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Getting ready to move abroad, any tips?

(34 Posts)
NaturalBaby Thu 26-Dec-13 16:01:09

We're only going to Switzerland but I'm thinking about starting to stock up on things to take with us. Would you bother buying big quantities of particular items that your family use like toiletries? Or that particular brand of cereal that only ds2 will eat? grin

I'm also wondering how we're physically going to manage to move into our new house with 3 young dc's and no idea what to do with them when the removal men arrive with all our stuff. Last time we moved 2 dc's were in school and dh took ds3 to my mum's while I supervised the removal men and unpacked - not an option this time and I don't want to spend a fortune on a hotel for 5 of us when we arrive.

LIZS Thu 26-Dec-13 16:18:57

No to toiletries as most brands are the same (Sure, Dove, Nivea, Lynx, Johnson/Penaten, Clinique et al) or there are equivalent versions of, likewise cereals although Shreddies etc can cost a bomb in Globus or a British Food Store . Local Gemeidehaus or the French equivalent (where you need to register in person anyway) will have a list of Red Cross trained babysitters but the removal men will probably unpack as well so ether of you just need to be on hand to guide. Get one or two rooms sorted first (furniture and boxes last on/first out) so they can watch dvd's and play with breaks to local play area. Might take a while to get tv, phone and internet set up unless your dh has been in situ and already organised it. Good luck

NaturalBaby Thu 26-Dec-13 20:09:07

We have sensitive skin and can only use a couple of brands which is why I was thinking of stocking up, but can always pick stuff up when visiting family back in the UK.

People are saying just stick the t.v on but we won't have a t.v when we arrive (could use laptop or ipad I suppose) and dc's are young boys so will run round like over excited puppies, and it's an open plan house so will be difficult to contain them - even the garden is open plan (no fences/hedges). I'm just thinking of what if's and don't wan't to count on being able to keep the boys out the house for an hour or two.

LIZS Thu 26-Dec-13 21:31:58

CH is the home of homeopathic and natural brands as well as pharmaceuticals. With health insurance you can get a lot from the doctor direct and claim back the cost. Do you have any specific ones in mind (Aveeno wasn't available when we were out there but maybe now). Take enough to last a month or two and review, you can always ask visitors to bring some over.

RaspberryRuffle Fri 27-Dec-13 10:46:36

How are you moving? Have you got a van to fill or are you paying per box? If you have a van then do pack the toiletries, nappies, clothes detergents that you use as you have sensitive skin. Maybe your removal men also do the packing? If you do your own packing pack really wisely, no space wasted, put small items inside pots or anything that resembles a container (we did this with contents or medicine cabinet). Pack a suitcase as if you're going on holiday, with all you need for 3 or 4 days -I wish we had done this. We had guests the day after our last move, they came hand luggage only and started asking for shaving gel and conditioner!! For the DC make sure you have any special toys they sleep with etc. Pack easy snacks for them. If they can be trusted in the garden mark out a section with rope that they have to stick to. And yes to having DVDs or games/jigsaws for them to do.

JollySantersSelectionBox Fri 27-Dec-13 13:44:44

If you have favorites then I would suggest packing them. Even if they are here, they will be more expensive and you need time t get your head round trips to Germany for tax free shopping etc. I did a cash and carry shop and packed it all as kitchen miscellaneous and the company removals paid for it.

Plus you will have to translate bottles and packs from German.

I'd bring Calpol, Nurofen, Milk of Magnesia, Karvol etc for a few months so that you are in your comfort zone.

HP sauce, Colmans mustard, Salad Cream, Branston Pickle, Robinsons barley water/Ribena are the only things we really can't get that you may miss, and have a long shelf life to bring.

NaturalBaby Fri 27-Dec-13 21:46:36

I was thinking about the translating issue today so will be stocking up on off the shelf medications.
We'll be getting the removal men to pack and hopefully unpack at least half the stuff when we get there.
Ds2 is a fussy eater so we'll have to stock up on a few things for him.
The dc's are fairly trustworthy about boundaries outdoors and there's a little playground up the road, just hoping for good weather!

