Our Blog - Moving day #2

I entitled this "Moving day #2" ... moving day #1 was the move from the US to our first apartment in Toulouse. We stayed at that little studio for 3 months while getting our bearings in Toulouse and finding a longer-term apartment. We detailed the various apartments that we looked at and the one we selected in our Apartment Hunting blog. And this includes a set of things: picking up the car that we bought (and a discussion of the process), the move, and the delivery of our shipment from the US. I'll finish with updated pictures of the apartment with our stuff included.

I'll actually start with the car, since that actually ended up first chronologically. We had looked at several different cars and brands with a couple key requirements. First, it had to fit the golf clubs! And yes, that was actually the first requirement. We even went around to the various car dealers with a tape measure to make sure that the clubs would fit without any issues. This dropped out cars like the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. While we looked at a set of brands, we ended up focusing on 2 French brands: Renault and Peugeot. Not that the others weren't good, but in general, there are a lot more of these 2 on the roads than anything else, and if we need service, there are more dealerships and garages. We also had decided on a used car. Those who know us well will be picking themselves up off the floor right about now ... we haven't bought anything but new cars since .. well .. gosh ... high school? But as soon as you see how people park here, you understand. We would be so freaked out if someone 'dinged' a new car here that we just quickly went to a used car. We also were looking for gas and not diesel. While diesel is cheaper and more prevalent here, there are discussions about cities like Toulouse banning driving of diesel cars on certain days of the week (someone told us they do that already in Paris although we haven't looked for ourselves).

We were able to do a lot of research on the web and visited the dealerships a couple times. We ended up test driving 3 cars (none of them actually in the list of potentials): Peugeot 2008 Diesel (a small SUV/Crossover), Renault Captur Diesel (small SUV/Crossover), and a Renault Clio (yes, I said the Clio was too small ... the Estate (station wagon) was in the running and this was as close as we could get).

Our test drive day was interesting ... we started at the Renault dealer and the first question as we walked in and were welcomed was "Nous cherchons à acheter une voiture d'occasion. Il y a quelqu'un qui parle anglais?" ... or ... "We are looking to buy a used car, is there someone who speaks English?". Yes, we speak French ... but when you are going to buy your first car in France and are going to spend a chunk of money .... It is better to really understand what you are doing and be able to ask questions more easily. Yes, there was, and we were introduced to Maurice. We explained what we were looking for and he printed out a couple proposals: one Clio Estate and one Captur. Both were fine .. 2016, one of the better "levels" so they had most of the features we wanted (air conditioning, cruise control, etc). Unfortunately, neither was physically at that location, so we asked to test drive something similar since Renault actually has no presence in the US and so we have no experience at all with these cars. No problem, he had a couple (Clio non-Estate, and Captur diesel) that we could drive. He asked if we had licenses (yes, and we handed over our Texas license) and if we knew the area (yes, somewhat). Great, he took our licenses and handed us the keys and we were able to go out on our own. We've learned that this isn't really normal .. normally they go with you. I guess we looked "safe" :-). So we test drove both, stopping in the middle and switching so both could drive each car. Both were fine, and then we headed just up the road to the Peugeot dealer.

We started with the same question at the Peugeot dealer but got a different answer .. no, none of the sales people spoke English. Okay, so we attempted to muddle through in French. Then we asked for a test drive and he said okay, although they only had diesel ones on the lot. Fine, but then it took him awhile to find it, then when I got in the driver's seat, he told Tom to get in the back as he would go in the passenger side. Hmm ... okay ... different. We didn't bother changing drivers this time.

So then the discussion on which car. We quickly took the Peugeot out of the running .. mainly because they didn't speak English and for a big purchase, we wanted to be sure we didn't misunderstand things. We sent a couple questions to the Renault dealer, who responded pretty quickly, and we setup an appointment to see the actual 2 cars that he proposed on Friday. We went there and we had decided that if both cars had the same "backup" equipment (like, backup camera), then we would buy the Captur. If they weren't the same, then we would buy whichever one had the "best" with respect to backup equipment. You probably don't quite understand why this was important ... but we haven't parallel parked since high school and the majority of city parking will on parallel parking on the street. When we got there on Friday, the decision was pretty much made for us .. the Clio Estate had a backup camera and the Captur didn't. So then we did all of the paperwork and made an appointment to pick up the car about 9 days later (they needed about a week for the paperwork and getting everything ready, and the following Friday was a national holiday). So our first car, pretty straight-forward. Here are some pictures we took the day we bought it.

