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When you arrive somewhere new there are invariably a number of things you have to do. In Switzerland, there are things you have to do on a very short timescale or you're in trouble. Work were very concerned to make it clear that I absolutely had to register with the local authorities within eight days of my arrival in Switzerland or dire penalties would ensue. In the city of Zürich this is something you do at your local Kreisbüro (essentially, district office). This is not an optional step. If you don't register, you pretty much can't do anything else.

However, there is an advantage to this. Once you've registered (and have the temporary registration receipt that the Kreisbüro gives you), you just need to walk into the nearest bank, show your registration and an employment contract, and they'll most likely be happy to open a bank account for you on the spot. No need to dance around with gas bills and other half-assed forms of ID. You need to wait a couple more months until your official work permit / ID comes through in order to do things like get a credit card or a cellphone that's on contract rather than pre-pay, but that's still enormously better than the exciting adventure that is trying to get a bank account in the UK when you have no history in the country.

I've been, in general, very pleasantly surprised by my dealings so far with Swiss officialdom. People are helpful, knowledgeable and generally pleasant in their dealings with the public, the lady in the Kreisbüro being patient with my rusty German and the ticket seller at the Hauptbahnhof not only being swift and efficient but remarking on how pleased he was to see companies like mine choosing to send people to Zürich. I'd budgeted the morning to register at the Kreisbüro and open a bank account, but in the end I accomplished both of these things in 45 minutes flat.

So now I have an official piece of paper issued by the Stadt Zürich to say that I exist, a local travel pass and a half tax card (one of the best travel bargains out there, but that's a subject for another post), and the all-important Swiss bank account. All I need now is some Swiss francs to put in it and I'm good to go for the next few weeks - at the moment I'm spending money that came out of my UK account, and with the pound having plummeted from Fr2.40/£ not so long ago to about Fr1.80/£ today, that's a pretty painful thing to be doing.

Of course, soon the really scary part starts - house-hunting. I'll freely admit that from what I've heard about house-hunting in Switzerland I'm fairly terrified, but since Tara has ordered me to let her do most of it I'm happy to take a back seat. I think she's leery of my well-known tendency to hate house-hunting so much that I take the first place I see, which once found me living in a horrible, overpriced, dank basement flat in Surbiton that had slugs (really). Avoiding slugs would of course be good, although I suspect that slugs are illegal under Swiss law anyway or, at least, are subject to deportation if they've been found to be resident in the country without registering at the Kreisbüro.

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