'We got professionals to move our shitty bowl that will just end up full of keys and old batteries...and look how deranged we are now?!'
‘We got professionals to move our shitty bowl that will just end up full of keys and old batteries…and now look how insanely happy we are at finding the bloody bowl’

Or moving house, in English.

I moved house recently. Just up ‘road, a little less space, a better view but smaller rent cheque every month. That’s the Swiss deal. If you can see a mountain – even from one window whilst standing on an apple crate half in and half out of the window, only in winter…on a clear day…with a mirror – then you pay extra. The mountains are bloody everywhere, but if you can’t see them then you have rented ‘a bad appartment’ and you have to console yourself by looking at a Toblerone dusted with icing sugar whilst forlornly tooting on an alpine horn. It’s true.

The Swiss don’t move house much. They have hotels for that. The reason being is that moving house costs about the same as buying a house and you’d think that the Swiss removal men are using African elephants to shift your gear. So in order to make that mathematical equation work it was decided that myself and a couple of strong lads would do it ourselves.

This proved to be a fundamental error in judgement.

I got myself super organised and put everything that could fit into cardboard boxes (as I had seen removal men do) and piled them high like the end scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was, to not put too fine a point on it, smug. I was ready, organised and prepared for a couple of hours of heavy lifting but essentially relaxed and over confident about the small matter of moving house.

So, strong lads duly turned up and worked like bastards – they had to as I had the flu. But I discovered something about having the flu and doing physical work – if you drop two Lemsips into a double expresso then you can do your stuff for about six hours…then you want to die.

What proved to be my undoing is that although most things squeezed themselves into cardboard boxes there still remained (by my retrospective reckoning) 3 vans loads of shite to shift. Bikes, plastic kids crap, old boxes from the previous move

All of this was difficlut and stressful and near death inducing but the final sting in the tail comes from something called Le Etat de Lieu. Just to help us all out here is a summary of renting in the UK versus renting in Suisse.


You see the property advertised on a website, get shown around by a barely sentient, nineteen year old happy-hour binge drinker (AKA estate agent) and then decide to rent it and put down some money (normally a month’s deposit) and you have secured the flat…mainly because the Landlord has a mortgage on the flat and if they don’t rent it out ASAP they are in Double-Dip-Financial-Shit-Creek-Buy-To-Rent-Pyramid-Scheme-Mortgage-Brokers-Are-Idiots. You rent it because it is ‘quirky’ or has a great location…or is a period property.

The flat is cleaned (badly) by a ‘professional’ cleaning contractor who misses out the toilets, the fridge and anything else that would potentially be life threatening so that you end up spending the first two days of your tenancy cleaning the whole place again because the bogs have more skid marks that Heathrow‘s runway and the freezer still has some Fishfingers that have mutated into the next evolutionary stage. You have an inventory which lists most things that cannot be nailed down and seems to be a tick list rather than an accurate list. You normally have a washing washing and sometimes a dryer.

When you move out (after giving a months notice), everything  – including picture hooks, holes in the walls, blue-tac, carpet stains, dents, dings, marks, abrasions, scrapes and scratches – is loosely filed under the ‘it’s wear and tear, innit?’ and ‘cost of being a landlord, innit?’ unspoken small-print of the contact. Besides you have the small claims court and no one wants the hassle. The tenants get their deposit back, the landlord redecorates (badly) and sticks the rent up by a couple of hundred quid and the whole cycle starts again.


You see the property advertised on a website, get shown around by someone who drives an Audi who looks like they should be on holiday in the Maldives and they really don’t have time to show poor peasants around a property and they are generally on the phone anyway. You decide to rent it but thirty other people are interested in it so you have to submit a ‘resumé’ about what a great tenant you are (i.e quiet, boring and anally retentively clean) and how easily you can afford it. You first (and only) questions are: Does it have a view? Does it have underground parking?. You put down three months rent as a deposit. The flat is cleaned to a point that it is like a new apartment by someone who is obviously under duress.  There is no dirt, no toilet paper, no lightbulbs and no picture hooks. You have an inventory that lists every….single….tiny….detail about the apartment. You never have a washing machine but a communal wash room with a rota (joy).

You have to give your notice in three months in advance or you have to find another tenant to take on your contract (sometimes the contact might only give you one exact date to hand in your notice and if you miss it you have to wait a year). If you are Swiss you do not hang any pictures on the walls because art equals holes in the walls and that equals fuckage with the deposit (of which there is a lot) but if you come from anywhere with some kind of artistic tradition then you are buggered because you bang holes into the walls and the swiss finish their walls with something called creperie which is like woodchip but socially acceptable and is like some kind of 3D watermark that only Swiss estate agents can see – if you try and repair it they know. They can see something in the patterns and they just know.

So, they will do you for redecoration (4000-6000 chf), then the parquet floors (200 – 1000 chf), damage to domestic applicances, loss of keys (they will just change the locks if you do not return the correct amount of keys) (500-700 chf) and any other little thing they can find. Your car dripped oil on your space in the underground parking? That’s going to cost you. Scraped the paint on the floor of your storage area? That’s a re-paint.

Go to court? You are having a laugh. It will cost you your deposit in legal fees and you will lose and end up paying anyway because the contract is the contract and even if it is a shit contract it is still a contract and that is it. Dress like a chicken in Sundays in your contract? You didn’t? Well, you’re fucked then because a contract is a contract and the judges are merely gatekeepers. FFS.

The estate agents might as well print their logo on an invisible dildo because no matter how many oriffaces you think you have sealed they will still find a way of fucking you.


Anyway, I’ve moved.

2 thoughts on “Déménagement

  1. This sounds very similar to when we moved in October. I thought we could do it just the two of us with a van and had the boxes smugly stacked weeks in advance. ‘We’ll be in by tea time!’ I said.

    At 10.30pm I was standing, crying, in the rain, whilst directing my boyfriend in the van into a side of a car. We still had about 6 cars full of plants, tool boxes, broken bikes, lawnmowers etc to go.

    1. Been a while SSM! I just hate moving house…I can well believe that people have emotional and mental breakdowns because of it.

      I see you are doing Twitter workshops – that is super cool. Good luck with that and if I know of any companies or individuals that need some expert tuition I will send them your way.

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