Category Archives: Get Started

Welcoming New Expats!

IMG_2654Most people have arrived back from their summer holidays. School has started again. It’s that time of the year where many expats arrive in Zurich. For some, the move has been a long awaited one. Other newbies would have never thought they’d be in Zurich for the second half of 2013. Assuming that housing and schooling for the children has already been arranged, what’s next now that you’re here!?Most newly-arrived expats enter the phase of exploration right at the beginning. Go local! Check out the shops, the restaurants, the surroundings. Travel to the places you read about within Switzerland – after all, is there anywhere in Switzerland that will take you more than five hours to get to by train?After realising that the train ride has cost you a small fortune – unless one already has an SBB half-fare card – most people enter the phase of getting organised. This happens fairly quickly. But what comes first and is there anything you should be aware of?Register with your local council: The first thing you should do is register with your local ‘Gemeinde’ – or city council if you live directly in town. You will receive a welcome packet with all the vital information like the opening hours of the council, when the recycling is collected and where to dispose of certain goods. You may also want to ask questions relating to your pension scheme (AHV). Although the local councils do not manage this sector they will be able to provide you with fundamental information and refer you to the appropriate councils for more in-depth inquiries. Each ‘Gemeinde’ has a website. Similar to the information pack this is generally only available in German. If you’re lucky you will even get a complementary calendar and a sticker featuring your local council’s emblem. But don’t get used to the generosity… Money matters: Whether you are in Zurich because of them, or whether other professional opportunities have drawn you to Switzerland’s financial capital, everyone has heard of those famous – and sometimes controversially portrayed – Swiss banks. Setting up a private current account seems to be one of the fundamental things to do whenever moving to a new place. What bank you decide to trust is of course up to you. The big international two – UBS and Credit Suisse – may be the right option for you if you are looking for international banking solutions. Naturally, all documents are available in English. The Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) is the bank of the canton of Zurich. Each canton in Switzerland has a bank – it wouldn’t be Switzerland otherwise! The Zurich Cantonal Bank is the largest cantonal bank within Switzerland and is also the country’s fourth largest. Retailers Migros and Coop also offer banking solutions. For people who prefer more local banks that are smaller in size, check out Raiffeisen and Clientis – although you may not find a lot of English around when interacting.There is an ample amount of private banks specialising in wealth management, asset management as well as offering other financial solutions. Julius Bär, Bank Vontobel, Bank Sarasin and HSBC being a couple worth mentioning. Insure your health: While everybody living in Switzerland is required to purchase health insurance by law, there are numerous companies offering such services. So… which one do you choose? Well… that would depend on what you are looking for. Basic health insurance will cover expenses related to essential health care. Premiums vary depending on company and the deductible (‘franchise’) that is selected. With a high deductible (by Swiss law a maximum of CHF 2,500.-) premiums are generally lower, with a low deductible (by Swiss law a minimum CHF 300.-) the monthly premiums are higher. Experts often recommend to select either a very high deductible – and save premium rates if medical services are scarcely used – or a very high deductible – and have the certainty that most medical expenses beyond your deductible amount will be covered. Alongside basic health insurance additional cover is also offered by all health insurance companies. While premium rates are higher when insured privately, it might make sense to look into these services as they often offer attractive additional cover – like paying for the gym membership – as part of their schemes to promote a healthy lifestyle. SWICA is one of a handful of health insurance companies that offers all correspondence in English. They are known to be one of the most established health insurance companies in Switzerland offering quality services and have done so to 598,587 clients in 2012. Most health insurance companies will require you to state your GP practice. An English-speaking GP is located in Zurich-Stadelhofen (www.drangelacaddick.com). Check out the following links to find out more about some of the more established health insurance companies in the country… www.swica.ch   www.helsana.ch   www.sanitas.ch   www.css.ch  www.mutuel.ch You can’t avoid those telecommunication companies: Some people decide they want a landline as well as a mobile phone contract. Others may just opt for one of the above. Aren’t you lucky that Swisscom offers both!? As the leading provider in telecommunications within Switzerland, Swisscom is a safe bet. Despite charging slightly higher tariffs than its competitors Orange and Sunrise, having used Swisscom for the past 13 years seems to have been the right choice. A reliable network, all documents available in English, including the customer service unit on a free hotline any day between 06:00 and midnight. Swisscom – as well as most of its competitors – offer internet as well as digital TV solutions (the most diverse selection of English channels is on Swisscom TV, in case you wanted to avoid setting up a digital satellite by Sky). Whatever provider and plan you decide to go with, the advice is to compare and avoid long-term contracts that tie you down. Especially at the beginning of your time here… www.swisscom.ch  www.orange.ch  www.sunrise.ch  If you need..…to rent or purchase real-estate – www.homegate.ch  …to purchase a car – www.autoscout.ch ..to buy a train ticket online – www.sbb.ch …to buy a ticket for public transport within the Zurich region online – www.zvv.ch …to compare prices in a given sector – www.comparis.ch 

