(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.
The electrics are different so no point in taking larger items, tv won't work there and you need to use adapters for small electricals but even some of those didn't survive long after the move. He should ask for an allowance towards these and house lights. Often expat families moving on will resell items only a year or two old. Ikea is good for basics.
Some families use au pairs but rules are pretty strict and you have to fund language lessons etc.
We're thinking of just starting over with a big trip to Ikea as most of our stuff is fairly old hand me downs to get by for a few years.
I think finding the right au pair may be more hassle than it's worth - friends in the uk have struggled, then they leave etc.
I don't think you're allowed an au pair in Zurich unless your family language is german, but there may be ways around this. There are babysitting agencies, eg www.rockmybaby.ch/ , but we've managed with friends/neighbours.
We brought most of our stuff out here as relocation was part of the package and just switched the plugs on the electric stuff. All rented places would have a fridge though. Even Ikea is much more expensive than the uk!
Yes you will usually get integrated fridge , hob and oven (electric) as basic. We bought a freezer from Fust which we did bring back to UK. WM/Dryer we bought form previous tenants and sold on to another family. However most apartment complexes would have a communal laundry room , but do note time restrictions (often 7am -10pm with an hour or two of non use at lunchtime not Sunday or BH, which also applies to your own and noise from hovering etc) and some have a rota system so you get allocated a specific slot each week/fortnight.
I've heard about time constrictions for washing!
What did you do about property and belongings in the UK? At the rate things are going we're thinking of getting relatives to just move into our house to housesit - then we can leave the cats and a lot of belongings that we won't need/want to take with.
We left the house to bare essentials and rented it out . Some went into storage
and there are boxes still unpacked 12 years later including larger furniture items, tv etc, some we took . We initially had a year's contract then extended and stayed 4. Is this an indefinite move as that can affect what the package includes and is open to negotiation?
DH reckons we'll be there for 5yrs. We moved house 4months ago into a property that needs modernising, and we really want to come back to it when we return. Relatives have offered but then they'll have to give up their rented accomodation.
Naturalbaby, I've been in Canton Zurich for 2.5 years, my DS have been in local school and now are in local school. I live around the lake. Feel free to Pm me with questions you may have. It's a great place to live but the culture shock can be big. So I'm happy to help you out.
Thank you, I'm really going to miss the community feel of where I live now but it sounds like there are plenty of lovely friends to meet when we get there.
Well the contract is signed and DH has found a lovely house which is very similar to the one we've just moved out of!
The international school won't be affordable at the moment, I'd like to put them in the state school but am really worried about how my 5yr old will settle in. He takes a long time to get used to things and settle into new things so we're going to get cracking with language lessons so it doesn't feel too alien when he starts school. I really like the sound of the Montessori school but DH isn't sure about academic standards in the long run? They're in a very academic prep school at the moment. I think it will be perfect for ds1 to start with but we don't want to change schools so need to find somewhere that will suit all 3 of them all the way through their primary education.
The best thing about kindergarten in Switzerland is that there is no formal education - so your DC's won't be expected to drop into a system at this age.
They can spend time absorbing the spoken language (which will be Swiss German in the playground no doubt) and settling into school and making friends.
The Swiss government give great support to Auslanders and you will most likely be offered additional time in school for your child to learn German with other non speakers.
Because my ds had already learnt to write and read at 4-5 in UK primary (admittedly the phonics are different) he was ahead in that respect as German and Swiss children won't learn this until 6 or 7.
And with 18 children average in a class there is plenty of teacher time!
Good luck with the move.
BTW if you have a house - no time restrictions for washing. Just don't mow your lawn between 12-2pm
Try not to stress about the academics. It's very relaxed here in Kindergarten - not formal learning. Kindy is about learning to socialise and follow teacher direction. In Canton Zurich only Swiss German is spoken, by the teacher at least.
In school years 1 and 2 are also pretty relaxed academically and also in terms of school hours. Try not to compare it to the Uk. You can't change the system and it only makes you stressed! Your children should get extra help with their high German too.
As your child works through the school grades it does get more intense but not much until they get nearer secondary school.
Btw the International Schools are pretty relaxed academically too.
It's really hard not to stress about school because it's been such a huge thing for us and my 5yr old.
Dh visited a montessori school but didn't see any schools in Baden where the house is so I have no idea how we're going to choose a school/kindergarten for them.
