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Old 05.10.2020, 23:24
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Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

Hi,


We have found an apartment in Opfikon that we are considering buying. We have a few questions regarding the area (especially schools) that we thought EF might be able to help us with.



We will probably be starting a family in around a couple of years, so most of our questions are focused on the environment that our kid(s) will have growing up.


For a general idea of the location of the apartment, it is near the "Schule Oberhausen".

  • Public vs Private Schools -We want to know what the standard of schools in the Opfikon area is. Are public schools a good option, or should we be looking at private schools?
  • Medium of instruction - Are public schools always in German? We think it might be better for our future kid(s) to do primary schooling in English and then switch to German later on when they are more comfortable with German. Since we are not native German speakers, it might be difficult for them to adapt to primary education in German.


We also have a few questions regarding the quality of life that we might expect in Opfikon. Our travel time to work would increase, but the connections seem frequent enough for us to be able to still manage that. However, a few questions remain.
  • Airport noise - we were at the property and luckily managed to "hear" a plane passing overhead. The noise was not bad. However, this was in the evening. Is the noise worse in the morning?
  • Shopping - We currently living near Oerlikon train station, so we have access to quite a few shopping options including the bi-weekly farmer's market which we love. Are the shopping options in the Opfikon area comparable or should we still expect to travel to Oerlikon for our shopping needs.
  • Aesthetics - This will come across as snobbish (but is not intended to be), but Opfikon doesn't seem to be the most aesthetically pleasing locality in Zurich. Is it simply because of its proximity to the airport and the presence of a larger number of offices, or is it one of the areas that is a little worse off than others?
  • Fiber Internet - This is a minor one, but is there any possibility that fiber internet might soon come to Opfikon or is not one of the higher priority areas? Ever since I have switched to Fiber, I can't imagine going back to non-fiber.


Finally, to the people that live in Opfikon, would you recommend it as an area to live for primarily English speaking foreigners?



Thanks!
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Old 06.10.2020, 01:08
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Re: Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

This is very personal and each person has different criteria.

I lived 10 years in Switzerland by now.

Opfikon (near bahnhof, train station) is the only place i stayed 2 months (other places: first flat: 2 years , 2nd flat: almost 5 and now almost 3).

For me the plane noise was not ok.
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Old 06.10.2020, 01:19
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Re: Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

Basis of my commentary: I'm a Swiss native and live in Glattpark (have done for almost ten years), my parents are British and Swiss French respectively.

The school thing: this is probably me being very, VERY Swiss but I grew up with the mindset that only kids who had something wrong with them needed to go to private school. With the challenges of increasingly diverse classes (I don't just mean in terms of nationality!) and not everyone handling that quite so well, this is probably no longer a fair view to hold, however, the standard of Swiss public schools is pretty high. If your kids are fairly neurotypical and you have long-term plans to stay here, they will be perfectly fine there.

Just don't have a fit when they are allowed to use power drills in woodwork class in primary school, mkay? I still have all my extremities, it's fine. Your kids will definitely not be the only foreign-born kids in class, looking at the classmate list of the little girl who used to live downstairs, there were maybe three recognizably old-school Swiss names on there out of 16 children.

Not sure why you think they would be taught in anything other than German, mind, German is the local language. They do add French and English as they progress and there is some level of support for kids who do not speak German but you really are expected to learn fast and get integrated. By the way, neither of my parents are German native speakers, somehow they still managed.

The shopping thing: Departing from Glattpark it is 8 minutes on the tram to Zurich airport. Not sure if you are joking about access to the market and have simply not checked out the transport links but the 781 bus takes you from the Giebeleichstrasse stop to Oerlikon train station in ten minutes. There is another bus that goes along Schaffhauserstrasse via Seebach into Oerlikon. The number 10 tram takes you there from Glattbrugg station, Flughofstrasse or Lindberghplatz. Or you could take the train from Opfikon station. Summing up: It's ten to 15 minutes tops to get to Oerlikon, so setting up our own duplicate infrastructure would be totally redundant. The people of Opfikon-Glattbrugg mostly shop either in Oerlikon, Glattzentrum or the Airport. Direct public transport to all of those is available, although I usually just cycle there.