How To Find A Shared Apartment In Zurich

So recently I have noticed that there are more and more young people arriving to live and work in Zurich. With attractive salaries, good job opportunities and a lively international atmosphere it is very understandable. If you already have the benefit of a job the next step to actually living here is accommodation, but in case you were not aware, being a foreigner and depending on your permit and income, apartments can be hard to find. If you are a family, couple or someone who is looking to live alone then things can be very tough as dealing with agencies and multiple websites that are only in German can be difficult, also the landlords are notoriously fickle and may look at many applicants before choosing the one with the best credentials. However if you are someone (maybe a young professional or student) that would like to share an apartment then there are many easier options that don’t require mountains of paperwork, are relatively fast and cheaper. Shared apartments are quite popular here as this results in lower rent for larger apartments and you get to meet new people or live with friends. Also some people can be eager to live with English speakers as this allows them to practice their English. Firstly a shared apartment here in Zurich is called a “WG” which stands for Wohngemeinschaften or Residential Communities. Also WG is never pronounced in English, even expats all pronounce the phrase “vay-gay”. Websites So now that you have established that you would like to live in a WG, here are some helpful websites. There are literally hundreds of accommodation websites out there but this shorter list I have compiled are websites I have had personal experience with. They are all free and are popular with the WG community here in Zurich. WG zimmerThis is possibly the most popular website for WGs in Switzerland with hundreds of ads and the website is available in English which is great. It deals almost exclusively with rooms in shared apartments, but there are some studios available. While you can just spend you time browsing the ads I would recommend actually posting your own ad, as this allows you receive offers from people looking to rent a room, as well as alerting you when a new room that matches your criteria is posted. The only downside about this is that you will end up receiving a lot of email notifications. There can be a lot of competition for popular apartments though, so make sure to write a good email application (see below). Ron Orp English This is one of my favorite websites for Zurich and I would recommend signing up for their newsletter when you arrive. There are 2 parts of the site one for Zurich in English and one in German. The site is very good and tends to be used by local people, especially students and young professionals. This means that you can sometimes find much cheaper apartments in great locations. The English site is obviously all in English which is great for some one who has just arrived and can’t speak any German, however there are far more ads in the German part of the site. See below. Ron Orp German As mentioned above this is a great site used by local people. Also it is not as frequented as WG zimmer so you have less competition. The main trouble here is that you will have to navigate in German, however don’t be put off and use this as an opportunity to start trying to learn some new vocabulary. The accommodation listings are included in the “Dach über dem Kopf” section, which directly translates as “a roof over your head”. I would also try to include you application email in German, if you can’t do it yourself simply google translate it, and paste it in along with the same one in English. This will make a better impression. tutti.ch This is another good website for accommodation, it is a small classified website and has ads for every type of thing. While not as popular as some of the above it means you have less competition. Also worth noting is that the website is not available in English, only French, German and Italian. Select your Canton and then accommodation section will be called “Immobilien” then further narrow the field by selecting “mieten” which means rental and then you should be able to narrow the fields further by filling in the location cost and size. English Forum This forum is a wealth of Information about renting in Zurich. Since the forum is exclusively in English it is easy to understand and navigate for non German speakers. If you go to the bottom there is a Market Place section with an accommodation listing. Here you can search the ads, also If you are a member you can even post a wanted ad. However the draw back here is the amount and quality of posts. While there is a certain camaraderie among the Expat community, not many will be directly offering a room in their apartment but will announcing that they are vacating it and you might still have to deal with an agency for a studio as there are not a lot of WG adverts. Gratis Inserate Another classified website with all kinds of small ads. As above with www.tutti.ch narrow down your search. There is not a huge amount of ads but it is used by locals and competition will be less intense.Furnished? Furnished apartments are not standard in Zurich and the great thing about moving into a WG is that the apartment will already be lived in which will save you spending thousands on basic kitchenware, couches, tables and chairs etc. Often though your room will not be furnished but I have previously written an article about how to get free and cheap furniture here in Zurich. So don’t be worried if your room is empty. Writing an email application When you are applying for a WG make sure to send a more information than “I’m interested, when can I view”. Reasonably priced accommodation is at a premium here and cheaper apartments will have hundreds of applicants.This is why you should write an email describing yourself in as much detail as you feel comfortable, the important points to include are

