Clearance section, shopping at IKEA in Switzerland

How Furniture Shopping At IKEA Failed Us Big In Switzerland

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Today was all about furniture shopping. Starting over. IKEA seemed like a good place to start, but we were ohhh, so wrong. Today we remembered again how much we hate shopping at IKEA.

When we left Oregon just over 2 months ago, my husband and I had been living together for over 15 years. While we both gravitate toward solid honey pine furniture and a cozy, country-style home, we’re also both thrifty and love a good bargain, especially me, since half the fun of buying is in the bargaining!

Over the years in the US, we acquired a household of furniture from Craigslist, thrift stores, and from auctions. A few things we bought new.

In 2005, we’d packed our entire household (+2 cats) and moved from just shy of the Canadian border to New Mexico. A year and a half later, we packed it all again (+2 cats and 1 dog), this time into a 26-ft moving truck, and headed up to Oregon for Trav to attend grad school at the University of Oregon.


With his PhD completed seven years later and his new job starting in Switzerland, we debated putting things in storage or farming things out to friends and family.

In the end, we opted to sell. Our time in Switzerland is rather open-ended (2-5 years), and we have no idea where we might move next. Plus we just couldn’t see paying the high fees to store belongings that someone else could be using. We definitely didn’t want to pay out of pocket to ship an entire household overseas from the US to Europe.

So we sold, gave away, or donated just about everything before moving to Switzerland.

In the last 2 months, we’ve had periodic bouts of regret and self recrimination. On any given day, one of us has lamented:

That [random piece of furniture] would go perfectly against this wall.

Maybe we should have just shipped a few more things…

Especially our bed. I miss our bed.

Not only is everything for us now at least twice – and sometimes 3x – as expensive as in Oregon, but the vast majority of furniture for sale on sites like the English Forum and (Swiss version of Craigslist) tend to be from IKEA, which is much more contemporary and generic than we like.

And I still find the furniture expensive, especially considering its just not high quality or made to last. Even in the US, I disliked their furniture on the rare occasion we ended up shopping at IKEA, usually with my sister.

She might be addicted to their Swedish meatballs, but you didn’t hear it from me.

But a single event forced our hand – our air mattress sprang a leak.

It served us well for the week and a half that we’ve been in our new house in Switzerland. In fact, our air mattress has been pretty much our only “stick of furniture,” and not even that considering we had to inflate it. After waking up on the floor for several mornings in a row, it was time to venture to Bern to hit up IKEA, an event that would probably mark only the third or fourth expedition to the furniture giant in our lives.

Trav borrowed the van again from the university and we headed to Bern.

You might already know this, but shopping at IKEA on Saturday is insane. It’s a madhouse!

Plus, because things close early, even in Bern, we had only a few hours to shop before it closed at 6 pm.

Furniture shopping at IKEA in Bern, Switzerland
Travis is briefly side tracked by the cow hides.

We looked at every single bed.

Too expensive, too expensive, too expensive.

Then we found “the one”- or so I thought. For only 259 CHF ($283), they had a single clearance bed that was perfect.

It was round!

It was huge and awesome.

We bounced on it, left and came back, discussed buying it as seriously as if it would cost our life savings. Ultimately, it was hopeless.

Trav’s scientific practicality trumped my feeble arguments that it would be “romantic” and “unique.”

At all times, the man has two things in his head – a measuring tape and a map – so when he eyeballed the width at 220 cm and predicted it would take up our bedroom from wall to wall, I had to concede he might just have a good point. Then he asked where I planned to buy round sheets.

So the search for a bed continues…

We blitzed through the rest of the store and somehow still managed to fill an entire cart with pillows, a throw, some beautiful curtains on clearance, misc kitchen items, and a handful of plants to make our home more homey.

We might be sleeping on a deflated air mattress on the floor again tonight, but hey, at least we’ll have pretty plants around us.

Before getting in line, we stumbled across a huge room partially filled with furniture and some home décor.


Since we live in the minority French-speaking part of Switzerland and have picked up a few words and phrases, I was excited to see Offre Du Jour, or “Offer of the Day.”

But Tageshit?!

Bern is part of German-speaking Switzerland.

Google Translate provided the helpful translation of “daily shit.”

Thanks, Google.

After browsing through the overpriced clearance section with broken or damaged items, we finally left Tageshit empty handed.

No thanks, Ikea. You can Keepyourshit!

Do you do all of your furniture shopping at IKEA?

We’ve definitely never been fans, but we didn’t yet know we’d soon be Two Unemployed Potatoes in Switzerland facing an unexpected international relocation to Germany.

Guess who comes through for us in a big way when we end up Buying an Entire Kitchen for our apartment?

No really.


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