Mind you, there are some pretty good farm shops available according to a mate who has lived here all his life, it's just that I never sought them out, they are in the "original" part of town. The shops in Glattpark are well stocked and we recently even got a Turkish market that is now open until 10 pm, they have good fruit and veg as well as a large selection of ingredients that go beyond Turkish cuisine, such as a whole shelf of Indian stuff.

Noise: I can't say that without knowing which part of Opfikon we are talking about. However, there is a wealth of information on this on the airport website. Obviously, anywhere that is under the flight path will be noisy every once in a while. The weather can change this completely but the regime is usually as follows: Mornings and evenings they tend to land over Opfikon, around lunch they take off and that can be pretty loud. For example, if you are in the Oberhauserstrasse area, you will briefly have to interrupt your conversation if a plane is taking off. Ditto for houses that are between Fabrikstrasse and the motorway.

Appearances: If you want pretty, a short commute into Zurich city, good schools, good quality of life, not to be one of the rare foreigners in the location AND room for future kids, you will need to increase your budget. By a lot. Küsnacht may be more your speed, or Kilchberg/Thalwil. You admit to it possibly sounding snobbish, I would say that this is clearly your first rodeo in the greater Zurich area housing market.

Opfikon-Glattbrugg is one of those places whose proximity to Zurich and a large international airport had a small and picturesque farm village receive numerous additions over the years, not all of which terribly well thought out, I agree. The proximity to the airport and (at the time of construction), relatively affordable price of land made it interesting for companies to plonk offices and warehouses on. A lot of stuff has already been replaced/refurbished but there doesn't seem to be any cohesive plan. The Glattalbahn only started going there a little over ten years ago, so it wasn't quite as well-connected before that. In a way, it is still catching up and trying to figure out what it wants to be. I think Wallisellen and Dübendorf have more of a concrete plan in that regard.

But what I can tell you for certain: The tax rate and cost of health insurance is lower than it is in Zurich. By a lot.

Rather than aesthetics, I would maybe think about safety or what opportunities you have to enjoy your free time. For example, there is a fantastic newly renovated swimming pool - indoor and outdoor. The Glatt river is lovely for walks and the forest on the hill contains a vita parcours if you want to keep fit in the fresh air. There are quite a number of crèches from what I gather, the local associations are very active and I see kids actually playing outside on their own, so it must be safe enough.

Another bonus - no need to join the insane Saturday queue at Hagenholz if you need to dispose of something, we have our own recycling place that has a thrift store attached to it. If they think whatever you want to get rid of can be sold to someone else, you can just leave it there rather than having to pay for its disposal.

Being right in between the airport and the city means that you have more emergency services available for call out than in other places. For example, the local volunteer fire brigade has a whole hangar full of equipment including a 32 metre turntable ladder and pretty much every other gizmo you could possibly want.

Fibre internet: I just can't with this level of first world need... The internet works ok for my HD quality streaming and the numerous video conference calls I've had these past few months, that's all I can say about that. According to this map, we already have it in most parts of town but it appears that you have different information. That map can also give you information on a whole host of other things such as noise from roads/rail.

My top tip would be: unless you are buying a new build that is yet to be built, don't spend too much time wondering about your favourite series being downloaded in 0.5 seconds or what have you because good places go fast. This may not be quite so acute in the current environment but who knows, when freedom of movement first started to be a thing back in 2005, it only took five years for house prices to go up by about 30% in Zurich. One place I looked at back in 2009 was on the market for 750k but had been bought for 325k in 2005. And the real estate agent refused to send me a floor plan because "the price is going to be higher than advertised and we already have 20 people wanting to make a firm offer". It didn't even have its own washing machine or a proper balcony! Since the freedom of movement will continue and Switzerland remains very attractive to highly-skilled foreign workers who place more of an emphasis on owning their home than many Swiss people do, combined with real estate investment being an important way for pension funds to make money since interest rates are kerplunk, there is a lot of competition.

By the sounds of it you are still a bit focused on the nice to have rather than the must have part of the search. I realise that buying a home is a big deal and yet, with the very small number of places available and your presumably "normal" budget restraints, you need to stop being too much of a Goldilocks if you really want to end up with a home to call your own. Location is certainly key, as you cannot change that. But the fibre optic thing is just... amusing.
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Old 06.10.2020, 01:34
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Re: Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

I think the user has a bad experience using non fiber internet.

