First off, I decided to take the Guest semester in Basel. So, assuming that all goes well, I will be staying in Switzerland through the spring now.
This has made finding permanent housing all the more important. Housing in Zürich is the polar opposite of finding housing in Seattle, and really quite jaw-dropping. First is the cost, housing prices are regulated by the government, on average it is a thousand per room. Also, when advertised a living room is considered a room, so a 3 bedroom apt is actually 2 bedrooms and a living room or a bedroom, dining room, and living room (the difference to me is if there is a door to the “2nd” room.) This makes things tricky when you are trying to figure out cost/room. Sometimes there are good deals in the housing market for a given size or area.
The easiest way to find a new flat is to take a friends flat when they move out, then its pretty easy. If you are not so lucky to have nomadic friends, then you now enter the gladiator battle that is the Swiss house hunt. There are plenty of housing websites to choose from, with a seemingly good selection of places. If you go to a general open house, it is not uncommon for there to be a line out the building and around the corner of people waiting to see the apartment. Thus if you apply, your odds are 1/100. When you do apply, they can ask you whatever question they want: race, religion, nationality, yearly income, marital standing, do you play a musical instrument, have any pets, etc. They can reject your application based on any of these criteria. If you really want a flat, when you submit an application you should include a cover letter saying who you are, what you do, why you like the flat, how long you are staying and your hobbies. You should also include a photo of yourself/family. Sending your resume is not a bad idea either. After sending it, you should call them to make sure they got it (in our case, Jeff’s coworker did because we didn’t want our lack of German to hurt us, cause it can) and encourage them to call your references.
We haven’t found a permanent flat yet…
EDIT: We just got a sweet flat! close to the train station so commuting to Basel is simple-dimple!