Advanced search

Moving to Zurich-please tell me how wonderful it is

(44 Posts)
Chalkpink Fri 30-Apr-10 22:59:37

DH came home this evening and dropped the bombshell that he has been asked to move to from the UK to Zurich. It would be a promotion and I think he cant refuse it as to do so will be career limiting. He needs to make a relatively quick decision.
I am a SAHM with 4 DCs (aged 7,5,2 and 3 months). I am feeling very tearful this evening.

We have not lived abroad before, although DH lived in Zurich for a period a few years ago and commuted on a weekly basis. I stayed here with the children. He wont even contemplate commuting this time.

Please can someone provide me with reassurance that Zurich will be great for me and the kids and tell me a little of what it's like to live in Zurich.


best5moverspackers Wed 06-Jan-16 09:50:59

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

kodokan Fri 04-Jun-10 21:36:28

Waedigirl, did you know M&S deliver here for £7.50? Well worth paying the delivery compared to clothes here, and that way I don't have to do loathsome shopping.

giddybiddy Tue 01-Jun-10 17:21:01

Hi, I have three children at ISZL and we're fairly happy with it....all schools have pros and cons, but it has a nice atmosphere and the children love it! I wanted all mine at the same campus so it works for us. Quite a few people live in Zug and have spouses who commute into Zurich to work. There are also a number who live in Thawil and send their children to ISZL, I think that the school bus schedule runs there. If you are planning to use the school buses, which are great, then it may be useful checking out the school website to see where they go...
I too miss M&S and do lots of online shopping or stock up when I come home! Life here can be challenging and I will refrain from making generalisations about the Swiss, tempting though it may be... However, there is a large expat community which helps and it is a great place for the children!

Waedigirl Sun 23-May-10 19:19:16

PS I don't know ZIS, but all the kidsI see in the village here, assuming plenty of them go there, are very polite, wholesome looking and don't look at all menacing

Waedigirl Sun 23-May-10 19:17:49

Ah, it's hot hot here now, just been for a day out Zug way and have the usual Brit dodgy sunburn......

Lots and lots of expats in Thalwil (Brit and American) but flats expensive (as you probably saw) and not many modern ones. Most people I know who move out this way want to live there, then end up somewhere else because of cost and scarcity of decent places. Oberrieden is smaller but has really good connections to the centre, it's on two train lines- and walking distance to Thalwil. Horgen also a bit cheaper I think and nice enough, we're in Wädenswil (hence the name) and I love it, but it is a bit longer into the centre and only four trains an hour, compared to 6 from Horgen and 8 or 10 from Thalwil.

Clothes buying is a nightmare, and TBH I do the rounds of Next whenever back in the UK to miminise what I need to get over here. Agree H&M, a bit of Migros, also Coop kids section at Silhcity or sales at DPAM next to the Widder hotel in town. Charles Vogele down by the side of Jelmoli in town also not bad for hirls clothes.

I miss M & S. Swiss women are not the same shape as me.........

kreecherlivesupstairs Sun 23-May-10 13:50:10

Clothes from C+A, H+M, Migros or best of all the borse. There is a brilliant one for children in Wadenswil. We kitted out my dd with three pairs of trousers, four tops and a pair of nasty flip flops for about 40 CHF.
If I had the choice of schools I'd say go for ZIS.

Chalkpink Sat 22-May-10 23:05:43

Just flew back to the UK from Zurich today - the weather in the UK has been (unusually) far better than Switzerland.
Really liked the feel of Zurich. Wandered round the old town, up and down Bahnhofstrasse and took a boat trip on the lake.
We have spent a couple of days visiting schools, ICS on the gold coast and ISZL at Zug and ZIS in Kilchberg and Wadeswil. Looks like there are big waiting lists, particulary for my 2nd daughters age.
Does anyone know anything about the international schools. I like the one at Zug but it seemed a long commute from Zug to the my husbands office in central Zurich. I would prefer to live closer to Zurich but then the school would be a longer commute for the kids and I would spend half the day in the car taxiing them too and fro.
I was less keen on ICS (cant put my finger on it) and liked ZIS.

We looked at a few apartments in Thawil, although because of the school issue we aren't in a position to apply for a place until we are sure there are school places for the kids. Does anyone have any insider knowledge of the best (for ex pats) areas in which to look for apartments?

