Let the adventure begin!
Three weeks ago, our plane touched down in Geneva, Switzerland. It marked the beginning of the next exciting chapter of our lives – American expats in Europe! Since then, we’ve been bouncing from one temporary housing situation to the next while desperately trying to find an apartment. In the end, it took us nearly a month to find an apartment and sign a one-year lease. During that time, we stayed with two Airbnb hosts and two different pet-friendly hotels. Now August 1st, we look back on some of the trials and discoveries of our first few eventful weeks in Switzerland.
For the first 6 days, we stayed in a guest room at an Airbnb in Old Town Fribourg. Though we were pretty cramped with three adults and our three pets in our host’s tiny flat, she was gracious in sharing her space.
Unfortunately, I accidentally blew up her glass stove top, which set us back 200 chf. For 50 chf/night, it still was far cheaper and better than a hotel.
Plus I learned my first lesson in Switzerland; you don’t cook directly on glass stove tops like in the States You lift the glass.
Because our first Airbnb had other guests already booked for part of July, we had to leave after less than a week. Taking a cab, we headed to the adorable Hotel du Faucon, also in Old Town Fribourg, for just one night.
After packing everything up (luggage, pets, catbox, etc), we left the Hotel du Faucon and moved to another Airbnb we found with just a few hours’ notice. I’ll never forget when we first arrived at the apartment and were greeted by Z & Jo, the couple who had listed a single room in their apartment. They were so welcoming, funny, and immediately treated us like old friends. We ended up staying for a week, after which time we had to leave because they too had other guests arriving.
Our week with Z & Jo was entirely memorable, with a trip to Thun Lake to go paddle boarding (instead of apartment hunting), traditional Moroccan dinner cooked by her parents, and mornings spent chatting around the breakfast table. They included us in their fantastic circle of friends, for which we’ll always be grateful. They set the tone for our entire time living in Switzerland!
We next landed at a hotel called the Hine Adon. This particular hotel is an extended-stay place, offering nightly, weekly, or monthly rates, so we booked for nine days.
Our stay there was entirely unpleasant. In just over a week, we ran out of the single roll of TP the hotel provided, the toilet worked poorly – then completely stopped flushing, and the fridge broke. The groceries we’d bought rotted in the time it took them to fix it. Plus the workers left a huge gross pool of putrid water on the floor when they were finished, and neither they nor hotel staff cleaned it up. With nothing else to use, we sopped it up with one of the bath towels we had, ringing it out repeatedly in the sink. Gross.
We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
Home, Sweet Home!
In a stroke of luck, we found an advertisement for a gorgeous house in the country.
Not only was it posted directly by the owner instead of a property management company, but we liked him immediately. He spoke English and was ridiculously charming. Knowing how desperate we were to get into a permanent apartment, he waived a bunch of technical requirements most Swiss landlords typically require, agreeing to let us move in August 1st.
Relieved to have found a flat, we next had to figure out how we were going to get all our stuff to our new house 10 km away. It would take multiple trips by a combination of bus and train to haul our luggage, pets, and the few things we’d had to buy after arriving in Switzerland.
Thinking it wouldn’t likely pan out, Travis called someone in the Biology Dept at the University of Fribourg and explained the situation. She generously offered to ask around on our behalf for a vehicle. Within minutes, she called back with the perfect solution. The Ecology Dept had a van that we could borrow for 0.60 chf per kilometer.
It was so exciting to find out that after a month without a car, we would have an easy, stress-free plan for moving day. In preparation for our big move to the country, we made two trips to the grocery store near our hotel for a mad shopping spree. Up ’til that point, we still had only our 2 suitcases with some clothes, pet necessities, our air mattress we’d been hauling around in our luggage, and a single pillow.
We didn’t think about it until July 31st but we didn’t even have a blanket!
We knew stores would be closed the next day on the 1st for Swiss National Day, so it was our last chance before shops closed until Monday. Scurrying around the store, we grabbed as much of the important stuff as we could find. We bought groceries, a comforter, a permanent kitty litter box, and a moka – our favorite kind of stove-top coffee pot. With Trav upstairs in the housewares department madly shopping for a frying pan so we could cook something and me downstairs trying to find Friskies cat food in the groceries department, we closed down the store.
Which brings us to August 1st – moving day!
On the morning of our big move, Trav walked from our hotel to the Uni while I packed up our things. He easily found a parking spot across from our hotel – a small miracle – and we were on our way.
We still have so many things to learn about settling in to our new country, but yet another giant hurdle is behind us.
We finally found our home, sweet home!