isn't long enough for them to open inward.
I was curious about this, as I remembered hearing about that when my Grandpa got a dodgy extension, but my flat, built less than 10 years ago, has only 1 door between the bathroom and the open plan living room/kitchen. Apparently it's no longer considered to be a strict rule, and can be waived by the local authority, so long as there is a sink for handwashing in the bathroom (and yes, some old houses do have the toilet and the sink in separate rooms, yes, I think that's bizarre as well).
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:26 PM
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We visited my father's sister and her family in Birmingham around 1980 and I remember the bathroom sink being outside the room containing the toilet. I found it weird. But then again, I've been in hotel rooms in the US where that was the case.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:33 PM
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Having a separate kitchen keeps all the cooking smells away from the rest of the house.
Do you really want your main living area to be smelling of curry, or fish, whatever, a lot of the time? Yes, I know there are extractor fans but they can't catch everything.
Well, if you're asking my personal opinion—In my nearly 50 years, I've lived in a total of 5 houses and 6 apartments (not counting dormitories). Not one of them has had separation between the kitchen, dining, and living areas.

So, I guess, no, I don't care if I smell curry, or fish, whatever, a lot of the time. My entire life, most of the time, I can smell what's cooking in the kitchen everywhere in the house, even in the bedrooms of my parents' large suburban houses.

My kitchens have fans too, but I only use them to remove smoke from vigorous frying or burnt food. I've never used them to remove kitchen smells. So, no, I don't care if the house smells like what's cooking, and it seems to me that most people in North America don't care either.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:42 PM
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As an "European" (a Finn, in my case) I find this thread funny because almost all of those points sound like Germany-specific things. Out of the first 5, only 4th might be true here as well (not sure what counts as a low bed) and our new apartments and houses don't really have any more doors and corridors than US houses.

For things like cash use we probably use less cash than people in US and in our neighbor Sweden they are getting really close to a cashless society, to a point where many places do not even accept cash any more.
Interesting how these things vary around the world. As you say Sweden is becoming cashless. Contrast that with Japan and China, which I visited recently, where you still need cash for almost everything. For example: In Japan, the machines to add money to the subway tickets take only cash. In China, the luggage storage at the airport takes only cash.
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Old 01-14-2019, 01:46 PM
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You also can lock it from the inside ('deadlock it'), which might mean you need two keys from outside, and one from inside.
What's the point of that?
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:15 PM
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What's the point of that?
Dunno, really, but the place I lived before here had a lock like that. I lived there about 4 years, and no-one ever used the second lock.

I guess the idea is it's harder to pick or break open two locks, or that you can give a key to a neighbour so they can feed the cat, but you can still lock them out if you wanted.
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Old 01-14-2019, 03:20 PM
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It's not insane. It's just considered "furniture". In American, we take our couch, TV, curtains, lamps, and beds with us when we move. The washer and dryer are often owned by the tenant as well. In Germany, in addutuon to those things previously mentioned, cabinets and light fixtures are also considered furniture and our owned by the tenant. You wouldnt expect the previous tenant to leave behind a tv and dressers. Same with kitchen appliances and cabinets.

Your cousin would not have been buying a new kitchen everytime she moved. Rather, she should have been taking her old kitchen with her and installing it in the new apartment.

Also consider that in Germany, and probably much of Europe, renting a house is usually a long term thing. Leases are often 10 or 20 year deals.
Insane? No. Different? Yes. Inefficient? Highly likely. I have never rented or bought housing in Germany, but in the US there is virtually zero change of your old cabinets fitting the new kitchen/bathrooms. Same for light fixtures - there is not likely going to be the same number and distribution of fixed lighting locations in the new place. Lamps I can see, taking fixtures, though, make no sense to this Yankee brain.

The rule of thumb in the US is that if it is bolted, nailed, hard wired or otherwise "permanently" affixed, it stays unless explicitly disclosed.

Last edited by Doctor Jackson; 01-14-2019 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:12 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by Filbert View Post
Dunno, really, but the place I lived before here had a lock like that. I lived there about 4 years, and no-one ever used the second lock.

I guess the idea is it's harder to pick or break open two locks, or that you can give a key to a neighbour so they can feed the cat, but you can still lock them out if you wanted.
It seems to me that any competent robber would just bust through the door rather than bother picking locks. It's not that hard in most residences, with basically one simple tool.