I am interested to see your estimations of living costs including food, we are a family of 6 so its going to be a big stretch for us perhaps, espically since we would prefer a 4 bedroom apartment.
And where do people buy their clothes, everything seems to be designer and very, very expensive!

newtouk Thu 20-May-10 16:00:30

Hi Ladies, I lived In Zurich until May last year with my two children (2.5 and 4). I made wonderful friends with many expats and had a wonderful time with many International Families. I would suggest moving to the " Gold Coast" Zumikon, Kusnacht, Meilen. The schools I would recommend is ISC in Zumikon. They follow the IB Program and EY Program and have a three year old and four year old Kindergarten.

Switzerland is a VERY expensive country to live in, make sure you get a VERY good expat deal. Schooling is £20K per child from 5 years and everything especially food, meat, fruit is quite pricey.

Be careful where you move as when you move into any accommodation even temp. you will need to register at the local council office.Taxes in different areas vary hence many expats move to Zug (a canton near Zurich) that has lower taxes than Zurich. Also there is also a Religion Tax and you will pay tax to a church if you tick that box.

My cousin lives in Zug and her young children go to Zug International School.

I lived in Zollikerberg about 8 kms out of Zurich on the top of the "Gold Coast". Many ex-pats live in large, modern apartments and I suggest you ask your relocation agent to find a place where other expats live or you may have a lonely time as the Swiss are not that interested in meeting expats. Our 3 bedroom apartment was CHF4200 Food was about CHF 250 for a family of four with not much meat or chicken.

See if you can also get German lessons as part of your relocation. My friend has a lady who comes to her house while the kids run around.

Most apartments have communal play areas for the children and its a great way of meeting your neighbours.

Summer is wonderful in Zurich, many surburbs around the lake have wonderful "Badi" which is like a private beach on the lake but is either free or costs a couple of Franks.

Shopping is a pain in the ass but you can always shop online at or I used to get delivery's from Clothes are more expensive than London but seem to be better quality.

With young children its easy to love Zurich but your experience will depend on where you live, I know plenty of people in Zurich and meet wonderful friends through the Mums and Toddler group in Zollikon.

Good Luck,

PM me if you want need any details.

Waedigirl Thu 20-May-10 14:53:05


Plus mandatory AHV and other taxes which make up, say another 10% of income if you are a higher earner (over CHF120K per year)

Tax at source doesn't necessarily take all of this, and you will get a tax bill separately to make up the reminder annually, so be sure to save extra towards that - lots of people get a very nasty shock.....

One Tax return per married couple. CHF6K allowance per child.

Def ask for salary uplift, life here is expensive and you don't get many offers, say in supermarkets, clothes, restaurants etc. But the upside is quality prpoducts across the board.

I know people where one is earning, they live comfortably off, say CHF6,000 after tax per month. Assume CHF2,500 for rent (3 bed apartment, decent area not central, not too fancy) CHF700 mandatory health insurance for the family in total, CHF50 for bills, CHF150 per week for supermarket food.

Bit subjective I know, but I'd have a punt at those figures....

Chalkpink Mon 17-May-10 23:09:09

Hi Fire
Sorry, only just seen your post. We were due to fly to Zurich this afternoon but the flight was cancelled. So we are re-booked to go tomorrow evening. Have come home and will have to drag the two youngest kids back up to the airport tomorrow.

DHs contract is for 3 years so we are going the interenational schools route. We are planning to visit three international schools this week so we can choose one and apply for places asap. The area in which we will try to look to live in will depend on which school we go for.

No idea about minimum salaries, luckily DHs relocation package includes an uplift to his existing salary to cover the differential in Zurich living costs compared to where we currenty live. Not sure how ususal this arrangement is???

Have been sent this link today which looks like it might be a useful link for parents in Switzerland.

I will come back to this thread once we return from Switzerland at the weekend.

Hitandrunthreadkiller Mon 17-May-10 22:10:08

Killed it!

fireupthequattro Fri 14-May-10 20:35:10

Hi I am moving to the Zurich side of Switzerland in August shock - I got my job offer today.

I am going over in two weeks to look at schools too. I just wondered if anyone could tell me briefly the % tax for the Zurich Canton, as the company I will be working for have only quoted me Solothurn and I am having a nightmare finding it on the website?

Also, what's the minimum salary people would consider comfortable - realistic ideas welcomed. Husband may not be working at first, and have one DS age 5.

I am keeping an open mind about state v's bilingual v's International, however as this isn't a long term move I am worried about a big life changing drop into a German speaking school and a vast change in levels when we need to move on.

