Douwe Osinga's Blog: The Swissest of all cuts

Sunday, August 10, 2008

First to get you all up to date: two days ago we moved out of Switzerland. We’re off to India now, where we’ll stay for 5 weeks or so, before going to Sydney and to live there. There are many things I’ll miss about Switzerland and some I won’t.

All cultures have their rituals, the things that make them, well, them. If I had to pick one that defines Switzerland most, I’d say it is the Hauseuebergabe or house transfer. You go through one when you move in, but you miss the essence then. There’s a guy that walks you and the previous renters through your new home, pointing out the various things that are broken or slightly dirty, most of which seem too subtle to notice, so you feel protected and the apartment looks great anyway.

Fast forward three and a half years later. You read up on your obligations during this ritual as the leaving party and it gets scary. You’re supposed to clean it up before leaving as in other countries. Only what is clean to most isn’t necessarily clean to the Swiss. They keep their apartments very clean as is and then when they move out, the lazy ones pay a company 1500 dollars to do the final cleaning.

Real Swiss I’m told, don’t do this. They clean themselves. Not to save money, but because they believe that these companies don’t clean really thoroughly. They only clean as clean as it needs to be to pass the Hauseuebergabe (and they give a guarantee that it will), but only just as clean. What will the new people think if they find a spec of dust somewhere when they move in?

As it turns out, there is another way. Another interesting fact about renting apartments in Switzerland is that you can only quit them twice a year, September and March. If you want to leave at any other time, you have to find nachmieter, or next-renters and if they are deemed suitable, you’re off the hook. And if you find foreigners as nachmieters, the whole cleaning business becomes a lot easier, since it is the nachmieters that ultimately decide whether the place is clean enough.

Our place looked the best after, after we were done with it and our nachmieters were totally happy with it. The guy from the rental company of course thought differently and muttered something about it being a disaster.


Eduard Blacquière said...

Nice detail about the Swiss culture. I wish you a lot of good luck and a happy time in Sydney, enjoy!