Switzerland is one of the smallest, but most densely populated countries in Europe. It has a population of approximately 7.3 million, with 173 people per square kilometer. Here, space is at a premium. In all other European countries, appliances are 60 centimeters wide. Here, they are 55 centimeters wide. Why? Space. There is a lack of it.
When we were looking for apartments, I noticed all the elevators were the same (tiny) size. This appears to be a pretty standard size that is just large enough to fit appliances in one at a time. Our kitchen is packed like the blocks from a game of Tetris, but it all fits. We are lucky to even have appliances like a dishwasher, oven, washing machine and dryer.
They are also smaller than we were used to in the US and only hold about a half to a third of what our washer in the US did. It also takes a bit longer to wash and dry a load here, clocking in at about 4 hours. The result, we wear things a little more before throwing them in the wash.
By the way, everything seems larger in the US. Check out the size of the US toilet paper roll compared to the Swiss role.
The Swiss have grocery stores everywhere, neighborhoods have markets multiple times a week and there are tons of corner stores. Why? They have small fridges.* Even when they have larger ones, they buy only their food for a day or two at a time. In the US, I shopped in bulk. I tried to grocery shop once a week, but if I still had milk and bananas I would push it.
When we arrived, I went grocery shopping for the first time. I bought the largest bunch of bananas they had because that’s what I did in the states. When we arrived home the next day, things smelled funny. I had left my new bananas near the window in the kitchen. Several of them exploded.** When you food is picked for taste and isn’t crammed full of preservatives, it just doesn’t last as long. Go figure.
*Swiss appliances are very small. I believe the standard width is 55 cm (don’t quote me on this, I haven’t gotten out the measuring tape). Here is a link to apartment differences, including the small appliances.
**We now keep our fruit in a bowl in our entry hall because it is the darkest room in our apartment. I’d put some of it in the fridge, but it is too small.
I decided to start another set of semi-regular posts called “Geneva Expat 101″ with all of the little tips and tricks that we are learning while navigating life here in Geneva. Hopefully, they will prove useful to someone.
Europeans do not share our American love of the ice-cube. Our freezer does not even come with ice-cube trays, not an ice maker, not even the trays.
Necessity is the mother of invention. We had egg trays in our fridge. They have come in very handy for making ice cubes as seen below. My husband is a genius.