Category Archives: Articles

Amazing Zurich Apartment Scams On Craigslist

One thing to certainly be aware of if you are apartment hunting is scam postings on Craigslist. These are highly organised operations and exist purely to relieve you of your money.

You start to picture the situation of your wonderful luxurious apartment, inviting friends over and regaling them with the tale of how you picked up a wonderful bargain on Craigslist. The truth is, unfortunately, that the story you will end up with is one you will never want to tell anyone – of how you were totally scammed out of a deposit by a West African fraudster.

Take this ad for example:

I have two lovely bedrooms flat available for rent at the central heart of Zurich..It is available for rent presently.

DETAILS ABOUT MY APARTMENT……….Address : Falkenstrasse 10, Zurich 8008, Switzerland.\r\nSize of the Whole Apartment :85 m square

Number of bedrooms:2

Number of bathrooms:2

Floor:Ground floor.

Monthly rental price: 800chf for the whole apartment including all bills

Security Deposit: 1200chf

Pictures available:YES

AMENITIES AVAILABLE IN MY APARTMENT..

Equiped Kitchen,washing Machine,American Kitchen Fridge & Freezer Oven,Microwave Dish Washer Crockery & Utensils,Bath Shower Hair Dryer,Towels

Extra features

Internet Dial Up, Internet Broadband Cable/Satelite

TV,Stereo/Radio System DVD Player,DVD/Music Collection

Central Heating Air Conditioning

Pets Welcome

Amenities:

Appliances:

Dishwasher

Fridge

Washer

Washer/Dryer Hookups

Included in Rent:

Parking

Water/Sewer

Parking:

Covered Parking

Garage

Building:

Laundry Facilities\r\nInterior:

Carpet

Internet Access

Storage Area/Room

Tenant Criteria:

Pets Allowed

Exterior:

Fenced Yard

Near To:

Bus Stop

College/University

Downtown

Hospital

Park

Shopping CenterCraigslist Apartment Scam

 

This may well be the most well-appointed apartment in the world. Look what wonderful pictures!

It is “available” for 800CHF.

Compare it with this list of actual places for rent in Zurich for 800CHF

The premise is simple. if it sounds too good to be true, then it is.

Zurich Expat Launches Money Saving iPhone Application

The team behind zurichexpats.com has launched its first application for the iPhone – Cashflake.

Cashflake is the iPhone application that helps you reduce your debt by introducing the concept of snowflaking to the iPhone (very appropriate for Switzerland!).

Every day, you have the opportunity to make tiny savings from making different buying choices. Not buying a coffee on the way to work, packing your own lunch instead of eating out, taking the tram instead of a taxi.

These small savings all seem insignificant but when organised together can make a significant dent in your debt. Many snowflakes eventually cover a mountain!

Cashflake allows you to record, store and report on these savings so that you can keep track of what you have saved and use that amount to make extra payments on credit cards, loans or just sweep into a savings account.

“Every rappen counts!” says Andrew Buonocore, “The cost of living in Switzerland can be very high but there are ways you can save money and if you do take advantage of deals and bargains then why not use the money saved over here to reduce any debt you may have back home?”.

Importantly, the currency symbol is configurable.

Used in conjunction with the Comparis Bargains application, a powerful set of money saving tools is developing.

Cashflake – the iPhone application that helps reduce your debt is available worldwide for the currency equivalents of $0.99. Click here to download it from the Apple AppStore.

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 .

The Best iPhone Apps For Expats In Switzerland

I got my iPhone a couple of months ago and after several years of using Windows Mobile devices, I have to say that the iPhone is a game changing device.

The sheer usability of the iPhone and its apps make it a device to put at the very heart of your life and there are several apps that are especially useful in Switzerland. I use mine with a data-only sim card from Orange.

The most useful iPhone app by far is the SBB Mobile application. You can do pretty much everything you can at a ticket machine, as well as view timetable information. If you set a Home location, you can just press the Take Me Home button and it will calculate a route and timetable to get you home based on your current location and the nearest train, tram or bus stop.

You can even buy a ticket on your iPhone with the ticket image stored locally on the iPhone. You must have the iPhone with you for the ticket inspector, and make sure your screen is set to high brightness. The inspector scans the iPhone screen and it works very well. I have used it six times without fail.

Again in the transport arena, Wemlin gives access to all transport in Zurich, offering great route planning and timetables.

AroundMe has a surprisingly good database of amenities in Switzerland, for a US-focused app.

Again, using the iPhone’s GPS, AroundMe will tell you the nearest Banks, Bars, Coffee Shops, ATM, Petrol station, Hospital, Hotel, whatever! I have found it especially useful for petrol stations and post offices. You can set your favourites if there is a place you use regularly.

The Skype iPhone application works really well and coupled with a Skype Unlimited subscription, you can make all the calls you need to make back home. I use it to make those unavoidable calls to utility companies etc, as well as keeping in touch with family. The Unlimited subscriptions give you unlimited calls to landlines either within Europe or Worldwide and can really save you a good amount of money.

