In all honesty, while this was certainly a big task, it has been wonderful. We were lucky to have a support network waiting for us here: an incredible relocation agent who set us up with an apartment ahead of time, neighbors who are old friends from London, the nicest landlady you could imagine, and the parents of a Swiss friend who miraculously live just up the hill. All in all, not your typical set up when moving. I’m feeling completely blessed by the kindness of others.
My initial thoughts on living in Zürich, while positive, were touched with a dash of, “what have we just done!?”. The day we left Sydney, we had gone to the beach; the week we arrived in Zürich, it snowed. The old buildings and houses are certainly picturesque and romanic, but very different from the seaside charm of Sydney. The main thing we noticed upon arrival was how QUIET everyone and everything here is. I feel like our children were the only ones making any kind of noise in the airport and I found myself shushing them more than normal. Fortunately I’ve relaxed a bit on that front.
As I said before, we moved into our long-term apartment straight away, with some rented temporary furniture. It seems as though everything here is maintained perfectly and our apartment is no exception. We have had a few funny moments with our appliances - the stovetop is induction and instead of a microwave many homes have a steam oven, of course all in German until you can figure out the German words required to reprogram it to English! The Swiss love their fresh air: the windows here are really cool and can open multiple different ways, but have left us bewildered trying to close them on more than one occasion.
The most shocking part of the move by far has been the price of things. We had been prepared for this, and hopefully you’re being compensated to acclimate to the change in cost of living, but WOW! In particular, restaurant prices are (forgive the pun) hard to swallow! This is a pricey place, visitors be forewarned.
You can certainly get away with only knowing English, but I can’t tell you how happy I am that I had at least a basic knowledge of German from taking it during college. I will be registering for more German classes as soon as this baby makes his appearance because I feel like it is a huge asset in getting around. The local population has been kind overall. I was worried about this after reading online forums for expats that claimed people were standoffish or bordering on mean, but that has not been the case at all! Even my most challenging exchange with an attendant at the train station when I was trying to get my half-price pass was still polite, though a bit tense.
Some of my favorite things we have done so far include putting my girls into a local Waldspielgruppe (2 teachers take about 12 kids into the forest, complete with hiking, learning about nature, and a campfire), walks down to the lake and to various parks, the ease of public transport, cheese and chocolate, and meeting so many interesting people from all over the globe. Even 2 months later, the view of Lake Zürich continues to completely blow me away. If I wasn’t 8 months pregnant, I’m sure skiing would be at the top of this list, but here’s hoping for next winter!