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(29 Posts)
PastPerfect Fri 28-Feb-14 17:30:39

Considering a move to Zurich, I've visited but only airport-office and back again.

At this stage I'm looking at the general rather than specifics and principally want to figure out how terrified should I be of the cost of living grin

LIZS Fri 28-Feb-14 17:36:38

Very . London prices plus some, especially on property rental. Also factor in insurance , healthcare etc

PastPerfect Fri 28-Feb-14 18:51:32

grin as feared.

So I know this is a how long is a piece of string question but say I wanted to house a family of five (and a live in nanny which I know is whole ' other issue in Switzerland) I'm not after palatial but equally I'm past kids bunking in together.... Are a talking clapham + or Knightsbridge +?


LIZS Fri 28-Feb-14 19:09:58

check out or for property prices. I'd be surprised if you could get a 4 bed under 5000 chf in the suburbs. A nanny/ap is unlikely unless you /dp have a Swiss passport.

PastPerfect Sun 02-Mar-14 17:00:23


I've checked out the links but it's hard without knowing where anywhere is smile

No swiss passport unfortunately - what do others do for childcare? And what about schools? Are there decent international options?

Grateful for any opinions

LIZS Sun 02-Mar-14 17:11:45

International schools are ok but very expensive. High demand but several to choose from. Depending on the age of your dc you may find a gap reintegrating into UK or another system. There are Red Cross registered "babysitters" , kinderkrippe (daycare nurseries) and kindergartens but quality is less regulated and consistent than in UK. Swiss school system starts at 4/5 with kindergarten but hours can be irregular with early starts and long break midday. You can find a Tagesmutter (kind of like a child-minder) to bridge the gaps or a setting for supervised lunch times. Swiss school hours are not designed to encourage 2 working parents.

Whereabouts would you be based ? Zurich is large and you wouldn't really want to live the opposite end even though transport is good,

PastPerfect Sun 02-Mar-14 19:49:46

Office is near airport- I've really seen none of it apart from office/airport. My potential colleagues are very mixed in terms of country of origin so whilst I'm sure they could offer insight their fame of reference is different which makes it harder.

DH world probably be prepared to stay at home but it's a big step.

LIZS Sun 02-Mar-14 19:58:50

So you probably wouldn't be looking to live in the city itself (although train links are quick) or around the lake. Maybe Wallisellen or Winterthur which both have International Schools? Can you get a good look around areas next time you go over ? Try this group or this one for advice from those already over there.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 02-Mar-14 20:00:01

You need to read up on international schools in Canton Zurich. If you have a permanent job, and not a temp contract I believe your child can't attend an international school unless it's bi-lingual.

SIS run a bilingual school in Zurich. Not sure of the area. It has a mixed reputation in Basel. My son attends an International Bilingual school and at Primarschule level it is 1900 chf a month (3 days till 4pm, 2 days till midday). All school fees can be found on private school websites under admissions.

For an idea of accommodation and more importantly taxes required (everyone pays a different tax depending on the canton, and area within the canton - Zurich is quite a low tax rate) look on It has property for rent and you can enter earnings and lifestyle info to work out the cheapest tax area and how much you will pay based on salary.

A lot of my team members live in Zürich and pay about 2000chf/month for a 1 bed apartment - near the lake is exorbitant. Keep in mind apartments have restrictions which are quite strict in Zürich I hear! grin

Kindergeld is approx 200 chf a month for my son, I'm not sure if it decreases with more kids. It barely feeds him.

Swiss schools have great pupil to teacher ratios and give Auslander children extra tuition in German on certain afternoons.

Other stealth costs to bear in mind:

Billag (tv license equivalent) 400 chf per year
Insurance as mentioned for health - but bear in mind that you have excess and also you pay 10% of every bill per person up to 700chf.
You need personal liability insurance - look on Comparis.
Cost of B permits per person (I think they charge annually for newcomers now)
Internet/TV/phone provider - look up &
Electricity - I pay around 150chf a month
Heating - our house uses recycled wood pellets for underfloor and hot water which costs approx 1200chf a year
Nebenkosten - maintenance charges on property, water etc. Usually included on property details.

Not exhaustive - English Forum Switzerland Is you best bet. Please don't post "can I live on 150k" or "how much do I need" topics as there are plenty on there and you'll find the very sharp edge of some posters. (they are a pedantic bunch indeed!)

AnonymousBird Sun 02-Mar-14 20:09:43

My friends moved there recently, so I can't be very specific. But it is unbelievably expensive (we've been to visit so I can attest to the cash haemorraging!) and there are a lot of costs they are only just finding out about now they are there. Medical insurance is compulsory and heinous. So I am told for example.

Stealth costs is a good description by Wally. Don't underestimate. Each of their dogs costs them 500 chfs to own a year, which they had no idea about until they got there and a neighbour casually said that they need to register with a vet (fair enough) but then the vet is required to register the dogs and you get a hefty bill!

Zug has an international school and is only 20-25 minutes by train from Central Zurich.

LIZS Sun 02-Mar-14 20:58:23

Fees for ISZN in Wallisellen to give you a ballpark figure. Not sure about the temporary contract comment, as more Swiss children were joining as ds left, but it may be why the international schools seem to have a stronger language programme now.

