Over the decades, I adjusted to dozens of relocations between three foreign countries. From a cot in a German teammate’s apartment, to a studio flat in Paris, to a rustic chalet in Switzerland, “Where Ever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home.)”
Once driven by adventure and dreams of youth, what happened to that gutsy girl?
Today, as a jaded sixty-something wreck of a woman with a busted spine, bad knees, and a wonky brain from one too many accidents, I wonder have I made one too many moves?
What were my husband and I thinking when we decided to reinvent our lives in retirement by building a new abode above the clouds in Switzerland?
After nearly three years of waiting, our triplex in the Jura Mountains remains under construction. Did we sign bogus contracts?
Eight prescheduled moving dates have come and gone since we prepared for our first move in June 2022. Then we were told October, then December, next January 2023. Oh surely by March. How about end of June? When this did not happen the boss himself stated that we could move September 28, but… oops it’s October, already.
Like the other eight families, our rentals ran out. Our Heidi Hut expired in June. When we moved out, our contractors promised, “Mais oui! Your triplex will be finished by September.”
So in July, we escaped to the US for summer vacation, where we were welcomed with open arms. Merci mille fois chère famille.
Our holiday was sublime, until mid September. Then our European neighbors-to-be sharing our building set up a zoom video call revealing our condo’s interior. Nothing was done inside since we left 3 months earlier. The only fixture in the shell of our house was a bathtub, now filled with worker’s cigarette stubs, empty bottles and other debris.
Our simplest, logical solution would be to stay stateside. Yet, after four decades of loyal marriage to a crazy American, ze lovable Frenchman, retains “foreigner” status. As usual, Gerald received a citation to leave the US territory within a week.
Kicked out of the US after his 3 month limit, we flew back in Switzerland with nowhere to go. We scrambled to find an Airbnb in Arzier, the nearest village from the house, and harassed the sub contractors daily.
We swore we’d never ever build a home in France, Italy, Spain or any other European country.
Ah Switzerland, a country with an impeccable reputation for organization, dependability and professionalism, what could go wrong?
Builders undercut us on every corner trying to save money at our expense. The windows were too small to meet Swiss building requirements. The garage door was smaller than the frame. Insulation was half of what the code required. Plumbing in one bathroom was built outside the walls. The stairs were crooked. And the retaining wall to prevent the mountain from tumbling down on us hasn’t been started.
It could be worse. The Greek countryside is dotted with half-finished house frames without windows, doors, walls.
We learned valuable lessons. Never sell your old house before you have another ready-made home available. Think twice about relocating in your mid 60s. The wisest move — a stroll around your present dwelling. Head out the front door and then in the back entry. Voila! No stress. No drama. Home sweet home again.
Promises! Promises! A move-in date has been scheduled for next week. Stay tuned. But don’t hold your breath!