 

  • age
  • nationality
  • spoken languages
  • what you are doing here in Zurich
  • what your expected income is if you are working (they want to know you will be able to pay the rent after all)
  • when you are available to move in and when you are leaving
  • make sure you include your likes/dislikes
  • mention if you have shared apartments before and why you really enjoyed it and want to do it again.

It is always nice to customise each email and try to write why that apartment appeals to you in particular, for example “your apartment seems affordable and I really like that area” or “you seem like a cool group of people and I would really like to live with people I could be friends with”.As previously mentioned rooms in cheap and good locations will have many applications and they will often only invite a selection of people to view it, so the more information you give the better your chances.Viewings, So once you have managed to sell yourself and have a viewing be prepared to be very friendly and chatty as viewings take more the form of an interview rather than first come first serve. Also something that can be a shock to some accommodation seekers is the “casting” this is a viewing/interview but in a group situation, yes you will literally meet some or all of your rivals. This is a tricky situation but can be all to common in Zurich, especially for popular locations with a cheap price. It can be difficult to stand out in a group but make sure you don’t stand out for the wrong reasons and avoid rude or aggressive comments with the other candidates as you will be judged on how you engage with the other people.Questions to ask:

 

  • is everything included (internet, heating ect)
  • what is your relationship with your neighbours and landlord
  • how does cleaning the apartment work (often there will be a schedule)
  • will you have a contract (important if you are declaring your address to get your permit)

Don’t be afraid to ask some questions as it will show that you are interested, these are just a guide so make sure to add your own. Rental costsZurich rents seem quite high compared to other cities but if you are working it should balance out as the salary’s are also quite high. For a WG you should expect to pay in the region of 700 – 1100 CHF. Yes this is high for a room, but when you consider the quality of the communal spaces for example you will often get a proper kitchen with a dishwasher, oven, dining table, and a sitting room with a couch and TV, then the costs is much cheaper than what you would get alone in a small studio.The social aspects of living with people who are already established in the city can be very beneficial for new arrivals, and personally I can say that living in a WG is a great experience. Remember that while the castings and meetings might be a bit of a put off, the concept that you only want to live with people you will get along with is perfectly understandable.Best of luck with your search.

Furnishing Your New Home On A Budget In Zurich

Zurich Furniture

 

So many of us expats will have arrived here by plane, and what does that mean? Well it means we pay for excess luggage by the kilo as opposed to having the luxury of arriving with a van full of possessions.

Contrary to all the places I have previously lived, my new room in Zurich has NO furniture included. So with a limited budget how can you get the most bang for your buck?

Many new expats in a rush to furnish their new home, will however overlook the possibility of buying furniture second hand or even being given furniture, and just go straight to Ikea.

