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Old 15.01.2015, 10:00
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Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

Hi all,

Of all the things related to relocating to Zurich, this is one of two things that keeps me awake at night. I have a lovely 4 bed detached home with a large garden in Scotland. When I start looking at property in Zurich, I feel sick with worry about what you get for your money.

I'm going to be working here (image attached). I'd welcome any suggestions of where I should look to live, so that I have a fairly decent sized, quality property in a nice neighbourhood. I'm single with cats (how bad does that sound?!) but live in a lovely family suburb at the moment, with great neighbours. I don't mind whether it's a suburb or not in Zurich. I don't even know if it's better to live in the city and to hell with money so that it's easier to make friends. Other people tell me that if I live further out, then it's easier to bond with others because the city isn't the best place to do that. I'm getting some conflicting info. The thought of going back to a flat makes me sad. I'm used to having my own home and neighbours that are a house next to me and not above/below etc.

I hear all these horror stories about how noise is a big issue with the locals. I'm not even a noisy person but I do like to play my piano from time to time and listen to music. Is there such a thing as "ex pat areas", where there's more ex pats living in certain districts?

I will buy a car (need to post in another section to see how easy that is), but it would be handy to live somewhere that is easy to commute to work too (one stop and not lots of changes). If I get the quality of life/friendly (one hopes) neighbours and a great property then access to public transport is not a priority: I'll just commute by car every day.


I'm so confused and I'm sure this post smells of desperation. I am. I very much need some support and would appreciate your insights.
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:15
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

I think most people need to adjust to the fact that you won't get a big house unless you have a few million to spend. Not quite sure why someone on their own needs a 4 bedroom house.
Personally I think out of town better for getting to know people but you need to make an effort to be integrated in the local community by learning the language. If you have a flat, you'll have someone either above or below. You can't choose your family and you can't choose your neighbors. Noise issues have nothing to do with nationality.
Think you need to prioritize what your requirements are & try to match them when you start looking at areas and properties.
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:25
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

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I think most people need to adjust to the fact that you won't get a big house unless you have a few million to spend. Not quite sure why someone on their own needs a 4 bedroom house.
Personally I think out of town better for getting to know people but you need to make an effort to be integrated in the local community by learning the language. If you have a flat, you'll have someone either above or below. You can't choose your family and you can't choose your neighbors. Noise issues have nothing to do with nationality.
Think you need to prioritize what your requirements are & try to match them when you start looking at areas and properties.
Thanks Neddy. With the greatest of respect, I could afford it, so that's why I bought it. It's an investment for my future.

Old colleagues were telling me stories about being hit by a local for speaking too loudly on a train, and that you can't flush your toilet after midnight. Perhaps it's like going to high school for the first time and friends are just telling me urban myths. I'm one of the least noisy people I know. What I was advised was that the locals are just very sensitive to noise from ex pats. Perhaps it's more about the status than any "noise".
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:28
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

Traditionally, the further from the metropolitan areas, the cheaper, but you'll have tradeoffs where populations will be smaller and your need to speak the local language (In this case, German) will become more pronounced.

Homegate appears to be taking a hit at the moment, but you'll need to evaluate several things:
  • How much you can spend
  • How proficient are you in the local language
  • How much of a commute are you willing to handle
  • How many room you really need

Good luck; I'm sure this is stressful, but with some planning, I'm sure you'll do well.
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:29
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

In the UK we rented a 3-bed house. Here we have a 1 bed apartment and pay more than double what we paid in the UK!! On the plus side, no gardening, which used to drive me crazy!!
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:41
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

Hi, I understand where you are coming from as for me living in a flat is also my idea of hell. Being able to close out the world at the end of a busy day is a difficult thing to give up and your correct to think otherwise. Another issue you might also come up against is a landlord trying to match the property to the size of the tennants to be. It is not always just about the money I'm afraid. I wish you luck in your search and your new venture, and sorry for not really helping.
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:43
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Traditionally, the further from the metropolitan areas, the cheaper, but you'll have tradeoffs where populations will be smaller and your need to speak the local language (In this case, German) will become more pronounced.

