What was it like moving from one European country to another?
Doris: [laughs] We had an illusion that it would be simpler coming from Austria, but we were mistaken! 600km is still quite a distance when you are apartment hunting for example. And we had no luck with the arrangements we made for the move with the truck… but that's another story.
Alex: I was already coming to Switzerland every other weekend to spend time with my daughter who lives here. So I thought I could organise everything easily on those trips, but we still found ourselves hopping on last minute trains to view apartments and things.
Doris: Yes, in the end, my first view of our new flat was on Google Street View. There have definitely been a few surprises but it all turned out fine. [laughs] Winterthur is a really nice place to live.
Alex: We have the largest pedestrian area in Switzerland!
You're already saying "we have", I guess that means you've embraced your new home! How has the settling in process been?
Doris: It's not that I expected the opposite, but it has been a really nice surprise to find how helpful everyone is here, both on a professional and a personal level.
Do you think speaking German makes a big difference?
Alex: Well unlike Doris, I'm not a native German speaker, as I'm from Greece, and neither of us speaks Swiss German. I do think learning some Swiss German will get you a long way. I think some German speakers are not prepared for how different it is here.
Doris: Perhaps, but I didn't really know what to expect. As neighbouring countries, Austria and Switzerland have some things in common but I enjoy discovering all of the small cultural differences. Speaking German certainly makes things easier.
Earlier you mentioned difficulties with your move. Can you tell us more?
Alex: Unfortunately our moving company made a mistake weighing the truck so it was stopped at the border. Doris ended up having to drive a van back and forth twice to lessen the load. Everyone was very impressed by how well she managed that huge van.
Doris: [laughs] Now, one year later, it's funny!
What tips would you give to others relocating from within Europe?
Alex: It seems like common sense but I cannot stress enough how important it is for you (and your moving company) to find out as much as possible about your destination country. And while it might be tempting to find others from your home country here, I suggest looking for those with common interests instead.
Doris: Definitely start flat hunting early! But also, come open hearted; try not to compare everything to what you left behind. And enjoy the differences.