Trash and Other Logistics

Finding Your Way – There are a great deal of logistics to figure out upon arrival and this can be daunting at first. Take a deep breath and dive in. In time, you will master the intricacies of each system whether it be healthcare, trash disposal, or recycling. Keep in mind that you are not the first person to do this, reach out to others and ask questions.

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Trash

The trash situation can, to a new arrival, feel rather complex and those urban legends that seem to follow around the expats residing in the city will haunt you if you do something wrong, so do your best to get the system down.   Once you have the appropriate garbage bag and the right dates for trash pick – up, the process is rather seamless.

The blue Bebbisaggs can be purchased at your local grocery store (Coop or Migro at the cashier, or with the counter that sells alcohol and/or cigarettes), come in the following sizes: 17 liters, 35 liters, and 60 liters. Each size Bebbisagg comes in a roll of 10. The 17 liter bags costs CHF 12.00, the 35 liter bags costs CHF 23.00 and the largest Bebbisaggs 35 liters will cost CHF 33.

Depending upon your area, you will either need to place a sticker on your sac or simply place your trash in the blue Bebbisagg without the sticker on the curb at dusk the night before or the morning of collection. Please note that putting out trash too early (before 19:00 the day before or the latest at 7:00 day of pick – up) or on the incorrect days may result in a fine.

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Recycling – Cardboard and Paper

Cardboard and paper should be collected in your home and bundled up with a string and placed curb – side the evening prior to pick – up or before 7:00 that morning. To determine pick – up dates for your area, consult the Abfuhrplan, which individuals receive by mail and is valid from January – December.

The Abfuhrplan also lists the dates of pick – up for metal, lawn trimmings/greens from your yard, non-flammable items.

 

 Sperrgut Stickers

Two “sperrgut” stickers come with the Abfuhrplan each year and are to be used on items that do not fit into the regular Bebbisagg and are under 10kilos in weight. Simply adhere the stickers to the item in which you wish to dispose of and place out on the regular days of trash collection.

To purchase additional “sperrgut” stickers, the cost is CHF 4.50 each and stickers are available at Coop and Migros stores.

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Glass, Aluminum and Battery Recycling – There are central recycling centers located in each neighborhood of the city, which allow individuals to recycle at their convenience between the hours of 7:00 – 20:00 Monday through Saturday. Recycling on Sunday is not permissible.

Aluminum – Individuals can recycle aluminum such as: cans, aluminum packaging, and aluminum tubes at these centers.

Glass – Clear, brown, and green glass that has been cleaned is also recyclable. It is not permissible to recycle mirrors, drinking glasses or window glass.

Batteries – There are small containers (typically yellow) where batteries can be placed (regular batteries, button batteries and rechargeable batteries). It is not permissible to recycle car batteries at these stations.

There are signs posted in several languages indicating the rules and regulations of recycling, take the time to read such signs and familiarize yourself with the process.

PET Recycling – For all acceptable plastics, your local Coop or Migro will have recycling bins.

Compost – Most neighborhoods have composting areas available for the general public during limited hours.  Please ask or keep an eye out in your neighborhood for the area where composting is permitted.

Parting Words –  It’s not sexy or exciting, but learning how to properly dispose of trash and recycling items in your new neighborhood is essential.  If I have missed something here, or stated something incorrectly, don’t be shy and please let me know.

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Home

I keep “home” tucked in my back pocket wherever and whenever I travel and for a gal that doesn’t really consider any place in this world “home” that is saying a lot.

Despite my love of exploring new places and getting all too itchy when too much time in one location lingers too long, I do love where we reside. It doesn’t take long in a new location until I am feeling that genuine surge of gratitude wash over me and then that same itch that initially pushed me away, brings me right back where I started.

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Boarding the plane is never a source of sadness, for when you love where you live, returning often brings a deep sense of joy.  Flying over the Alps, never ceases to amaze me. Those towering mountains, permanently covered in snow still, after all this time, takes my breath away. Once the aircraft moves in a bit closer, the deep hues of green take over and I am smitten.  Anxious for the plane to land and for us to make our way home; back into everything that is familiar and I sigh with relief.  Once we board the bus, I make a silent, mental list of all those aspects I love about my adopted home and just like returning to the warm arms of a long lost lover, I relax in a way that allows my shoulders to drop and my heart to slow.