Homegate appears to be taking a hit at the moment, but you'll need to evaluate several things:
  • How much you can spend
  • How proficient are you in the local language
  • How much of a commute are you willing to handle
  • How many room you really need

Good luck; I'm sure this is stressful, but with some planning, I'm sure you'll do well.
No German at all; however I'll be starting language classes in a few weeks. Yes commuting has never been my favourite thing (I'm talking anything over 30 mins), but happy to be flexible if it means a better quality of life. And yes, I'm happy to downgrade how many rooms I have. In Scotland I worked from home when I wasn't travelling, so I converted a bedroom into an office. I won't need this in Zurich. You have been very helpful. Thank you.

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Hi, I understand where you are coming from as for me living in a flat is also my idea of hell. Being able to close out the world at the end of a busy day is a difficult thing to give up and your correct to think otherwise. Another issue you might also come up against is a landlord trying to match the property to the size of the tennants to be. It is not always just about the money I'm afraid. I wish you luck in your search and your new venture, and sorry for not really helping.
This is very interesting. I can only hope that the relocation assistance person I will have in Zurich can help with this. Really good information. Thank you.

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In the UK we rented a 3-bed house. Here we have a 1 bed apartment and pay more than double what we paid in the UK!! On the plus side, no gardening, which used to drive me crazy!!
Holy moly!!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 15.01.2015 at 13:32. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:48
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

Even if you're planning a long-term move I'd advise renting at least for the first couple years. It will give you time to get your bearings, look around and see what you really want in a place here (which may not be the same as you thought you wanted. Mine wasn't.) and where best to look for that.
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:50
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

If it was me I'd take a flat in or around Oerlikon for a year so you don't have to commute too much then spend weekends traveling around to find the area, and type of accommodation that suits you.

Don't bother with a car for a while, public transport is great here and running a car is not!

And re the horror stories about noise etc, don't worry about them, people tend to report and complain about extremes and not the good things that happen to them on a daily basis. No flushing the loo after midnight is only a house rule in some older apartment buildings and I've had less problems with neighbours and strangers on trams etc in 7 years here than I used to have in one month in the UK!
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Old 15.01.2015, 10:59
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

Hello Lynds,

We moved from SE England last year and just like you I was very worried about the noise (we have two small boys) and the difficulties of finding a place. A couple of things made it easier for us:

- the apartment we are in is a new built - I think it is 5 or so years old. A new built is great in two (edit: make that 3) ways - (a) the place is well insulated (both noise and cold); and (b) you get more space for your money. We were in a 3 bedroom house in the UK, and now in a 3 bedroom apartment, but find that we have 30% more space here.
Edit: (c) with a new built, you will most likely have your own washing machine/ drier. I think for anyone with children or who works, that is a godsend!!

- a bit far out of the city
(a) you get more bang for your money. But for socialisation, then you do need to get the train or tram to get there.
(b) there seems to be less competition - when we viewed properties in the city, we were queuing with some 100 other families. Where we ended up, well we were the only one (I think), so got the place without any problem. We only viewed 4 places and only put one application in. So, if you go out a bit, you do not have to suffer from the application stress that some people have written about here on EF.

Good luck with your move. Hope all goes well.
CM

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Old 15.01.2015, 11:18
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MathNuts idea of renting sounds like a very good idea to get used to the feel of the place.

Question for those renting - have you come across flats advertised specifying no animals?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 15.01.2015 at 13:34. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 15.01.2015, 11:35
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

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Thanks Neddy. With the greatest of respect, I could afford it, so that's why I bought it. It's an investment for my future.

Old colleagues were telling me stories about being hit by a local for speaking too loudly on a train, and that you can't flush your toilet after midnight.
Midnight! That's two hours too late. The rule is 10pm.

