Tag Archives: Flat

Tricky Swiss Realty Ads

As an expat in Switzerland, navigating the realty here can be intimidating in the beginning. It is easy to feel confused when searching through listings in German.

After living here for several years and searching for both rentals and houses for sale, I have noticed a couple points about the listing titles. Here are a few rough translations to explain.

This means that the apartment is really pretty small, but supposedly “nice”. Often you can find nice little luxury apartments or well kept spaces, but in general “Klein aber fein” means overpriced for how small it is.

I would definitely use this term to describe our $3000 a month one bedroom. It was beautiful and well-equipped and the view and luxury are worth it to some, but in our case I was ready to move on.

This generally means the house is in poor or terrible condition, but you can renovate it if you have the stomach for Swiss labor costs.

They are not always awful and sometimes you can find a great deal on a nice forever house, but most of the time they are so outdated or in bad repair that you wonder how people live in them.

Once I saw a house with a bathroom (bathtub and toilet) in the kitchen – a throwback to the olden days when the kitchen was the only room in the house with water pipes. But I don’t need a toilet in my food prep space, thank you.

Kay didn’t want to look at anything with Ausbaupotential because we were not planning on getting involved with any renovation projects at the moment. Or maybe ever. I don’t see Kay ever being that keen on self renovation or an old house.

This basically means that the place is overpriced and probably not affordable for you. Unless you happen to earn over a million a year or have several millions saved up in your account for the deposit, just look away.

Don’t spend too much time ogling luxury villas like I do.

Unlike “Toplage” listings, it’s usually a good thing when a listing is right on top of a public transportation stop. You will pay more money to be next to a train station. Prices go down if you are only next to a tram, even less for buses and if the listing requires a car to get to and from work, it had better be darn well cheap!

Those are just a few of the common listing terms I saw when I was searching to buy our home. If you are looking up rentals you need to watch out for three important things:

  1. möblierte” apartments are furnished. Watch out if you are not looking for a furnished flat. There are plenty of them around.
  2. WG” which stands for “Wohngemeinschaft” and means a shared flat. If you found a great price (1200CHF) on a four bedroom in downtown Zürich, it probably means that is the price for one of the rooms, not the whole flat.
  3. Befristet” apartments. Chances are that flat is a great price because it is either being subleased for a limited period or it is due for a renovation. Either way, the leases on temporary apartments are usually 1-11 months. That can be good if you are looking for a temporary solution, but don’t fall in love and move into a flat that you’ll have to move out of in a couple months.

Do you notice any common listing terms on the realty around you?

Swiss Wardrobe Quotation (Eeek!)

Whelp, after I sketched up those wardrobe ideas, we received the offers from Dogern. They are so professional they also give you some simple renderings, which easily impresses me.

If you’ve forgotten, here is our bedroom floor plan. Our floor is darker of course. Two windows on the top wall, the bathroom door on the upper right wall and the door to the rest of the flat on the bottom wall.

We plan to make just one wardrobe now and possibly (depending on cost) supplement with a dresser or two on the other walls.

Frameless Doors:

These Noteborn doors are so nice. The frameless adds a very elegant touch and makes the whole wardrobe blend seamlessly into the wall. They are our favourites, but we weren’t looking forward to finding out the price.

Matrix Doors:

The Matrix doors are a little more clunky and have a frame running around each individual door, so if we choose white doors to match the walls, the doors will be broken up by the lines of the frames in each section.

Option 1:

The idea of option one is to save money on those expensive, expensive drawers and just go for hanging space and using drawers where we can’t fit any more space. The reason why I haven’t made it completely hanging space is that Kay’s clothes (shirts and pants) are all fairly longer than mine, so on his side (on the right) it’s not quite long enough for three rows of shirts and pants to fit. On my side (the left) I think I can squeeze one more row in for maximum capacity!

Option 2:

On this version we stick drawers in each section. It cuts down on the hanging space but in general should be as much or more space than we had with our old wardrobes in Zürich. And we have lots of drawer space for pullovers and pants and things.

Again I made Kay’s section (this time on the left) have more space for larger/longer clothes and on my side (this time in the middle) I put extra drawers in.


