Top Tips For Expats Leaving Switzerland
Top Tips For Expats Leaving Switzerland
If you’re an expat living in Zurich, it’s likely that at some stage it’s time to move on to your next destination. Switzerland is perhaps one of those countries more than many others, where it sometime takes a little longer to “belong” and sadly for many expats, it’s just at his stage when you finally feel at home, that you find they have to say goodbye.
One Italian expat told me “With Switzerland you cry when you arrive, but you cry even more when you leave”. He told me you cry when you arrive out of frustration … so many rules …. half the time you’re breaking them … a lack of flexibility sometimes … but in the end you see the logic and you adapt. You discover how easy your life is in Switzerland with everything running like clockwork.
Everything works – the trains, the buses; everything is on time, everything is orderly – the crime rate is low and your children have the freedom to do things on their own and to roam without you worrying about them. It’s only when you leave for another city that you realise what you will be missing.
We spoke to four expats to find out their top tips for leaving a country.
Have a Party to Say Good Bye
Carol, an expat for the past 15 years, originally from the UK, told us “It’s important to hold a party to celebrate your time in the country and invite your friends and neighbours. It’s great to remember the country in a positive way and to say goodbye to everyone properly. It helps with closure”.
Give The Children Their Own Party Too
If you have children it’s important for them to acknowledge this milestone by having their own party with their friends too. It also makes it easier for them to move on to the next place. If they are finding it hard to move on and are rejecting the idea, there are a number of books specifically written for children which can help explain the move.
Get Rid Of Stuff To Make Your Move As Early As Possible
This isn’t always easy, as sometimes expats leave at short notice without time to plan, but for Jane, planning and making it stress free is really important. She says “getting rid of the stuff you’ve accumulated is sometimes hard but if you’re moving all the time you need to keep things to a minimum. Get the kids on board and let them choose which toys and books they no longer need”.
There are plenty of Facebook sites in Zurich and all over Switzerland where you can sell your goods – but do put the items on sale at a reasonable price so they will sell. Summertime is the typical time for many expat families to move so there is a lot of second hand furniture etc on the market. Set your price at approximately one third of the original price and it should go.
Donate To A Good Cause or A Brockie
Jane also suggests donating your goods. There are plenty of Brockies in Switzerland which take not only furniture and clothes, but kids’ toys and books too. Check out this list of brockies here to find one near you. Or contact your Gemeinde or your friends to see if there are any refugee charities in your area looking for good quality items that you no longer need.
Get The Professionals In
Chris recommends getting the professionals in when it comes to the nitty gritty of moving. “Don’t even attempt to do the end of term cleaning yourself as “Swiss cleanliness” is on another level she says!” Dedicated end of contract cleaning companies like Diamond Cleaning know what is expected and do this type of cleaning every day.
Even with your best cleaning skills and the help of a cleaning lady you are unlikely to achieve the results required and you could end up with the landlord rejecting your work and employing (and billing you) for an additional cleaner even after you have cleaned! Furthermore, landlords like to know that you’ve had a professional in to do this work. However, make sure that the cleaning company you use gives you a guarantee AND that they will be present at the handover.
Don’t Forget the Garden!
If you have a garden attached to the property you are renting it’s important that this is also handed over in tip top condition. If you’ve neglected the weeding or the mowing, it might be time to get someone in to give it an overhaul. Professional garden companies are experienced in making your garden look its very best and many not only do regular gardening for properties, but also take care of “end of contract” work.
Check All Cellars, Attics and Garages
Even if you haven’t ever used any attics, cellars or garages whilst you’ve been at the property it’s improtant that these are also let spic and span. Make sure you inform your cleaning company so they know to clean all these places too.
Vist All Your Favourite Places Before You Leave
Michelle recmmends enjoying the last few weekends before the move “as if you’re a tourist”, visiting all your favourote spots and discovering new ones. “It’s like a series of mini holidays, discovering Switzerland like we did in the first year we arrived. It opens up your eyes to all the things you can do here and since we’re heading back to the US we’re not sure when we will next be back!”
Take Lots of Photos and Make A Photobook
Another idea of Michelle’s is to take lots of photos and make a photos book when you leave. It’s a great way of keeping all the memories in one place and, she says, “the kids love looking back the books we have made over the years, including ones when they were still babies”.
Visit Your Gemeinde To Get All Your Paperwork in Order
On the more practical side of things you will of course need to visit your local Gemeinde to de-register, collect your Abmeldebestätigung and get all your outstanding tax paid.
The Move Itself
Arm yourself with plenty of black marker pens, labels and pack things up in a larger number of smaller boxes rather than a smaller number of large boxes. That way you don’t have to mix say bathroom and kitchenwware in the same box. It might seem a fine idea at the time, but when you get to the next destination this can be a real pain as you have to move from room to room emptying the contents into a variety of rooms.
Also make sure everything is clearly labelled and put as much description on each box as possible For example don’t just put “Kitchen” on a box – but put “Saucepans” or glasses and jugs” according to the contents. Keep one cupboard or room out of bounds from the movers (who are apt to pack everything in site!!!) where you can keep your going away bags, your passports etc which you defintely don’t want packed! Also clearly label stuff that belongs tot he house or appartment to avoid the movers accidentally packing it!
Stay the Last Couple of Days In A Nice Hotel
After the movers have been and the cleaners have set to work you can’t stay in the property so book yourself into a nice hotel for a couple or a few days and enjoy your last experience of Switzerland to the full!
We have personally used all the serives mentioned in this article.
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