From Berlin to Bridgewater in less than a year

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By Bastian Gruber, Treehouse Village community member

It has been a big year of trade-offs and jumping in an adventure head first. Joining a co-housing community and moving to a small town were, what we thought, the biggest challenges. Shortly after we signed the TVE shareholders’ agreement, we felt the floor ripped beneath us with the announcement of the 35% price increase. 

Not having any financial ties in Canada meant an almost impossible challenge to get a home financed. We not only had to say goodbye to friends and family, we had to break the close relationship between Cora and Marlo with their German grandparents, so we could move to a small town in the middle of a forest, with no clear path to how we would actually pay for it. 

Until we finally stepped foot into our unit at TVE around 11 months later, we went through a roller coaster of mapping out plan A to F, with different branches and fallback scenarios. After feeling we knew the Nova Scotia housing market better than any realtor, we had to accept there is no guarantee, but just a feeling that it’s the right thing to move and just go for it. 

“It is not too late… (to cancel our plans)” was a very prominent sentence each time we made a decision to move forward. Booking a flight ticket, canceling the free daycare spot where the kids played in a little forest each day. Hugging crying daycare workers and explaining to Cora’s and Marlo’s friends that no, there is also sunshine in Canada and not just snow and winter. Saying goodbye to the apartment we moved into when Emily was pregnant, which we grew into like a second suite and got to love the most about our life in Berlin. 

It seemed as though our environment wanted to wave us goodbye. The lovely, family-run bakery closed their doors after 20 years, the bar around the corner with locally brewed beer for 2 Euros shortly after. Our coffee shop — where they saw our tired first and second baby night-eyes, and didn’t even have to ask what we needed before handing us an americano, before holding the door open and pushing our stroller out the door — changed the owner a few months before we left. Shops around us closed in a span of 6 months, and we felt the city wanted to make it easier for us to say our good-byes. 

Four weeks before we left, our closest family friends bought a farm in Spain. We thanked them for pushing us to find an intentional community, said sorry for not wanting to learn Spanish with them, and moved into their apartment for the remainder of our time in the city. We flew out and before boarding our last flight from Frankfurt to Halifax, there was a deep look in our eyes, saying: “It’s not too late…”

We arrived in Halifax, greeted by cheerful Mike and Meg, and we knew we were at the right place. Eating cookies from Kathy Horton, a home prepared by Scott and Becky, and the freshest air we have ever smelled. 

The first weeks were bumpy, to say the least. But going through our diaries and notes from years ago (“I wish we would live closer to friends”, “I wish we had more people in our lives”), gave us the strength to endure tired, sad and overwhelmed kids and ourselves. 

We arrived, and hope after the winter hibernation and after gathering some strength, we can call this place our home. A place where we will wave our kids good-bye onto their next journey, thinking about the 15 wonderful years they had here, hugging our friends we grew close to. Stories we can tell our grandchildren that, sometimes, the right decision is the one which feels wrong on paper.

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