Might be moving to Switzerland, maybe, perhaps...

(11 Posts)
kitkatsfordinner Mon 24-Mar-14 16:34:50

Hello Ladies,

Just found this branch, been looking through old posts and it's been really useful, thank you.

We found out a couple of months ago (well feels like years) that my husband's work wanted to transfer him to the Swiss office.

They have assured him that this is going to happen but as of yet we have no details of anything - timing, salary, relocation etc. They keep saying they just need to sort out how the new structure is going to fit together.

We are happy to go, I grew up as an expat in Belgium, I speak French, our kids are preschool age, so not too much major disruption. Our house is already rented out, everything about the timing is perfect.

That's all fine, but it seems to be taking forever... I was just wondering how you all managed to stay sane in the 'in between' period? It's really getting me down. We only moved to the area of the UK that we live in 2 years ago and before we found out about the move we were planning on buying a house, signing our kids up to preschool etc.

I now feel like I'm sitting in limbo.

I can't make any long term plans around here, but also I don't want to start looking into the move in case it falls through. I also stupidly told the few people I know round here that we might be moving again and I feel everyone has just lost interest in us. I'm a stay at home mum with 2 kids, a month ago we had kids to meet for play dates almost every day of the week, over the past 3 weeks not heard from a single person.

Maybe just feeling sorry for myself!! Apologies for very self pitying post, Does everyone feel like this at this point or am I just a miserable sod?

ContinentalKat Tue 25-Mar-14 16:27:42

I always just used to ignore the impending move until a definite date was set. Best to carry on as usual, otherwise you go nuts! And even if the move "will definitely happen in the future", it still might not. Like our 100% definite move to NZ...

If you do want to get a little bit excited, get yourself over to englishforum.ch, it's an amazing fountain of wisdom.
It will also give you an idea of cost of living and what kind of salary you'll need. It will be MUCH more than in the UK!
Think about negotiating an international schooling allowance included in your package.

Good luck, Switzerland is beautiful!

kitkatsfordinner Tue 25-Mar-14 17:28:05

Thanks for replying! Salary is so difficult, husband's office just keep saying not to worry because salary bands are so much higher over there so there will be a large step up. Unfortunately they haven't shared the specifics of this but are already sorting out his replacement in existing role, on the assumption that we are going to accept it.

I don't think they will offer schooling fees as i think one of the reasons they chose him to move was that i was French speaking and the kids were young... I'vebeen reading up on the swiss schooling system and I'll admit I'm a little bit worried, just the unknown i guess. I went to Belgian French school up to secondary and did 3 years in an international school, which i loved, at the end. The thing that would worry me though is that if we put them in an international school to start and anything happened, say contract changed or moved job and it was no longer funded it would be very difficult to integrate them back into a local school...

I will have a look on the forum thanks. Hopefully, I'll get some news before i go demented!

ContinentalKat Tue 25-Mar-14 18:48:51

I cannot stress enough how expensive life in Switzerland is! Even with a pay rise you might be worse off, so you really need to do your homework.

Our dcs were little when we were there and went to the local nursery and primary school, which was fine.

You already speak French, which will be a huge advantage, as no, the check out lady in the local supermarket does not speak fluent English...! So many expat stints end in disaster because the "trailing spouses" can't cope. On the plus side, it will be easy to keep up the English as there are bazillions of expats in Switzerland.

Will you be around Lake Geneva?

kitkatsfordinner Tue 25-Mar-14 20:09:28

Yes office is in Rolle, do you know it?. Traditionally i would rather be in a village somewhere, but not sure if we wouldn't be better starting out in Lausanne or Geneva as might be easier to meet people and get involved with activities? We used to live in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish borders which i loved but at the time i already knew lots of people and was working . we moved to London suburbs a couple of years ago which i thought i was going to hate but have actually found with small kids it's been ideal for meeting people.

Did you find the local schooling very rigid? I went through the Belgian system and even for the time it was quite old fashioned e.g. lots of learning things off by heart, very few practicals etc (sure it's probably different now). I remember, for example, for a while we had singing classes, these consisted of us being given the lyrics of a song to learn at home then each of us being made to sing it in front of the class and being graded out of 10 based on how accurate the lyrics were...

I'm a bit concerned that it'll be similar. (Not a disaster if it is, i survived, just want to know what we'd be letting ourselves in for)

Worried about salary as the office have assumed we're going without actually sharing specifics. They just keep saying 'salaries are on a different scale, don't worry', not very helpful. Also husband personality not very good at pushing for information. As you say, I was looking at eye watering rental prices! Worried we're not going to hear anything till the last minute, then he'll say - oh we need to move next week and we'll be tied into it.

Apologies for endless questions! Thanks again for taking time to answer.