LIZS Sat 28-Dec-13 07:49:31

If you get one of their bedrooms sorted first then they can have a refuge. How god is your French ? I got by with that for food/products for a while, as most have German/Italian/French labels. ? Even gave birth using French much to the medics confusion !

NaturalBaby Sun 29-Dec-13 21:59:43

It's German speaking part and my German is vaguely o.k so I'm hoping I'll be o.k. Am stocking up on things like off the shelf medicines though.

Now I'm freaking out about what to do while all our stuff is in transit.

JollySantersSelectionBox Mon 30-Dec-13 00:25:41

It won't be in transit for long though? I think mine was 3 days door to door.

If you get stuck you can always PM me?

LIZS Mon 30-Dec-13 07:35:03

3 days sounds about right . We stayed with family the night the van left , flew out next day and stayed in hotel, then were ready to receive the next day . Just watch out for European/local BH's and weekends as lorries can't drive then. Will your packers fly over to unload or will they use a local team (who may be auslanders!).

NaturalBaby Mon 30-Dec-13 21:13:21

DH reckons up to 5 days transit but hopefully a bit less, we've got removal men coming to quote next week. DH has only found 2 companies that will move UK to Switzerland.
We are keeping our UK home, family moving in a few days after we move out, so we can stay put for a few days on air beds.

I have no idea how we're going to manage this move. I know it'll happen one way or another and our stuff is only in transit for a few days but the thought of getting everything organised before the removal men arrive is really freaking me out. sad

JollySantersSelectionBox Tue 31-Dec-13 15:25:42

Brittania moved us. Fairly easy, but then I was an army wife. grin

The main company that deal with Expat removals to CH are Packimpex. Aren't DH's company organising this on your behalf?

The removal guys and driver all came together - so the guys who packed us were the same ones who arrived in the van at the end of the week. They'd just stayed in a hotel in France for the evening, but had two loads on the van - one for us and one for another lady moving to Bern.

The main thing that could cause a hold up is customs clearance. There was a very angry lady trying to get hold of me the morning before the move, to clarify a few things. I didn't have a mobile that worked so she was getting a bit stressed. blush

We drove over as we kept our UK car for a year. We had two hotel nights paid by my company and then met the guys on day three.

You'll be okay. The main things to unpack are mattresses, sheets etc and an essential box for the kitchen.

I'd recommend that if you have a hotel stay beforehand that perhaps you pop into a DIY place and buy some CH plugs and that you keep your screwdriver set in your travel luggage. Then at least you can get the kettle on, TV/DVD to keep the kids amused etc. JUMBO is a popular DIY store.

LIZS Tue 31-Dec-13 15:38:52

I'm surprised you only have 2 companies willing to quote . Pickford's moved us out (not recommended ) and Sterling back, but there seemed to be several . Will they pack for you ? Some companies have contracts with particular firms. Can you air freight anything or have excess baggage? Could dh go on ahead and meet the lorry and you fly out with the dc a day or so later ?

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 31-Dec-13 15:54:03

Super plus tampons.

fussychica Tue 31-Dec-13 16:37:24

DS been living in Germany & France recently and can't get squash in either (except in Brit shops if he's lucky - v. expensive) - probably the thing he misses most, food wise.

NaturalBaby Tue 31-Dec-13 17:14:55

Will look into the other companies mentioned, thanks so much for the info. I was wondering what the Swiss equivalent of Homebase is so will look out for Jumbo.

We could take our car over but I'm not very good sitting in the car for hours and hours, and then we'd have a right hand car to sell in a few months when DH gets his company car.

I went round tesco yesterday wondering what I'll miss most (or struggle to fit in luggage for the plane!). Jars of sauce with english instructions came to mind so am stocking up on those! I was hoping if we get used to shopping in Lidl and Aldi then we'd be o.k (apart from Ds2 who won't eat their cereal!).

LIZS Tue 31-Dec-13 17:27:19

Migros is a supermarket chain whcih alos runs MMM superstores which include DIY and Garden, electronics and furniture and sportswear , also Coop has Bau + Hobby stores, Carrefour and the ubiquitous Ikea. If you look at the supermarkets online you might find some product equivalents online. Dolmio is sold there plus Thomy sauces and Dr Oetker

JollySantersSelectionBox Tue 31-Dec-13 19:12:28

You don't have to sell your car if you want to take it over for initial use.