Seriously, you need to realise that it all depends on where you live and in what. If you manage to find a detached house then you can flush whenever you feel like it. If you're in an apartment, old or new, then the noise issue becomes more likely. Switzerland in many ways is a lot like the UK 40 or 50 years ago. No Sunday shopping (except maybe a few areas in big cities), no working or making noise on Sundays either so no DIY around your property or mowing the lawn, etc. Same goes for public holidays. Shops can close as early as 4 or 5pm on Saturdays although in the big cities they may be open later. No 24 hour shops, usual closing time is 7pm although there's usually one day a week when they'll be open until 9 or 10pm.

Also realise that most people here rent apartments and houses can be difficult to find, again depending on where you're looking at renting. Out in the country is more likely than in a big city. Another thing to bear in mind is that in an apartment block, unless it's a fairly new build, laundry is done in a communal area and you'll be allocated a day and time of the week when you're allowed to do yours.

It's not usually a problem to have a cat or cats, but please always check and double check with the agency/landlord to make sure. You can get an idea of what's available on these websites:

www.immoscout24.ch
www.immostreet.ch
www.homegate.ch
www.home.ch

You should be able to filter out for pets allowed with most of these. For private rentals look here:

www.petitesannonces.ch
www.anibis.ch

Bear in mind that over here kitchens, bathrooms, etc, aren't included in the room number count so a 3 room property is usually one with a living room and 2 bedrooms plus the others that aren't counted. Ads that say something like 3.5 means that the living room open plan style and has an additional area for dining (the .5).

Check here using the online cross-border check to make sure you know what you need to do to bring your pets with you.

http://www.blv.admin.ch/themen/04670...x.html?lang=en

Finally I suggest you get hold of a copy of "Living and Working in Switzerland" by David Hampshire. It's full of useful info for both before and after you move. You can order it from your local bookshop or via the Internet.

Oh, and don't be surprised to find when viewing a property that there may be no light fittings at all. The Swiss tend to take them wth them, leaving bare wires ready for the next tenant.
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Old 15.01.2015, 11:51
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

You will find animal restrictions here but these largely apply to dogs more than cats, due to their ability to be a noise nuisance if left alone etc.

I came here from the UK from a 4 bed family home in to a tiny, but very nice, serviced shoe box. At that time the company was paying so I accepted it. After 3 months I had to find my own and got a 4.5 room apartment wanting my space back. However, I regretted not opting for a balcony place on basis rent was cheap and plenty of space.

Before long I realised I needed a balcony. I chose to be close to the lake, for the views and less city noise (having stayed in the city a few times, it's too noisy for me).

Around the lake you can find good apartments with great views and huge terrace space. But you pay more for such places then you would for a similar size space in Oerlikon for example, but taxes are lower in selected areas I. E. Kilchberg and Kusnacht

I suppose it very much depends on personal choice, income and stage in life / long term plan. I know people here who earn 200k + living in crappy studios saving as much as they can to eventually leave back to their homeland. I prefer a bit more comfort and luxury. Partly because I like to entertain and have parties.
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Old 15.01.2015, 12:11
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

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Question for those renting - have you come across flats advertised specifying no animals?
Often. On occasion, if you have moment to talk with the owner, sometimes there is some flexibility for small dogs vs big dogs and the like.
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Old 15.01.2015, 12:20
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

Firstly, relax - it's mostly isolated cases where you hear of silly things. In 20 years, nothing like what you describe has happened to me.

I would second the suggestion to be in Oerlikon and look at newer properties - they're usually well-insulated noise-wise.

If you're considerate with your noise habits then nobody will complain. I've flushed in the middle of the night (I don't anymore though - for other reasons) and played music quite loud with only one complaint in 20 years.

