Diary Entry

Two viewings tonight.

The first is fine but nothing special and is located out in the sticks – 20 minutes on the tram to the hauptbahnof, imagine! – but it’s memorable for the outgoing tenants, one of whom is a massive Liverpool fan and is the first native English speaker I’ve met in my house-hunting campaign. We have a good chat about the flat, receiving Sky TV in Zurich (all the channels are on cable, in every building) and the Irish pubs around town – apparently Paddy Reilly’s is the one to go for and not, as you might guess, the confused identities of “The Oliver Twist” or “Big Ben”.

Afterwards, I briefly think how I would have a great chance of getting that apartment if I wanted…then correct myself by reflecting on how the current tenant has almost no influence whatsoever on choosing the next: I’ve dutifully but pointlessly brought my references to every viewing – invariably, applicants are expected to send in their application after the fact. Standing out from the crowd is tough when you’ve only your references and cover letter at your disposal and if you don’t speak any German then you’re at a disadvantage on the telephone to many other applicants. Perhaps it takes some of the chance out of house hunting: if you can figure out the rules then all you need to do is quickly supply the right papers and wait for the offers…so far, though, I haven’t worked out the rules.

The second is a vast, palatial, high ceilinged two room apartment in a lovely old building in a lively district in the city center with a great layout in which a large kitchen and bathroom adjoin the living room. The ultimate bachelor pad and, sure enough, there’s an enormous pair of hi-fi speakers in the corner. It’s huge but still has a cellar, laundry and drying room and costs well under 2000 CHF/month. Needless to say, there’s a small army of house hunters filling out the forms there and then and I curse myself for forgetting to bring my references with me: the first time the owner has been collecting application forms on the spot and I forget the damn papers!

Of course, maybe it won’t really matter: my fax will reach the estate agent’s office long before any of those filled in in person and he or she wasn’t there anyway to meet any of us. I race back to the office to fax off my application and cross my fingers.