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Housing search burnout (Zurich)

I hope some kind souls can help me. I've been searching for a flat for a few months and I'm already burned out and not sure what to do to find a flat and secure it before we get to Zurich. I have created search agents and regularly check homegate, immoscout24 and many others. I might be over doing it. I have found a couple that would work but after I make contact (email or web form) we are shot down as we aren't in Zurich yet.

My husband will be at ETH for one year starting January.

We are open to commuting. We have 2 young boys so at least 2 bedrooms and a fair amount of space but I may not understand flat spacing (metric measurements). Ideally at least 80 sq m. Proximity to green spaces is important for the kids to get some outside.

Some post codes I've used are Protected content , 8046, Protected content , 8053, Protected content , etc. I have been looking in Oerlikon, Hongg, Affoltern, Witikon, Schwamendingen. I've considered Seebach and Optikon but I'm not a fan of hearing the airport nor being close to fast trains.

We are hoping to find something in the range of Protected content month.

My questions -
1. What is the likelihood that I can have a landlord consider us if we correspond via email in advance and have the secretary from ETH act on our behalf?

2. Is the market really so competitive that I'll be working against Protected content applicants for a flat?

3. Are there areas that we should avoid if my son and I are sensitive to loud sounds (trains, airplanes)?

4. Would you advise for or against finding an unfurnished flat and furnishing it ourselves versus a furnished flat?

Thank you so much for any help and I apologize if I've asked questions that are already answered elsewhere on this forum.

Zurich Forum