Friday, July 21, 2006

About Zurich, Switzerland

So what is living in Zurich, Switzerland like? Following are some random observations for those of you who are interested...

-- They also speak French, Italian, German and English

*Unless you know Swiss-German, you will have a tough time getting work, unless you are working for an American company (of course)

*They do not see skills as transferable. For this reason, people have specific jobs and are basically locked into their job and their industry. If they want to switch industries (even if you are a receptionist) they need to take multiple preparation classes.

*Because everyone has a specific function in this society, "do-it-yourself" is a truly foreign concept. Instead, they believe one must be specially trained for years to know how to fix anything in the home or even clean properly.

*The Swiss are paid very well. Those who stock shelves in the grocery store make 20 CHF/hour (good money!)

*There seems to be a tremendous amount that is "forbidden" to do or can't be done. Based on the little exposure I have had to the Swiss in Zurich, they seem to be extremely rules oriented, due to the German influence. I have to wonder if they are graded on their "can do" attitude, as we Americans are in job reviews. I'm thinking no...

*Strong emphasis on recylcling, but yet it is not as easy to do as it is in the US

*The city will only pick up specific garbage bags, that can only be bought at the cashier's stand. They are, of course, uber expensive. This is an interesting tactic, as it has made us really cut down on how much garbage we produce (more like has put Brian's packing/stuffing skills to the test).

*Very expensive. (And we thought London was expensive) It is not uncommon to pay 30 CHF - 50 CFH for a pizza. A small pizza. (Portions, by the way, are very small). A burger at the Hyatt (one of the only locations in Zurich with A/C will run you 35 CHF (yes, that is roughly $28.00 for a hamburger).

*The least expensive food we have found, that has a shot at filling you up, are sausages with Burli bread. You can usually get this and a drink for 10 CHF. But honestly, there are only so many sausages one can eat (I always get the pesky charcoal in my teeth).

*A small basket of blueberries will cost roughly 6 CHF, while a basic avocado is roughly 4 CHF. Don't even get me started on the cost of a Starbucks coffee...

*Very expensive. For 80 square meters, you can expect to pay roughly 350,000/400,000 - and that is just outside Zurich. There is literally nothing for sale in Zurich.

*They don't believe in real estate agents (relocation agents take full advantage of this and charge a minimum of 3,000 CHF to help you find a place to live). Without relocation agents, one is forced to monitor postings on various Web sites, 99% in German, and schedule viewings directly with building managers. (It took us 4 months to find the place we are living in now -- and there were literally only 2 other apartments we saw that even came close to meeting our requirements.)

*There are two months designated for moving - specifically April and October. Landlords will rarely sign agreements for less than a year, and they intend to hold you to it. Breaking a contract here is literally impossible.

*Every time you move, you have to pay for (1) Endcleaning - roughly 850 - 1,000 CHF (because you couldn't possibly clean an apartment as well as someone trained to do it) and (2) registering your new address with the local Kreisbourough (sp?) - roughly 30 CHF per person.

That's it for now... more to come....