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Originally Posted by Doctor Jackson View Post
Insane? No. Different? Yes. Inefficient? Highly likely. I have never rented or bought housing in Germany, but in the US there is virtually zero change of your old cabinets fitting the new kitchen/bathrooms.
In the Kelly vlog I watched, she pointed out how her kitchen appliances didn't perfectly fit in the space available.
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:21 PM
doreen doreen is online now
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My last three residences—a one-bedroom apartment and two houses of approx 1,000 sq ft—were all built in the 1940s and 1950s. They are all open in the kitchen/dining/living areas. The front doors open into the living areas. Corridors and doors are only in the bedroom and bathroom section.

The three places I've lived have had semi-open living room/kitchen/dining areas. And by that, I mean there wasn't necessarily a door between them but there was a either a doorway or a partial wall. But here's the thing - one of those apartments did have the kitchen , living room and dining room connected to each other by doorways without a hallway inside the apartment - but there was a hallway outside the apartment with doors to the kitchen and two other rooms. The other apartment was built as a one family house and was converted into a 2 family and in the remodeling the hallway ended up outside of the apartment*. And then there's my house , which you can see was originally built with a hallway to the kitchen running alongside the stairs to the second floor. You can tell it was built that way because of the hardwood flooring (which still has the borders that reflect the hallway) , the beam in the living room ( presumably, it replaced a load bearing wall) and by the other houses in the neighborhood that still have either the hallway or parts of that wall.

This is kind of long way around to say that just because your apartments that were built in the '40s and '50s had the big open space, it doesn't mean they were built that way.




* That apartment did not come with a refrigerator- I had to buy my own.
  #38  
Old 01-14-2019, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
Oh, here's another one that's true in a lot of places outside of the United States and Canada—people dress nicely just to run errands or go to the store. I just go out in whatever I wear that's comfortable at home. Why would you bother?
Interesting discussion. I'll tackle this question.

I STILL change out of my comfy house clothes to go out and run errands. Maybe it's just nicer jeans or something, but I would never go out in public what I'm wearing at this moment-- sweatpants and a tank top. I "bother" because I care how I look and care how others see me. When I was a kid in the 50s and 60s you made an effort to look respectable when you left the house. You dressed up for school, for church, to go shopping, and to travel by plane. It was a sign of self-respect and respect for the people who have to look at you. Some places still have those standards.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:09 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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First of all, those are not corridors, they are hallways. In 72 years I have never heard anyone refer to a hallway in a residence as a "corridor".

Dennis
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:13 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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In 72 years I have never heard anyone refer to a hallway in a residence as a "corridor".
Well, then you learned today that some people call hallways "corridors." See, 72 isn't too old to learn something.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:38 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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First of all, those are not corridors, they are hallways. In 72 years I have never heard anyone refer to a hallway in a residence as a "corridor".
How are you defining corridor that it's not a synonym of hallway?
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:17 PM
UDS UDS is offline
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How are you defining corridor that it's not a synonym of hallway?
A corridor is a space whose sole or dominant purpose is to faciliate movement between other spaces. You do little or nothing in a corridor except move along it to get to the space you want to be in.

A hall is a large room which may have other rooms opening off it and so may serve as a thoroughfare to those rooms, but which is also big enough for other uses or functions, particularly social uses such as dining or entertaining. A hall offers little or no privacy from other occupants of the building. An entrance hall is such a room into which the main entrance of a house gives, and it will be used for at least the initial reception of visitors. Obviously, the grander the house the larger a hall is likely to be, and the more potential uses it has.

You could argue that if a modern US house has a large space used for dining and recreation (and possibly cooking) with bedrooms, bathrooms, storage space, etc opening off it, that's a hall, even if we don't call it that.

A hallway (which is predominantly a US term) combines the two senses. Its primary function is for movement between spaces, but it can have secondary uses - for example storage (in a school, student lockers are often in the hallway) or a certain amount of social intercourse with people that you meet in the hallway.

Would "hallway" typically be used for a space in a modest private home in the US? Would the area into which the front door opens (if it's a distinct space from the main living area) typically be referred to as a "hallway"? Or something else?
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:34 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Under your own definitions, my uses of “corridor” in this thread encompass “hallway.”
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:39 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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And this is a dumb point to argue. You know very well that even in American English close synonyms are often used in different ways by individuals and groups.

I use “hallway” for these things too. For whatever reason, I decided upon “corridor” in this thread because it seemed appropriate to me. To me, a lifelong speaker of American English, it was an appropriate usage. Live with it.