I can not imagine this in Kanton Zurich (Kanton, not the stadt).

I come from a much undeveloped country and we have fiber for many years. I would not worry about it :

And yes i agree with above. Opfikon is huge and was not considering Glattpark.

Glattpark is already quite far from airport.
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Old 06.10.2020, 08:30
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Re: Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

Thanks for the detailed reply.



As mentioned in the post, the apartment is near the "Schule Oberhausen"


Schools: I come from a country where government schools are the last option and I don't have enough knowledge about the Swiss schooling system. Hence the questions.



Shopping: Currently we live more or less next to the Oerlikon train station, so the question was more about whether we would have shops within walking distance near the apartment or would we just have to go Oerlikon/Flughafen for better options.



Connections: I obviously checked the connections (as we would need to commute to work), and that is not an issue. There is basically a connection to Oerlikon every 10 minutes (and sometimes even less), so we know we are good there.



Noise: Thanks for the detailed links, those help.



Appearances: As you rightly surmised, this is my first rodeo in the Greater ZH area. I have lived for the last 10 years in the city. We are getting a 4.5 room apartment right now. In places like Thalwil, we would have to pay ~35% more for something similar, so those are obviously not in our budget.



Internet: When I first came to ZH (around 10 years ago), the area that I lived in (which was in Zürich Stadt) had an upper internet limit of 10 Mbps. When I started working, and got my own place, I had UPC. The speeds were great, but the internet would die out for a couple of seconds every hour, which was a pain if you were gaming online. It was only after switching to Fiber that these issues went away, hence my preference for it. The apartment is in a building that is being newly constructed. I will ask them as well about it.



And yes, your conclusion is correct. I am definitely focusing more on the "nice to have" and should temper my expectations given that I don't have a few millions to throw around on a house.

Thanks once again for the very detailed response.
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Old 06.10.2020, 08:43
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Re: Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

Suggestion from another thread (about another area):
https://www.englishforum.ch/2984582-post2.html

Quote:
View Post
Schools: I come from a country where government schools are the last option and I don't have enough knowledge about the Swiss schooling system. Hence the questions.
This is definitely not the case in Switzerland. Plenty of threads on this forum about government vs. private schools, such as:

https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...schools-2.html

https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...iscussion.html

https://www.englishforum.ch/family-m...s-schools.html

https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...rly-stage.html
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Old 06.10.2020, 09:14
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Re: Thinking of buying an apartment in Opfikon. Need information (esp. schools)

My experiences from the last 5 years living in Opfikon, started at Talackerstrasse, moved to Glattpark (but still close to the highway):

School: We don't have any relevant-aged kids but I heard some rumors about the two schools (Lattenwiesen and Oberhausen): The latter is the better quality, newer building, etc. mainly for native German-speaking kids. The latter is more like for Auslander with a worse rate of students taking "matura" at the end.
Don't worry much about the language they will pick up pretty fast. You are buying an apartment because you want to stay for a while - I guess, so not much sense delaying the language study.

Noise: really depends on the actual neighborhood/acoustics. My previous apartment was much closer to the runway centerline, but it was not so disturbing (actually the street-noise was worse) as it is in Glattpark (maybe the bigger buildings reflect the sound better, who knows). My main problem is during the summer sleeping with windows open. At 6:00 first wide-body arrivals to runway 34 The rest of the day I don't really mind, however a departing A340 could be really loud!

Shopping: you can do basic shopping (there is even a Migrolino open on Sundays next to Glattbrugg train station). For bigger ones, we usually go to Germany anyway

Aesthetics: it is not so nice indeed, probably that's why you can afford the apartment here, right?
Also NOT really the olympic town of Switzerland (109 nations, all in training pants)

Fiber: I don't think it's up to the town. Simply most of the landlords don't seem to care even the cable provider would be happy to assist. In Glattpark I'm stuck with a 30/10 internet. Welcome to Switzerland 2020.

To sum it up
: if you feel you could be disturbed by the aircraft noise and don't fly every weekend somewhere to make it worth to make this compromise, you might be better the opposite side of Zürich. Otherwise it's pretty OK on a limited budget.
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