For our particular needs I am thinking International will be the way to go.

So much to think about, my head is spinning.

I'm excited about this as have seen friend in Zug completely change her life for the better and love it there very much.

If you want to keep in touch - perhaps do this hand in hand Chalkpink do let me know!

Chalkpink Sun 09-May-10 21:04:38

Hi Pescatore.
DH has that book - I haven't had a chance to look at it but I will do.
DH and I are aiming to go out to Zurich at the company's expense the week after next, as soon as DD3s passport comes through. He has already been to look at the schools last week but wants me to go and look with him before we apply for places.
We will also be looking at accomodation, although having looked on the internet I know we wont get anything near what we have here in the UK. Still not sure about where we will want to look though - I'm guessing once we have chosen schools then where we live will follow?
Luckily he has already been assigned a relocation consultant and the package, from what I can see, looks excellent.
I am finding the speed at which things are happening quite scary.
Will go and have a look at that book now. Thanks

pescatore Sun 09-May-10 18:31:03

Chalkpink, I recommend to get hold of a copy of the book "Living and Working in Switzerland" by David Hampshire. This is not an easy cover to cover read (and the author has some pretty way out views on the Swiss), but it is full of lots of details on small, irritating things which are hard to find on internet expat sites.

I am likely to be moving to Switzerland next year. Some things i can recommend from negotiating my own "expat" package are to make sure the package includes a relocation visit to Zurich for you and hubby and also a relocation consultant who will discuss where you might want to live and organise inspections for you. All the posters who say it's hard to get a flat are not kidding - might help to bear in mind that 1 April and 1 October are big lease start dates in Zurich so there seem to be more flats around then. I would also see if your relocation consultant or package can cover recommending schools and an inspection as part of your site visit

Waedigirl Tue 04-May-10 12:25:32

10pm and 7am. Should prob read before posting!

Waedigirl Tue 04-May-10 12:24:50

And definitely do not compromise on the washing machine!!!!!! We shared for a month in the corp. flat when we moved over and it was a nightmare..... Btw. the law says you're not allowed to wash on a Sunday (!) or between I think 10am and 7am - but if your neighbours can't hear you, then I guess is OK.

Waedigirl Tue 04-May-10 12:17:14

Private and International schools in Zürich n.html.

I live near Horgen and the Zimmerberg looks pretty good. Also DD goes to this bilingual Krippe they take children up to school entrance, which as someone else said is 7. I think there are minimum kindergarten requirements from age 3 - eg 3 days a week. Assume school fees would also cover this?

LIZS Tue 04-May-10 08:53:55

Some leases include communal washing machines (ours was free access between 7am and 10pm , except lunchtime time(most ask minimal noise for 2 hours or so,ie. no vaccuming!)and not on Sundays or bank holidays. However we were able to negotiate to have our own installed in our boiler room so coudl use both ! tbh I liked the security of apartment living and there are some large apartments with own outside space and communal play areas, so different concept to those in UK.

We lived on the Zimmerberg area which is close to ZIS (spread over 4 campuses between Adliswil, Kilchberg and Waedenswil - with another school north of the City) and not far from ISZL at Baar(20-25 mins) both of which operate a bus service so you wouldn't necessarily have to shuttle your elder kids around each day. On the other side, "Gold Coast", of the lake is ICSZ at Zumikon with another further north in Winterthur. There are an increasing number of bilingual private shcoosl too, for all ages. You need to check if the relocation funding is restricted to certain schools, from what age and what it covers in terms of buses. lunches and extras. Also if this is phased out the longer you are there or has a maximum limit.

ErnestTheBavarian Tue 04-May-10 08:26:25

Morning Chalkpink, only just seen this.

I was in Switzerland for 8 years or so - 4 in Basel and 4 in Zurich. I also have got 4 children.

We lived outside the city, 20 mins on the local train network, in a little village on the Rhine. It was absolutely stunning.

I think you need to think carefully about what sort of life you want to achieve in terms of appartment in the city, proximity to expats, larger house out of the city, whether or not you want the kids to go to local school or IS ( I personally am huge advocate of local schools), I think it would help to have a hint at least of how long the minimum stay would involve. Bearing in mind in CH kids start school aged around 7, so even your oldest would only just be at the start so a great age for learning the language.