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And, as my sweet family gathers once again around our kitchen table, I ask the familiar question to engage us all, “What are you grateful for?“ We limit the response to just three statements per person, which is often so hard to do.  My list, most days, runs long and deep, and I relish in the gifts that this “home” has to offer and my gratitude is overwhelming.

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Feeling Grateful For:

Cleanliness – For clean streets, trash that is picked – up, and public toilets that are ever so clean.  Thank you!

Safety –  Despite some crime, we still feel remarkably safe in this tiny country.

Quality of Life – From being able to walk to: school, the gym, the grocery store, the bank, the drug store, the playground, oh, the list goes on and on, walking is amazing.

Drinking Water – Grateful that we can drink the water from the tap…enough said.

Public Transportation – We love the fact that getting around is so easy and provides such an immense sense of independence for our entire family.

Beauty – Did we mention this country is incredibly beautiful?  From the lakes, to the countryside, to the mountains, whew, I am speechless, still!

Tiny – We love our tiny flat.  The backyard views, the rooms that feel like they are filled with love and memories and despite living very simply, this simple place just feels so right.

Seasons – Gosh, is there anything more enchanting than the colors of the fall?  No, not really, except for the first blossoms of spring, and the silence that washes over the landscape during the first snowfall, or the coolness that tingles our toes when the summer days get too hot and we seek refuge in the Alpine lakes.  The seasons are magical and we are blessed to witness each and every one.

Apartment Search – 101

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The checklist created below would have been immensely helpful to us upon selecting our first apartment in Basel and ultimately might have saved us the hassle of moving again. If you do not have a relocation agency assisting you with securing your new apartment, homgate.ch, comparis.ch, immoscout24.ch, and immoStreet.ch will provide a comprehensive list of the current apartments/houses available based on location, size, and price.

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Often times when you call the agency to view the apartment, the current owner/renter will be the individual to show you around. This is the perfect opportunity to ask detailed questions about the apartment from the individual who knows exactly what it means to reside in the space on a day – to – day basis.

Apartment Checklist:

  1. Location: Get a feel for the neighborhood. Walk the streets during the day and the night. Take special note to what surrounds your building. Are there clubs, bars, cafés, and restaurants nearby? While these might be convenient, such establishments are often loud and carry a high level of noise throughout the evening and on weekends. Visit the local grocery store, talk to people and determine how you feel in the area. Walking the streets at night is especially important if you will be coming and going during the evening hours or spending a great deal of time alone due to a traveling partner/roommate or because you will be living alone. You need to feel safe in your neighborhood and secure in your building.
  2. Elevator: Does the building have an elevator and is that elevator big enough to fit furniture, a couple of people and/or a stroller? An elevator may not be necessary if you are childless and don’t mind walking up several flights of stairs, but if you are moving into a space with an established family or hoping to start a family in the near future, an elevator is essential. In addition, if you have elderly family members visiting and staying in your apartment, a trek up several flights of stairs may not be an option for them.
  3. Washer and Dryer: Does your apartment have a washer and dryer in the unit? If not, it is important to take a look at the communal space. Is the washing room well maintained, easy to access and a well-lit space? How does washing in the building work? Do tenants sign – up as they choose or are washing days selected for you? How many people share the washer and dryer? Having some flexibility in the schedule is invaluable, especially if you have children. Think sick children, dirty, wet clothes, spills, etc.
  4. Bathtub: Does your apartment have a bathtub? If you enjoy a good soak or have children, a bathtub is a must.
  5. Street Noise: Believe it or not, we never noticed the fact that we lived on a tramline until after we moved into our apartment. When selecting an apartment or house, consider the street noise from tramlines, buses, major roads, restaurants, cafés, bars, parks, churches, and/or stadiums.
  6. General Noise: Is the building well constructed, with solid windows and thick/well insulated flooring? This will determine the level of noise that carries from one neighbor to the next. Are there children in the building, musicians, etc?  These are great questions to ask the current tenant.
  7. Public Transportation: Does your new home have easy access to public transportation? Will you have a car or will you rely exclusively on public transportation? Is there a parking garage in your building with an available space for your vehicle(s) and what is the monthly cost?
  8. Convenience: Does your neighborhood provide easy access to: grocery stores, banks, drug stores, green space, playgrounds, pools, schools, daycares, a post office and other daily essentials without having to walk too far or get into your car? All of these factors will greatly impact your convenience levels and overall happiness.
  9. Size: The size of the building. If you are coming from a home and downsizing to an apartment, consider the size of the building and how many tenants occupy the complex. The more people, typically the more noise, more use of the washing machine and dryer, etc. The size of the individual apartment – will you have space to host guests, house a baby if you plan to start a family, or simply have a home office?
  10. Safety: Ask about the safety of your neighborhood. Has your building ever been broken into? If so, when and how many times? Also, has there ever been a fire in your building and what was the cause?
  11. Fire Alarms: Inquire about fire alarms when visiting apartments. It is not standard practice for Switzerland to have fire alarms installed in apartment units. If you would like them installed ask the agency their policy for this. For a nominal fee, fire alarms can be purchased at a local hardware store and personally installed for safety (if this is permissible). If you are interested in hiring a company that specializes in safety, consider contacting a company such as SAFEHOME. http://www.safehome.ch
  12. Rules: consider asking for the house rules to become better acquainted with how your potential apartment functions. In addition, Integration Basel publishes a list of general house rules in multiple languages, pertaining to laundry, cleaning, recycling, trash days and much more. To view this list in several languages, please visit: http://www.immobilien.bs.ch/nachbar_machbar_2015.pdf
  13. Pets: If you are bringing pets or have the intent of owning an animal, check the rules and regulations of your building to determine whether or not animals are allowed and those rules associated with having animals in the building.
  14. Storage: Does your apartment come with a basement storage locker? This is important if you plan to store wine, spare tires, large furniture or seasonal clothes. Ask to see the storage locker that is affiliated with your apartment unit before you rent the flat.
  15. Bike Storage: Consider the availability and security of the bike storage unity for the apartment you will be renting. Some buildings have designated areas specifically designed for storing bikes, inquire with the agent about this when viewing the apartment.
  16. General Cleanliness of the Building: Most apartments have a general caretaker who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the public space. In addition, this person is often called when items in your home break or need repair. Ask about this individual, how often he or she is on premise and their general responsibilities.
  17. 220 volt:  Switzerland uses 220 volt, which means do not even bother bringing television sets, vacuum cleaners and most of the appliances that are now collecting dust in our storage locker with you on your move.
  18. Check – List: When you are given the keys to your apartment, you will also be given a spreadsheet asking you to note any damages, scrapes, marks, holes, or general issues with your apartment. Take the time to be as thorough as possible with this and as detailed as process. You will be grateful for your diligence, which should save you money and hassles upon departure.
  19. Smoking: Finally, check to see whether or not your apartment building permits smoking or if there are rules regarding this for tenants.  As a non-smoker, there is nothing worse than being surrounded by smokers, which will ruin your balcony experience in a flash!  Bummer!

Welcome home!

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Ten

Last month we celebrated an entire decade of residing in Switzerland.  Ten years is a grand collection of time. The minutes, the hours, the days all eventually spun themselves into ten incredible, life-altering years that have become our very existence.

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With those passing years we did our best to embrace the unknown, rooted ourselves in our past, and now, look forward to a promising future.

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In ten years we have…

Caressed careers and quietly walked away.

We have settled in without ever feeling fully grounded.

We have birthed two children without the comfort of family and friends close by.

We now fully comprehend the quote, “Successful people take big risks knowing that they might fall hard.  But they might succeed more than they ever dreamed.”  – Unknown

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Held hands as a couple, fell into one another and pushed through the uncertain times, of which there were many.

Overcame obstacles we didn’t know even existed.

We’re never certain if we got it “right,” but boy can we say we tried and are trying.

Gained perspective in a whole new way and know how powerful that has been in shaping who we are, and who we aspire to become.

Felt grateful beyond belief and never took nor do we ever take this opportunity for granted…never!

