Tag Archives: moving

Moving out of my parent’s house

At the beginning of the month I was lucky enough to have both a holiday at work and an extra vacation day for a long weekend. With only four days off, I thought about visiting friends in London, but when I found a cheap ticket home to Columbus, I knew a family trip was in order.

Kay was in the army and couldn’t come, so I wanted to use the opportunity to try and pack up the rest of the things in my mother’s basement that I wanted to move to Switzerland. After moving all my possessions out at 17, it was a little depressing to move a lot of things back to her house at 21 with no idea how long they would sit there in that basement. Do you know it had already been 7 years since I moved them down to her basement in preparation for my move to be an au pair in Switzerland?

With such a short weekend, my mother and sister planned a family party so that I could see almost all my siblings in one go, and it was such a lovely party. Any time with my last Grandma below is priceless.I was happy for the extra time I got with my siblings who picked me up from the airport on Saturday night and also really thankful that I got to see all but one at the party the next day.

With eight siblings, it’s really not easy to visit with all of them, but we made it work and I saw seven of them and their wives, girlfriends, husbands, and my nephews. The Hickey family adds up fast!I was also happy to see this pair below who were recently engaged the week before I arrived. What nice timing to congratulate them! 🙂On labor day we visited Ohio University’s campus to see my little sister who couldn’t make it to the Sunday party.The weather was gorgeous in Ohio that weekend. A nice humid 31ºC. Our temps have already dropped to 15-20 in Zurich already, so I welcomed the summer again.

Here we were visiting the old asylum at OU. Pretty creepy!Athens is a very pretty little town. The blue skies and fluffy clouds made it all the more picturesque. Back at my parent’s house, I enjoyed the last evening and morning with another visit to Grandma before heading home.I was all worried about packing before I arrived because I come to Columbus only once every year or two, and it’s really easy to forget how many things I have in my mom’s basement. This time it had already been a year and a half since I was home for my brother’s wedding.

I brought four suitcases with me, expecting tons, but this time there were only a few boxes and a trunk full of books to pack up. I’d really overestimated! I could have squeezed it into two suitcases if I’d jam-packed my carry-on, but I paid for the third checked bag and used the extra weight allotment in the last suitcase for maple syrup for Kay.I can’t describe the relief I feel that allll my earthly possessions (that I want) are now with me in Switzerland. Now, whenever I visit Columbus, I can just focus on visiting family… and maybe outlet shopping. Let’s be honest here…On the way back through Philly, I managed to squeeze a trip to Wendy’s in, because unfortunately the Wendy’s in Port Columbus turned into a Burger King and we have those in Zurich and I’m just, well, not impressed.

How long did it take you to finally move out of your parents’ house?

A big move for two

After our handover we had a very Swiss “last meal” of Ghackets mit Hörnli, or noodles and ground beef with applesauce. It was delicious and kept us running for a long time that day.

We picked up a transport van from Mobility instead of a traditional moving truck because it was cheaper and easier to drive and park and then we started moving!

Our old flat was on the 5th floor (Floor 4 in German), had four and a half flights of stairs and no lift. Because Kay and I were moving by ourselves, we had to get a little creative bringing down the boxes.

Kay used his special Mystery Ranch backpack to strap in 1-2 boxes on his back and carried an additional 1-3 boxes down in his arms. With his magical backpack he dealt with all our heavy loads while I put lighter boxes in some giant Ikea bags to carry down with backpacks and bags on my back and boxes in front. Between the two of us, we were both getting around 3-5 boxes down in each load. No fighting and moving in at the new place with a lift was a breeze.

After three loads on the first day we called it a night and then finished the next two loads on Saturday. We still had the transport rental for another few hours so we headed to Ikea for lunch and to buy some Billy bookshelves for our office now that we are in need of new storage space.

We didn’t forget to enjoy a meal of Köttbullar and Daim cake of course!

Allreal was sweet enough to gift us this thoughtful gift basket to welcome us to our new flat as homeowners. It was the nicest thing they have done for us ever.

Inside was also a 5 year “lost-your-keys” subscription tag that lets someone drop your lost keys off in a mailbox to be returned. Kay made me put it on my key ring. Psh. It’s not like I’ve ever lost my house key in Brazil or anything…

The kitchen was completely covered in boxes, but on the Sunday after our Friday/Saturday move I had opened all the boxes and put almost everything away. I found out things like that Kay has a freaking ton of Matte Leão tea from Brazil! All those orange boxes. Sheesh!

21 empty boxes later, the kitchen was finished!