I loved living in Switzerland. I found the lifestyle and the possibilities (access to the countryside, access to europe, skiing etc) to be amazing. My kids had freedom that many many kids in UK could only dream of. It was, especially for them, totally idyllic.

I disagree strongly that you would need help, let alone full time. TBH I find that odd. It is true that your attitude to the move would have a big impact on how smoothly and successfully it goes, but there are plenty of sources of support without paying for full time help That is a big personal thing anyway. I couldn't even stand a cleaner coming in for 3 hours a week, never mind someone in my home full time. Shudder.

I am now living in Bavaria (in case you didn't guess) so not too far away. Sill, nothing beats Switzerland. I really loved it there. And my boys really really were very happy there too.

Feel free to CAT me or ask away and good luck.

ps def. make sure you have your own washing machine. Blimey. I had a friend whose rostered day was once a fortnight! shock sods law her ds would puke all over his sheets the day after wash day. Even if all went well, she had uge piles of laundry then had to spend the entire day doing relay runs to the washer and drier, the entire day once a fortnight not able to leave the house or do anything other than laundry. Madness. I told my dh no appartment, own washing machine. And we got it no problem, and you know we managed it no problem. Had an amazing house in Basel. sigh.

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 04-May-10 07:45:36

Housing is a disaster. I don't know if you are looking at houses or flats, if it is the latter, I'd definitely ask for a flat with a lift that comes from the car park or a ground floor flat. We are on the first floor, but I have to climb 66 steps to get to the entry to our flat then another 24 to our flat. I know, I do it several times a day.

Chalkpink Mon 03-May-10 20:57:15

Thank you everyone for your help.

DH is flying over to Zurich tomorrow and is meeting with HR there to discuss ex pat package etc and perhaps go to see a school so it feels like things are moving really fast. It was suggested he go and look at some available accomodation but he doesn't have time - can anyone tell me where the highest concentration of ex pat families live? Where are the international schools situated? We dont need to live in the 'cool' or lively part of Zurich and given the size of our family I doubt we are going to find something centrally that will fit us all in so we are happy to live out towards the suburbs.

Thanks for the links LIZS and myrubicon, I will have a good read.

Waedigirl your offer to introduce me to some English mums groups sounds fantastic.

Have added 'own washing machine' to list of requirements. Can't imagine sharing one with the amount of washing 4 DCs generate shock.

My head is in a bit of a whirl, thanks for helping me focus my thoughts so far!

Waedigirl Mon 03-May-10 19:34:07

how long people will be "staying...."

Waedigirl Mon 03-May-10 19:33:24

Chalkpink, I can introduce you to some English mums groups. It's really easy to meet people when you have kids in common here, I definitely know more people than I did in London. And pretty likeminded as well in terms of age, stuff people like to do etc.

Expats are always willing to make friends and invite you to places, as you never know how long people will be saying you can never have too many friends iyswim

myrubicon Mon 03-May-10 14:11:37

ChalkPink - I can't add too much to the first few comments except you could also try this site, which is specifically for English speaking families moving to or already living in Switzerland. There are some very knowledgeable posters/members.

If the relocation package is similar to mine, you will probably have a relocation agent assigned to you(?). If so, spend some time between now and then making a list of all the things you'll want to know to help you hit the ground running - even the tiny daily details that make life tick along- and ask the agent or look at the online forums for answers.

Also, you'll need insurance for pretty much everything! As others have said, do check these our (especially medical), although yous DH's employer may well include that as part of the package.

Learn a few key words in German. Zurich has it's own dialect of Swiss-German, which you can easily adapt from basic high german later on.

Re being wonderful... well, if you like clean streets, public services & transport that really does work perfectly, weekend ski trips, clean air, an established ex-pat community, children with a sense of communal and personal responsibility, then perhaps you'll like it here.

It's not Eutopia though. Comparing Swiss life to English life is (for me at least) a series of trade-offs. The most important advice, I think, is: Make a real effort to meet other ex-pats. Doing a school run will be a big help.

The Swiss are generally very welcoming, but will seldom consider you a real friend, even after several years.

kreecherlivesupstairs Mon 03-May-10 12:54:19

Bonsoir, yes I have one child and I can appreciate how much more work more would be, but, I am assuming that the OP's husband works for a multinational or bank. She should get a decent relocation package and help with registering etc. A cleaner would be the icing on the cake but, like Liz pointed out they are costly and the aggrivation involved (insurance and pension) amy not be worth it.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »