Sunday, January 27, 2013

Welcome to Zurich

I'm on day 12 of my new unemployed, Zurich existence, and it's already been quite the adventure. In the future, now that I have a functioning camera again, I'll be posting photo-filled recipes (in both standard and metric) that I've experimented with (even if I've made them previously, the Swiss ingredients appear to have subtle and not-so-subtle differences) and pictures of my wanderings around the city. I also should have much more time to devote to crafts and meanderings and the like. The blog title comes from my eventual ambition to create macarons - the chewy, delicious, ubiquitous cookie-like desserts found all over Switzerland and other parts of Europe.

Camera phone picture of the first raclette, a traditional Swiss meal, for  B and me. Better pictures in the future - we just picked up my camera accessories, including battery charger, from the Post yesterday. The cheese goes under the "grill" (a stone top in this case) to melt, and the stone cooks the meat, and both are eaten over boiled potatoes.
The main focus right now for both B (my husband) and myself is to upgrade our living situation. He has been living in a one-room studio, awaiting my long-delayed arrival from Boston. Unfortunately, now I have arrived, and we are still in the one-room studio. In Switzerland, almost 70% of the residents rent rather than own, and in Zurich particularly, the housing market is expensive, crowded, and rather insane. It's not about getting in your deposit first, as may be the case in NYC or Boston. Instead, you apply online or through the mail for an apartment, and the rental agency may, if you're lucky, select your application from one of the dozens and offer you the apartment. If you want it, fantastic - now you just have to figure out what to do with your old apartment. If you don't want it (or if by some mad chance, you are selected for TWO apartments), you have to pay between 100-200 Swiss francs (CHF; exchange rate approx 1:1 with USD) to get out of it.

Apartment viewings are usually only for 30-60 minutes and can be at any time of day (except Sundays - NEVER on Sundays. More on that in another post). During that time, easily one hundred people will wander in, most during the first ten to fifteen minutes. The Swiss are nothing if not punctual.

 For one viewing scheduled at 2 pm, B and I showed up at 1:52, and there was no one around. "Wow," I thought, "maybe we'll be lucky and nobody wants this apartment." What a silly, naive thought. By 1:56, there were at least 8 other people waiting, but it wasn't until 1:59 that someone ventured to ring the doorbell and we all filed in. In the five minutes it took to look around the apartment (how long does it take to see 4 rooms?), at least 20 people showed up, and more were filing up the stairs as we left. Don't be early, don't be late, seems to be the Swiss motto. This is actually easier than one may expect, in a country where the buses and trams are always on time (drivers of public transportation have the power to control lights at intersections, making promptness a much more achievable goal).

With the exception of one, every other apartment viewing we've been to, all over the city, has been equally crowded - and we've easily been to ten of them in the past two weeks. We're not sure if/when we'll be able to get out of the studio rental contract, but it seems that the norm here is to find a place, then sublet your current living place by holding your own viewing and selection process.

More later, but I'd gotten a lot of inquiries as to how things are going thus far, and I just wanted to get this up and running!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! So happy to 'hear' how it is going :) Good luck with the apartment situation, it sounds worse that Paris, and that is saying something. Raclette is amazing and now I'm hungry. So glad to see you back on the blogosphere. Can't wait to see more!