Heavens, an entire month since I posted here. I've been meaning to, I promise, I've just been busy with the usual new-country excitement plus work being kind of busy. Anyway, here I am now. Hello!
Housing is a hot topic at the moment in Switzerland. New housing isn't being built fast enough, and the success of Swiss businesses in attracting expatriates means there's something of a shortage. Everyone who gets the opportunity will cheerfully inform the new arrival that they're pretty much doomed, that an average of 0.3 apartments are free in the canton of Zürich at any one time, that any apartment you do find will cost 500% of your monthly income, and that your best and only bet is to commute from somewhere in northern Germany.
In fact, things are not quite as painful as all that, at least compared to other places I've lived such as London and Dublin. It's helped out somewhat by the way apartments are let. Rather than the first person who answers the ad, shows up and says "I'll take it!" getting the place provided they're actually able to pay the rent, prospective tenants arrange to visit the property first, then if they like it they'll submit an application form. The landlord then follows up references on the prospective tenants who they think might be suitable, and base their decision on that. It's more like applying for a job than it is like renting a flat.
Fortunately, we've also been extremely lucky. We found an apartment we both liked (although it suffers slightly from being right next to a motorway, the motorway's running in a cutting and the rest of the noise is taken care of by Efficient Swiss Double Glazing) on the first full day of house-hunting, and a couple of days later the landlord agreed that it would be ours. It's within the Zürich city limits (just), and very handy for public transport links - there are three railway stations either within walking distance or a short bus ride away, and the terminus of a tram line is not far away.
We get the keys at the end of January. I'm looking forward to having a permanent residence that's less than two hours' commute from work, and indeed should be about 35 minutes door to door on a good day. I'm wondering what I'm going to do with all the extra free time.