So fast-forward to Monday, July 17th, and we arrived at the Renault dealer at 9am. A lovely young lady on their "delivery" team got to speak very slowly to us to explain things about the car, and then we were off, driving it back into town. We got to the apartment and after going around the block a couple times, we found a parking space (on the street) about a block away. Susan gingerly parallel parked the car successfully with the help of the backup camera and Tom giving directions. So then we actually moved from one apartment to another. It Is somewhat interesting how this went down ... the couple who were staying in our "new" apartment were actually the parents of the girl who will be moving into our "old" apartment. So we were (literally) swapping apartments. But in the middle, the cleaning lady had to also come and clean. So at 8:30am, the cleaning lady arrived at the "old" apartment and we headed up on the metro to get the car, leaving all of our things there. We drove back and when we arrived at the old apartment, there were a couple extra suitcases, which the new tenants had moved over. We then took a few trips and packed the car, and we met the new tenants as they were moving a couple more bags in. Susan drove over while Tom pulled 1 suitcase and the market shopping cart (since those 2 didn't fit nicely in the car) and we met up with the new tenant (who had also driven back to the new apartment). We swapped keys and then started unloading the car into the new apartment, and unpacking.

The apartment itself is pretty nice .. 95 m2 (so a bit over 1,000 sq feet for our American friends). It is unique for French apartments in that it has more than 1 bathroom (it actually has 2 full baths (on the top floor) and a powder room (on the main floor). A full view of the apartment is on our Second Apartment Page. It is really nice to have a bit more room and to have a "real" kitchen!!

Then Tuesday, our shipment arrived from the US. It was packed in March before we left there, and had waited 1 month in Austin in a warehouse before heading to the port and taking a "slow boat" to Rotterdam. We had selected a "consolidated shipment", so it had waited at the port for other small shipment heading for Rotterdam to fill a shipping container (we had a fairly small shipment). Then after the boat trip across, it cleaned European Union customs in Rotterdam and then waited there for other small shipments heading to the South of France. The schedule was for between 11 and 2, but they called and indicated that traffic was a bit bad and they would be there about 4pm. They arrived, did an interested maneuver to get the truck and trailer into our courtyard, and then proceeded to unload our 15 or so boxes into the living room (in total, about an hour here). We started unpacking for a couple of hours until time for a dinner with the Americans in Toulouse expat group, and then we finished unpacking in Wednesday. Nothing was broken (amazingly enough) and we were able to get everything into "a place". The apartment is already fully furnished, so we ended up boxing up most of the pots and pans, along with most of their cooking utensils and knives, and storing them upstairs so that we can just use what we brought. We did the same for their towels since we brought a bunch of ours. Here is a view of our shipment (you can see how little it was). So yes ... we basically have gotten down to this is the totality of our worldly possessions (plus 2 golf sets of golf clubs plus 4 suitcases). We seriously downsized when we left the US!

Thursday, we headed over to FNAC (like a Best Buy) and bought a TV ... a Toshiba 49". We are quite impressed at the various features, including built-in Netflix and Internet. So we can connect it to our WIFI router and can play stuff off the web directly on this TV. Saves us from going over to buy the various cables and connectors to hook the Mac to the TV :-). The TV was delivered and installed on Saturday morning. We also ordered a DVD player from Amazon.fr, which should come next week, which is multi-region and will allow us to play both US DVDs (that we brought) along with European Region 2 DVDs that we get here. We picked up about 35 movies the other day from another Expat that was getting rid of theirs.

So, as of today, we think we are pretty much moved in! We have even made tee times for next week, to really start our "retirement" where we play golf during the week.