Are your cats indoor ones?
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Old 15.01.2015, 13:18
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Even if you're planning a long-term move I'd advise renting at least for the first couple years. It will give you time to get your bearings, look around and see what you really want in a place here (which may not be the same as you thought you wanted. Mine wasn't.) and where best to look for that.
Hey, it was my understanding I couldn't buy until I'd been there 5 years anyway, so I'd resigned myself to renting

Even if I could buy, you're right because I wouldn't buy until I knew the place better.

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Midnight! That's two hours too late. The rule is 10pm.

Seriously, you need to realise that it all depends on where you live and in what. If you manage to find a detached house then you can flush whenever you feel like it. If you're in an apartment, old or new, then the noise issue becomes more likely. Switzerland in many ways is a lot like the UK 40 or 50 years ago. No Sunday shopping (except maybe a few areas in big cities), no working or making noise on Sundays either so no DIY around your property or mowing the lawn, etc. Same goes for public holidays. Shops can close as early as 4 or 5pm on Saturdays although in the big cities they may be open later. No 24 hour shops, usual closing time is 7pm although there's usually one day a week when they'll be open until 9 or 10pm.

Also realise that most people here rent apartments and houses can be difficult to find, again depending on where you're looking at renting. Out in the country is more likely than in a big city. Another thing to bear in mind is that in an apartment block, unless it's a fairly new build, laundry is done in a communal area and you'll be allocated a day and time of the week when you're allowed to do yours.

It's not usually a problem to have a cat or cats, but please always check and double check with the agency/landlord to make sure. You can get an idea of what's available on these websites:

www.immoscout24.ch
www.immostreet.ch
www.homegate.ch
www.home.ch

You should be able to filter out for pets allowed with most of these. For private rentals look here:

www.petitesannonces.ch
www.anibis.ch

Bear in mind that over here kitchens, bathrooms, etc, aren't included in the room number count so a 3 room property is usually one with a living room and 2 bedrooms plus the others that aren't counted. Ads that say something like 3.5 means that the living room open plan style and has an additional area for dining (the .5).

Check here using the online cross-border check to make sure you know what you need to do to bring your pets with you.

http://www.blv.admin.ch/themen/04670...x.html?lang=en

Finally I suggest you get hold of a copy of "Living and Working in Switzerland" by David Hampshire. It's full of useful info for both before and after you move. You can order it from your local bookshop or via the Internet.

Oh, and don't be surprised to find when viewing a property that there may be no light fittings at all. The Swiss tend to take them wth them, leaving bare wires ready for the next tenant.
Holy crap re: 10pm. No pun intended. I thought my friends were winding me up as well. Thankfully I'm not a closet 10pm onwards/midnight flusher, but wow, what if you were sick? lol

Your laundry point is very interesting. How regimented, or perhaps efficient. This is really good to know in advance so I'm asking the right questions when viewing.

A massive thank you for explaining the room situation. I thought this was the number of bedrooms and I was wondering why it wasn't adding up when looking at floor plans or pictures. I thought I was going nuts.

Thank you for the URLS, especially the cat one. My little entourage keep me calm and they are my babies, so their welfare is no.1 on my list. They are indoor cats, but at my home in Scotland I had a cat run built onto the house so they can safely sit and play outside too. They'll be fine without that. Tough is what I'll tell them.

I bought the book you mentioned a few weeks ago on my iPad and only just started reading it a day or so ago, so I'm glad you recommended it. Clearly it must be a helpful book.

Thank you so much for a cracking reply.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 15.01.2015 at 13:36. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 15.01.2015, 13:39
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

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If it was me I'd take a flat in or around Oerlikon for a year so you don't have to commute too much then spend weekends traveling around to find the area, and type of accommodation that suits you.

Don't bother with a car for a while, public transport is great here and running a car is not!

And re the horror stories about noise etc, don't worry about them, people tend to report and complain about extremes and not the good things that happen to them on a daily basis. No flushing the loo after midnight is only a house rule in some older apartment buildings and I've had less problems with neighbours and strangers on trams etc in 7 years here than I used to have in one month in the UK!
Thank you. This is helpful. The more I'm looking at property, I'm finding a nice view and a balcony to be important.
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Old 15.01.2015, 13:45
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

As other posters have suggested: rent in the short term, until you get an idea of what's available and what you really want.