You can either register it for tax free import in your moving goods list and then get Swiss reg plates and an MOT for it in 1 - 2 years, or if you have an address in the UK just keep reinsuring over there with overseas cover, and take it back in a year.

The drive is only 8 hours to Switzerland, and lots of people have their UK cars here, 2 of our neighbours kept theirs. We scrapped ours as it was on its last legs - it was just an interim cover for DH (I have a company vehicle).

NaturalBaby Sun 02-Feb-14 20:11:49

What random basic groceries have you found difficult to get hold of? Today I read that it's hard to get porridge oats in Switzerland?!

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 02-Feb-14 21:35:54

You can't get ready break, or Scotts porridge oats. However müesli of course is a Swiss thing, so plenty of oat cereals here.

heather1 Sun 02-Feb-14 21:38:30

No it's easy to get porridge. It's Hafer flocken, or something like that!
Marmite, branston pickle, dairy milk, golden syrup very expensive. Sold in the English book shop in Zurich. Sometime, but not the dairy milk, can be found in larger migros. I haven't found crumpets yet!
Self raising four also doesn't exist, you buy separate packets of raising agent 'backpulver'.
Pain killers adults and children's are v expensive. I stock up on calpol etc on my visits when I get ppl over. Also other pharmacy things as it's just easier to read the instructions in English.
Unless it's a large supermarket the ethnic section tends to be poor.
Weetabix can be purchased at migros.
Online shopping is possible le shop is Migros. Also coop do it but I can't remember!
I tend to get different bits from different shops but Lidl and Aldi are great.

NaturalBaby Sun 02-Feb-14 21:56:25

Have found Hafer flocken on the Coop website! I read about Golden syrup the other day so that's on the shopping list. I was wondering about the flour and basic cooking/baking ingredients just so I don't have to stand in the supermarket translating.
What about bread? DH and ds eat multigrain bread - 800g loaf for £1 in Tesco, I suspect they won't have anything similar and if they do it will cost a small fortune. I'd rather avoid white bread and I doubt he'll eat rye bread. I'm going to have to learn how to bake something similar.

WallyBantersJunkBox Mon 03-Feb-14 00:59:27

I shouldn't worry so much about bread. There is a bread for every Canton and day of the year.

I buy wholemeal, multigrain, rye, pumpernickel, half brown/half white etc regularly. Germany and Switzerland have the best bread, I think.

Flour is fine, the only difference is that there is more choice by grade - so each flour packet has a milled grade on it depending on how fine it needs to be. The flour in bulk display tends to be the common usage flour. You buy backpulver (baking power) and add directly to the flour before weighing (I teaspoon with every 75g iirc). I've always done this, as self raising flour tends to lose the raising properties if kept too long.

I think if I remember you will be quite close to some of the border towns so it will be worth you shopping in Germany say once a month, as there is far more choice - our local supermarket sells Heinz beans, corned beef, Heinz tomato soup for example. And the cereals are about half the price of CH.

When I go back to the UK next month I'll be stocking up on Salad Cream, Branston pickle, HP sauce, crumpets, Ribena, Barley water, Yorkshire and Glengettie tea bags, suet, cornflour (they have saucenbinder but i prefer UK), good vanilla extract, treacle, various brown sugars for baking, syrup.

heather1 Mon 03-Feb-14 21:01:33

I agree Wally. Ch is the land of bread and sausages. Probably a different type for each day of the year.
Natural just be prepared that for the short term shopping will take a little longer. Pick a small supermarket to start with and go with a list and then add things on the shelves which look interesting. Many of the supermarkets have child sized trolleys or some even little tykes cars with large basket attached. My Ds loved those.
Be prepared to make mistakes e.g. I have been here for nearly 3 years. Last week I brought flour as I make my own bread in a bread machine. Realised this evening I have brought the wrong flour, rye not spelt so had to start my loaf again.
All this confusion is part of the fun(?) of living in a country where you don't speak the language. Try to be relaxed, relinquish control where you can. In some ways being an expat is like being the parent of a toddler. Just when you think you have it figured something unexpected happens and you can't understand what is being said! Better to relax and know it will all turn out ok in the end.

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