Very few apartments in Zurich are furnished and as a result it is common for people to give away, or sell cheaply their old furniture when they move. Most of this furniture will be Ikea but at a knock down price and maybe with a few bumps and scratches, but easily worth it, especially if you are only here for a limited time.

Here are some of the options I recommend for cheap or free furniture:

IKEA 

People with a larger budget can just go to Ikea, but beware, some of the larger items (leather couches) have a lead in time, however the short term value for money is clear especially when there is a sense of urgency to certain items, for example a bed.

Delivery: There can sometimes be a long delivery wait for large amounts of furniture ordered on-line. Also there is a delivery charge or you can hire a van from them directly (depending on availability -avoid weekends) Their help line speaks English though so make sure to ask them what options are best for you.

ENGLISH FORUM

Expats on a tight budget with little German will find themselves at ease here. While the availability of suitable furniture here is sporadic it is helpful that all the wheeling and dealing is done through English. If you have the opportunity to get your furniture over a week or so, there are serious deals to be had.

However you must be vigilant and patient as good cheap furniture will be bought up quickly. If you spot the post early enough though sometimes you are lucky enough to get free or very cheap furniture, also try to haggle with the sellers if the costs are still too high for your budget, especially if you are buying multiple items as they will often be under pressure to get rid of the items quickly or will sympathise with your situation.

Delivery: this can be one of the biggest draw backs of buying cheap furniture second hand, the main reason people are selling it so cheaply is because they need to get rid of it and don’t want to move it personally. This means you must arrange to collect and deliver it yourself. See delivery headings below for more info.

RON ORP ZURICH (EN)

This is a great website used by a lot of local people in Zurich and other main cities in Switzerland, the good news for Zurich users is that there is a special English speaking Zurich part, so things are easy to understand. However the main drawbacks to the English speaking site is that not many local German speaking Swiss people use it and it has few bargains to be had compared to its German speaking counter part (see below).

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)

RON ORP ZÜRICH (IN GERMAN)

While all the adverts here are posted in German, it should be noted that there are thousands compared to the hundreds  in the English site. But finding the item that you are looking for will be slightly more difficult for the non German speaker, for this I recommend opening up google translate in a separate tab and just “google translate” everything, so while this may sound long and tedious you will find far more items of cheap or free furniture, and maybe pick up some new German vocabulary.

The furniture is in the “Allerlei, Mode & Schönheit “ section and then the “Wohnen” subsection, there are further subsections, but at this point it depends what you are looking for. Before google translating every add, try opening then and looking at  the picture and then finding the cost in the article, if the two items match what you are looking for then it is worth translating the add.

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)

FLEEDO

Another website, but this one is only dedicated to free furniture and is available in English too. The downside is that it is for all of Switzerland and sometimes there are not many items available in Zurich

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)

CRAIGSLIST ZURICH

This website is not very well frequented by the Zurich population, but sometimes there are still rare deals to be had in the sale section. Craigslist is notorious for scams though so tread with caution.

Delivery: Same deal as the English Forum (see above)

BROCKENHAUS – AKA the second-hand shops

There are several of these located in Zurich and some of the smaller ones in your area might be worth a visit for bric-a-brac, but the biggest and most popular one is located just on the North side of the Hauptbahnhoff train tracks, with 3 floors of stuff and loads of furniture it is definitely worth checking out. While the prices may not be as cheap as the charity shops you might be used to, it is still cheapER by Zurich standards. The shop itself is actually generally quite cool and has a great vintage feel about it. There is loads of stuff and it is all very well laid out and not cluttered. Also there are plenty of kitchen crockery and accessories if you just need a few bits and pieces as well as a modest English book section. Worth checking out, even if you don’t need anything.

Delivery: Apparently they do deliver, not sure exactly how much, but it depends on the size and cost of the item, they also do assembly.

