Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Joys of Apartment Hunting

This week was spent on intense apartment hunting, which was draining on one hand, but at the same time it gave me the chance to go and explore the city. My general impression was that it is a very, very difficult housing market: places are hard to find, there are a lot of qualified applicants for all the good apartments, and finally it is quite expensive.

While I rely on the help of a relocation agency, I also decided to explore opportunities on my own to find more places and maximize success. I visited several apartments, and among many disappointments, so far I really liked two: one is in a nice area of Zurich, very good size, all serviced, and relatively convenient for me to get to work. There was another person visiting the place, but I gave my details and hopefully they will send me the application so I can give it a shot.

The second apartment was my dream place, and as soon as I walked in, I knew I could potentially call this "home". It is a large, loft-type place, with a bedroom, large kitchen space, living room, a big glass table with eight seats, paintings, curtains, wood, marble, and a lot of light coming from giant windows. High ceilings, open spaces, and awesome furniture. The owner, a young and nice guy, owns the building and also lives in it - basically, there are four floors, and each floor has only one apartment occupying the entire space. He also said that, since the place is his, he has all the interest in keeping the place nicely and can work with me to find out what kind of finishing touches I would like in the apartment, such as more closets, curtains (I have always loved thick red curtains), and so forth. A dream come true, it was love at first sight and by far the best apartment I have visited during this whole week. The other thing is, it is just a 10-minute walk from work, and the price is very good, considering that all expenses (utilities, Internet, etc.) are included.

What's wrong with it then? Why am I here talking about it instead of going over the lease documents?

Well...while it is not located in the quarter per se, it is right at the border of the Red Light District of Zurich! Now, the owner said he never had any problems, and neither did his tenants, and keep in mind that, since prostitution is legal in Switzerland, even the Red Light District is all orderly and organized, but I will admit that I have some reservation about being an across-the-street, or next-door neighbour with ladies "in the business". I am not being judgmental, in this country where it is legal and taxes are paid from earnings of "the business", people do whatever they want and I am OK with that, as long as there is no exploitation and it's a free choice. However, I am thinking about coming home alone after a night of clubbing (although Zurich is safe practically everywhere), potential fights between the ladies and their "clients", and watching backs-and-forths of said ladies up and down the street since the apartment is on the ground floor.

What's a girl to do??? The more I think about the apartment and the niceness of the owner, the more I like it. But the neighbourhood and being on the ground floor make it a potential issue, and part of me thinks that I should rather be safe than sorry later. I should mention that I ended up telling the nice owner that I'll call him on Monday with a definite answer, since that day I have a series of appointments set up by the relocation agency and will have more apartment choices. But in all honesty, I am seriously torn - what would you all do?

To be continued...

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