We've got the flat. Everything went smoothly. A week after applying, we got the yes. I'm still not convinced it's the right flat for us, but it's ok, we're going to survive, and the school's really close to it, a short walk away.
Getting rid of the old flat was painless. In Switzerland, leases are taken seriously. You rent because you want to live somewhere. You can make long-term plans based on this, as can the landlord. When I lived in London, one month's notice sufficed. Here you can move out only twice a year. Choose any date beside the end of March and the end of September, and you're liable to pay for the remaining months.
We didn't want to wait until September. Kindergarten starts in August, and it would be good to get the move done before we fly off on vacation in July. We gave notice for the end of June, leaving us with three months' rent to be paid for nothing.
The way around wasting all this money is finding someone to take over the lease. Given the tight rental market, which we experienced ourselves over the last year or two, this should be easy. I had mostly been searching on homegate.ch, and I figured I'd advertise there as well. This idea seemed less sensible when I found about the listing fees. At around 180 Francs, I didn't even bother to find out how many photos were included. There had to be a better way.
tutti.ch offers online classifieds that let you find anything but not search very specifically. Size of the apartment, price tag and number of rooms, that's for you to glean from a long list of hits matching your town of interest. The large majority of ads are probably obsolete, as are the two I put on (one in English, another in German), but after I'd listed them I got a call the same night and a viewing the next evening. There was only ever this one call. It was enough for a family very similar to ours to secure a flat for July.
We have since registered the girl for kindergarten and identified daycare options for the boy. An after-school program for the girl is a bit more of a challenge. Baden doesn't combine this with kindergarten, for whatever bizarre reason. There's a central daycare for all children with working parents, in the old town, close to but not right next to some of the kindergartens. Children will be walked between daycare and kindergarten, at least at the beginning. But how much will they be taken care of? When we visited the place today, it looked slightly abandoned, with most children out and about, out on their own, it seemed.
The apartment situation might be sorted out, but daycare is a bit unsettling. I'm far from freaking out, though. Other parents are facing similar challenges, and many more will have gone through and survived this situation over the years. There will be an obvious way, and we will find out.