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(24 Posts)
WhereNext Thu 11-Apr-13 14:16:31

Just wondered if anyone has any advice on Zurich: Positives, negatives, things to consider etc
It's just been put to me as a option, with DHs work. I know nothing about life in Switzerland, and have 3 children, 3, 5 & 7
Need to know about daycare, international school, health insurance, everything actually!
What are employment options for people from UK, health sector?
How is daily life? Does everyone work full-time, or is part-time work normal and acceptable?
Any advice appreciated smile

AnonymousBird Thu 11-Apr-13 14:37:33

Oh gosh, I wish my best friend were a MNer but she's not! They've just moved there, her DH works in the City, they live outside and have their girls in the Zug international school..... It's a lovely country, we've been to visit. All very clean and efficient. HEINOUSLY expensive though. Depends what the package your DH is being offered covers..... they have "ex pat" conditions which covers an awful lot of the extras, costs of moving etc etc. But some things have proved complicated, unexpectedly, eg - getting a car. They have ended up leasing a car out there (at vast expense) and are coming back soon to take their UK car out as a second car.

I am sure someone much more knowledgeable will be along soon.

beresh Thu 11-Apr-13 20:42:19

Hi, we moved from London to Zurich 4 years ago, when my DC's were 3 and 5. We really enjoy living here.

For me the main advantages to living in the UK are:
- Great skiing less than hour's drive away
- Clean lakes and rivers to swim in summer
- Great outdoor and indoor swimming complexes
- Beautiful countryside in walking distance
- Freedom for the children: eg in our commuter village it's normal for 4 year olds to walk to kindergarten and play out alone, 5 year olds to buy bread from the bakers, 6 year olds to take themselves to after school activities.
- Easy to travel to other countries for weekend breaks/holidays

- It really is expensive, not much fun if you enjoy shopping.
- Unless you have a very high salary you'll live in an apartment, but all blocks have shared playgrounds.
- Even if you speak German it's difficult to understand the Zurich dialect.
- The long winters
- If you don't follow the rules you get shouted at!
- You couldn't describe Zurich as buzzing...

We chose local school for our DC's as the relocation package would only pay for 2 years of international school, we weren't sure how long we'd stay for and we wanted our DC's to settle into the local community and learn the language. International schools are over 25k a year and the popular ones are oversubscribed, as are daycare places.

A lot of mothers and some dads too work part-time, I have friends who are part-time nurses and they needed B2 level German. Health insurance is compulsory and expensive, but the health care is great.

Hope that helps, happy to answer any more questions.

ripsishere Fri 12-Apr-13 01:21:20

We left Zug three years ago. it's the next canton over from Zurich.
I agree wholeheartedly with what Beresh said, especially the cost of living.
Each canton is taxed differently, for example in Zug it is 5% but Zurich is more. Housing in Zug is expensive, but cheaper in Zurich. Same with health, car and other insurances.
I wouldn't put a toe back in CH for all the money in the world. DD would go back in a heartbeat for the skiing alone.
Have a look at for some more input.

WallyBantersYoniBox Fri 12-Apr-13 09:53:04

Hi Wherenext I live in Basel about 45 mins away from Zurich but most of my team live there, mainly due to low tax rates and more of a lifestyle choice.

I started by looking at properties when I moved as I didn't want a decline in lifestyle, but at least to maintain IYSWIM.

So I would start here:

Where you can search property, check the tax rates for each Canton and area within that Canton (Federal and Catonal tax are different), look up quotes for Health insurance etc. You will be able to see if you can afford a house in a more rural area of the canton for example.

I live in a house in a village outside of Basel, I have never had any issues with any "rules" about lawn mowing or making noise. It's a friendly family village. That could be because we have a house not a flat, and it could be the people themselves.

Yes Health insurance is an unplanned cost for Brits, but perhaps you can negotiate that in the package.

I pay 750chf for my DS, DH and I each month, but obviously I don't pay this as an NI type contribution. When I file a tax return each year I get tax relief on all my health care expenditure so it works out ok. Definitely worth the money when I can see a GP on the same day, and get a hospital appointment in a week!

Although the English Forum Switzerland is a useful source of info there are also some quite snipey people on there so I tend to use it as a reading source and not so much for posting.

German is helpful for understanding documents, but I have had all important docs for insurance, medical etc in English so far, and have a lovely English speaking tax accountant. Zurich is by far the most mixed city, and my team get along quite well on english and a spattering of German. 30% of the population of Switzerland are non Swiss!