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Quietly observed from afar the makings, and unraveling of our own country often times shaking our heads in utter disbelief.  We had/have hope in our hearts that American’s will stick together and be kind to one another!

Witnessed a new way of living, one that offers a living wage, quality of life, and a high standard of living.  Thank you!

Longed for a past that was familiar and a future that was certain…don’t we all!

Waved good – bye to family and dear friends and we have come to the realization that it will never be easy or ever get easier. Sigh.

Felt ever so humbled by the German language and still do.

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Smiled whole – heartedly when we heard and hear our children toggle through conversations in both English and German.

Embraced a very simple life free from the burden of debt.

Witnessed beauty beyond our wildest comprehension.

Are creating a family based on values, gratitude and forgiveness.

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Felt that raw pang of isolation, disappointment and reconciliation that only those close to us can understand.

Wondered if this journey would continue and how it will unravel should we ever have to return back home.

Thought endlessly how my father would have interpreted this life we have chosen to live and wished that he could have witnessed this life we have created and the children we have made.

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Grateful for our children’s education in a foreign country and their ability to learn languages.

Blessed that our minds have been altered, our thinking enhanced and our beliefs tested because living abroad is an education that teaches you something new each and everyday!

Happily relied on public transportation and decided to go car free for our entire ten years. That feels like a victory in itself!

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Felt the power of saying yes, despite having no idea what that yes would entail.

It may not have been easy to walk away from a life of stability and comfort, but “The greater the challenge, the bigger the opportunity,” couldn’t be more accurate of a statement!

Looking forward to where the next ten may lead us and blessed to share this journey with my partner in life and our two amazing children!

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And remember…”The most dangerous risk of all – The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself freedom to do it later.” – Randy Komisar

Neighborhoods Matter

Where you live is vitally important to your happiness and quality of life.  Your neighborhood and where you call home can make or break your experience in any new area.  Location matters immensely and here is why.

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We have been off to a bumpy start in 2017.  Plagued by illness and being captive inside our home more than we would like to admit, our neighborhood has once again proven to be a light at the end of our dark, and what feels like at times, endless tunnel.  Our small area has supported our needs, without ever once requiring a car (thank God for that we don’t even own one).

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Within a block in either direction from our front door our children can easily and independently walk alone to school, our pediatrician is about two to three blocks down a quiet street, we have three grocery stores about 10 minutes from our front door, our bank and the drug store are reachable by foot too. Oh, and the gym, five minutes warm – up from the house…no excuses…right!?

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The neighborhood boasts two playgrounds, loads of green space and access to the Rhine River, which proves time and again to be a scenic and gorgeous walk anytime of day or year.   We can access green space by walking to a local deer park, or botanical gardens in less than 30 minutes.  A tram runs right in front of our house, which means access to the city and neighboring villages are all available to us most hours of the day, despite the noise.  We feel remarkably blessed that ten years ago when we moved to Basel and had no idea where to live that we stumbled upon our little gem of a  neighborhood. We can honestly say it has made a huge impact on our happiness and above all, our quality of life.

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We offer this advice to all of those moving to the city or its’ outskirts:

Neighborhoods directly relate to your quality of life, so choose wisely.  If you don’t know where to start, ask locals, your relocation service, or simply walk the streets during the day and night to get a feel for the new area.

Be honest with your needs and desires before you settle down.  Do you mind being reliant on a car or do you prefer to be able to walk or take public transportation?  Keep in mind, the public transportation is reliable, clean and very accessible in Switzerland.

If you are new to Switzerland, consider a neighborhood that is host to Expats, though not the best for integration, you might feel a bit more at home.

Consider conveniences and their proximity to your home: schools, drug stores, playgrounds, grocery stores, a gym, the bank, Dr.’s offices, the post office, your office location, etc.

How often do you want to and/or need to be in the city of Basel?  Consider this when you select your location.

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Walking opportunities – can you stroll out your front door and safely walk to scenic, family – friendly locations or take long hikes through rolling hills?

Noise – if you long for quiet, consider tramlines, buses, trains and other modes of public transport and their location to your home.

All the best settling in!

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