Moving And Downsizing

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Looking around our spacious, beautiful Swiss flat towards the end of July, Trav and I couldn’t quite believe how much stuff we’d accumulated in just a year.  Our one-year lease would be ending July 31st and we would already be moving again.

Since we still didn’t know if we could even remain legally in Switzerland past the end of July, we hadn’t started looking at housing options at all.  We simply didn’t know where we would even be come August 1st.  We knew it would be almost impossible to find an apartment in Switzerland for August and September that would allow our 3 pets and wouldn’t require a longer term lease, so we were especially grateful to our friend – and new landlord – Simone, for offering to let us move downstairs into another, smaller flat in the same house where we’ve been living.

The studio apartment Simone offered us was meant for just one tenant, not two adults with three pets, but she made an exception and totally saved our potatoes!

The previous tenant of the studio apartment vacated on the evening of July 29th.  After blitz cleaning, we immediately began moving in.  Rather than packing things carefully, we threw necessities like dishes and food in shopping bags and shuffled them downstairs along with the few pieces of furniture we could fit in the studio.  If only all of our moves were as easy as hauling our possessions down a single flight of stairs.

All of the next day – July 30th – we continued packing things for storage, ran countless errands, and disassembled and reassembled furniture in our new apartment.  Since we downsized from a three-bedroom flat to a very small studio, we boxed up all the non necessities that we definitely wanted to keep regardless of where we’ll be moving when we leave Switzerland.  These were mostly boxes of small personal items we’d shipped from the US.  A couple of friends offered to let us store this stuff at their apartment in a nearby town.

Thanks so much, Oriane & Paolo!

We hadn’t shipped any furniture from the US, but we’d bought enough at thrift stores in our year in Switzerland to fill a 3-bedroom house.  The pieces of furniture that didn’t fit in our new studio apartment downstairs needed to go somewhere in storage.  We didn’t want to sell it yet in case we ended up moving somewhere within the EU where we could just rent a moving truck to haul it.  If we go back to the States, we’ll sell it all.

Simone kindly offered to let us store the remaining furniture in her garage, so we disassembled it and stashed it there.  She worked tirelessly all day cleaning it out in order to make room for our stuff.

Our old landlord, Francis, had also offered to let us store things in his garage.  He even went so far as to offer to sell our car for us if our visas weren’t approved and we were forced to leave Switzerland July 31st.  The generosity and kindness of the two of them simply make my heart melt.

While Gintare, one of our roommates, and I started the monumental task of cleaning our flat upstairs, Simone and Travis made trip after trip from our house to her garage with armfuls of our furniture.  The four of us worked well into the wee hours of the 31st before Travis and I finally convinced the other two to go get some sleep.  Simone agreed with a promise to return in the morning to help us clean, and Gintare refused to quit for the night until she’d finished vacuuming the entire flat by hand.  We only had until 10:30 on the morning of the 31st to finish cleaning before we’d be meeting with Francis so he could inspect the upstairs apartment we were vacating, so we could give him back the keys, and so we could finalize paperwork.

At 3 am, Travis and I were finally too tired to stay awake any longer.  My dinner of a half a cucumber had long since ceased to ward off hunger pangs, so we bolted down some leftovers before passing out, exhausted.

By 8 am, we were cleaning again.  Simone volunteered to wash all the windows inside and out – even climbing up on a ladder to reach the large A-frames in the dining room.  If it hadn’t been for her help, we never would have finished cleaning on time!

Once Francis arrived, Travis went over the paperwork with him and completed the walk-through while I continued madly scrubbing and mopping the floors, following along behind them as they moved from room to room.  It was sheer madness for a couple of hours, but it was also utter relief to know that Francis was incredibly sympathetic to our situation, not only helping us clean but assuring us that the cleaning we had already done met his standards.

Swiss moving requirements set by rental companies and landlords are notoriously strenuous.

Instead of an old and new landlord, we really just had two friends who were helping us transition from one apartment to the next.

Francis’s new tenant arrived at noon on the 31st to inspect our old flat, and we were free to finally relax.  Simone invited us over for coffee, which we gratefully accepted, and Francis joined us after he completed his business with his new tenant.  We enjoyed a leisurely couple of hours in their company under the shade of the fruit trees in her spacious back yard before putting the final touches on our new apartment.

With periodic visits from Simone, Francis, Carlos, Nicole, Gintare, and our good luck cricket who visited us at our new apartment for two mornings in a row, we realized that despite moving into a much smaller apartment, we couldn’t have found a better solution for all of us.

Gintare, who has been our roommate for the last 6 months, still has one more month of studies in Switzerland, and Trav’s job loss essentially has also essentially left her homeless for the month of August.  Simone generously offered to let her move in to her extra bedroom, so Gintare’s now our neighbor instead of our roommate.  Simone’s front door is just a few feet from ours now, as is Carlos & Nicole’s.  Our move has made late night get-togethers to watch movies and hang-out sessions that much easier!

Now that we’re settled into our cozy new apartment, Travis will continue to look for a new post doc for the next two months while we count our blessings for the good friends we’ve made in Switzerland.

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