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  #41  
Old 19.03.2015, 12:39
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

I'd really appreciate you re-visiting this thread, if you do decide to go, since my current plan is to relocate to the US west coast after my stint here in ZH and it'd be great insight/prep.
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  #42  
Old 19.03.2015, 13:22
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

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What is the RAV equivalent in the US? I have the impression that employees are less protected in the US than here. If there is no equivalent, then at least this is one thing I need to negotiate.
RAV as in Unemployment insurance? It is covered by a California State insurance policy. You get practically nothing. Its something like $450 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks. That would be painful for your whole family. Your first line of defence is to make sure you have plane fare to get back to Switzerland. Your second line of defence is to work in a severance package with your employer, assuming the employer does not tank and cease to exist.

While you are there, you would want to network in your industry extensively. You do these on the evening, at industry events, about twice a week. That is how you stay employed.... you do the Hustle.
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  #43  
Old 19.03.2015, 15:17
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

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I'd really appreciate you re-visiting this thread, if you do decide to go, since my current plan is to relocate to the US west coast after my stint here in ZH and it'd be great insight/prep.
I've only made initial contact and no offer yet. But, I'm getting myself informed so that once the offer is extended, then I can negotiate properly. So far, I've found www.city-data.com to be a good source of information. In general, here is what I have gathered at least in the San Jose area...
  • Rent would be shocking even from somebody used to ZH prices!
  • Commute is very bad and this goes hand-in-hand with rent.
  • School, I'm still trying to get a grasp of this because the schools are rated but I have no idea what this rating exactly mean.
  • Unemployment insurance is next to useless. Although if you are in tech, the opportunities are plenty.
  • To get the same life as 120k in ZH, you probably need 140-150k. 180k would be a step-up and above 200k would be a go. This is from someone with a family to up-root, obviously for single-person, it is a different perspective.

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RAV as in Unemployment insurance? It is covered by a California State insurance policy. You get practically nothing. Its something like $450 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks. That would be painful for your whole family. Your first line of defence is to make sure you have plane fare to get back to Switzerland. Your second line of defence is to work in a severance package with your employer, assuming the employer does not tank and cease to exist.

While you are there, you would want to network in your industry extensively. You do these on the evening, at industry events, about twice a week. That is how you stay employed.... you do the Hustle.
Ok, so a severance package should be in order.
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  #44  
Old 19.03.2015, 23:17
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

Are you in tech? then unless you are CTO and high end 200k is going to be hard.

Also since people hop around and companies fold I've not heard of many that would from the start offer you money if they want to get rid of you.

You may want to check how your visa works if your sponsor folds/lets you go .
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  #45  
Old 20.03.2015, 05:52
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

The US is, as we all know, a non-Socialist system, so if you lose your job, you're effectively on your own. That's just the reality and why Americans are more obsessed about money than other nationalities. The thing that used to freak out most people about unemployment, is that you effectively lose your healthcare (since health insurance is tied to your employer), but now with Obamacare that might be a little different? I haven't lived in the US since that came into effect, so can't comment how useful that is in an unemployment situation. The healthcare issue is actually kind of a serious one (or at least used to be), you used to often hear of people not being able to access doctors, etc due to no health insurance.

Also, retirement is your responsibility, there's not really pensions, etc. Most people/companies have 401ks, so it becomes less of an issue for places like Silicon Valley, but you, at the end of the day are the one that is responsible for making sure your retirement is funded. (Along that same thread, you want to make sure you have most of the insurances covered by Pillar 1 and 2 yourself if your company does not provide them - disability, long term, etc. Although many people just do without these). Severance packages are not really the norm either, unless you're C-level.

It definitely requires a bit of a mindset shift, if you're coming from a country with company/government-provided safety nets. Basically, everything's great if you have a job - you have healthcare, people paying into your 401k, benefits, money rolling in, but can be very difficult if you don't (and your spouse doesn't either).

