(Probably) moving to Zurich.(78 Posts)
DH has been headhunted, interviewed and pretty much offered a job in Zurich. He is thrilled.
I have struggled as a sahm for the last few years and spent the last year rebuilding my life to a point where things are pretty good for me and the dc's...see where this is going?!
We've just moved into our dream house, the dc's are in a fantastic private school with lovely friends and equally lovely parents.
Please tell me about living in Zurich with 3 boys and help me see how fantastic this opportunity is.
It will all depend on the school you send your boys too - that's where you will make your friends. Have you got that sorted?
My brother and SIL spent 5 years in Basel with three kids. It was lovely. Big ex pat community, big (if very American and expensive) international schools, very outdoorsy lifestyle but only 2 hours from the UK.
There are lots of English speakers out there working for the big banks and pharmaceutical companies.
I'd ensure the company pay for relocation and German lessons for all of you!
We've got nothing sorted yet, he's still negotiating job role and salary. My mind is full of what ifs and we've only just settled into our new home.
I have 2 in school but one in Reception so am not sure what will happen about school places/nursery/childcare when we're there - youngest is 2.
We've been really looking forward to an outdoorsy lifestyle but finances have restricted us a lot so it will be the perfect opportunity. He's even saying we won't need a car - we're very reliant on it at the moment.
I don't think you would need a car. I only went to Zurich once, but it's the same canton as Basel, and public transport is amazing.
Living costs are expensive though - the salary might look high but costs are high.
You will need a car. And three sets of school fees. Or else you will be isolated and miserable!
Depending where you decide to live you may not need a car , public transport is good and accessible. You could join a carshare scheme for weekend jaunts. Quality of life can be great but International schools are £££ and property probably won't match your current one. Learn some basic German beforehand as that will help with shopping and medical emergencies then take Swiss German courses on arrival. International schools can start at 3 but Swiss kindergarten is from 4-6. Lots of expats so many English speaking groups , although often with an American bias depending on location.
Www.englishforum.ch is a good site for guidance. PM me if you need a steer on salaries / packages btw, they are (and need to be given cost of living) pretty high in comparison to the uk. I work in HR in finance sector....
Ps skiing in winter, lake swimming, hiking in summer. It's a great place
I can't wait for the skiing, swimming and hiking! I am worried about fitting 3 boys in an apartment though. We're paying for private school at the moment, DH says there's a montessori school which I would love to send them to.
Being isolated is my biggest concern.
Apartments are big though , if pricey and you may want one with private enclosed garden so you can let them out rather than a balcony/terrace and on ground floor so you can limit noise. There are houses /duplex but they tend to be terrace town house style with communal grounds.
Suggest you join groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Expat-Moms-In-Switzerland/info or its related Families in Zurich site and they can give you up to date info on schools, accommodation and costs. I'm not sure which Montessori (the Bilingual or Rietberg perhaps ?) is referred to, as think there are several claiming to be, but whichever you will find it differs to one in UK, as does childcare/nursery (Kinderkrippe) especially as to type of building it may be sited in, facilities and ratios.
Apartment living is, IME, less isolating than living in a house, especially when you move to a new community, as it forces you to leave your home for the park and other children's activities. And, IME, it is quite easy to make friends in a new place when you can meet up casually at the park rather than having to invite people over.
Spend time on comparis.ch looking at properties so you understand what Swiss houses / appartments look like and what your budget will get you in the areas you prefer.
And I have just written this on another thread but write a list of the things you are looking forward to and make sure they don't get lost in the hum drum of life. 70% of the time, you will be doing the same thing in a different place and sometimes those same things will different / perhaps more difficult so make the 30% work. Get yourself a guide book and take time out to be a tourist as well as the normal stuff like finding the supermarket and standing at the side of a football pitch.
Work out what you need to make you happy as a SAHM too. This is really important as you can see from many of the threads on here about trailing spouses. Don't underestimate the impact of this on you. Talk it through and make some plans for you in all this.
He needs to negotiate things like a relocation agent , temporary accommodation, relocation costs with return flights each year, health insurance. School fees are a trickier one as if the move is not short term or on local terms they may well assume you go local. Also bear in main most properties become available around end March /end September as those are traditional removal dates but often expat families move out in mid June/July when International School finishes.
I am thinking about staying put till our dc's finish school in July then getting them into a local school.
I have worked really hard to work out what I need to be happy as a sahm - I've spent a long time working it out and the last year things have really fallen into place for me. The thought of starting that process all over again is quite draining.
We've been invited out to have a look round soon and just discovered ds1's passport has expired!
Hi, local schools are good but very different to the uk. It can be isolating as there is no drop off/pick up to meet other parents. Even from kindergarten the children go by themselves. School hours are a bit random, lunch is at home, Wednesday afternoons are always school free and until age 9 kids have at least one other afternoon at home. There is a method in what seems like the madness of only starting academic work at 7.
