abroad, miscellaneous

How to save money when moving – Swiss Edition

We have recently moved into a beautiful new home and are in the process of getting settled. While moving is always lots of work, it is also fun to make a new place your “home” with rearranging and decorating involved. However, moving is not just work and fun – it also usually comes at an expense. And that can be quite significant here in Zurich, Switzerland.

Now, how were we able to save on actual money when moving? Here are some of my tips and tricks (specific for the Swiss market and specific to our personal situation), which maybe help you a little bit.

  1. Make sure to find a new tenant so you get out of your contract early and avoid paying double rent

As soon as we knew when we would move out we started looking. As we had a “crooked” date (in the middle of the month) the list of people wanting to rent our place was limited, but in the end still worked out. I took great pictures, made an effort to publish a nice ad on homegate.ch with texts in both German and English (translating is always worth the effort with all those expats around) and created a form to fill out for the applicants with all necessary info for our landlord. In this sheet we also clearly stated that move in date would be in the middle of the month and with their signature the applicants agreed to this.

By Swiss labor law you actually only have to provide one suitable candidate (suitable means that he/she is willing to take over the contract with all rights and duties and is able to pay the rent), however it is being suggested that you find a total of at least three possible candidates so that you have back up options should the preferred candidate fall through. But as long as you are able to provide one person who would want to sign your landlord needs to let you out of the contract early (he doesn’t have to take the offered person but then finding a new tenant is on him).

2. Compare offers of moving companies and cleaning services

Offer vary widely and the cheapest is not always the best, however that also doesn’t mean you need to spend more than necessary. There are certain websites where you can put in your information (amount of rooms, from where to where, etc.) and companies reach out to you for their services. Often they want to come and visit the apartment to judge how much stuff you have and while this is important in order to get a realistic quote, however be careful about whom you let into your place.

The same option works also for cleaning services, however often you can book a good 2in1 offer with your moving company (that is something we did). We were also lucky to get a good discount via my company, which is why the move and cleaning did costs us around  30% less than originally expected (and calculated into the budget). Be sure to take a company which offers a “guarantee”, which means that if the landlord is not satisfied with the quality of the cleaning, the company has to come again and clean more free of charge. A lot of expats are often confused about this “Grundreinigung” (basic cleaning) as it actually means a spot clean apartment when handing it over. It’s nice when moving into a place but really sucks when you need to leave again.

3. Get rid of things

This is important for two reasons: less stuff means less boxes to pack, move and unpack. This saves your own time but also does it save money, as the movers will have to carry less boxes up and down and you also need to buy less moving boxes. Getting “rid of things” can happen in various ways:

  • Things you can actually sell (and make money on, which you can use for paying the move, get something nice for the new apartment or just plainly save)
  • Things you can give away to friends and family or just to good will
  • Things that need to be thrown out (while I like to hold on to old memories, I do not need to keep every bit of paper and also broken lamps do not brighten up my day anymore)

4. Do move things over yourself

While we decided to hire a moving company for so many reasons (we work fulltime, we have a small toddler, we don’t have family down here and our friends also work fulltime, we do not have the transport options and would need to rent a trailer/truck) it is of course not a must. If a friend can get their hands on a moving van and/or you have a lot of good friends and family close by who can help it is worth thinking about doing the whole move yourself.

And even though we needed (and wanted) to go with a moving company for the big things, we did drive over a lot of things ourselves. This saved on time and costs, as we didn’t need to wrap everything as tightly as I would have if the movers would have moved those things  so I saved on wrapping material but we also saved on paying for the movers because we had moved already around 25% of our apartment ourselves. Of course this only works well if your new apartment is not too far from your old one as otherwise it makes sense to move everything on one day.


5. Sell your moving boxes/packing material afterwards

I was able to move our moving boxes afterwards for quite a good price. And if we would have used more wrapping material (bubble wrap etc.) I could have potentially also sold that.  I usually use various Facebook groups and their marketplace for this and do the pickup option and set a deadline for the pickup. Of course you can already get your boxes used as well, which would be a double-benefit (and saves the environment for re-using the carton).

So those were my most obvious tips for saving on your move, however I am sure there are even more good tips (e.g. I know people asks in supermarkets etc. for free cartons to use them for moving). Just to put a bit of a number tag on this all: We saved around 1000 CHF in rent that month (the advertisement only is quite expensive but still worth it). We save an additional 500 CHF for the base cleaning (the offer I had from our normal cleaning company was 490 CHF more expensive and even though I would have liked to give them the job – 500 CHF is a lot of money for the same end result) and around 750 CHF by comparing moving companies. I also sold a lot of things including the moving boxes, so this added up to another 500 CHF and let’s just assume we saved around 250 CHF by driving over so many things ourselves. This all adds up to around 2500 CHF in savings, which I personally think is a really good amount. Something we can spend on a new dining table, a new couch or maybe just save for our next vacation.

So now it’s your turn: additional tips for saving money when moving? And on how to stay sane during the whole process?

Love, S.

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