WallyBantersJunkBox Tue 25-Mar-14 21:14:08

Swiss schools generally have a fantastic reputation. Class sizes are usually kept to a max of 18 kids if possible. Facilities are very very good. Additional lessons are provided for non language speakers and the school can be flexible about keeping children back a year (this is seen as quite normal).

School hours are short in primary -the attitude being that children can only learn so much in a day and a school is not a childminder. Free afternoons in the week are meant for homework (they do get quite a bit) & extra activities, sports, music etc.

If you take notice of PISA tables (personally I don't) Switzerland are rated quite highly in a lot of subjects, maths if I recall was good.

It won't be like French school at all - repetitive memorizing etc.

There is a primary school within 1-2 km of most inhabitants.

Our DS was a bit older so we chose a bi-lingual school, we also have the added complication of High German/Swiss German to consider, but should we decide to stay on longer term now he will go to the local school.

There is one girl in DS's school who wasn't adjusting in public school even with extra lessons so the canton paid for her to go private.

ContinentalKat Tue 25-Mar-14 21:26:54

Rolle is lovely, and you can live anywhere between Morges and Nyon really. The whole region between Montreux and Geneva is like one big town anyway. We were in a smallish village and it was wonderful, 5 minutes down to the lake, 20 minutes to the closest skiing resort.

Don't even think of renting a house, Swiss apartments are fab. Look for one where you are allowed your own washing machine, though. They do exist! There are great playgrounds and parks everywhere, and lots of things going on, both Swiss and international.

My oldest was only in 2ème enfantine when we left, going 4 days a week with lunch breaks at home. It didn't seem very rigid at all, lots of learning through play. He absolutely loved it.

I found it really easy to make friends within the "expat bubble". Making Swiss friends took a bit longer, but happened eventually. Again, you have a massive advantage if you already speak French!

I now talk like a Swiss farmer, and insist on the Swiss way of counting: soixante, septante, huitante, nonante, none of the quatre vingt nonsense for me any more grin

LondonInLausanne Fri 04-Apr-14 11:57:09

We're in Lausanne, (bet you can't tell hey). Why discount a house though? We were originally in a flat and had to move to a house, too many problems with neighbours complaining about our baby crying and our toddler talking in the corridor and talking whilst playing on the balcony. House living is so much easier.

smellsofsick Fri 04-Apr-14 13:35:20

Hi we're in Geneva. If you're heading our way, I can give you details of an English speaking toddler group!

kitkatsfordinner Fri 04-Apr-14 14:49:04

Thanks ladies, i'll definitely be pestering you for information if this goes ahead! We are still just waiting to hear anything. It's been 13 weeks now. Not even sure I care what the outcome is anymore just fed up of waiting!! The house we wanted to buy round here has now sold, as have all the ones we looked at, and we missed the deadline for applying to preschools. Sorry all i do is moan, promise i don't normally!

kodokan Sun 13-Apr-14 02:20:10

We used to live in Preverenges, a village near Morges, and hubby worked in Rolle. The whole area is just beautiful, with a thriving expat community.

My youngest was 4 when we moved over, and she had just the most fantastic enfantine experience for two years. They learn through play, and concentrate on socialising and personal responsibility. So on the one hand, she did nothing academic and didn't pick up a pencil until she was 6; on the other, she did a TON of mathematical thinking games, was set weekly tasks and had to plan elements of her own workload across the week, and did a sleepover residential school camp aged 5! So a different emphasis, but we loved it.

Swiss primary was great too - my son had a brilliant curriculum in which he did core academics alongside art, craft, woodworking, learning to use a sewing machine, etc, and again residential school trips to foster independence. He memorably spent 3 days in teepees in the mountains, with no electricity and only one standpipe for water! Mine also loved coming home for lunch for 2 hours, and having Wed afternoons off.

We only moved (to the US with hubby's company) because my son, not a natural linguist, was unlikely to be streamed into the university-headed track, and it wouldn't have been fair to keep him in non-English speaking education for his secondary years. We were on a local contract, and international schooling would've been a real push for us.

But being in French-speaking education from 8-11 didn't do him any harm at all, even though he could barely write a coherent sentence in English at first - in the US system, two years later, he's in honours classes, accelerated for maths, etc. And my daughter, who couldn't even read in English aged 7 when we moved here, is also doing great and is completely at grade level for her age now, having been 12-18 months behind when we arrived.

So go for it, if they pull their finger out and get you the offer! You and your kids can have a wonderful adventure, and it won't do them any harm at all in their future education, whether in Switzerland or elsewhere. Rolle is jam packed with company headquarters, so there's lots of potential to build a life there. I would certainly have been happy to do so, if it wasn't for the unfairness to my son.

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