For as hard as Switzerland is to get into as a resident, they surprisingly make it pretty hard to leave. In the US, you just notify the post office, send friends & family a “New Address” card, and you are off.
Here are a few differences we encountered:
Uber-notification. Globo Gym requires 3 months notice by registered post. So I have to go to a post office, pay CHF 6 to send them a letter, signed in blue ink, by us. Also required as an attachment is an official letter from the company or a copy of a one-way plane ticket showing your departure. We ourselves received five weeks notice on our move, and still don’t even know where we are officially going. I actually composed the letter the day I received the official notification from Gabe’s company we had to depart Geneva. While it was Dec 4, and we were leaving Jan 14, I figured we’d have to eat the other 7 weeks of membership. In turn, I received a letter notifying us our membership was cancelled effective APRIL 1, 2013. My Dec 4 letter wouldn’t take affect until the next first of the next month..January 1. So, we are looking forward to paying 750 CHF extra in gym fees AFTER we leave. This is coming from a gym we belonged to for 20 months.
Permission to leave. Before we can cancel things like our mobile phone or our internet, we have to have a letter from the canton (equivalent of county in the States) saying they acknowledge our departure. It also serves as a guarantee you are going to pay all your debts before you move, like your phone & electricity. This becomes a problem when you get short notice like us. You need the letter to do things….but you don’t know when/where you are going, so you don’t have firm details in order to secure the letter.
Flawlessness. I had a Pre-Inspection one month prior to the move, so they could detect anything wrong with the flat so we’d have time to fix it. I nervously cleaned the apartment from top to bottom and used an entire box of my imported Magic Erasers to clean up scuffs, deep clean the sink, and stove, before the committee was to come. Even with my bad French, I knew the gentlemen muttering ” dommage” and “dégât” was not good news. Before this, I thought “dégat” was reserved for circumstances like tornados and hurricanes but apparently not in the eyes of the Swiss. Our small apartment inhabited by just 2, no pets, for 1.5 years, and cleaned by me for a solid day, was in his mind, a ‘disastrous situation’. Floor technicians – an actual hardwood company – had to be hired to address the scuff marks and scratch he saw. Additionally, we had hung 20 paintings/photos on our walls. I had to show evidence I’d paid a painter (CHF 150, in fact) to patch my holes….they required evidence of a professional….no DIY putty jobs here in Switzerland.
Also, after your movers come, you are required to hire a professional cleaning crew. While Gabe’s company kindly helps us with this, this crew costs 1042 Swiss francs, so like 1200 USD for cleaning a tiny apartment. Insanity. And maybe I should’ve been a cleaning lady here.
Soon after, comes the Final Inspection. This is where the committee judges your final work and decides if you are allowed to leave. Not to put any stress on the plane tickets you have for the next day.
Turning Out the Lights. In Europe, you have to provide your own light fixtures. So, we had to purchase them or either live with a lone lightbulb dangling from each room. We requested that we are happy to leave our fixtures here for the benefit of the next renter, since we cannot use them in the United States. Perhaps it could save them a few hundred francs we wished we didn’t have to spend? This was debated and in the end, we are allowed to leave OUR light fixtures here in our apartment….as long as we promised each would have fresh new bulbs. It was cheaper than hiring an electrician, which is required for the electrical work to install and take down your fixtures.
Too bad one of the bulbs got stuck and we ended up having to hire an emergency electrician to help us out in changing to a new fixture to comply with the agreement.
Letting in Strangers. Even though we are renters, we are obligated to show people the flat who are interested in becoming the next tenants. While it didn’t happen to us with our crazy tight timing, it would be expected that arrange our schedule we show them around, with a complete tour. Isn’t this nuts for renters to have to do this?
Immediate Bank Account Closure. You have 90 days to transfer all funds out of Switzerland. These days, they aren’t too keen on Americans due to the US regulations which forced Switzerland to turn over private banking information. Thus, you are only allowed Swiss bank accounts now as a resident. You are given 90 days of course, so you can make sure to pay all those bills you owe from your move. Ouch.
Oh, Switzerland, how I’m gonna miss your rules.