30 September 2006

Upside and Downside

The upside of deciding not to ship our furniture is that we get to start fresh with all new furniture.

The downside of deciding not to ship our furniture is that we need to figure out what to do with it.

We are about the enter into the world of garage sales. I'm scared. Garage sale regulars can be intense. Especially the ones that camp outside your house at 5 am.

But we are moving forward with our plans. And GL Hubby has been told he is not allowed to run off to Zurich on another business trip until after the sale has happened!

29 September 2006

Questions about Logistics

After posting my blog about finding an apartment, I started receiving questions from others who are also starting the process of moving to Zurich (or considering it.) Most of the questions have to do with the logistics of finding a place to live.

The city of Zurich is actually quite small and is on the northern end of Lake Zurich. Finding a place to live within the city itself is challenging because more people want to live there. In addition, those apartments tend to be smaller, more expensive and if you decide to have a car, parking is exceptionally difficult. However, do realize that public transit in Switzerland is arguably the best public transit in the world. Many people do not own cars. If you love living in the heart of things, go for it.

Many people who are new to Zurich choose to live in one of the communities on the left (east) or right (west) side of the lake. The communities are all very old and very charming. All are well served by public transit. And it is very difficult to determine where Zurich stops and the smaller villages begin...

Which area you focus on depends upon where you will be working, whether you have children and would like those children to go to an international school and your own personal preference. Zurich is a very wealthy city and compared to a US city, crime is next to non-existent. There are very few "bad areas." Although I was warned by a couple of people to avoid the area behind the Main Train Station as that is where the prostitution and drug trade tends to focus. (Prostitution is legal. Drugs are not.)

I would not recommend that you try to navigate the complexities of finding a place to live without help, especially if you are not fluent in German and/or Swiss German. Finding an apartment and signing the contract is a very formalized process with many legal ramifications. You need someone to explain it all to you. And prevent you from inadvertently offending a potential landlord due to cultural differences.

Before going to Zurich to do a housing search, I spent a great deal of time on Homegate, the largest online real estate search engine in Switzerland. When you logon, click on the English version in the upper right hand corner.

In addition, I found the Expats in Zurich online group to be wonderfully helpful. You can request to be a member at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Expats-in-Zurich/. This group has a lot of traffic. And it occasionally gets snarky. But it still provides you with a great deal of useful information, especially to those who are considering a move or are new to Zurich.

28 September 2006


Sometimes things just work out...

Today GL Hubby and I decided not to ship our furniture overseas. After all, large American furniture can look out of place in a European apartment. Which means that my first project in Switzerland will be interior design. I am itching to get started!

Why is this serendipitous? Not for the reason you may think as I am actually one of rare breed of women who does not care for shopping. It can be terribly boring.

Rather, when I met my wonderful husband-to-be he had a house full of real furniture. As in actually purchased in a furniture store-type furniture. I had a small one-bedroom apartment with the remnants of my college furniture. Including the chair that I picked up from the curb on garbage day. Hey, it was a good chair. Just needed a bit of cleaning! (Can you guess who worked for a corporation and who was in public service with a government agency?)

Regardless, when we got married it was pretty obvious that we were going with the fully furnished house as opposed to the sparsely furnished apartment. Most of my things went to the Goodwill Store.

To be fair, some of his things went as well. I was especially happy to see the last of the old, smelly, tattered recliner. But I would have also been happy to see the 53" tv go out the door. After all, who could possibly need a tv that large?

But the upshot is that for the first year of our marriage, I have been surrounded by things not of my choosing. And while the furniture is very good quality, most of it is brown and/or black. Why is it that bachelors cannot seem to acknowledge that other colors exist? I like some color!

By the way, if you are interested in a large, brown couch or an enormous tv, I could probably cut you a deal...

26 September 2006

Jet-Set Kittens

This week my primary project is to figure out the best way to get Max and Tilly from Kansas City to Switzerland.

For those of you who have not been formally introduced, Max and Tilly are our 9 month old kittens. Max is the orange tabby and Tilly is the brown tabby/calico mix. They are litter mates and constantly in each other's company.

Max and Tilly will be moving with us to Zurich, thus becoming jet setters. Although I suspect that if they had the choice, they would be perfectly happy to skip the trip and stay right where they are, thank you very much.

But it is not their choice, is it?

So here is the break-down of what I learned...

