Moving to Bern

After more than five years living in Lausanne, Tanya and I have moved to Bern! Bern is one hour and six minutes from Lausanne on the train, but is a world away in other ways: it has a different language, it’s in a different canton, and it’s well on the other side of the Röstigraben.

Switching Swiss cantons when you’re not European turns out to be almost more difficult than arriving in the country in the first place. We had to provide a ream of documents to the cantonal authorities, many of which were database extracts that cost money to acquire. We provided notice to everyone we could think of that we were moving, because you can’t just up and leave. Rental law in Switzerland is a double-edged sword: as a renter you have lots of rights and can generally stay as long as you’d like to in a rental property. But to leave you need to provide (in our case) four months notice of leaving on the exact anniversary of when you first moved in. If not, you can leave, but it’s your responsibility to find a replacement renter — or keep paying rent. We found a replacement.

Moving day itself was an experience. You can book car parks in Lausanne specifically so you can put a truck right outside your house when you’re moving, so that’s what we did. But, trouble in paradise: on the morning of the move there was a car parked in the middle of our spot. I did the officially recommended thing and called the cops — this is Switzerland after all and parking in someone else’s spot is not a minor thing. The police said they would get in touch with the car driver, but couldn’t, so eventually three policemen on motorbikes arrived and moved our reserved parking spot five metres down the road (and helped me parallel park a giant truck). We were away.

On moving day, Audrey and Nikola helped us shift furniture and we profited for a coffee in the van.

We put all our stuff in a storage box in Bern for a couple of weeks. The storage box website confidently stated that more than 95% of their customers overestimated the amount of space they would need. We fell into the minority. Our box was tiny, but just fitted everything once we had played tetris with our belongings for a while.

Centimetres to spare!

When we first got to the storage place I backed the truck into a loading bay, and found it was so tight a fit that the door was sure not to close. After taking one load of stuff to the storage box we returned to find that the door had closed automatically, leaving only millimetres of space between the front of the truck and the heavy door. Delirious with moving blear, we laughed like maniacs at our luck that nothing got damaged.

Make that millimetres to spare!
Tanya with our stuff; this was at the end of a long day.

After the moving of belongings came the cleaning of the house; Swiss standards are high and we spent an entire day and into the night cleaning. The house empty and cleaner that we’d ever seen it, we stayed the night at a hotel. I accidentally left my bag in the storage locker in Bern and ended up arriving at the hotel with clothes unceremoniously in a plastic garbage bag; the man at the counter kindly did not comment. Coincidentally, the hotel was the same one we stayed in when we arrived in Lausanne so many years ago, and being there again seemed a neat bracket to our time living in this fabulous city. Five years ago I was wrecked from a 30 hour trip from Australia, and this time I was exhausted after a full weekend of moving house. A lot has happened and many things have changed in between those two hotel visits, but for Tanya and me our European adventure continues as we move north to Bern.

May 8, 2018


  1. Oh my lordy, that photo of the closed doors at the front of the van gave me chills! Good work on a tough day, dudes!

  2. Andrea Ewing on

    This was cackle out loud funny xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.