Living in Zurich sounds great, moving to Zurich sounds painful
April 2, 2010 6:09 PM   Subscribe

So I'm moving to Zurich this summer for a postdoc. What should I know to make finding an apartment and settling in as painless as possible?

I'm currently an American grad student and I'll be starting a postdoc in Zurich at one of the ETH institutes this summer, likely for a couple of years. I'll be heading out there some time mid-June and, while I'm excited about starting life on a new continent, the actual moving process is quite daunting.

Everything I can find on sites like makes it sound like finding an apartment is an amazingly difficult task for foreigners, especially those like me who don't speak a lick of German or know any Swiss folks (my future advisor is Spanish), and requires a great deal of legwork and time in terms of (punctual) visits to open houses. My budget will be decent and my girlfriend will be visiting often from Paris, so I'd like to get a good studio/one bedroom in an enjoyable neighborhood. What sort of preparation (in terms of communications, documents, and mental state) should I be doing before I leave to put me in as good a situation as possible? What should I start doing the instant I get there?
posted by Schismatic to Travel & Transportation around Zurich, Switzerland (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The market has always been supply constrained and very competitive. It took me a month to find a place when I moved there many years ago. I also didn't speak a lick of German at the time and depended on colleagues to help. Where to start.

- Yes, be punctual. Very punctual. In fact, the whole country is obsessed with punctuality
- You need someone who speaks and reads German for contracting
- There used to be a 10 year refurbishment law where carpets are replaced and walls painted. Ask when the last refurb was done and if it's over 5 years ago, insist they redo it before you move in
- Light fixtures (including ceiling and wall-mounted ones) normally belong to the tenant. So you might need to buy new ones
- There are no closets
- There is usually some form of lockable storage in the basement
- Technically, there are noise abatement laws for after 10pm and all day on Sunday which include things like taking showers and flushing toilets. But I never had any issues.
- I might be remembering it wrong, but SqM dimensions includes living spaces but not bathrooms and kitchen.

I ended up living in Kries 8 in Seefeld. Walking distance to Bellevue and very close to the lake. Absolutely loved it. The apartment was ~90SqM with three good sized rooms. It was in an older building without any modern amenities and cost less than 2'000Sfr/month.
posted by michswiss at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2010

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