Monday, April 11, 2011

Lessons in moving

So admittedly I’ve been a bit radio silent lately. You could hardly blame me after the constant moving about of the last four weeks though. What a debacle. We’ve certainly learnt lessons along the way – and so you can profit from them, I’ve listed them in gory detail below – but the important thing is that we’ve finally moved into our permanent apartment, and don’t intend on moving anywhere for a rather long time!

Lesson #1: If you think you think you need to extend your sublease, then do so!
So our problems started when we realised that our new apartment (which is just that – brand new, therefore under construction) wasn’t going to be ready as soon as we’d hoped. We’d signed a lease in early February and were told we could probably move in mid/late March, although our lease, to be on the safe side, was dated from 1 April. Our sublease in Sticksville ran out on 21 March and we thought we’d probably be safe. Wrong. When we realised that we needed a place to stay for an extra week, thinking we could move in on 27 March, it was too late to extend our sublease.

So we had to move out and we spent the next week shifting between friends’ place in Nyon and a temporary sublease for a few days in Geneva. Then on the Thursday before we were due to move in, I got the bad news that it was pushed back by an extra week to 1 April, April Fool’s Day. I wish it had been a joke. It wasn’t.

Not able to stay where we were, we had no choice but to find a hotel for the week, an expensive prospect to say the least. After an ultimately fruitless search in which neither the web, asking in hotels directly, or just asking at the tourist office – where we discovered there was not a hotel room in Geneva to be had for love nor (anything less than an exorbitant amount of) money – we gave up and headed for Lausanne for three nights, before finding a bed in Geneva for the last two before finally moving in. Glad to be in our own place at last, but the fun had only just begun.

Lesson #2: Don’t buy IKEA furniture in bulk
Of course, a brand new apartment is usually unfurnished, so we needed furniture. Ergo, like any good expat in Switzerland who needs furniture, we took ourselves off on a trip to IKEA.

To kit out our apartment, we needed to buy up big. BIG mistake. I love IKEA and - most of the time - their furniture. I have this mild obsession with anything Scandinavian, so usually that's enough to ensure my favour - the price, functionality and design is a bonus.

But good things need to come in small doses. I've spent the better part of the last 10 days on the floor putting things together - dining table, chairs, tv cabinet, lamp, bedside table, bed, bathroom cabinet, and joy of joys, a Manstad fold out sofa. We usually don't have problems putting together IKEA stuff, but this sofa is proving to be a nightmare.

You can have the chaise lounge left or right; they provide the instructions for first right, then left. We've chosen to put ours on the left, so it's meant that a couple of times we've put bolts on the wrong side and had to take them out again because we've looked at the right-side instructions first, which are wrong.

Then there's the end part which we're supposed to fasten to the seat, but the part in the hole that the screw goes into fell into the end part, rendering it useless. We took another trip to IKEA to get a replacement part, but that hasn't worked either, so we now have a half-finished sofa lying in pieces all over the living room. After two phone calls and two more visits to IKEA, it’s still not fixed. I’m not impressed at the lack of Swissifficiency (a hack word of Swiss + efficiency that I’m claiming I coined). I love IKEA but I've learnt a good lesson - don't buy it and put it together in bulk!

Lesson #3: Be prepared to fit your apartment out with just about everything – except the kitchen sink
So the above may be a slight exaggeration, but I was nonetheless startled to find that we need to fit our own light fittings in our new place, plus things like curtains. I thought the bare light bulbs (or no light bulbs, in the case of the kitchen) were going to be replaced, but it turns out that if you rent an apartment, you often have to bring or buy your own light fittings and curtains, etc. Each to their own, but I was a little surprised; that’s just not The Done Thing at home in Australia.
View from my new apartment - Alps
in the distance!

Lesson #4: Be prepared to sit back and allow your amazing surroundings to sink in
After all the hassles and stress, it’s important to stop for a moment and let things sink in. A couple of days after moving in, I stopped for lunch out on the balcony. It was gloriously sunny and (for early April) ridiculously warm. I was finally in my new apartment – it dawned on me that I won’t have to move again for a very long time. It’s brand new, so it’s a blank canvas, complete with shiny new kitchen toys, including a dishwasher (hello Empress Eats blog!). And then I looked up – and saw the French Alps, rising above Lake Geneva. No matter how long we live here, I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever get tired of.

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