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 02-Mar-14 21:32:33

Some info on the International School restrictions

WallyBantersJunkBox Sun 02-Mar-14 21:35:51

ZH educational information with link to list of current active Private schools

As I said, you'd have to investigate the law, I just remember reading about it a few years ago, and a mumsnetter in Zurich mentioned it a few months ago on a post.

beresh Sun 02-Mar-14 22:02:51

We're living out here, I reckon a family of 5 with kids in local school could live happily in the suburbs for 150k chf, but would need double that for international school and nanny. My DH used to work near the airport, most of his colleagues with families did at least a 30min commute as the more popular areas to live are mostly the lakeside of Zurich, rather than the north and quite a few drove up from Aegeri/Zug.

heather1 Mon 03-Mar-14 11:26:25

To give you an idea we live around the lake, thalwil/horgen area. We pay around 4000chf per month ( not inc any bills) for a 2 bedroom flat. This inc a kitchen living area, sliding door to additional space, used as a guest bathroom, 2 bathrooms and a large cupboard for washing machine and dryer. We also have a cellar space and a balcony.
We are close to public transport and a 10/15 minute trip into Zurich.
Most people live in flats. Houses are available but often come with more hidden costs e.g. You might be responsible for keeping bushes etc trimmed back, you'll nene professional help for this at a cost of 1000 chf once a year.
I like our flat, it's very different from living in a house as everyone is much more 'on top' of each other.
Also you need to take into account the tax for the village/area you live in, e.g. Our previous flat was 3000chf a month but the text rate was higher so it worked out the same as our current flat to our bank balance.
As part of your package I would recommend a relocation expert. The know the market, landlords, make the appointments for you and take you around. They help you with the application process ( some places will have 20 ppl after one flat), should translate the contract too.
I'd be happy to talk to you about areas in Zurich if you want to Pm me.
I've lived near the lake and near the airport too. I prefer the lake!

LIZS Tue 04-Mar-14 08:26:02

You need to be aware of the property terminology too . 4.5 rooms is not 4 bedrooms for example. It could be 3 plus 1.5 receptions (in our case an open plan living room/diner). Kitchen and bathrooms don't count in the figure. Often a parking space/garage is extra, private garden is unusual in the city, and shared laundry and rubbish disposal , with specific guidelines, the norm. Heather, do they still restrict activity on Sundays (no gardening , car washing in the street, noisy housework, laundry etc) which may also apply at other times in communal blocks.

NaturalBaby Tue 04-Mar-14 14:25:44

We've just moved to Baden, near Zurich. I'm a sahm and have one child in school. I'm still trying to figure out childcare but it is very, very difficult for 2 working parents. The school does have an out of school care system but only for kids in the school from 5yrs old.

We were very lucky to find a 4 bed terraced house and have chosen local school as we're going to be here for around 5yrs. Ds has 11 kids in his class.

PastPerfect Tue 04-Mar-14 15:42:05

Thanks all - lots to think about.

My employers won't stretch to a relocation expert so I'll be on my own in that regard, although they'll put me up in temp accommodation whilst I settle.

I'm slightly concerned about apartment living - that'll be a new experience and the health insurance sounds like a big liability.

What are the pros? What do you liked / did you like about the place?

NaturalBaby Tue 04-Mar-14 18:09:07

Pretty much everyone lives in an apartment in this area so I just thought if everyone else lives in apartments then it must be fine. They're much bigger than I expected. Our only problem with it is that we've just got used to living in a detached house with a big garden in England! It is also a nice feeling to let the kids run off up and down the road because all the kids walk to and from school so it is very safe. There are loads of small playgrounds all over the place - each block of apartments has some sort of open space with slides and swings and climbing equipment.

The relocation expert wasn't a huge help to be honest, DH found the house we ended up in and organised playgroups for my younger dc's.

WallyBantersJunkBox Thu 06-Mar-14 00:35:01

What we like:

Standard of living - our house is very spacious and good quality
Countryside - mountains, lakes, scenery
Outdoor pools in Summer, swimming in the Rhine.
Nothing ever feels overcrowded (parking 50 yards from a concert or 100 yards from your departure gate)
Proximity to Germany, Austria, Italy, France (we've had some amazing trips)
Most things feel well run/well organized
When you do have a hospital stay or illness - access to great medical facilities, choice of doctors. I have basic healthcare and the lowest ward was two in a room!
Culture - Fasnacht, music concerts, open air concerts and festivals are more accessible and can actually be cheaper than the UK.

PastPerfect Thu 06-Mar-14 02:31:55

Thanks for the additional comments.

I have started making enquiries with schools - the fees for which will be covered so that makes a significant difference when you're talking about three children.

I'd like to try and find a house rather than an apartment but my priority is reasonable proximity to office/good school and so I guess judging on comments above it'll be a case of take what we can.

Any comments on the SAHD issue? Will he be an oddity or is this something that is fairly commonplace?

WallyBantersJunkBox Thu 06-Mar-14 10:46:30

My husband is a SAHD. It is not common in the local schools here, but in the large international school in Basel it is. They even have a club and go away on weekends to Oktoberfest, running groups a couple of times a week etc.

But that could be due to the number of women working in the Pharma industry here, which makes up a massive proportion of expats in Basel.

I don't know what it is like in the more banking orientated world at Zurich International schools.

beresh Thu 06-Mar-14 17:28:38

Do check how long your employer will pay the school fees for - we were offered fees for a limited time but decided it was better to go local and get the kids learning the language as young as possible to have the option of settling here for longer. But if your kids are older and you're definitely here for a fixed period, then international makes sense or there are some good bilingual schools around Zurich too.

PastPerfect Fri 07-Mar-14 07:09:10

beresh school fees are definitely for as long as I stay in the job - pretty much the only benefit they offer but with the fees for three coming in at 75k it's a valuable benefit for me to have.

Realistically I wouldn't thnk I'd do longer than 5 years but who knows I said half that about my last posting and have stayed double smile

LIZS Fri 07-Mar-14 07:18:45

I'd be a bit cautious on that one . Given that it is highly likely that CH will withdraw from Schengen in the near future, and revert to a system of fixed term residence permits for all non-CH passport holders, it is likely that your time on expat terms would be limited and should you decide to stay the contract would then be local , ie not include subsidies such as fees and healthcare

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