As you can imagine, Andrew and I spent a lot of time figuring out the logistics to our summer. We had planned over two months off from work and wanted to travel in Europe and the U.S. but also needed to fit in some real-life, administrative stuff in San Francisco to facilitate moving back. So, while the beginning of the summer required the logistics to move out of our Swiss apartment and deconstruct our lives in Switzerland (i.e. banks, utility accounts, lease, job, etc), the next piece of fun was to set all that back up in the U.S.. Since we needed to get our belongings to San Francisco eventually, we decided to make SF our first stop in the U.S. after leaving Switzerland. Also important, this was our first planned time to try to find an apartment. If it didn’t work, we also built in a free weekend before Andrew’s start date on 4 September.
Now, it will appear confusing at first but once I explain it makes sense. We stayed at the Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco this whole time. I know, I know. A hostel! First of all, we got a private room and it was in their secondary building that is a block away from the main hostel building and on a quieter part of Broadway. We were a bit nervous to stay in a hostel in the U.S. since these are not a common accommodation, but we were pleasantly surprised. The Green Tortoise was one of the best hostels we have ever stayed in! Our building only had 5 units and it had a back deck with a view of the bay and the city skyline. It was well located, within walking distance of the downtown business district and also North Beach. They had tons of amenities, included breakfast and a few dinners and we met many nice people from all over the world.
Now for the explanation for why a hostel, because some planning ahead was obviously involved. Andrew receives re-patriation benefits through his global mobility program and they include a housing allowance when we move back. Since we were unsure of whether we would find an apartment immediately, we set up this week in July and also another week in August to apartment search. That meant we had two periods of hotel stays, while only one would be eligible for firm coverage. Therefore, there was a high probability that we would be paying for the time in July if we didn’t find an apartment at first. So, the plan was to bill KPMG for the second stay at the beginning of September when we move back for good. And since staying in SF is super expensive, we got the hostel for our time in July when we would likely be footing the bill. We were being a bit conservative and it all worked out as you will see…
So, here we were with six nights in San Francisco. And boy, the time was unexpectedly successful! Andrew ended up buying a car! The dealer is holding on to it for him until we return at the end of August.
For those of you who are not familiar, SF is a very competitive rental market. We were prepared to see a lot of apartments and to have to work hard to get what we wanted. After viewing nine apartments, none of them met our exact criteria and we were worried we would have to compromise on a less than ideal spot. However on our final viewing, WE FOUND OUR APARTMENT! We signed a lease to start on the 1st of September at Larkin and Union street on Russian Hill. It’s a one bedroom apartment with a parking space, a storage unit, a dishwasher, in-building laundry, and to top it off a killer view from the living room and kitchen of the Golden Gate bridge and the bay. In SF terms, we did pretty well and even found a place with a rent that is at the lower end of the current market rate for that neighborhood. We are super excited about the place! Additional pros are that we now can use our time in the beginning of September to move in and furnish the place, which is great since we have no furniture or house-hold goods. Even better, we don’t have to pay rent in August AND the owner is renovating the apartment, including replacement of carpets, appliances, cabinets and light fixtures. Couldn’t be better!
Other than the car and apartment our time was spent eating at restaurants we had missed (including as much Mexican food as possible), going for runs along the Embarcadero, taking care of banking matters, I had some CPA license renewal continuing education to complete, and we were able to catch up with Andrew’s sister and her fiancé, John, and our friend Lauren who recently moved back to SF after her time working abroad in London. Overall, a far more fruitful time spent in SF than we anticipated. Now we are able to relax and enjoy the next four weeks of travel in August!
On that note, we left SF on Thursday 3 August to begin our four weeks of U.S. travel with a nine night vacation in Oregon. Stay posted!