Before we moved here, I prepared myself for life in Zürich by reading the blog One Big Yodel. The American Expat had been living just outside Zürich for 7 years and gave great tips about understanding the Swiss and how to live here. (She is currently back in Chicago for two years, but she continues to blog.)
One of the things I was most concerned about was the high cost of everything, but this blog post of hers reassured me that there are always ways to cut costs. Now that we are in January, I see that it really is a sale (Aktion) month here. Signs, signs, everywhere Signs.
Our mindset is different from most people living here since we know our time is limited. Whatever we buy here we must either lug home or find a home for here before we leave. Or pay to throw away. Therefore, we had never even set foot into the department stores, even though I walk by them every week.
After all the various events in November and December, January entertainment options drop off dramatically. No festivals, no cute traditions like floating candles down the river, or dressing up cows for a parade. Even the Conelli Circus tent is gone with nothing in its place just yet, although I’m sure something will be there soon.
So what’s a Zürcher to do in winter weather? I guess it’s shop. So, with two things on the list to get (a better scarf and a pair of pants without an acid hole from lab for H), we went to as many of the department stores as we could stand on one day.
There’s Manor, Jelmoli, and Globus, each in a lovely old building, each with many stories and many escalators. We discovered the restaurant at the top of Manor, as well as a bowl to replace a broken one. Pants were found (actually at H&M) as well as a cashmere scarf, so we counted the day a complete success, even if we didn’t do too much to pump up the local economy.
Turns out it was a good thing we did our shopping when we did. The US Dollar had been gaining in strength since we’d been here, down to .98 USD to 1 CHF. Turns out that yesterday the Swiss National Bank dropped the cap of the Franc’s value, and now 1 CHF costs us in the neighborhood of $1.14 after fluctuating all day. It comes down penny by penny over the months, then jumps up by 16 cents in a matter of hours. Don’t ask me to explain how this all works, but from what I understand, the dollar is still strong, but the CHF has gained strength.