We found we needed a car, most of my expat friends also only lasted a few months without one, mainly due to the winter weather.
Despite the low tax and high salaries it really is awfully expensive, definitely check the numbers carefully, we have less spare money than we did living on a 50% lower salary in London.
Sorry if that sounds a bit negative, it really is a fantastic place to live. And there are a lot of other SAHM's to hang out with. We've been here for 4 years and arrived with DC's aged 2 and 5 and are very happy. Learning German really helps with integrating into the community and helping with homework, which is set every night from 1st grade.
Happy to answer any other questions! Good luck!
That doesn't sound negative at all, sounds like what we've always wanted in a way but we've been caught up with the british way of doing things even if I wasn't totally happy about it so I think this will really suit us as a family.
My 5yr old has a German friend at school so I'll send him over for some playdates!
What do you do for yourselves - 'me time' if you're a sahm? I do boot camp 3 times a week and have started doing weekend events - I'm really, really going to miss it.
There are lots of sports clubs indoors and outdoors and plenty of space to do it in. Outdoor fitness is popular and they have designated trails. A few companies have facilities and family events but by and large it is down to individual to find them.
I've know expats very committed to a local education for their dc but who have given up and gone to IS after a few years. The system is very different and if linguistics aren't working out it is common to be put in a remedial class or repeat a year. There is little direct relationship with the teaching staff and the system is very rigid. However being a trailing spouse can be hard. Local school hours make working even part time tricky and the Swiss aren't renowned for their inclusivity and tolerance.
Me time - I do a german class, some part time work, sport and I do volunteering at school for English lessons and out of school for sports clubs. I've learnt to climb and ski since being here too and I'm training to do my first ever triathlon next year. As well as the all important coffee mornings!
I'd agree with LIZS that the school system is rigid and different, but I know a lot of English kids doing very well and others who it just doesn't work for. Maybe it depends on the school but I have a much closer relationship to the teachers than in England - although I don't see them every day I can go in whenever I want to observe lessons, not just at the monthly open mornings. I have all of the teachers' mobile numbers and calls are welcome all evening. Parent-teacher meetings are twice yearly and last 45min. And children have the same teacher for 3 years in small classes, so really get to know the child.
I like the sound of triathlons!
I've heard the international school fees are very high - we're paying private school fees at the moment but the price we've been told is 3x what we pay now.
We have 3 cats - what are we going to do with them?! and a lot of our possessions wouldn't be needed I'm guessing, especially if we don't have a garden.
I just can't see how I can box up our lives in 3 months.
Not sure if it was a typo, but whoever said that Basel/Zurich are in the same canton, they aren't... Zurich city is in canton Zurich, Basel city is in canton Basel Stadt. This makes a huge difference when looking up tax/school systems etc.
I don't know much about your specific questions, but there is an international school in Duebendorf that could be worth checking out. Duebendorf is about 10-15 mins from downtown Zurich on the trains, which run every 10-15 mins. I think it is called the "Swiss International School - Zurich North". I often see kids from there on my tram, they speak a range of languages and seem very enthusiastic about their school sport teams etc.
Stuff is expensive in Switzerland, but there is an Ikea in/near Zurich if you didn't want the hassle of bringing over furniture etc. Small note: you have to buy lights here when you move into an apartment. So don't move in during the afternoon and expect to be able to switch on your lights that evening - there will only be holes in the ceiling!
DH is going out this week to discuss things and probably sign the contract so the wheels will be in motion then. We're thinking he'll start end of January and I'll move out with the dc's in the Easter holidays.
I still can't really believe this is going to happen.
I'm pretty sure it will be a great move for our family but I'm so sad to be taking my kids out of their fantastic school, away from their lovely friends.
We need to work out what to do with a lot of our stuff that won't be travelling with us.
Check the term dates as Easter may fall during their Summer term and you probably want to arrive at the beginning or during the spring holiday. You also get a lot of odd bank holidays when schools and businesses in specific areas shut and restrictions apply like on Sundays so you won't be able to move in - Sechselauten (in Zurich itself and a big parade and bonfire event) is usually 3rd Monday of April but I think has moved to 28th in 2014 due to Easter, then May 1st, Ascension etc
My dh also moved out in Jan and we went at Easter. It worked out well for him and the DC's, I felt I got a raw deal having to deal with all the moving stuff alone! It ended up being June before my DC could start school because of how the holidays fell (the holidays vary a lot between Gemeindes) and a 2 week school project going on.
Thank you, he's going on Thursday with a list of questions!
How much of your own stuff did you take out? We have a lot of oldish furniture that we are happy to replace but a few new appliances - Cd player, kettle, fridge/freezer/t.v?
Would you get an au pair or rely on friends to help out with childcare? My parents live nearby and we have needed them for emergencies enough times to make me worry about coping alone. I think I'll just end up doing less so I know I can manage on my own with 3dc's. I get a lot done while the older 2 are at school at the moment.
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