The are choices for International schooling, for example my son is in a Bi-lingual school where he has immersive German for one week and English for another. We did this because we'd made many moves previously and didn't want the stress of putting him in a Swiss Kindergarten at his age - if he'd have been entry level we'd have put him in.

My son's school costs 21,000chf a year. You can see the costs on most websites they are fairly transparent. We pay a monthly DD too, so it's easily budgeted.

There is a Bi-lingual school in Zurich called SIS (Swiss International School) this company follow IGCSE, Matura and IB programs. The have immersive German/English every other day. There are also some IB English speaking schools.

Swiss classes are generally capped at 18 kids with a teacher and assistant and the facilities are amazing. The only downside to working and Swiss schools are the hours - Primary is 8-12 every day with Tuesday and Thursday being a long day (8-12, 2-4). That's why international was better for us as it was wraparound care in the cost.

If you need any more info feel free to PM me.

LIZS Fri 12-Apr-13 10:02:10

International Schools and Daycare are eyewateringly expensive. Accommodation can also be , especially if you want a house, garden or lake view. You also need insurance for everything form healthcare to accidental damage of your rented apartment. There are rules upon rules governing behaviour , parking , use of washing machine , rubbish and recycling ... Not sure how easy it is to transfer to healthcare sector , I did come across one British mw in a private clinic and several dr's had UK experience. There is another m'netter investigating similar here from which you might glean further info.

WhereNext Fri 12-Apr-13 11:02:16

Thank you so much! I am in Australia at the moment so used to the idea of health insurance and apartment living. It's just overwhelming to think about making a move like this, the info you have given is so helpful, I'll start on the links provided smile

Wiifitmama Tue 16-Apr-13 21:29:44

Just wanted to say Hi and that I am the other mumsnetter investigating this right now! My dh has an interview for a job there and I have spent weeks investigating everything I can. Generally I have been happy with what I found out but we are in a somewhat unique position: schools are not an issue as we homeschool (I have checked the legalities and we are fine to continue there); we currently live very centrally in London so would be swapping city life for city life; I plan to fly back monthly to see my mother in London (with the kids) so shopping will be done in the UK.

Not sure any if that is remotely helpful to you but I am happy not to be the only one considering the move!

beresh Tue 16-Apr-13 23:16:44

Hi Wiifit, homeschooling might be legal in Zurich, but I've read that to do this for more than a year requires meeting strict requirements on following the cantonal curriculum, or have you found a way round this ? Just curious, I'm quite happy with swiss state school at the moment!

Wiifitmama Wed 17-Apr-13 19:34:11

To do it for more than a year, you have to have a teaching qualification, which I do. The curriculum thing seems to be more of a grey area, but I would argue that as my children will return home to the UK school system (and speak no German), it would not be appropriate for them to follow the Swiss system. My googling has indicated that with international families, it is less of an issue.

beresh Wed 17-Apr-13 23:23:32

If you want to check you could try calling up the Zurich cantonal homeschooling officer:


Are you sure you wouldn't want the children to learn German? Without being able to integrate with the local kids or have the social network and activities of an international school it could be a bit frustrating for your children, but perhaps I lack the imagination to make it work!

NewDKmum Fri 19-Apr-13 21:19:01

Hello. I am in Zurich now and have been so for the last 3 years with 2 DD's at 5 and 7. I'll be happy to give input on any specific questions you may have.

heather1 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:55:36

wifit mama, sorry to sound a note of caution but with homeschooling here in Canton Zürich, well I do not think the Cantonal authorities will just say yes it is ok you can home school. They do not like homeschooling in this Canton. I homeschooled for a period and they will want to see your circulum in some detail (cant spell it!) and from my experience there is literally no homeschooling community here in Zurich. I meet one other family who were homeschooling for a very specific and specialised reason. Plus most museums etc are all in German so they are somewhat limiting as resources. I have to say I LOVED homeschooling my son so I am not being negative about it at all as a concept.
You might also want to check that your teachers qualification will be accepted here. Often to teach here you have to have German up to acceptable levels too e.g. fluency and they may require that of you. Have you discovered the switzerland homeschooling organisation?
also there is a yahoo group called Swiss homeschooling which can be a useful resource.
Definately worth going down the "we will be returning to the UK" route though. That was our approach and it was successful to ensure we could homeschool withought the authorities making too much fuss. Feel free to PM me if you want more information about living in Zurich or homeschooling.

