Thursday, February 4, 2016

...and so we are here!

By the lake.
Pretty house and garden.
Random park.
Running in rain for the tram.
Okay! And so started this entry a week and a half ago? Maybe 2 weeks now? Just reread it and decided to leave it. Will pick up on further tedious details of life as an ex-pat three paragraphs down.

Week one as a new Swiss resident has officially concluded. I'm feeling pretty good overall, but there's lots to do yet. We're currently in an Airbnb, the "legality" of which seems a little uncertain. The dude who's renting it to us has been pretty active as a host, but we were still asked to keep a low profile. One of the many obligations of a new resident of Switzerland is to register at your local Canton (district or county) within 3 days of arrival. We did that the next day we were here, hauling all of our paperwork with us. Frau Mittel, the efficient bureaucrat helping us, did not understand Airbnb. Was it a hotel? No, not exactly. So you are staying with a friend? No, not exactly. Hmmmm. She did not approve. And without an approved residence, you are not granted a permit (legal residency). We need to have our Airbnb host sign a paper stating that we are, in fact, installed at the address we listed. But he is out of the country. So for right now, we are in a sort of legal limbo. Not sure exactly how we'll resolve that yet, but given everything else we need to do, it's getting shoved to the back burner.

We opened up a bank account on Monday and it took one and a half hours. Getting a Swiss bank account is no easy thing. In addition to an accounting of all our financial assets and what I have come to refer to as our "dossier" (permit application, work contract, passports, marriage license), we were asked to provide the names and ages of our son and grandchildren (at the permit meeting, we were also asked for the full names of both sets of our parents, states where we were born, and our religion). I had read that the Swiss were generally very private, but evidently not within their bureaucracy. Next tasks: signing up for health insurance (legally required to be done within the first 3 months of residence) and finding an apartment.

Evidently, finding an apartment in Zurich is as challenging as finding one in NYC. Awesome, right? We went to see one last night and there were 8 other people waiting in line in front of us. If we didn't have cats, we would have a larger selection of places to consider, but what can you do. Applying for an apartment here is a process closer to applying for a job in the states. Or admission to college. It was recommended to us to include photos of ourselves and bios along with the usual financial data and references. Unlike in the U.S., where the first applicant with proof of appropriate income gets the apartment, here other considerations may come into play. Like, do you seem like a "good fit" for the apartment building in terms of age, interests, etc. I can't help worrying that the younger and prettier applicants will outshine us.

As of this morning, we were accepted for both apartments we applied for—so much for that worry! We're going with the one that is my favorite, and also less rent than what we were paying in Brooklyn. Yeehaw! Alright, italics off now.

So I am beyond excited at the prospect of settling into new perma-digs. Our stuff is still on its way across the ocean, and with any luck will only sit in storage for a week or two until we get into the new apartment on March 1. I am not quite desperate to be sewing, but something close to that. I have been without a sewing machine or workspace since December, when I had to pack it all up. I had thought I could use this interim time to try to write more/better/regularly, but I've found myself unable to do so. This change is very exciting, Zurich is beyond pretty, but navigating all the details of this relocation has been exhausting. From the smallest to the largest: learning Zurich's recycling system (they are deadly serious about this, you don't want to get caught throwing anything out that should be recycled—a good thing, but takes a bit of work to manage), learning and navigating tram, bus, train and boat schedules, trying to figure out where to buy ice cube trays for less than $20, translating forms and paperwork from German to English, etc. I miss the relief and mental distraction of sewing.

For the month of February we are in a temporary apartment, sublet from a very nice individual named Tudor. He is taking 6 weeks to explore Australia and New Zealand, and we are sleeping in his bed and using his flatware. His apartment is located in the red light district. It is considerably noisier at night, but only by Swiss standards. Nothing compared to Brooklyn. It's a one minute walk to the tram with a grocery store immediately opposite. Not maybe my first choice for a neighborhood (it has a Hooters! Srsly!), but it's just fine as a temporary arrangement.

Anyway, to date everyone is surviving, including the cats. The Swiss version of Fancy Feast—"Sheba"—is super stinky, though, both going in and coming out, if you know what I mean. Going to have to try out some alternatives, these apartments are way too small for that, omg.