Moving from France to Switzerland

There’s quite a bit of paperwork involved when moving from France to Switzerland. This is a rough account of what happened after the housing agent called to say we had been selected to get an apartment. It might be useful to anyone considering, or in the process of, moving to Switzerland from abroad. However, it’s by no means a complete account, and you should always check with authorities or others who have done the same if in doubt.

Initial paperwork:

  1. Signed the rental agreement at the housing agent’s premises.
  2. Wrote an inventory for the current apartment.
  3. Got a certificat de la perception from the French tax authorities.
  4. Got a certificat de changement de résidence from the nearest town hall.
  5. Set up a deposit account with three months’ rent, and got a “garantie bancaire.”
  6. Paid the first rent & charges and got the receipt for that.

Later we brought the following documents to get the keys to the apartment:

  • Formulaire d’entrée: The entry form for the apartment, with the instructions for moving in.
  • Garantie bancaire
  • Proof of personal liability insurance (assurance responsabilité civile) for each tenant.
  • Proof of household insurance (assurance menage).
  • Recepisse BVR 1er loyer & frais divers: Receipt for the payment of the first rent and charges.
  • Bail signé: Signed rental agreement.

When moving, we had to present the following to the French customs:

  • The certificat de changement de résidence or certificat de la perception.
  • Proof of residence (rental agreement in our case).

After moving in, we still had a bit of paperwork for the apartment:

  • Delivered the bon d’entrée to the janitor.
  • Delivered our account details for possible reimbursements and a request for a plaque for the letter box and door to the housing agent.
  • Paid the frais d’établissement du bail + frais de plaquettes.

Other formalities:

  • Sent address changes everywhere.
  • Got the mandatory health insurance.
  • Called the electricity company to prepare for our arrival.
  • Called a telecom company for telephone + Internet.
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Ever wanted to register your protest against the baggage check insanities at the airport? You know, the one where blunt, sharp, wet and flammable things are taken away from every passenger, for ridiculous reasons*? Unless you’re a high-ranking U.S. politician, there’s not much you can do to influence directly, and using other transport is out of the question for most people.

What any passenger can do is to frustrate the system as much as possible. You can fill a little water in a used bottle, bring it along in your hand luggage, and dump it at the security check. The bigger the better, for making the garbage bags fill up and showing your sympathy with other passengers. You can also bring a bottle smaller than the limit (WTF is up with that anyway? You can bring several deciliters in total, and I don’t suppose a lot of explosives are needed to blow up a plane), go through the check, and then suggest sending it separately. Korean Air did that for me free of charge. Just make sure you’re nice about it – It’s not the airport employees’ fault.

Let’s protest in a visible way.

* For those who want to rant about how it can prevented terrorist attacks, consider this:

  • There are so many possible attack vectors, you couldn’t possibly prevent all of them. If you disallowed hand luggage, stripped every passenger down and shackled them spread-eagle on the plane, a passenger could still have explosives or pathogens in his or her body.
  • The arrangement obviously steals time. A little math will show you that if the extra procedure takes 1 minute per passenger (a very conservative estimate) then this stupidity steals 5232 years of passengers’ lives annually (according to 2006 estimate)!

Confessions of an ex(?) newbie

Today Months ago it hit me that I should properly ask forgiveness for my crimes committed against the IT community. I have, in no particular order:

  • Asked for help before searching.
  • Filed bugs with too little information.
  • Been dead sure of the source of the bug and completely wrong.
  • Used
    noob
    text
    “techniques”
    in
    chats
    At least I never used FUCKING COLORED CAPS.
  • Participated in newsgroup flame wars.
  • Used frames on my website. *Shiver*
  • Vented frustration in bug reports.
  • Sent emails without reviewing content and formatting.

Defunct hiring process, or: How not to gain trust from potential employees

After turning down a job at a company in Geneva, and discussing the contract, employee rules, and interview process with the boss for about an hour, I’d like to summarize why I ended up not taking the job.

1 year “lock-in”

The last word is in quotes because it’s not a contractual lock-in, but a practical one. They required me to start by taking a course on the product I’d work with. The contract stipulated that if I leave the job after less than a year, I have to pay the course. Fair enough, but the amount I’d heard during the interview was CHF 20,000 (>$16,000)*. That’s more than I’d be able to pay, and one hell of a big chance to take. I like to make informed decisions, so I (subconsciously, perhaps) decided to let that one slip only as long as the rest of the process and rules could stand some scrutiny.

Oh, and by the way: The contract stated that it was mandatory to pass the course to continue the job. It didn’t say whether I’d have to pay the course if I didn’t pass it. When I pressed on this point in the interview, they just said nobody had failed yet, and never said straight out that I wouldn’t have to pay the course in case I failed.

*This turned out to be wrong. CHF 20,000 was the ordinary price, while the company only had to pay about less than half of that. However, the correct price was stated in neither the interview nor the contract.

No initiation period before the course

During the first interview, they told me they might be able to get me an initiation period of a few days at a client, to see how the job is done. Sadly, the client didn’t approve it. In combination with the previous issue, this is the main reason I didn’t take the job. Apparently, they couldn’t postpone the course so I could get a look into the business, and so I was stuck with no experience on which to base my decision.

No tests of language / IT skills

The job requires someone with IT skills, and a good level of two specific languages in addition to English. I know IT and the relevant languages, and I told them so. But they never tested me. Why? They said We trust you, and If we’re wrong, it’s our fault, and our problem. They had spoken to one of my university professors and me, and figured that was good enough. But what does that tell me? I’ve read a bit about how Google does interviews, and how Joel Spolsky would like people to do them, and no tests tells me the job requires no brains. Excel number punching, form filling, that kind of stuff. Trust goes both ways, and they need to show me they want qualified people. Of course, the person doing the interview said it’s not a walk in the park, but then we get full circle: Why don’t they test people if the work is challenging?

Contract / employee rules which don’t reflect the intention

One part of their contract could be translated as follows: The employee is responsible for company equipment s/he uses. If the equipment deteriorates, the employee must replace it with a new piece of the same equipment. The last part says nothing about liability in the case of forces outside of my control, and doesn’t mention any insurance. The interviewer said that’s because they want people to take proper care of the equipment, but why is it then formulated like that? Why not write something like this: If equipment deteriorates because of irresponsible behavior by the employee, &c After dealing with a few contracts and bad bosses, I always assume the worst.

No answer to emails

I sent a couple emails with questions about the job, and never got an answer. However, afterwards I received a request from the same person to take my CV off of JobUP. I complied, and confirmed by email, asking once again to please answer my questions. I never got a reply. That is really a unique situation. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a person which would completely ignore a request for information (much less twice), and it left me assuming the worst – I.e., that they don’t care.

But is it really all that bad?

Maybe not. The people certainly seemed nice enough. Maybe all my doubts were unfounded. I’ll never find out. But I’d rather be without a job for a few months, than take a job that I might regret for a year. And I’ll always prefer an informed decision to an optimistic one.

PS: I got invited to an interview in another company not five minutes after I got back from the meeting. :)