  • Option 1 with Matrix doors: 7225CHF ($7871)
  • Option 1 with Frameless doors: 9458CHF ($10,304)
  • Option 2 with Matrix doors: 10049CHF ($10,948)
  • Option 2 with Frameless doors: 12420 ($13,523)

Yes, yes those are some crazy prices. But I’m afraid we’ve looked at almost every custom wardrobe place along the border in Germany and in Switzerland and this is way cheaper than a lot of other offers out there. It would have cost 20,000 or so to do two wardrobes, which is why we are either doing one or supplementing with dressers.

It costs an extra 2300CHF ($2500) or so to get the frameless doors, so as much as we love them… no. I just can’t. Not for a non-forever home at this point in our lives. It would add to the value of the house, but we really don’t have the money right now and I don’t want to live most of the time here with nothing just so we can get something nice for a year or two before we leave. That’s not smart!

As for the price difference between having tons of drawers or going for the supplemental dresser route, we are debating whether it’s worth it to save 2824CHF ($3076) and use some of that money to buy a dresser or two and have more storage. We would just need to find some dressers we like, which isn’t so easy in Switzerland!

Were you ever surprised how expensive it is to do something custom in your house?

End of Summer House Tour

I made sure to finish up the bulk of the painting before our house warming party back at the beginning of September. It was also the last warm weekend we had before the temperatures dropped to winter-like numbers, so here is a little update where things were in the house after 3 months living there.

The guest bathroom was drilled into and patched up, and to be honest not much else has been happening in there since. The workers actually put the cabinet back together crooked too (it’s a little hard to see) so we have to address that, which I’m not too excited about since this was an “off the books” exercise for them when they broke into the walls to fix the pipes. Allreal is not very helpful about fixing things that are their fault that they may happen to damage or destroy after inspections are signed off on.

At some point I would really like to buy a shelf unit for towels, but I haven’t found one tall enough that fits in the small spaces available for storing things in the bathroom. It is very echoey in there still.

We still have temporary lights up in the bedroom and office… and they are still up as I write this.

We bought a random green curtain from IKEA for the kitchen that was on sale for like 30 cents. They only had one and we realized it does nothing for privacy, but I just sort of left it up there for now.

A friend also gave us some temporary rolling curtains in the living room. They are too short, but they work for now for a little privacy.

We still just have the old couch and it looks a little out of place in the huge living room. The living room echoes a fair amount too.

Our booze shelf by the kitchen is working fine though!

And the bedroom… which really still looks like a crazy mess with the standing racks and Kay’s coat hanger that he is using as a clothes hanger. It’s really driving me nuts, but he loves using it right now.

Even with the shutters open, it doesn’t look much better in here.

From the window towards the door you can see all our boxes we still have.

And the view from the bathroom door, where it all just looks overcrowded.

In the bathroom we’ve still got the same old orange shower curtain up there. I don’t really think the fabric I bought in the States is thick enough for a shower curtain, so it’ll be awhile before I figure out how to make something long enough to replace the orange one.

And we still haven’t put the toilet paper holder up in here either, so the TP just kind of hangs out on the shelf there. But in general, the shelf and sink usually have nothing on them. (Not sure what that shaving can is doing there!) 🙂

The other metal container is where we hide a few extra rolls of TP in here, since all the storage in the master bath is dedicated to travel toiletries, medicine and my extensive hair and makeup collection.

The curtain situation in the bathroom is also temporary, but it works for now. Not quite long enough, but nobody can see me shower, so it’s fine.

The office is probably the most finished room at this point, but it looks kind of messy in general because it’s an office. Here is my desk.

And then you have Kay’s, which spills out onto the floor next to him usually. I think we need some wall art to distract from the clutter!

Whelp, that’s that for now. We haven’t painted that much. We haven’t put art up. We haven’t bought that much furniture for inside, unless you count a bunch of shelving and we still need lights in most rooms.

How long did it take you to add your personal touches to your home?

…and we finally finish painting

I realized I sort of left you hanging about our paint job. The truth is, I’m actually still not 100% super duper totally satisfied with my edges, but we did receive white paint from the workers and I went up to the kitchen ceiling immediately and began fixing the tape goofs.