Switzerland has a pretty easy import process from countries that have controlled urban rabies (i.e. US and most of the Western world). We just need to bring a health certificate and proof of vaccinations. Pet permits are only required when coming from countries in Africa or Asia, where rabies is not yet controlled. Although we will get an official permit for them. Switzerland doesn't require it, but the American airlines won't let us on the plane without one.

Northwest, Swiss Air and United allow cats & dogs weighing under 15 pounds in the cabin, but not right next to each other. (Although the representative from Swiss Air said they relax this if the flight isn't full and you want to move your seats after take-off.)

Continental and American do not allow them in the cabin on international flights. They must go cargo. Unacceptable option!

One interesting note -- it is against the law to "alter" a pet in Switzerland. Meaning no tail or ear docking, declawing, etc. (Spaying and Neutering are allowed.) Therefore, you cannot bring an altered animal into the country unless the animal is with their owner and the altering took place at least 3 months before arrival. That is to prevent people from either importing altered animals for sale or taking Swiss animals out of the country to alter and then returning them.

Max and Tilly are indoor-only cats and we had them declawed, but it has been more than 3 months. So we can bring them.

I'm kinda looking forward to seeing what a Doberman looks like in its unaltered state...

25 September 2006

Suburban Housewife

After more than 10 years in management in the field of librarianship I have become a suburban housewife.

I know how it happened. I know why it happened. But it is a strange feeling.

As we will be moving to Switzerland in a few short months, there is a great deal of preparation required. And as we are moving for GL Hubby's job, he needs to continue working and is therefore limited in the amount of time he is able to spend on the preparations.

My biggest project for the last couple of weeks has been getting the house ready to go on the market. This required setting up interviews with prospective realtors, organizing closets and drawers and removing any indication whatsoever that people actually live in the house. The theory being that if you take away all that is personal, people can envision their own things inside the space and therefore will want to buy your house.

The house went on the market last Monday and now it must be kept immaculate and ready to be shown at a moment's notice. My daily ritual has become cleaning.

I will be very, very happy when the house is sold and we can relax our standards. If this goes on much longer I may become insane. I will know that day has arrived if I ever start vacuuming the house in pearls and high heels.

Please, somebody save me. Buy our house! I beg of you. Before it is too late...

23 September 2006

Johnson County Beige Interior Latex

A few months back my wife, global librarian, put her cell phone through the washer. I've managed to make reference to the demise of her cell phone several times during the course of normal conversation, for laughs (mostly mine). Well today I managed to drop my phone into a bucket of paint. The hazing from global librarian has already begun. She was laughing so hard tonight she nearly stopped breathing. This really stinks.

21 September 2006

We Found an Apartment!

We are happy to announce that we have found a flat in Zurich!

Well, actually a town just outside of Zurich, but it is only a 10-minute train ride to the Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station). There are several train and bus options, so we are well situated for the famed Swiss Transit System.

We are thrilled with our find. It is very large by European standards at 167 square meters (approx. 1800 square feet), has 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths plus a large garden terrace with stunning views of Lake Zurich and the Swiss Alps. Which also makes it a great place to visit with plenty of room. (We will begin accepting reservations in January 2007!)

Here is our fab view of Lake Zurich! If you could pan the image to the right, you would see the Alps. To the left is the City of Zurich.

I actually found the apartment through a contact I had made on the Expats-in-Zurich Yahoo Group. The current occupants are moving back to the United States and wondered if we might be interested.

Very, very lucky were we as the Zurich housing market is extremely tight and competitive. Not dissimilar to New York City, but even more expensive. This apartment never made it on to the market...

When we looked at the apartment, we immediately wanted it and our relocation agent said we would not find anything better. In fact, she said that if we didn't take it, she would!

The current tenant set up a time for us to meet the landlord for the following day. We knew that the interview process was an important one, but truly had no idea of what the typical process was in Switzerland.

The interview was 2 1/2 hours long, much longer than most of the job interviews I have had. And when it was over, we still didn't know if we had the apartment! Apparently, this is the typical process for apartments in Switzerland.

Fortunately, a week after we returned to Kansas City we were informed that we had the apartment.

The adventure begins...

My husband and I are about to embark upon the adventure of a lifetime. In a few months, we will leave the United States and move to Zurich, Switzerland. I have started this blog in order to keep our family and friends updated on our lives, as well as create a space for all of us to talk with one another.

While we are still in the United States I will post periodically about the relocation process. More regular posts will start in January, when we have actually moved to Switzerland.

As this is my first blog, I will undoubtedly make some mistakes as I move along. Please forgive me.

May the games begin!