My wife uses the term “passage,” because that’s the term used in Indian English. If I had said “passage” would you be going on and on about it?
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:45 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
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Originally Posted by UDS View Post
Would "hallway" typically be used for a space in a modest private home in the US? Would the area into which the front door opens (if it's a distinct space from the main living area) typically be referred to as a "hallway"? Or something else?
Like Ascenray said, I can't speak for all American dialects, but I seldom if ever hear a "corridor" being spoken of in a modest private home in the U.S. It's either "hallway", or sometimes "foyer" (with various pronunciations) if it's also the entranceway.

If I heard the term "corridor" out of context, I would think of an internal, non-residential, passageway, in either an office-style building or apartment complex.

That said, I didn't take the term to imply anything other than what most Americans call a "hallway", because the context is obviously residential homes.
  #46  
Old 01-14-2019, 08:58 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post

She has pointed out some unexpected differences between housing in Germany and the United States. Some of the most surprising to me:

1. When you rent an apartment in Germany, generally the previous renter will have removed all the overhead light fixtures and kitchen appliances. As a renter, you're responsible for providing your own light fixtures and equipping the kitchen. This seems like it would be really annoying.
True in France too. Although the apartment I'm currently residing had a small fridge in it when I moved in. The reason? The same reason why you bring your own furniture and your own computer when you move. It would be more convenient too if you didn't have to, no? It surprised me a lot when I read for the first time that kitchen appliances were provided in the USA. Probably as it would surprise you if you were told that somewhere, when you rent a place, there's already a desk with a computer in it.


Quote:
2. The front door can't be left unlocked. It always locks behind you. In fact, you need a key to operate it from the inside. The craziest thing—you can get locked inside your residence if you don't have the key. Why would you want such a feature?
Not always true, but relatively common. I don't know what doors are like typically in the USA, but over here, metal reinforced safety doors are indeed common. And indeed they lock partially when you close them. From the inside, you normally have a small trigger that you can move to open it without the key. There of course could be safety doors that *don't* lock when you close them, I suppose. I assume the reason is to avoid forgetting to lock the door when you leave or even when you're inside for that matter, but I'm not sure. I'm pretty sure that burglaries are much more common in Europe than in the USA. Having such a door once allowed me to prove to my insurance company that I couldn't have forgotten to lock the door when my apartment was burglarized without breaking in (presumably with the use of an unauthorized copy of the key).

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3. Germans use cash for a lot of things that say Americans and British people use cards. I rarely carry cash. I often encounter beggars on the streets that I would like to help, but I can't because I just don't carry cash. In fact, I avoid businesses that insist on cash payments. Yes, I know there are privacy and security concerns, but the time and trouble it takes to obtain and keep cash is not worth it to me.
Using cash for everything still hasn't become common over here, either. For the longest time, no shop would accept a card payment below a certain amount. It used to be about 15 euros. For the last 5-10, shops have begun progressively to accept cards for any amount, but a lot of people still tend to use actual money, if only, like me, because it just doesn't occur to them that they could use a card.

If other Europeans also tend to use cash for small payments, Germans however, have a specificity. They also use cash for *big* amounts. Like buying an appliance or sometimes even a car.

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4. Beds are really low.
Wouldn't know, since I've no clue how high beds are in the USA.

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5. You pay an estimated fee for your utilities in advance every month, instead of actual use at the end of the month.
Partly true here too. Although it's not in advance. I'm paying an estimated fee every two months (but at the end of the period) and the actual use is only established once a year (or at the end of the occupation).

Quote:
But the most baffling thing to me is—why do German (and I believe other European) residences have so many doors and corridors? It seems like a tremendous waste of space. In large cities, and in Europe specifically, as opposed to America, space is at a premium. Why would you waste so much of that space on doors and corridors?
That's a good question. True also over here, but less and less so. Until maybe the 60s-70s, appartements indeed tended to be build with all these corridors, and I too am baffled at the waste of space. Apartments build more recently, or remodeled, tend to not have these anymore. I suspect it was just something traditional, without real reason. People expected to have an entrance corridor, so they put one even though in a small appartement it made no sense. Maybe an heirloom from a time when visitors were sometimes allowed only in the entrance??? Don't know, really.