THE FLEA MARKET

There are a couple of really cool flea markets in Zurich. The one I am most familiar with is at Helvetiaplatz at the end of the Langstrasse 8-2.30 on a Saturday. Just to be warned, this is not a high class flea market but has more of a people just trying to sell their old stuff kinda feel. Still though there are some home gems to be had, but not so much furniture as it tends to be what people fit in their car. I probably wouldn’t recommend buying electronics there though, but you can always haggle which is fun, just make sure to brush up on your numbers in German as the majority of vendors speak no/very poor English.There is a good range of bicycles though if you are interested in a cheap and healthy way of getting around.

Delivery Options:

With most of the cheap and free furniture delivery is not an option. So keeping this in mind there are a number of options to get your stuff home safe.

Hiring a van for the day – only if you can arrange it so that you can pick up all your stuff at around the same time, still going to be a couple of hundred CHF. there are many different company’s so shopping around is recommended depending on your needs.

Man with a van– Great for larger items like beds and couches, paid by the hour though so long distances can become an issue. Cost and quality varies greatly, so it is definitely worth shopping around.

Public transport – works best in pairs for smaller single items. Make sure you travel off peak times.

Waren taxi – this is a third party service, kind of like a taxi for your furniture. Great for moves or pick ups from furniture shops where you have multiple items and don’t want to wait for long delivery times. They provide a large variety of moving services, again there are multiple company’s so shop around.

Mobility car sharing – this is like a public car sharing scheme. You subscribe to the service and then you have cheap access to cars all across Switzerland. A very good option for short collections trips as you pay per hour and kilometre. There is a sign up fee, and their website is available in English

Collection with friends – Friends, especially local friends are the best way to move stuff. So ask around amongst the people you know, even if they don’t have their own car maybe they have another sympathetic friend, a subscription to the mobility car scheme or can help you carry stuff on the bus. The value of this help should never be underestimated.

Always make sure to thank all  the people that helped you move or gave you furniture, this can be as simple nice box of chocolates or a dinner at your new place once you have settled in. You should always make sure to offer your friends similar help if they are moving too, as what goes around comes around.

 

Best Value Prepaid Mobile Phones In Switzerland?

With a seemingly large selection of operators to choose from in Switzerland, I’ve decided to do a little research into what the costs and extras are. Now while there are some tips and advice available on-line none seem to be very clear as to which network is the best and I suppose that is because everyone requires something different from their phone provider.

So keeping this in mind I have decided to compare the providers based on my requirements. 

I am a 26 year old, who only uses her phone for texts and calls, I’m not interested in a new phone and as I am unsure as to how long I’m going to be staying in Zurich I want to get a prepaid phone.

The three Mobile Network Operators (MNO) in Switzerland are swisscom, sunrise and orange. Their networks are used by a number of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). I have provided the list below that details which reseller is running on which network.

swisscom – www.swisscom.ch 

sunrise – www.sunrise.ch 

orange – www.orange.ch

So having found this list of providers on-line, I proceeded to investigate their websites to see which network would suit my needs best.

Some of the websites are very clear and some of them are not, and these are the result of some extensive trawling through all their websites.

While all the information is some times not clear, available and will probably be soon out of date. I felt that it might be helpful for people to be able to more quickly compare prices.

While I have neglected to include the initial cost of the sim card it should be mentioned that this basic cost is personally somewhat irrelevant compared to what you will be paying later down the line.

a table of costs of prepaid Swiss mobile phone companies  

Disclaimer – All the information provided in the table was compiled by me  on the 30th of August and was subject to my understanding of the website, so should in no way be taken as the guaranteed costs, only a guide. If your interested in a particular network consult their website personally before hand or get in touch with them directly.

As for my personal choice of mobile phone operator? Well I ended up going with Orange. The sim card cost 10 CHF and had 5 CHF credit included, the main deciding factor was the fact that the people I am going to be calling the most are also on the same network, and Orange allow you to choose 3 friends to call for free on the same network (T&C obviously apply).

Also since they are one of the larger service providers I can be assured that if I have a problem is I can speak directly to a human being in a shop and that they probably have a half decent help line.

So while I also heard good reports about migros-budget and yallo being cheap from friends; swisscom and sunrise having good coverage but being expensive, other less mainstream networks I searched seemed not to have many reviews (well in English anyway).

