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Old 16.04.2009, 05:57
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Locating housing from the US

Hi all. My husband got a job offer from the University of Zurich for next fall and I am trying to pull everything to move there from the US. From the looks of things, it is hard to find housing when one is not physically in Zurich and at the same time it takes a while to find housing once there.

We have a 4 year old so I would like to have as stable a move for her as possible.

So. How does one go about finding housing when abroad? We want to be car-free and live in the city but we also want the neighborhood to be easy for short legs to get around. Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 16.04.2009, 05:58
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Re: Locating housing from the US

Oh, and I'd rather not be scammed.
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Old 16.04.2009, 08:03
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Re: Locating housing from the US

As you've probably heard it's a difficult housing market. That said I don't think it's impossible.

The easy thing to do is to pay a relocation firm, and in fact it's hard to imagine anything else working from a distance. You might as well try however because the relocation people charge a month's rent up front.

The good news is that it's really easy to live carfree in Switzerland, especially with kids, and that removing the car expense from your budget makes stuff in walkable neighborhoods seem more affordable. We've lived carfree in Lausanne with two little ones for years, and have no problem (especially no parking problem!) Zurich is five times as big so it should be easier.

So, I think there is a sticky thread on the subject around here, but I couldn't find it. I did find this useful post by googling the site: http://www.englishforum.ch/other-gen...ng-zurich.html
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Old 16.04.2009, 12:01
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Re: Locating housing from the US

Hello, good luck with the move. Plenty of houysing around in or out of the city. We moved to Kloten , which is only 15 minutes by train to Zurich, transportation here is very good , and Zurich is very easy to get around. Prices outside of the city can be a little cheaper than in the city centre.
try www.homegate.ch to get an idea of prices. The site is in English as well as german, french and italian . If you speak German you shouldnt need an agent, just update yourself through the forums about the pitfalls. You should be ok .
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Old 16.04.2009, 17:45
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Re: Locating housing from the US

Thanks! I have been looking on homegate.ch (although I don't speak German yet), I am under the impression though that landlords wanted to meet tenants before they rent to them.
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Old 16.04.2009, 18:02
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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Thanks! I have been looking on homegate.ch (although I don't speak German yet), I am under the impression though that landlords wanted to meet tenants before they rent to them.
They do generally want to meet you first. If you have the time, best thing to do is have an agent set up a load of meetings with landlords over a week, and come to visit them in one go - clearly a pain, but it may be less painful in the long run.

If you're looking in Zurich city you'll find the market still very tight (I'm looking at the moment). In some of the surrounding areas it will be easier (and cheaper, and more outdoors space for a 4 year old to run around in). There are other threads where people have discussed the various areas.

Good luck for the move, Zurich is a great city to live in,

Ali.
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Old 16.04.2009, 18:16
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Re: Locating housing from the US

When I moved to Zurich from the States my company set me up in a temporary studio for a few months. I ended up having to stay there for 4 months until I could move into the apartment, which I found after 2 weeks of visiting apartments every night after work.

If you can manage it, I would try to look for a temporary sublet in Zurich (1-3 months) and then start apartment hunting when you get here.
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Old 16.04.2009, 18:20
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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Thanks! I have been looking on homegate.ch (although I don't speak German yet)
Homegate can be viewed in English by clicking on EN. If you can't find it here's a link to Homegate which already is in English:

http://www.homegate.ch/homegate/rent...ault&a=default
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Old 16.04.2009, 20:19
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Re: Locating housing from the US

If you are looking to be in Zurich city then getting something without actually having been physically present may well be almost impossible. As I am sure you will have gathered from some of the threads here, the rental market in Zurich is dire and that is an understatement probably. But it means that competition is fierce and landlords can pick and choose and why picks someone they haven't met?

If you are willing to live further out in towns such as Baden, etc it may be easier if you can find a local relocation consultant who is willing to help out. I know of one agent in the Baden area who will do this kind of work. She posts quite a lot on the forum also, but it is not easy and it depends on whether you are willing to rely on a perfect stranger to find you a place to live. That's a difficult call...