However, regarding the kitchen/dining area I remember that when I was raised in a very backward countryside, the kitchen and the dining room in many large houses were two distinct areas. The kitchen doubled as dining area, and that's where you would eat normally or receive casual visitors. The dining room, on the other hand, was away from the kitchen, and was only used when you had guests. So it was essentially a reception room. The living room was often in the same space as the dining room and tended to not be used that much. People (like my grandmother who raised me) spent most of their day in the kitchen that was the main living space (my grandmother would read there, watch TV there, open her mail or pay her bills there, etc..). In normal circumstances, the dining room/living room was mostly unused except as my playground. And I've seen the same arrangement, as I said, in other houses if they were large enough. If we casually visited a relative, we would stay in the kitchen the whole time. If we went there for a larger family gathering, it would take place in the dining room/living room. People with large families/small houses of course didn't have this arrangement. But, I think interestingly, neither farmhouses nor other really old houses had it. In these houses, there was a really large common space with the fireplace, that was at the same time the kitchen, the dining room and you probably could say also the living room and was even partially a working space.

So my guess is that the kitchen being a separate room with doors was a survivance from a specific period of time (I would suspect from the late 19th to the mid-20th century) when the dining/living room was for relatively formal situations, (even though it wasn't adapted to rather small apartments), itself probably an imitation of the way of life of upper classes who had reception rooms distinct from the living quarters, and where the kitchen that was the dominion of the staff. But it's just a guess.
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Last edited by clairobscur; 01-14-2019 at 09:02 PM.
  #47  
Old 01-14-2019, 09:11 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by clairobscur View Post
True in France too.
How do you feel about that? Would you like it if France changed to a system that assumed that light fixtures and kitchen appliances remained with the apartment?

In the U.S., we have a strange exception that the clothes washer and dryer don’t stay with a house, but they do stay with an apartment.



Quote:
Not always true, but relatively common. I don't know what doors are like typically in the USA, but over here, metal reinforced safety doors are indeed common.
Metal-reinforced safety doors are not standard here. And even if there were, it would be easy to break a window or a back door to get in. It also wouldn’t be that hard to break the door frame around a reinforced door.

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If other Europeans also tend to use cash for small payments, Germans however, have a specificity. They also use cash for *big* amounts. Like buying an appliance or sometimes even a car.
Boggles the mind!

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Wouldn't know, since I've no clue how high beds are in the USA.
I’ll measure mine tonight and get back to you.

Thanks for the detailed French perspective!

Last edited by Acsenray; 01-14-2019 at 09:12 PM.
  #48  
Old 01-14-2019, 09:12 PM
Morgyn Morgyn is offline
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Having a separate kitchen keeps all the cooking smells away from the rest of the house.
Do you really want your main living area to be smelling of curry, or fish, whatever, a lot of the time? Yes, I know there are extractor fans but they can't catch everything.
I'd say many of us do. When I make a pot roast or spaghetti sauce or adobo, for instance, I'll sit in my comfy chairTM happily smelling my dinner cooking for hours (the first two require low-and-slow cooking, the adobe requires a long marinade so it's mostly in the fridge but it sure smells good when I open the door!). Many Americans enjoy smelling holiday meals as they cook all day. It's the wipe-the-drool-off-your-chin anticipatory prelude to a delicious meal. (I'd probably draw the line at fish, myself, but I'm not a big fish eater.)

And, of course, nothing beats the scent of cookies baking.

In any case, the scents generally clear within a couple of hours after eating and doing the dishes. I've never lived anyplace where they stuck around for days on end or permeated the paint or fabric in the dwelling to the point that the scent never went away.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:17 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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I have heard some white Americans complain about moving into a house the the previous residents cooked a lot of Asian food and the smells “got into the walls,” but I don’t know why people would mind smelling their own cooking in the house.
  #50  
Old 01-14-2019, 09:27 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Originally Posted by UDS View Post
Yes and yes. Divided spaces are easier to heat or cool, and this matters if central heating/cooling is not available, or is not standard.
I didn't think of that in my previous post when I ascribed the separation to a tradition of having a distinct reception area.

But in fact, this might be the explanation. Where I was living, the kitchen (which as I said was the main living space) was heated with a wood stove, while the separate dining room/living room was heated with a fireplace. We had central heating, but in the view of my grandmother born in 1899, that was a fancy thing to be used with moderation, and many if not most of the other houses didn't have it at all.

And now, I in fact remember that when I was a child I was constantly told to close the doors.

So, I now suspect this is the explanation for the separate rooms with doors.
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