I celebrated on Monday with a beer. Ok, that’s not the real reason why I had beer just then… but I’ll save that for another post.

Coffee machine all set up, thanks to Kay. I’m kind of in love with it. It grinds our beans and gives me frothy cappuccinos. 🙂

One of our first meals on the balcony. We ate outside a lot the first weeks because the weather is great and the inside is a mess.

Enjoying the innenhof.

This is our new view for the next few years. I hope we enjoy it. It sure is not quite the same as what we had in Zürich.

Back inside, the living room is still mostly a mess. I asked forced Kay to help me flip the dining room table right side up so we could fill it up with crap.

But lookie what Kay did while I was busy organizing the kitchen! He installed our hammocks (both!) on the balcony! Hoorah!

We bought a cheap umbrella from Ikea to help combat the sun, but it falls over all the time so we are thinking of returning it. It’s pretty lame and that sun is killer right now.

Here in the bedroom you can see the sale light shades we purchased. Kay haphazardly installed them in the bedroom and office so we have a temporary light solution. Thank God for electrician husbands!

We also have temporary clothing stands and boxes while we figure out our wardrobe situation.

More grilling and relaxing. We worked hard on our Monday and Tuesday off buying things at stores, assembling, unpacking and organizing, so we deserved a little “us” time. With the kitchen in order, we could actually put together things like grilled ratatouille and bouillon marinated steak!

And my last bit of success now was organizing the bathroom, which took a solid 4 hours after a week of living here. Maybe more. I have a ton of makeup…. but look at that giant drawer of organization!

So. That was that. I was tired of moving, sore as hell and my back literally ached for the first week after moving, partially due to our very crappy sleeping-on-the-floor arrangement that we had for so long in Zürich. Poor back!


It’s been a crazy couple weeks as the internet was cut, we moved and waiting to get back online at the new place. Oh how I missed internet! Sweet, sweet internet.

On the Friday of our move we got up at 6:45am to get to the notary office by 8am sharp. Our appointment (all in Swiss German, yikes!) didn’t last long. We were given some papers to read over and sign and then the deed was officially, legally passed over.

After we were done at the notary we popped into the Gemeindehaus to register because we had de-registered in Zürich the day before. (You must register where you live with the authorities at all times, no gaps!) Kay paid 20CHF for us to re-register and 45CHF went to the Bundesamt für Migration (immigration) simply because I am a foreigner. 😉

I asked if I could complete my new Ausländerausweis at the same time because we married in the summer so every July/August I have to do it. But I forgot that I have to get the stupid form signed by my employer, despite the fact that my permit is supplied directly through my Swiss spouse. Argh. That means another trip to the Gemeindehaus for me! (I joked to Kay that I should be a house wife so my forms are easier to fill out!) When I returned to the Gemeindehaus with my signed permit form, I paid an additional 102CHF for my annual foreign residence permit, putting my fees 147CHF over a normal person like Kay’s. Le sigh.

Back at the flat we completed our inspection and things looked… surprisingly OK. The grout job in the bathroom was still not as good as if they had done it correctly the first time, but to be honest, I’m pretty anal about the small details. But I’ll get into that later… with our keys in hand, we were finally home owners!!

Up next, the move!

Packing packing packing

What have we been up to lately? Yep, the title says it all.

I dedicated May to collecting boxes and June has been the month of packing.

Our house has gone from good to bad to best and to worst, but look, I’m clearing out entire areas like our overloaded built-in shelving!

But other than that it’s been a scary, scary mess.

We started (or Kay started) seven weeks before our move date. Now our deadline is coming up in one week. By the next weekend, we’ll be all moved in!

How early (or late) do you start packing for a move?

How to rent a flat in Switzerland

I mentioned how 70% of the population in Switzerland rents, but did you know that it is estimated that only .06% of the flats in Zürich are vacant? That’s not a typo. 99.94% of the flats here are taken.

TMLSS: It’s hard to secure a flat, especially for a good price.

zurich attic flat

This is a short (long?) guide about how to rent here based on our experience.

Step 1: Prepare your application documents (BEFORE looking for a flat)

A. Go to the local registry office and request a “Betreibungsauszug” if you have been in the country 6 months or longer. This is basically a piece of paper that says you don’t owe anyone any debts and without it, you are often very unlikely to get a flat. For newcomers who do not yet have a debt free history within the country, this can be especially crippling because without this paper… you may appear untrustworthy to a landlord.