Don't think that this just applies to foreigners. When my wife and I returned from Japan we wanted to rent a place sight unseen and even though we knew the rental agents well (we had rented from them for years before we left for Japan), they refused to rent to us until we had seen the house and they had seen us again (and we are both Swiss). So, it's not a question of discrimination...
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Old 16.04.2009, 21:10
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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When I moved to Zurich from the States my company set me up in a temporary studio for a few months. I ended up having to stay there for 4 months until I could move into the apartment, which I found after 2 weeks of visiting apartments every night after work.

If you can manage it, I would try to look for a temporary sublet in Zurich (1-3 months) and then start apartment hunting when you get here.
This is a great idea! I'm moving from the UK with my 5 year old son and am a bit worried about renting somewhere for 6months or so and then later finding it unsuitable.
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Old 16.04.2009, 21:39
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Re: Locating housing from the US

Try Horgen or Thalwil. These are both nice communities with
plenty of expats.
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Old 16.04.2009, 21:54
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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This is a great idea! I'm moving from the UK with my 5 year old son and am a bit worried about renting somewhere for 6months or so and then later finding it unsuitable.
Generally rentals in Switzerland are for a minimum of a year (unless it's a sublet).
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Old 16.04.2009, 23:37
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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Generally rentals in Switzerland are for a minimum of a year (unless it's a sublet).
In my 21+ years here I have never come across a one year minimum rental agreement.
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Old 17.04.2009, 00:41
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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In my 21+ years here I have never come across a one year minimum rental agreement.
You mean that your's have always been more than a year??? You certainly can't be implying that you can rent a place for less than a year (excl. sublets, serviced & furnished places) or are you?

All the rentals that I have had before we bought a place were minimum one year.
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Old 17.04.2009, 08:17
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Re: Locating housing from the US

Thanks everyone, this info is very helpful. I have been looking on homegate.ch but the descriptions are still usually in German. Fortunately google translator is pretty good.

I think renting/subletting for a month or two is the best idea. The university has a housing office but we have to show up there first too. lol
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Old 17.04.2009, 08:47
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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You mean that your's have always been more than a year??? You certainly can't be implying that you can rent a place for less than a year (excl. sublets, serviced & furnished places) or are you?

All the rentals that I have had before we bought a place were minimum one year.
I'm with vwild1 on this one. I've never had a minimum duration specified in any place I've lived in or looked at in Switzerland. Practically, it usually works out to a 3-6 month minimum, because you have a 3-month notice period and can only let go of it on the quarter mark (again, typically, not always). However, the contract never stated a minimum leasing time.

Of course, if you tell a landlord that you want to rent for 3 months, they're going to give it to someone else. Be smart if that's your situation.
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Old 17.04.2009, 09:12
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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I'm with vwild1 on this one. I've never had a minimum duration specified in any place I've lived in or looked at in Switzerland. Practically, it usually works out to a 3-6 month minimum, because you have a 3-month notice period and can only let go of it on the quarter mark (again, typically, not always). However, the contract never stated a minimum leasing time.

Of course, if you tell a landlord that you want to rent for 3 months, they're going to give it to someone else. Be smart if that's your situation.
Maybe it's a regional thing then. Certainly in the Baden area they almost always fill out the part on the contract which states the earliest termination date, and this is almost always 12 months later....obviously it's a question of YMMV.
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Old 19.04.2009, 17:23
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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As you've probably heard it's a difficult housing market. That said I don't think it's impossible.

The easy thing to do is to pay a relocation firm, and in fact it's hard to imagine anything else working from a distance. You might as well try however because the relocation people charge a month's rent up front.
I have worked with clients from a distance. There are circumstances where someone can just not be here to find housing, or other cases where the perfect property has come on the market and if one does not act immediately, the property will be gone. Not sure where you get your information about fees charged by a relocation company but my fees have absolutely nothing to do with the rental amount nor are they billed up front.
There are agencies that charge the incoming tenant a percentage of the rent. I have never heard of these agencies renting to anyone who has not seen the apartment personally.
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Old 20.04.2009, 15:39
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Re: Locating housing from the US

We moved from the US last August (also with a little one) and hired a relocation agency. Fees were one month's rent, but considering the uphill battle you'd be facing for not physically being here.
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Old 20.04.2009, 16:40
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Re: Locating housing from the US

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Not sure where you get your information about fees charged by a relocation company but my fees have absolutely nothing to do with the rental amount nor are they billed up front.
We used an agency to find our current apartment, they charged one month's rent, and only billed after we had a signed lease in hand.
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