House Renters International


Hmm, this would be an okay place to live.

Nope, we’re not going to be on the show. If nothing else, we’re renting over here, not buying anytime soon. Also, I’d be completely terrified to do reality TV.

This past weekend was one of my favourites – maybe ever. After a week of sort of settling into our new life, we spent two days driving around the countryside, trying to find a new place to live. Our relocation agent gave us a list of villages to check out on both the right and left banks so we obligingly saw them all, taking in the sites as we did so.

We started on the Rive Droite (right bank) on Saturday. The name is someone misleading, because when looking on a map the Rive Droite is actually on the left side of the lake, but the name comes from those sailing down the lake towards the Rhone River, in which case the west side of the lake is on the right, and the east side on the left.

The day was glorious and sunshiney as we zipped up the coast, then (after a brief navigational failure) found our way to some mountain villages. Our jaws dropped every time we drove into one – each consisted of old churches and quaint farmhouse, all red-roofed and looking so idyllically Swiss I can hardly overstate the fact. You know you have a picture of what Switzerland looks like? To me, it’s green mountains dotted with flowers and cows, and stone villages centred around a clock tower. That’s exactly what everywhere looks like here – not just one little tourist trap, but everywhere. It’s insane how stunningly beautiful it is.

But, we decided the mountain villages are not to be. Despite each of them having a great train station, we felt it was a little too far away and maybe a bit isolating.


Lunch in the medieval courtyard.

Our next stop was the medieval town of Nyon. With a population of 19,000, nearly half of them international, it was much more bustling. It also seems to be a popular tourist destination, with an ancient castle looking out over the lake. We happily did the tourist thing, eating a nice meal in an outdoor courtyard looking at the castle. Then a little poking around before we continued our drive.


The land you see across the lake? France.

Exploring Nyon made us realize we could definitely live there. I can’t say that I “see” myself there yet – it’s entirely too surreal to imagine living there – but it seems livable on top of being beautiful, which is a must for us. It’s a little bit up the lake from Geneva, but a high-speed train gets you to the centre of the city in less than 15 minutes, so that’s not really a problem.


X now insists on a castle!

We explored a few more villages coming back towards the city – a few caught our eye as potential future homes. There was still moments where we couldn’t believe how cool everything was, but then there were also awkward housing developments that didn’t seem to fit. I didn’t like those things in Calgary and I don’t like them here.

Sunday we traveled around the Rive Gauche. I think we might have driven over every space of paved road in the area and it only took us about an hour and a half. This part of Switzerland seems predominantly more Geneva-centric, and, if you can believe it, even more beautiful than the other side. Less developed, it is a collection of villages all tied to Geneva by bus, most of them stringing out along the shore of the lake.


Lunch on the water.

We ate lunch in Hermance, just inside the Swiss border. The woods we were sitting next to were in France. We set up at a little sandwich beach shop, looking out over the lake, where I could get a ham and cheese sandwich and a glass of wine (I love Europe). It was the type of place that, if existed in Calgary, on a day like that, it would have been packed. Over here, it was kind of slow.

While we have a few particular favourite villages, we could see ourselves living anywhere on the Rive Gauche. The gentle slope of the hillside is covered with cow pastures, vineyards and equine centres, with the French Alps creating a very pretty frame for the area.


Oh no, wait, it’s me that wants the castle.

Now it’s a matter of finding what is available. With a rental market of .1%, things are very tight. We’d like to be able to move in June, but might have to wait until July, depending on what’s out there.

We thought we’d actually enjoy staying in the apartment – Z’s company is putting us up, after all, and isn’t kind of nice to be taken care of like that? Well, in fact, not really. I was pretty naïve about the whole thing, but it turns out staying in a furnished apartment is not what it cracked up to be.

First off, the décor isn’t exactly my style. As in, modern as hell, clean sharp lines and everything done in glass and white furniture. Guys, I’m going to repeat that for effect. GLASS AND WHITE FURNITURE. Whoever thought they’d rent this place out to a family with a baby was just plain reckless. At least almost all the furniture is leather, which wipes down; otherwise, every piece of furniture would be ruined by now. And it’s been a week. So far, the only major spill we’ve had was me dropping a glass of red wine on a white rug. Oops. I have learnt that I will never buy glass furniture, or get stainless steel countertops (a nightmare).

Some things that I expected to be ready for us are still not available – like laundry. This really infuriates me. If you are in charge of setting up a family, with a baby, I think it should be expected you figure out if they have access to laundry. That’s just a basic concept – or am I just touchy about it? Hopefully it will be figured out by next week …

We’re also waiting for our air shipment to come in. We had expected it to come within a few days, but so far we’re still waiting. As it stands, we’re still living out of the bags I packed on March 23. I did not pack for weeks on end, especially with no laundry!

But things are looking up! We finally got wifi today – a great relief to not have to be on the internet crouched in our dark front entrance. And we should be getting a fridge today (fingers crossed).

That’s life up until now. I’m excited to start looking for places!


2 thoughts on “House Renters International

  1. the laundry thing is cultural. Europeans have far less clothes and hand wash things a lot – and obviously – not after just one wearing.

    • I’m just thankful this didn’t happen when X still had acid reflux, and puked on everything. He went through 7 outfits a day and I was doing the wash at lest once a day! I guess that’s a no no here – babies are often covered in vomit?

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