WhereNext Sat 20-Apr-13 04:06:04

Thanks all, looking more likely now, eek! Our relationship has always been quite balanced before, but now this is a move where I'll be following my husband for his career, is it possible to work without speaking German (international city and all) or would my priority be to learn the language?

WhereNext Sat 20-Apr-13 04:20:38

Sorry, thank you beresh you already answered this question! My head is just so full. Not sure what to do about school, as it would be hard to just put them in a local school, it will be a big upheaval moving from Australia, and we are looking to stay for a year or 2 max.

LIZS Sat 20-Apr-13 08:37:40

You need to double check what the situation is regarding residency. At one time you couldn't easily get a job as a trailing spouse if you were on a B permit but this may have eased since CH signed up to some parts of EU legislation allowing freedom of movement, although I know those from US and Australia were more restricted. Unless you are working for a UK or US based company some German is expected , and it would certainly help in daily life anyway, but classes may be part of the package your dh agrees.

WhereNext Sun 04-Aug-13 10:45:04

So I've been looking through all the advice again as a Zurich move is now very likely.
We'll put children in a local school, which will be hard for them, but hopefully ultimately beneficial wrt integrating and language.
Now my focus is on where to live, as the most research I can do now will be very helpful as we will be moving after the start of the school year, so the quicker we get somewhere to live the quicker we can get a school. Only problem is we are in Sydney now, so no chance of visiting before we actually move.
Any wisdom appreciated, DH will be working at the technoparken (so central Zurich as I understand it), I like the sound of Horgen district, but will the commute be too far (compared to the average worker) or would somewhere like Oerlikon be more sensible? Is that a (school-age) child friendly place? I want to get the area right, as I don't want to realise we should have lived in a different area and then have to change schools. Here in Sydney we moved to an area we liked before school aged kids, and it ended up that the school in our catchment was excellent, compared to friends who ended up moving to get decent schools, I'm not sure I have enough energy to get it wrong!
Is there an 'average rent bracket' that people tend to pay, for a 'normal' family? I realise it is all subjective, but just want to know what rent to aim for, is 25-30% of take home pay per month a good guide?

beresh Fri 09-Aug-13 23:22:05

Check the ZVV website for commute times, but I wouldn't have thought the commute would be much more than half an hour from Horgen. Oerlikon's much more urban, not the prettiest place, I've only stayed there for one night in a hotel so can't really comment, but you could try asking on the yahoo families in zurich group or to hear from families who live there.

We spend 25% of gross pay on rent and live out in the sticks, no idea how average that is though but space was important to us.

I haven't read this book about swiss schooling but it gets good reviews and might be useful for what to expect:

Good luck!

WhereNext Sat 10-Aug-13 08:09:27

Thanks beresh!
We will be arriving in October, exciting and daunting. It sounds like we'll be heading to Oerlikon, as close to office and airport, but I would like to check out Horgen district too, although I expect a shorter commute may win over any argument I make for living somewhere slightly charming!

Tentqueen Sat 31-Aug-13 08:12:51

Hi Where Next,
It sounds like we're in similar position, we're also from Sydney (though been living in Europe last years). We're also moving in October and have just returned from fact find visit so happy to share all our findings re schools, areas etc with you if that helps.
Bye for now

WhereNext Sat 31-Aug-13 13:56:38

Tentqueen that would be brilliant! It's quite daunting as I've never been there, but need to accept that there's not much more I can do until we get there. Term 3 ends here 20 September, and we arrive in Zurich 18 Oct, and whilst Zurich term starts a few days after, we won't know where to live by then, so no idea when they will start school!! Looking likely that it won't be properly until after Christmas ... poor kids
What are your thoughts on areas and schools?

Tentqueen Sat 31-Aug-13 16:09:05

Hi there,..yes we just spent 5days there looking at schools...we were very impressed. We also had a look at a few houses. Do you have an email address or Skype where I can contact you and give you more info.
I thought Switzerland was beautiful and our kiddies were very positive after the visit. I think we will be arriving similar time to you!!

WhereNext Sun 01-Sep-13 03:32:55

Maybe you could send a PM if you're happy to smile

Tentqueen Mon 02-Sep-13 18:28:00

ok will do!

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