So if you are looking to get a Swiss number keep the following things in mind

    • who are you going to be calling (network, country)?
    • when are you going to be calling them?
    • how much do you want to spend per month?
    • do you need internet access?
    • are you sending more texts than calls?
  • do you want to be able to talk to someone face to face if you have a problem?

However compared to some other European countries Switzerland seems overall quite cheap and well serviced by prepaid phone options.

 

Compare The Cost Of Living In Zurich With Other Cities

We were told about a new website that offers a new twist on the common requirement of comparing the cost of living in one city with that in another. Expatistan offers a simple way of making this comparison, and its community-driven updates should ensure that it remains relevant and up to date. Just enter the two cities into the form on the home page

This query gave us the following:

Drilling down on the Food data:

The green figures basically mean that these items are cheaper in London than they are in Zurich, which is no surprise. However, it is odd that the high cost of transport in London skews the figures so dramatically. The result is that it gives the cost of living in London as being 5% higher in London despite almost every other category being markedly higher in Zurich. Users can submit the cost of certain items in a city to keep things up to date. These are quite specific, such as a liter of milk or a bus journey in the central zone. If you are thinking of moving to Zurich, or would like to keep an eye on the cost of things elsewhere, Expatistan is a useful tool.

Traveling With The SBB

In December 2009 the SBB and Trenitalia decided to end the Cisalpino train service, a joint venture between the two national railways. Naturally when such things happen allegations flew. The SBB claimed that the consistent late trains coming from Milan was one of the main reasons. Trenitalia also made claims, but anyone who has travelled to Italy or even wanted to come back from Ticino has experienced that more often than not it is the trains coming from Italy that are running late and causing delays elsewhere in Switzerland.Traveling back from Lucerne the other day, I was witness to something that would have played out much differently in Italy. Many might find the following incident tragic others as quite funny. For the sake of the protagonist, I hope that he will look back in five years and laugh.I was on a class trip with students all around 15 years of age. Having boarded the train we patiently waited for the train to depart. Outside the train was a man with two monsters for suitcases with a little twitch in his hand and a bead of sweat rolling down his face. Then the rail attendant made the last call to board the train. In a panic the man tossed his two suitcases onto the train and followed rescuing his foot from a closing door in true Indiana Jones style. Seconds later the train rolled into motion and a look of fear struck the man’s face. Quickly he ran to the window where I was sitting and frantically tried to open the locked window. The other teacher and I looked at each other and wondered what was going on.The rail attendant seeing the panic-stricken man running around the train tried to explain that she had given the final call and announced that the man had to either be on the train or off the train, but that the train was departing. Furthermore, once the train is in motion it will not stop until it reached the next destination. The man with an Italian accented Swiss-German then explained that his wife was still on the platform. Adding to the problem of leaving his wife behind, was the fact that neither of them had mobile phones on them. After twenty some minutes on the train the man deboarded the train in Zug after apologising for his frantic behaviour.This little story illustrates a fine point about Switzerland. In fact it is one of the paradoxes of this tiny country, especially for Expats: Ask most Expats to list three things that they like or even love about Switzerland and the rail service will surely be listed. “It’s efficient and punctual” is a praise often quoted by Expats from the UK and Ireland, whereas most Americans and Canadians are simply amazed that trains can transport more than goods. However, these are the same people who find it terrible and cold hearted of the SBB to give such little regard to travellers racing down the platform with a suitcase trailing behind them trying to make the train as the last call is announced and the little green light encircling the open button disappears for the last time and the doors shut leaving that poor traveller to wait for the next train.Cold and heartless would be one explanation. Mechanical and calculated another. Much can be said about Switzerland by looking at the rail system. The reason the trains are on time and why a 10 minute delay is front page news is because it has been calculated. If the train waited an extra 30 seconds at every station it would gradually delay itself more and more. Other trains would then need to wait for passengers needing to make connections and the entire system would descend into chaos like in Italy, where one travelling by train can merely hope that there will not be a strike and that the train will arrive that day.While disorder and unpunctuality are frowned upon in Switzerland, so are limitations to mobility and personal freedoms. Therefore, most longer routes are travelled once an hour and many of the in-between-stops can be reached by taking another train. The other thing that makes train travel so convenient in Switzerland is that it is a “one ticket all trains service”; unlike travelling with the Deutsche Bahn where ICE trains cost more than regional trains.The best tip for travelling with the train in Switzerland is to give yourself a few extra minutes to get to the station. If you’re on time, you should not miss your train.If you’re travelling by train around Switzerland here are a few tips: Frequent travellers of longer distances or people who simply love sitting in trains should get a GA (Generalabonnement). This is a card that gives you unlimited travel in Switzerland for the year for 3100.00 CHF or 285.00 CHF/Month in second class. Less frequent travelers should at least get a Halbtax that gets you 50% off the price of all tickets for train and bus. The cost for this is 150.00 CHF for a year.Both will save you money. As a reference a one-way ticket Zurich to Bern at a normal price is 46.00 CHF.Have visitors coming to Switzerland? Tell them to get a Swiss Card for the time they are here to save money and hassle when travelling. There are different time frames from a few days to a month. Are you on facebook? You can become a fan of the SBB and see their Sparbillette programme and see all the latest ticket specials. For iPhone users the SBB Mobile App is great and allows you to check your connections anytime anywhere. German – English Vocabulary for train travel: das Gleis = track der Zug = train die SBB = Schweizerische Bundesbahn (Swiss Federal Railway) die Bahn = railway / rail der Fahrschein = ticket der Nachtzuschlag = addditional fee for night trains (after 1 am) die Verspätung = delay die Gleisänderung = change of track “Der Kluge reist im Zuge” = “The smart one travels with the train” (Written by Christian Langenegger, co-founder of Marathon Sprachen in Winterthur www.marathonlanguages.com)