I think it's mainly about ds1's friends more than the school - he's had a big group of friends from nursery and they've all started school together so that's been the biggest factor in him settling in, without friends or kids he knows he really struggles.
I'm starting to think about staying here till the summer so he can finish the year 1 then spend the summer meeting kids and making friends.
Trouble is if you plan to go local you don't really get a choice and it may not be that easy to meet his classmates before school starts again as they tend to take long holidays in early August (August 1st is a national holiday). You may have to accept that IS is out of reach longer term too unless you have resources you can draw on. The IS in Baden may do summer activities but that isn't as common locally .
I was about to post about Zurich making it illegal for kids to go to international school unless their parents have a temporary contract, but as you'll be in Aargau that's no problem! The school system's quite different in Aargau to Zurich, would be worth checking the school start dates as if your DS won't be 6 before end April he might be going into 2nd KG, with a school start in 2015. Also they don't learn English as a first second language in Aargau, which is perhaps an advantage to get to learn French earlier.
It's much easier to make friends in KG than school as they don't get much time to play in school and don't have a lunch break there. And easier to learn the dialect too.
Yes important to note that you won't get a choice of schools - your dc will go to the nearest school, it's not like the UK in that respect at all. the only way you can change would be if there were issues with the school.
Agree with the summer holidays - when we moved in August we had one week off in the UK from the end of my DS's UK school term, and then he had to start school on the 16th August so had no holiday at all.
The best way to make connections would be to start kindy. There will be a group of kids to start walking with (I don't know about individual schools but generally it is frowned on to walk kids to school as a parent every day) and most likely a few non Swiss kids in the class. And the quicker they learn the language - the quicker they fit in.
And they will learn quickly. At that age they are like sponges. It's a very strange but warm feeling watching your kids chatting away in German....
It's hard to get out of the mindset that you've selected a great Ofsted school in the UK and that the education is fantastic and can't be beaten, but Swiss schools are generally of a very high standard, with great ratios and facilities such as swimming pools and sports grounds etc.
Haven't read this book as it was published a little too late for me, but might help:
Going Local your guide to swiss schooling
Just a note NaturalBaby, Baden is in canton Aargau not canton Zurich. This means there are differences in school systems, tax, etc.
I am living in Aargau too if you'd like to PM anything specific. I don't have advice about school systems (DC too young!), but may be able to help with other things.
Oops sorry, just re-read and seen others have mentioned Aargau. It's also worth noting that the public holidays are sometimes different between Aargau and Zurich, so your DH and DC may be off on different days. And, if DH is getting a bus to the train station for work, there will be days when Aargau buses are on public holiday routes. Fallen into this trap a few times myself!
Every day DH stalls with a response they are offering more, so looks like the international school may be possible! Thanks so much for all the advice and links, I'll sit down with DH and go through it all then we can try to book a visit to see the schools. I put so many months of research into choosing a school here, it's hard not being able to do the same for the next school.
but more in £ terms doesn't mean IS is on the cards . You are potentially looking at 30000chf per child and once in it is hard to transition out again. Don't underestimate the cost of living and maintaining a lifestyle.
Friend relocated there 4 years ago. She is a SAHM with 3 children. There is a big ex pat community, not just from Britain but other non English, non German speaking countries who all get along. She found loads of friends. She loved it so much that last year when her oh wanted to relocate she said a firm NO. They have now bought their own apartment there.
It is incredibly expensive but on the other hand what she likes about the place is that it is incredibly clean and so safe for the children.
Df loves skiing and walking and loves the weekends when they go up into the mountains.
If you can afford International school you don't have to go down the english speaking school route, you can go down the bi-lingual school route. You have SIS in Zurich, and this falls outside the requirements of temporary contacts etc as the schools follow the Swiss system.
SIS alternate High German and English days per class.
My son is in a bi-lingual school and it is the best of both worlds.
If you are considering Baden could you consider bumping up a bit to Rheinfelden - it would give you access to the three bi-lingual schools in Basel, the tax free shopping 1km away in Germany, and an amazing local public spa centre? And it is a beautiful town. If your DH is driving it is about 35-40 minutes from Zurich in the car.
I can PM you with the monthly fees and details of my DS's school, it isn't as expensive as you'd think, plus I pay monthly on DIrect debit. You also get a tax refund if your child isn't in the state system, almost 2000chf, making it quire reasonable.
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