Wow, look how much better that edge looks now! It was easy to get the green looking nice, but I had the darnedest time with the purple, especially around the frame of the entry door because the workers botched that up already and had painted white all over the side of the frame, so it was hard to tell what was what and get a good line.

I’m kind of “done” with touchups for awhile though. I spent a couple weeks touching up the walls here and there, including filling in some more paint where the second coat still had not got it completely colored.

These are the results!

The green in the kitchen really is just a little  bit, but I love how it makes the room pop and look much more fresh and lively than when it was all white. And from the entry to the kitchen you can see both colors and how it compares to our paint inspiration.

Kay and I both really like the purple. It is not too dark, but it is nice and rich and it makes a big statement when you are in the room. It almost makes me want to paint another wall, if it weren’t so annoying to buy a good brush in this country!

The living room still looks lost and empty without much furniture… and we really need to go ahead and get the lamp for the dining table that we have our eyes on… it’s just that we want (OK, I want…) a second couch and it’s hard to know where the table should go permanently before we’ve got the second couch there.

What a sad little lonely light it is right now… and curtain-less windows. Sigh. But we bought fabric in the US in September and I’ve got some projects planned and underway for those windows!

Moral of the story? Don’t tape unless it’s really helpful, because 99% of the time it is unhelpful and takes forever. Waste of both time and money and more time!

Organizing the Flat

Boy does it take awhile to get settled in a new place!

I think it usually helps if you actually own all the furniture you have before you move (we need to buy a lot of storage shelving and wardrobes) and you know, if your bathroom isn’t rendered inhabitable right after you move in. Still, somewhere between holding up all those awnings (God, my arms!!) I managed to start unpacking.

Since we finished moving earlier than planned, we went ahead and bought two super  tall bookshelves to start organizing our office. The rooms are so tall that we can actually fit two additional shelves on top of the highest Billy model, making the bookshelves about 280cm or 9’18” tall.

Thank goodness I still had all my plastic bins from our built-in-bookshelves in Zürich!

We also had that orange sofa bed up there delivered fairly soon after moving in, but the guy was totally weird and gave us a sofa with the wrong feet, so it didn’t sit properly on the ground. And it was pretty gross so I wanted to strip the covers and wash them pronto, but it took a good week before the room was clear enough to take the cover off.

Down in the basement, we had this:

It honestly doesn’t look much better now because we still don’t have shelves down there, but we threw away the broken bed frame and some boxes and Styrofoam, so that helped a little. Kay will get his bike out of there as soon as he finds his bike lock and stores it in the bike room in the garage.

By the entrance to the cellar is our little wash area with a laundry tower on one side and a sink on the other side.

The cellar is a decent enough size, definitely bigger than what we had in Zürich, and since it’s tall we will eventually be able to utilize shelving to clear everything up, but for now it’s a little chaotic.

We also bought that dehumidifier you see because we spotted a little dampness on our back wall during inspection and we don’t want any mold problems. The building is still so new that the concrete walls are quite moist, so we will leave the dehumidifier on for quite awhile. In fact, before we bought the hose for it to drain directly, we had to empty the 20L container every morning and evening. Without it, it’s roughly 70% humidity down there… and with the dehumidifier it’s keeping it around 45%. Maybe that’s keeping it a bit dry for summer months, but since the walls keep oozing out humidity, we just want to soak that up before problems start.

The home inspector also recommended keeping our things away from the walls for quite awhile. (I forget how long of course) so when we get shelves, we’ll probably set them up in the middle of the room to start with.

Now, here are those weird stubby legs that came with the sofa bed. They are not from the Karlstad series and when attached to the sofa bed, the sofa just sat on the sofa bed parts and not the legs. It was pretty random. We pulled them off and stuck them on our normal 3 seater Karlstad until we buy metal legs for the living room sofas.

The sofa is also noticeably shorter with these legs, but at least with the old square legs we could set the sofa bed on its feet and start taking the covers off to be washed.

So that’s what’s going on with the house at the moment. Baby steps as we acquire more storage room. Our flat in Zürich sure did have a lot built in with the laundry room and the attic storage!