24/7 Shopping in Zurich

For expats who come from where 24 hour shopping is the norm, it takes some time to adjust to the limited shopping hours in Zurich. For a long time the particular exception was gas station convenience stores which were open 24/7. No longer. Zurich officials have long (for 20 years) tolerated these 24/7 gas station convenience stores, but now the federal government has banned them from being open 24 hours a day. Specifically they must be closed between 1-5am. For expats coming from more laissez-faire economic environments, these rules on shop opening times are usually easy to learn, but challenging to adapt to and difficult to understand. What used to be easy can now seem daunting. Expats might ask “where should I t go if I urgently need some medication?” or “what if I want to pick up a last-minute missing ingredient for a Sunday meal?” While all of your local shops are closed on Sunday, there are options  for Sunday shopping besides gas station convenience stores. 24 Hour Pharmacies There are 2 24 hour pharmacies in Zurich. From experience, both have multilingual pharmacists that speak English well. Bellevue Apotheke – Theatrestrasse 14 Bahnhof Apotheke – Bahnhofplatz 15 Sunday Shopping For whatever reason, shops located inside SBB owned property are allowed to be open on Sunday so one can get some Sunday shopping done at both the main train station (Zurich Hauptbahnhof) and Bahnhof Enge. Zurich Hauptbahnhof (aka ShopVille) – 9:00 – 20:00 Sunday ShopVille has a wide variety of shopping from groceries, to clothes and electronics. Most of the shops are quite small so they have a limited selection. A full list of shops and a map is located here (German). Bahnhof Enge – 10:00 – 20:00 Sunday Similar to ShopVille, but with much fewer shops. The main shop here is Migros, the large grocery store chain, but there is also a copy store, an electronics store and a bakery. A list of shops and individual opening and closing times is here (German). Holiday Sunday Shopping As we are starting to get into the holiday season, it is important to mention that the rules regarding Sunday shopping are relaxed before Christmas for certain shops and shopping centers. The rules here are confusing, but it seems the shops can choose to be open no more than 3 Sundays.  For example, the large shopping mall SihlCity will be open Sunday November 29th, December 6th, skip a Sunday and then be open again Sunday December 20th from 11:00 – 18:00 .