A really useful application is the Bargains application from Comparis which every week is updated with the special offers from the main retailers in Switzerland. You can find the deals by the largest reductions, category or by retailer. It is a real little nugget.

For keeping track of daily savings and then applying them against debt back home, try Cashflake.

Finally, there is a good application called Swiss Events which offers information on what events are coming up soon.

That’s my list, if you have any of your own that you find especially useful in Switzerland, please feel free to add them in the comments.

Food Review – Makoto Sushi, Zurich

When the office cafeteria was closed for Knabenschiessen, a few of us took the opportunity to enjoy some sushi from a restaurant near the office. Makoto is in a slightly strange location, housed in a building mainly occupied by a printing company as well as a web design firm. Inside is pretty cosy, with space for around 20 diners but when we went in, the place was almost full.

Makoto Sushi Zurich

Straight away you see the sushi chef working away in full view of everyone so it is clear that this is not an operation based around unwrapping anything prepackaged. Everything is prepared fresh. I apologise if I repeat myself about the size of the restaurant, but for its small stature, the quality of the sushi served at Makoto is absolutely fantastic.They have a wide and varied menu including Japanese staples like miso soup and a great range of fish, vegetable and rice sushi.I went for the Executive menu which gave me a miso soup (or salad), 2 Nigiri, 4 Sashimi, 4 Maki and 4 Inside Out for 32.50 CHF.

I took a Coke Zero to drink. Perhaps not the traditional Japanese choice to accompany sushi but it was served how it should be – from a chilled glass bottle, with ice. It’s a small detail but this is the thing about Makoto. Everything is as it should be.The miso soup was great, nice fresh greens amid a nicely flavoured broth with pieces of tofu. When my platter came, the first thing I noticed was that the wasabi paste and pickled ginger were beautifully fresh. The wasabi gave a great initial kick then settled down while the ginger was not affected by any kind of plastic aftertaste. It left the palate clean and gave that nice clarifying sensation. The presentation was simple with the different types of sushi presented separately on a large white plate with a simple dressing. The taste was a revelation, every mouthful was a delight. No fishy taste, no overly strong flavours. Just delicious, clean-tasting sushi. I was especially impressed by the warm Inside Out which I had never had before. It was delicious and stayed warm throughout my meal. There is nothing pretentious about Makoto. What they save on rent goes towards better quality ingredients. It seems an honest business and I consider it a real find. Highly Recommended.  http://www.makoto.ch

Lessons Learnt From A First Year In Zurich

We have just come to the end of our first year of living and working in Zurich and I thought it would be useful to note down some of the lessons learnt.So, in no particular order, here you go…

    • Always make sure you have a valid ticket when you use public transport. If you get used to buying a particular type of ticket (eg a 9 O’clock Pass) and you are traveling at a different time than usual, make sure your ticket is valid. If you get this wrong, you might get out of jail with the SBB iPhone application.
    • When you are sure you have the right ticket, double check! The SBB inspectors are clinically efficient. In the last 24 hours I saw a penalty fine being given to a blind disabled woman.
    • Don’t obsess about buying a car or importing one. With a few minutes planning, the train system and Mobility system can cover any journey.
    • You will inevitably go to IKEA. You can rent a van from them for a few hours if you don’t have your own way of getting the packs home, or you can get them delivered. If you have to go on a Saturday, wait until after lunch.
    • If you can, explore the local area on foot or by bike. You will see and experience things that you do not pick up in a car or on the bus.
    • When you use one of the automated petrol payment systems, make sure that the pump you have selected is the one you are using. Some stations have more than one diesel pump but only one is actually usable. When you have finished, check that the pump resets to zero.
    • When using a local company for any service, make sure you know exactly what their charges are. For some reason, it is acceptable for a company to charge you for their time traveling from their base to your home. They will charge in distance and time.
    • The benefit of learning the language cannot be overstated. It may be easy enough getting by in English but speaking (or attempting to speak) the language is better for you and sometimes gets you better service.
    • Timekeeping is extremely important. The transport system is reliable enough that you can accurately plan how to get around.
    • When you have an administrative task to perform, like arranging healthcare or a driving licence, asking five people what to do will give you ten different answers! You can usually get a good idea of what to do at the English Forum.
    • You live in a wonderful country. Respect it and respect its people.

It’s a fairly arbitrary list but is based on experience.Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments.

August 1st Is Swiss National Day

No tanks parading through the streets, no marching armies, but August 1st is the National Day in Switzerland. Since 1993 it has been a national holiday.

The national holiday status means that pretty much everything is closed but this year (2009), it falls on a Saturday which means a fairly dead weekend if you are looking at doing any shopping or going out.

We can expect the usual celebratory set up in and around Zurich, particularly in and around Bellevue although with the current roadworks it might be worth wearing some builder’s boots!

There will also be a fireworks display in the evening so despite the “down” day being on a Saturday when you can usually at least do some shopping or go out to dinner, get out and enjoy the city.