B. Have a copy of your residence permit/work permit and passport or your ID if you are Swiss. Please note, residents with temporary permits (L) are also very unlikely to be accepted for a flat, but for some people this is their only option.

C. Copies of the last 3 months pay slips from work or a letter from HR stating your salary. In general, you are not allowed to rent a flat that is more than 33% of your salary.

D. If you have a letter from your HR or previous landlord, make sure you have copies ready. Also prepare contact details (phone numbers) for any references you wish to include on your application.

E. Start preparing a cover letter for your applications which you can modify for different flats. Write about yourself, why you want the flat and why you will be an excellent tenant choice.

F. It is not required, but I recommend including a photo of yourself as well.

Step 2: Look for a flat

Make a budget around 1/4 to 1/3 of your monthly salary, but not more. Landlords often will not rent to you if you earn “too much” or “too little”. Start looking for flats on sites like www.homegate.ch, www.comparis.ch, www.immostreet.ch and the local newspaper. Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a flat and ask if they know anyone that knows anyone that knows anyone. Friend connections are still the best way to get the early scoop on a cheap flat up for grabs, but most of us have to do the legwork on sites like homegate and hope it works out.

Step 3: Visit

Almost no landlords here rent flats without meeting tenants first or knowing they have viewed the apartment in person. Either make an appointment with the current tenant, landlord, or show up for pre-scheduled flat viewings listed online.

During the visit it is important to ask all your questions about the flat. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Why are you moving out?
  • Is it a quiet neighborhood?
  • What are the neighbors like?
  • Is this a smoking building? Do you smoke?
  • Is there a cellar in the basement and may I see it? (Cellars or attics are pretty standard with flats in Switzerland)
  • What are the utilities like?

Now this step is crucial, so pay attention.

If you show up to a flat viewing, there may be 200 other people there. That’s truly happened to me before. 200. People.

It is important to show up to viewings exactly when they start and to post your application or turn it in immediately. This is why it is so important to prepare your paperwork ahead of time. If you like the flat and they have applications available there, fill it out and turn everything in together as soon as possible. Same day if possible. Your renting livelihood depends on it.

Renting applications generally ask for all applicants’ citizenship, age, gender, personal address, work address, phone number, reference numbers, how much you earn, if you have children or not, if you have pets, and even if you play an instrument.

If you hide the fact that you have a dog and you play the piano, the landlord will not be very happy later on and they may ask you to move out because you are violating their terms of agreement. Also, be prepared to have all your references checked up on. They are very keen to have a nice tenant with such a large pool to choose from.

Step 5: Wait for news

Most landlords have already made up in their mind what kind of tenant they want. They may be looking for a single male, single female, a couple without children, or a family, but you can be sure they will not tell you what kind of person they are looking for. That would be too easy!

Applying before anyone else gives you a small leg up because they often give flats on a first-come-first-serve basis if you meet their qualifications.

Points may be taken off if you are an unmarried couple because the landlord is wary about a possible breakup, families with small (noisy) children, roommate situations because again the landlord is wary of people moving out, and anyone with a pet or loud musical instrument is going to have difficulty finding a landlord that accepts them.

Step 6: Rejection

Kay looked for flats for six months after he finished university before he found one he liked that agreed to rent to him. When we moved in together, we searched together for 7 months before finding a flat that would accept us.

We went through a lot of rejections. We weren’t sure if people were unhappy that we weren’t married or didn’t have kids or that we earned too much or too little. There’s never any feedback on why you are not accepted.

Repeat Steps 1-5 until you can make it past Step 6.

Step 7: Acceptance

Hallelujah! You thought this day would never come.

Usually when a landlord agrees to rent, you will meet with them or their agency to sign a contract after you agree on a move in date and give your deposit into a 3rd party bank account that neither of you have access to.

Deposits are usually 1-3X your monthly rent. If you are renting a modest 2500CHF one bedroom flat in Seefeld, your deposit just might be 7500CHF. (That’s over $8000 USD at this time.)

Rent is also due upfront, not at the end of the month… so when you move in you will usually be required to give either 3 or 4X your monthly rent unless you can negotiate a 1 month deposit. For a 2500CHF flat, this would be a whopping 10,000CHF!

But don’t worry… employers are often friendly and will loan you money to pay for your deposit if you are just moving here for the first time. And fret not, even people with dogs and pianos or unemployed fellows can find a flat. You just need to persevere. 🙂

I’ll get into taking over and leaving a flat in another post. 😉

How complicated is the rental process in your area?

*All photos are personal unless noted*

Want to catch up?