Finding Home

The theme for this week – and, most likely, for
several weeks to come – is housing. Finding the right home for a large family
is a complex optimization exercise in and of itself. Finding the right home for
a large family in Zurich is at least twice
as challenging.

Besides the fact that rents are obscenely high,
the demand for housing in Zurich by far exceeds supply,
particularly when it comes to larger properties. Finding appropriate housing is
often a lengthy process. In fact, we were told by several people familiar with the
Zurich real estate market that we are already late in starting our search – in
February – for a place that we will need in August! Assuming that we do find a place,
securing it is a whole separate
process, in many aspects similar to applying and interviewing for a

With these non-negligible constraints as part of the
picture, we now have to focus on reconciling the different needs and priorities
the family as a whole – and each member separately – with respect to our new home. Finding
the home – and neighborhood – that best fit all those needs will not be an easy
task. Still, I try to keep a positive attitude.

We’ve already started the search process. We are
prepared to be patient and invest a lot of energy in that process. So what are the main
parameters of our housing search?

My children want a house with a garden. As simple as

My husband would prefer a) a house with a garden and
b) something that’s not too far from the airport.

Our home should be in a safe neighborhood.

It has to have enough space – for our family; our guests;
my office.

It has to be at a reasonable distance from school and
kindergarten. It has to be relatively near places where the kids can engage in
other activities, such as sports, music, languages etc. If it does not have a
garden, it has to be near a park where the kids can play.

It should be well connected in terms of public
transport, since the children will, at some point, be going to school and other
activities by themselves.

Last, but not least, it has to be within our budget.

I forgot to mention: we have to find this ideal home
ideally within a few weeks, before my husband starts his new job and becomes de facto unavailable.

Where do I fit in this picture? Homes with gardens
are most likely to be located outside the city – in the suburbs. I am the ultimate city person and find the thought of living in a suburb
terrifying. I need civilization. I can’t feel isolated,
especially when I am moving to a new environment. I want to be able to go out
of my home and walk to a shop, a café, a restaurant, a park where I can take my
kids. I want my kids to be able to get around without needing to be driven all
the time. This is precisely the reason why we’ve always lived so centrally in
Vienna. The fact that I will be spending a significant amount of time alone
with the kids makes a central location even more critical.

That’s where the mommy guilt – again – comes in. Do I
have the right to deprive my kids of a garden in their childhood (even if it’s
for the sake of my mental sanity)? A welcoming home in which my children feel comfortable
could help them adjust to their new environment more easily. On the other
hand, given that my kids are growing up under what I’d call privileged circumstances, in a family where they are loved and taken care of, would the lack of a garden really be that traumatizing?

I read somewhere that
where you live determines how you live. Once we make a decision,
we’re stuck with it for a while.

When choosing a home, if you can’t satisfy all parties’ needs, how
do you decide whose needs take priority? And where do you end up living?


  1. Of course YOU make the choise. Since you are the one who is gonna have to live there fultime and be the rock and stability to the children, YOU should be able to at least decide where to do so.
    The children never had a garden anyway. I don't see traumas ahead for the luck of a garden!
    There might be thought traumas for you… because of a garden!

  2. Mirela

    I don 't want to disappoint you but even if you have a house with garden, do you think you 'll be able to enjoy it very often taking into account the weather conditions in Zurich?

    1. So you think a convertible also might not be a good idea? 😉

  3. Anonymous

    That's my take.. Having lived in Zurich and gone through the insanity of people queuing in front of an apartment viewing, I learnt that the Swiss live their lives to hop from one apartment to a better one.

    I know that this is not an option for you given the complexity of moving..Zurich has the best transportation system in the world and safety is not a problem there..All kids want a garden, a dog, spaceship, an aquarium, space, football court and they dont really understand the difficulty of just finding a place. They will have friends, school and own programme and places to go but you can't afford to be isolated! Do you want to be stuck worrying about finding a gardner, dealing with insects! Not so sure.. You are not being selfish. I believe that your most crucial criterias: proximity to airport, proximity to school and a cafe (so that you can see human beings and not snow flakes).. The rest is a nice to have…But that's only my view..

    1. Oh my God! I had not thought of the gardener and the insects! 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    I completely understand your concerns and guilt feelings… BUT… your mental health is basic for your kids' happiness. You know what they say in flight emergency infos: "put your mask first, then help children traveling with you" (I hope this analogy works ;-))
    Great Blog K. Thank you! Greetings from a little samurai 😉

    1. That's a fantastic analogy, little Samurai 🙂

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