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How one couple swapped lockdown for living overseas

Simon and Rachel Ashley’s romantic relationship began more than twenty-five years ago when they met on a flight to Geneva. Simon, a retired pilot, and Rachel, a former flight attendant who retrained to teach, are no strangers to international travel. But they had both long considered Berkshire their family home. Berkshire was where they raised their family, established a wide circle of friends, and took part in a range of volunteering opportunities. The idea of migration and permanently moving abroad hadn’t occurred to either of them. Then, the UK entered its first lockdown period in 2020, and some previously avoided home-based activities prompted a surprise turn of events.

“I think we knew we should declutter,” Simon explains. “But we’d tended to put everything else first and suddenly….” he trails off, his train of thought picked up by Rachel. She laughs and continues. “Suddenly, one of us had a lot of spare time – I still had to teach!” The couple explain how their decluttering project began in Simon’s study before extending to the rest of the house and even the garden shed! They kept in touch with their daughters over Zoom and joked about downsizing, then moving in with them each for half the year in turn. An ongoing joke developed about who had accumulated the most and how many removal vans they’d need if they were to downsize. This speculation game turned to international removals and took a more serious tone when they looked through old family photo albums and their daughters’ childhood scrapbooks.

Simon and Rachel honeymooned in Switzerland in 1993 and fell in love with the country that brought them together. “We even had a date night at Geneva airport,” Simon says, smiling at the memory. The couple returned every year as the family grew, taking their daughters and enjoying cross-country hikes in the alps and teaching them how to ski. They always returned to the same chalet in La Barboleuse, a short journey by tram or car, from Villars-sur-Ollon in the Gryon canton. As the holidays became more frequent, they both learnt French fluently. Rachel continued to degree level before adding it to her teaching subjects.

Simon tells me looking through the photo albums and scrapbooks made them re-evaluate their relationship with Switzerland. “I think we all took going there for granted and hadn’t realised how much we’d miss it when we weren’t able to go.” Rachel agrees. “Every canton has its own character, but the mountains here make my heart sing!” I hear how they looked beyond the cuckoo clocks, cheeses, and chocolates to find the real Switzerland. “The people have been lovely and welcoming and helped us become part of their community full-time.”

Simon and Rachel hired Helvetia International Removals (www.helvetiaremovals.com) to manage and complete their move from the UK to Switzerland. To get a no-obligation quote for your own international move, call their friendly team on 0123 456789, or simply click on http://www.helvetiaremovals.com/international-removals-cost-calculator


Timothy Hughes


London & Kent

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