As you prepare to pack for your new assignment to Spangdahlem, you'll need to consider the differences that you'll encounter with housing space, storage space and electricity.
Some German houses and apartments have smaller rooms, hallways and staircases than what you are accustomed to stateside. Therefore, you may have trouble fitting extremely large or heavy furniture into your new home. Be prepared to look harder to find a place big enough to accommodate your furniture. Generally, you should be able to use all the furniture your weight allowance permits you to bring.
Most German houses don't have built-in closets or cabinets. The 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron Furnishings Management Office will loan two wardrobes per sponsor and one per family member for the duration of your stay at Spangdahlem. For some people, these "schranks" will not be enough. Expect that your new German residence will not have all of the storage you have in your stateside home--plan to bring shelving units with you and get creative.
The electrical current in Germany is 220 volts and 50 Hertz, while most American appliances operate on 110 volts and 60 Hertz. You will need a voltage adapter or transformer to use your appliances with American voltage/plugs in German electrical outlets. Every electrical appliance should be marked with its required voltage or wattage to determine the appropriate size transformer to use. If necessary, FMO will loan you up to two transformers for the duration of your tour.
Lamps work well by using 220-volt light bulbs and an inexpensive electrical plug adapter. Some government housing units have both 110- and 220-volt outlets. Although 110-volt appliances can be operated with transformers, long-term use can shorten appliance life.
Since the electrical current in Germany is 220-volts and 50 Hertz, you must determine if replacing your appliances with 220-volt appliances or using your 110-volt appliances with a transformer is a better option.
When using 110-volt appliances with heating elements, such as irons and toasters, the different hertz rating of the American product can affect heating capability. The same holds true for personal grooming items like hair dryers and curling irons.
Other items are recommended to be left behind altogether, such as space heaters, as they are expensive to use and can be unsafe.
Clocks that operate on 110 volts and 60 Hertz will not keep time properly (battery-operated clocks do work just fine, however). The timing function on devices such as microwaves, DVD players, etc. will also encounter problems keeping proper time.
If an appliance is old and unreliable, or if you are ready to replace it anyway, consider disposing of it and buying a new one here. Some newer products have built-in converters and can operate on 110- or 220-volt and 50 or 60 Hertz. Used appliances are also available upon arrival; many departing personnel sell their German specification items before leaving.
Vacuum cleaners can operate using a transformer, but you will need to test the vacuum's polarity using a polarity tester to ensure you don't damage the motor. The same holds true for any appliance with a motor. You can purchase these testers at the local Exchange.
People are discouraged from bringing microwaves to Germany. Instead, microwaves will be issued by FMO for your use during your tour. If you decide to bring a 110-volt microwave, it will work using a transformer but it will cook slower and the clock may not work correctly. When deciding to bring your 110-volt microwave, consider the age and quality of your microwave.
TVs, Stereos, Computers, Electronics
Many TVs, stereos, computers and other electronics are dual voltage. If an electronic is 110-volt a transformer can be used. Some base housing units have both 110-volt and 220-volt electrical outlets for ease of this situation.
The Armed Forces Network TV is broadcast on the NTSC frequency and all US-specification TVs will receive this frequency. Some TVs are multi-system and can receive both AFN and German channels. These types are TVs are also available for purchase at the Exchange. Paying for cable each month is an option to receive a wider variety of channels.
If you have a turntable, it may need to be converted to 50 Hertz to run at the proper speed. Not all turntables can be converted. Check this out with a local electrician before you leave the states.
Most personal computers are dual-voltage and only require an adaptor, but check with your computer's manufacturer to make sure. If your computer has a dual voltage switch, remember to completely unplug the computer before changing voltage otherwise you will burn out the computer power supply.
Your home telephone purchased in the US will work in Germany with an adaptor. However, you must get your phone approved by the German Telekom (telephone) company. Certain cordless phones may not be approved if they run on unapproved frequencies. Phones operating on approved frequencies can be purchased at your local Exchange or from servicemembers departing Germany.
It is unlikely to find a place in Germany where your drapes fit the windows perfectly. German windows require drapes longer than average American curtains. If you do not want to alter your draperies to fit the windows in Germany you may want to keep them in storage. All government housing will have drapes, which hang on German-style ceiling rods. Many people still bring drapes, curtains and rods (or order these from the states). German stores have beautiful sheers that you can buy in all price categories.
Flooring and Rugs
Almost all housing in Germany, both off-base and on, has tiled or wood flooring. Therefore, you may find you need to use rugs or other floor-coverings in your home. If you need to purchase rugs, it is important to note that many companies will not ship their large rugs to overseas or APO addresses. You are encouraged to bring your rugs with you or purchase them here. Rugs can also be purchased from your local Exchange or from local stores.
Many German houses and apartments have yards, patios or balconies. Although these outdoor spaces are usually smaller than what we are accustomed to stateside, they are still perfect areas for using your outdoor furniture. Germans love to barbecue and frequently do so.
Germans practice meticulous courtesy to protect everyone's rights and privacy. Heavy barbecue smoke in your neighbor's yard can be considered a gross intrusion. So, before you heat up the grill, consider how close you are to your neighbors and who your neighbors are.
Barbequing on an apartment balcony is not permitted.
For more information on household goods shipment guidelines, visit http://www.move.mil/home.htm