But don't despair in the long term. If you're happy to commute a bit longer, you can get some fantastic property with all the freedom ownership entails.


My wife and I live in an enormous house (more than 10 rooms), with the freedom to flush the loos (or play the bouzouki, or sit up with a crying child) at four in the morning if we like, and absolutely stunning views out of the windows. The payoff is that we have no central heating and we're a very long way away from Zurich - although I know people who live even further away who commute there.


It all depends on what you really want from a house.
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Old 15.01.2015, 13:48
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You will find animal restrictions here but these largely apply to dogs more than cats, due to their ability to be a noise nuisance if left alone etc.

I came here from the UK from a 4 bed family home in to a tiny, but very nice, serviced shoe box. At that time the company was paying so I accepted it. After 3 months I had to find my own and got a 4.5 room apartment wanting my space back. However, I regretted not opting for a balcony place on basis rent was cheap and plenty of space.

Before long I realised I needed a balcony. I chose to be close to the lake, for the views and less city noise (having stayed in the city a few times, it's too noisy for me).

Around the lake you can find good apartments with great views and huge terrace space. But you pay more for such places then you would for a similar size space in Oerlikon for example, but taxes are lower in selected areas I. E. Kilchberg and Kusnacht

I suppose it very much depends on personal choice, income and stage in life / long term plan. I know people here who earn 200k + living in crappy studios saving as much as they can to eventually leave back to their homeland. I prefer a bit more comfort and luxury. Partly because I like to entertain and have parties.
Thank you. You've helped me think about what's important. Don't laugh but when I was interviewing for this job I had a romantic idea of having a balcony overlooking the lake and a fireplace. Is this possible?! Maybe I'll even meet a lovely man. Ah one can dream. The joys of having a relationship with your career for too long.

I'll have a look at those two areas. Are there others you suggest? Oh, an invite to one of your parties will be appreciated!

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Firstly, relax - it's mostly isolated cases where you hear of silly things. In 20 years, nothing like what you describe has happened to me.

I would second the suggestion to be in Oerlikon and look at newer properties - they're usually well-insulated noise-wise.

If you're considerate with your noise habits then nobody will complain. I've flushed in the middle of the night (I don't anymore though - for other reasons) and played music quite loud with only one complaint in 20 years.

Are your cats indoor ones?

Ha, have I made myself out to be a serial flusher? I promise I'm not lol. I guess it's just hearing things like that makes you realise the luxuries of a detached home that you take for granted.

Yes they are indoors

Quote:
As other posters have suggested: rent in the short term, until you get an idea of what's available and what you really want.


But don't despair in the long term. If you're happy to commute a bit longer, you can get some fantastic property with all the freedom ownership entails.


My wife and I live in an enormous house (more than 10 rooms), with the freedom to flush the loos (or play the bouzouki, or sit up with a crying child) at four in the morning if we like, and absolutely stunning views out of the windows. The payoff is that we have no central heating and we're a very long way away from Zurich - although I know people who live even further away who commute there.


It all depends on what you really want from a house.
Do you mind sharing which area/region you live?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 15.01.2015 at 14:25. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 15.01.2015, 14:12
Medea Fleecestealer's Avatar
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Re: Finding a nice home in Zurich. I'm genuinely worried

No, EU nationals aren't limited by the 5 year rule.

https://www.ch.ch/en/real-estate-foreign-national/

Still, I wouldn't advise looking to buy straight away. The housing market here is much slower than in the UK and also capital gains tax is designed to hit you hard if you sell after buying only a few years earlier unless you buy a more expensive property. 20% deposit is also a requirement and mortgages are never paid off in Switzerland due to the fact that the mortgage/interest can be used to reduce your taxes.

You can secure a balcony with special netting so the cats can go outside if you want to.
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