Saturday, December 23, 2006

Home Sale Update

For some reason we don't have to put the house on the market if we don't want to. I'm not sure why the change occurred. In other house news, the house inspection is on the 5th.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pack and Load Update

The moving company came yesterday and reviewed what we wanted to take with us to Morges. The good news is that the initial estimate is that we are well below the 8500 pounds that the company will pay for. Now we need to decide which of the 3 categories (surface, air, checked baggage) everything falls into.

The moving company will send a list of food items that can be shipped. We'd like to stock up on a few things before heading over, but Switzerland is very strict on what types of food can be brought in.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The trip home

The trip home was uneventful. The plane was from Geneva to Copenhagen was 40 minutes late due to high winds in Copenhagen. We ended up getting into Seattle about an hour late, which isn't too bad. Clearing customs and immigration was much quicker than it normally is in Seattle.

Niamh didn't sleep too much on the way home and seems to be having trouble adjusting to the time change. I think it took her all 5 days to adjust to the time change when we arrived in Morges.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We have an apartment -->I think

We spent Tuesday looking at 8 residences. Only two really made a favorable impression on us. the first was a converted farmhouse out in the country. It had 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, a separate fondue cooking room, 2 separate fondue eating rooms, a special sherry drinking room, a nice lawn, and a bbq. It was at the high end of our budget. We also saw an apartment that was in Morges. Photos will be posted when we're back in the US.

Today, Wednesday, we looked at more apartments in Morges. Most of them are in the same complex that we liked that last time we were here. We decided on a 4 bedroom apartment (same size as 3 bedroom-just with smaller rooms). It is less than a five minute walk to the lake, grocery store, train station, model train store, movie theater, parks, and the office. It has a huge balcony that wraps around 2 sides of the apartment. At least 2 and maybe 3 bedrooms have doors that open to the balcony.

It comes with covered parking and a washer\dryer unit. We didn't take any photos of the inside, but pictures of the balcony will be available on our website when we get home.

The apartment agent has a hold on the apartment for us. The company will need to sign the lease as we cannot do it until we have all the necessary paperwork (visa, work permit) completed, which won't happen until sometime in January.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Monday in Morges

I went into the office and turned in my Swiss employment contract. I also recieved my 3rd health care review. I think I finally understand it. We get to pick from about six deductables and each person can have a different deductable. We have to pay each invoice and then get reimbursed when applicable. In addition to the deductable, we have to pay 10% of each invoice.

I also recieved an overview of the Swiss tax system. It seems much more user friendly than the U.S. system. Not much else to report on that.

I got my access card, so I can come and go at the office as necessary. That seems to make it a little more official.

Em and Niamh walked along the lake, took a nap and went to the grocery store.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

We Made It!

We successfully arrived in Morges after a mere 18.5 hours in transit.

2 hours at Sea-Tac
9 hours flying between Sea-Tac and Copenhagen
4 hours in Copenhagen
1.5 hours flying between Copenhagen and Geneva
1 hour at the Geneva airport\train station
.75 hours on the train to Morges
.25 hours walking to our hotel

We each had a seat this trip, so we weren't able to get the infant basenet for Niamh. We got lucky and had an empty seat next to me, so we had the entire center section to ourselves. It took Niamh a few hours to get used to it, but she finally stretched out across two seats and slept for a few hours. She almost rolled off the seat multiple times, so I didn't get too much sleep.

The international (N0n EU) portion of the Copenhagen airport has nothing in it, so we cleared customs and wandered around the rest of the airport. We now all have entry and exit stamps for Denmark. The most interesting thing about the Copenhagen airport was boarding the plane to Geneva. We had to go down an escalator to the ramp and there was a bottleneck at the bottom of the escalator. People were getting crushed into each other. No injuries, but a little bit of panic.

We flew SAS the entire way and they requre that infants be buckled to a parent for take off, landing, and turbulance. It works ok, but it is kind of annoying to have to wake a sleeping baby to strap them in. We didn't have to do that on Alaska, United, or Lufthansia.

Our hotel is very nice for the price. We have basically have a loft aparment. It has two bathrooms, sleeps four, and a full (stove, sink, refridgerator, dish washer) kitchen.

Tomorrow I go to work to meet with the Swiss HR and the Swiss tax consultants. I think Em and Niamh are going to explore Morges.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Not much happened today

Today was the first day in the last two weeks where relocation related emails didn't represent 30% of my daily work related email. We'll be in Switzerland the 11th-14th looking for housing. The 12th and 13th are the actual house hunting days. Our relocation contact will take us to look at houses and apartments that meet our criteria. Em and I have slightly different housing priorities, so it'll be interesting to see what we end up with. Since we don't have a work\residence permit or visa yet, the lease will initially be between the landlord and the company.

The plan was to open a bank account on this trip as well, but the bank that the relocation coordinator normally uses has changed its policy and requires a home address to open an account. I guess we'll have to do that as soon as we arrive in late January.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Relocation process has started

The relocation process really started moving this week. The transfer paperwork and Swiss employment contract have been signed and will officially be turned in while in Switzerland next week. We've been contacted by the individuals coordinating the actual move, language training, immigration, tax, cultural training and house sale.

The move is broken into 2 sections, air and surface. The items shipped surface will take 6-8 weeks to get to Switzerland. That is currently scehduled for the 10th and 11th of January, but I will try to have that happen a week earlier so that we aren't sitting on the floor in Switzerland for too long. The items shipped by air take 2-3 weeks. That seems a bit excessive for a 12 hour flight, but what do I know. I guess there is a 3rd piece to the shipping, which is our checked luggage on the plane. I believe we'll have four tickets, so we'll be able to check quite a bit of stuff.
The language training was a bit of a surprise. I was under the impression that the relocation would include language classes, but we actually get 1:1 training with a tutor. Each of us get 150 hours of assistance, so we should be able to learn something . We'll use a portion of that before we leave the states and the rest when we arrive in Switzeland.

The immigration process for non EU citizens is a little complicated. I have to provide copies of my resume, diplomas, passport, criminal history(I'm clean!), and Swiss employment contract. We also have to provide a criminal history, marriage certificate, and copy of Em's passport. For the kids we have to submit copies of their passports and their bith certificates. The work\residence permit and visa's could take 6-8 weeks, so it will be interesting to see if everything is done on time. I've also learned that the shipper won't ship anything until we have a visa, so that could be fairly messy.

The tax implications are a bit confusing. The US government wants a portion of my income regardsless of where I am living. After my first tax briefing I wasn't worred about having to pay US taxes as there are a credits\exclusions\deductions that can be taken to avoid double taxation. I am a little more concerned after my 2nd meeting, but I'll wait until I read all the documentation before I get too worried. I meet with the Swiss tax consultants next week, which will be good as I don't really understand the Swiss tax process.

We get too days of individualized cultural training before we leave. I am interested to attend this, but am worried that it will just contain information that I have already read in books or online. That should happen sometime in January.

The company is also assisting us in selling our house. They will help coordinate everything(including an agent) and will help with a 3rd party buyout of the house if necessary. I have about 50 pages worth of stuff to read on this, so more information will be coming.

Starting a blog

I've decide to start a blog to keep track of our adventures on our upcoming indefinite relocation to Switzerland. I wanted the ability to provide updates on what is happening in one location and allow everyone access to read about what we have been doing.