Friday, January 10, 2014

Sleachmour's International House Hunt

Currently, Matt and I are living in a temporary flat provided by his employer. This week we began the process of finding our more permanent home, with the aid of a relocation company. Thank goodness we have their help, because finding a home here is complicated and challenging.

A bit of Swiss housing information for context. Housing is expensive across Switzerland, with the highest prices in city centers, like Zurich, becoming more reasonable as you move further into the suburbs and countryside. Most people own or rent apartments or flats. Freestanding houses are very expensive... well over a million dollars purchase price for the cheapest we've seen advertised in the windows of local realty offices. For our needs, the best option is to rent a flat, and we've decided to do go a little ways outside of Zurich. Within our budget, we could get a teeny-tiny one bedroom in Zurich or a two-three bedroom with twice the space 20 minutes outside of the city. Additionally, the further we are from Zurich, the more green space there will be for Henry.

We really like Uster, the town we are living in now. It has lots of shopping, great public transportation, is 20 minutes from Zurich by train and 20 minutes from lake Greifensee by foot. We decided to keep our apartment search centered around Uster, including nearby towns of Schwerzenbach, Volketswil, Dubendorf and Greifensee.

Our consultant, Marloes, scheduled house tours for nine flats and she did a fantastic job. Of the nine we saw on Thursday, we decided that four would be great homes for our family. Three we love, but know we have competition from other applications. In Switzerland, it is common for open apartments to accept applications for a set amount of time and then consider all applicants equally. No preference is given to those who submitted first. Instead they consider recommendations from employers and previous landlords, financial information and any information provided about the renter provided (we wrote a letter introducing ourselves and explaining why we're in Switzerland). Each of these three apartments has several other applicants interested and we're not sure how we'll compare to the others.

The fourth is our fall back. It's not quite as nice as the other three, but we know we are their preferred applicant. Fingers-crossed we'll hear back quickly on the top three before we need to make a decision on the fourth.

Not the best angle. Our apartment would be on the other side.
Here are our possibilities:

First Choice: Brunnenwiesenstrasse, Uster
Three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms in 113 square meters (1,200 square feet). The kitchen, living room and balcony are big! It's a short walk from the train and in the town we already know. It's also the most expensive and there are at least six other applicants to compete with for the flat. Another downside is the shared laundry.

Left balcony, second floor, would be ours.

Second Choice: In der Hoh, Volketswil
A gorgeous, bright and sunny, smaller apartment (92 sq m). The living room and both of the two bedrooms walk out on a large balcony. The one and a half bathrooms are huge and it has its own washer/dryer (a luxury in our price range). Volketswil has a killer shopping are just a few blocks from this apartment, including a drive thru McDonalds. The first I've seen in Switzerland. The only downside is the smaller size.

Crosshatched=terrace space

 Third Choice: Ackerstrasse, Volketswil 
This apartment has the most charm. It's on the top floor of a three story building. Three small bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms are more than compensated for by two-story vaulted ceilings throughout the apartment and two outdoor terraces. It's adorable and I wish I had a better picture to share.
Our apartment is again on the other side, over garages.

Fall back: Zielackerstrasse, Schwerzenbach
It's the second biggest apartment, with three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a nicely sized living room, but not much space for a dining room/table. It's just a few steps to the train, which is great. There's lots of green space and it's the cheapest. Downsides are that it's probably the least interesting/charming of the four and we're a bit concerned about being above our neighbor's garages.

So, these are our options. In the time I took to write this post, we've already heard back from Zielackerstrasse that they've accepted our application! We have until Tuesday to make a decision. Fingers-crossed, we'll hear back from others as quickly... Otherwise, we'll have some tough decisions to make in a few days.

1 comment:

  1. If only you had been on House Hunters International :) Love reading about your adventures! I hope you guys here back from the other three quickly. Can't wait to visit one of these great places in April when we see you! Love Kim.