Our future home: Part I

Before we decided to put down a reservation on our flat, we visited it to see the floor plan in person and check out the surroundings.

All four sides of the complex were built and all the floors were finished on the other sides. They had just started building up our side of the complex, but luckily for us, our flat is at the lower part of the building so we could walk through it already.

At 39sq m (420sq ft), the living room is huuuge.

Continue reading Our future home: Part I

We (I) make a decision

With the sunshine factor in mind, I realized that I did not necessarily want to live on the dark, busy street sides of Building A, but I was still interested in saving money, so I went to visit the site where Flat B would be built.

Do you see a building in progress? I sure as heck don’t!

It took me awhile to find the site because the Flat B project had not even broken ground. This was kind of surprising and disappointing because we had already visited Flat A and the whole complex was practically raised. Flat B was supposed to be finished by autumn, but it was so far behind that I wondered if it would even get done before 2014 and we wanted to move sooner to start saving money earlier.

While I was searching for the flat I also noticed there was not much in terms of shopping or entertainment nearby. The building site was also next to that big, ugly toll road. The whole place just looked unappealing and as I walked back to the train station, I thought about how long it would take to haul luggage to the train in the rain if we lived here.

Kay was out of the country and said he would leave the decision up to me, but after visiting both sites, my mind was made up. The extra space of a 5.5 room flat was verrry tempting, but we decided to go ahead and buy Flat A! We aren’t planning a family any time soon, so it didn’t make sense to sacrifice on location for space.

Money is important, but it if you have a choice, leave the decision up to location! I was much more excited about all the trains, trams and buses that will take us to our new flat! And location is always that one thing you can’t change later.

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Paying for Sunshine

After reviewing hundreds of neubau flats, I noticed an interesting pricing structure. You pay to be higher up, but you also pay for more sunshine.

It even works similarly with rentals. People pay more money to have a sunnier location and sunshine seems to be very important for the Swiss. How else will you grow your herb garden?

But at times it seems a bit ridiculous.

Continue reading Paying for Sunshine

Flat A vs Flat B: Location vs. Cost

Between erstbezugComparis, and a few housing trade shows, at the beginning of the year I was swimming in neubau options. We had choices anywhere from 2 room to 6.5 room flats with terraces or gardens, but location and cost made it difficult to weigh the options.

It seemed like almost anything within the city limits of Zürich was priced at one million plus, no matter how far away from public transportation it was. And most of the loftier 5.5-6.5 flats were in towns 45-60 minutes to Zürich by bus and train, which was further than we were willing to move.

Erstbezug helped me find a few building sites near Zürich with flats that actually fell in an affordable range. From the project pages I was able to go through each of the flats at a building site and look for something in our size and price range.

The race came down to two flats/building sites, where I mulled over the possibilities over and over.

Flat A:

I found the Flat A project almost at the beginning of my housing search at the end of 2011. The flats were still pretty expensive for the space you get, but the location had so many good things going for it and the flats looked amazing.

Image via Homegate.ch

The Good:

  • 10 minute train ride to Zürich main station
  • Train, tram and bus lines available
  • Direct routes to the airport
  • Large shopping center across the street
  • Remarkable 90sq m (968 sq ft) balcony in some flats
  • Finished in summer 2013
  • My commute only increases by 5-10 minutes.
  • Kay’s commute would but cut in half

The Bad:

  • Still pretty damn expensive
  • Not sure how much we actually save much by moving
  • Only 3.5 rooms, meaning we will definitely outgrow it if we start a family.

Flat B:

I found the Flat B project a couple months into my search. It was a relatively new project and most all of the flats were free. If we chose to go with a 3.5 room flat with 20sq m (215sq ft) less than flat A, we could stand to save 250,000CHF on the price of the home.

Or if we paid the same as Flat A, we could upgrade to a 5.5 room flat with 20sq m more than Flat A. Decisions, decisions.

Image via Homegate.ch

I couldn’t stop imagining a bedroom, walk in closet room, guest room and office…

The Good:

  • So. much. space.
  • Value for money
  • Possibility to save a ton per month if we stuck with a 3.5 room
  • Parking spaces were a few thousand cheaper than Flat A
  • Kay’s commute would stay the same

The Bad:

  • 15 minute walk to local train stop
  • 25 minute total commute time to Zürich main station, not great.
  • Only the far away train and an unhelpful bus route nearby
  • Smaller terrace than Flat A
  • No groceries nearby, no large groceries at the train stop
  • Finished autumn 2013, getting a bit late
  • My commute would increase from 30 minutes to 1 hour one way.

During the whole process of looking for flats and trying to convince Kay that buying was a good idea, we missed out on a cheaper option in the building of Flat A. There was another 3.5 room flat the same size, but with a smaller (but still sizable!) 25 sq m (269sq ft) balcony and a small loggia that was selling for about 100k less than Flat A. I would have chosen it to save money, but shortly after we visited the showroom, the flat was already reserved.

The problem with building A was that we were a bit late in discovering it. Half the apartments had been purchased already and I could tell that there were larger 4.5 and 5.5 room flats that had gone for less than the price of Flat A. Hell, there were other 3.5 room flats that had gone for 250,000 less!

I felt like we were slightly too late with Flat A and that if we really wanted to capitalize on being an early bird, we could do that with Building B where all the flats were ripe for picking at good prices. I was also beginning to worry that we would overstretch our budget with Flat A and that it would be better to choose a much cheaper 3.5 flat in building B. Our mortgage would be sooo much cheaper with 250k less in debt!

Can you tell which flat which chose?

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