Americans just find this all very normal/life - and that's where you get a pretty clear divide between the haves/have nots. Some of my European friends found the levels of poverty in some areas of San Francisco completely shocking (and it really is), but most San Franciscan just avoid/ignore those areas.

The good news is, that it's generally much easier to get another job than here in Switzerland. If you have 6 months of savings, have the right to work freely there, have the skills and apply aggressively, in more cases than not, it will work out. The job market is much more dynamic/fast. Also things (with the exception of housing) are generally cheaper, so your burn rate would be lower even with no income.

Last edited by AroundTown; 20.03.2015 at 06:33.
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  #46  
Old 20.03.2015, 08:24
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and can give you a little information about schools.

In the suburbs, housing prices usually correlate with the quality of the public school district: the better the school district, the more expensive the homes. I would say a school with an Annual Performance Index (API) > 900 would be considered a very good school by California standards.

You can get the API’s from the California Department of Education website.

Go to: California Department of Education / Testing & Accountability / Accountability Progress Reporting / API Reports. For starters I would look at the District Level API Reports.

The list of schools in Santa Clara County can be found here:
http://api.cde.ca.gov/acnt2014/apiav...?allcds=43&c=R

Just to give you an idea, William Faria Elementary has an API =998. It is in the 95014 zip code. Go to realtor.com and type in the zip code. The cheapest listing I see is $863,000 for a 2-bedroom condo!

Now take Apollo High, API=597, zip code=95122, you can get a 3-bedroom condo for $230,000.

See what I mean?

I am speaking in broad generalities and I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I hope it will at least give you a starting point in your search.

Your 10-yr old would be starting middle school soon. Your two youngest would be in elementary school. Depending on how long you plan to live here, I would take a good look at the high schools too. Inter-district transfers are possible, but often difficult. Also, when picking a place to live, make sure you know what the school boundaries are. Call the school district! Don’t rely on information your realtor/rental agency gives you.

The better private high schools generally cost an arm and a leg—upwards of $25-30K per year (parochial ones are upwards of $15K/yr). I imagine the elementary schools are very expensive too.

P.S. Just out of curiosity, I looked up the API numbers for a school district I am somewhat familiar with. Personally, I don’t think I’d go with an API in the 600’s or lower, 700’s would be iffy, I would probably be okay with something in the 800’s, but would definitely prefer something in the 900's. But, I have high standards
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  #47  
Old 20.03.2015, 12:31
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

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You may want to check how your visa works if your sponsor folds/lets you go .
Agree, need to inform myself about visa/permit as I'm not a US citizen

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The good news is, that it's generally much easier to get another job than here in Switzerland. If you have 6 months of savings, have the right to work freely there, have the skills and apply aggressively, in more cases than not, it will work out. The job market is much more dynamic/fast. Also things (with the exception of housing) are generally cheaper, so your burn rate would be lower even with no income.
Thanks for the info about health insurance and pension. There is definitely a big contrast between Europe (in general) and US in these matters. Unemployment is definitely a concern but much less as I'm in the Tech sector and the job market is very dynamic in the Bay Area.
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  #48  
Old 20.03.2015, 12:39
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

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I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and can give you a little information about schools.

In the suburbs, housing prices usually correlate with the quality of the public school district: the better the school district, the more expensive the homes. I would say a school with an Annual Performance Index (API) > 900 would be considered a very good school by California standards.

You can get the API’s from the California Department of Education website.

Go to: California Department of Education / Testing & Accountability / Accountability Progress Reporting / API Reports. For starters I would look at the District Level API Reports.

The list of schools in Santa Clara County can be found here:
http://api.cde.ca.gov/acnt2014/apiav...?allcds=43&c=R

Just to give you an idea, William Faria Elementary has an API =998. It is in the 95014 zip code. Go to realtor.com and type in the zip code. The cheapest listing I see is $863,000 for a 2-bedroom condo!

Now take Apollo High, API=597, zip code=95122, you can get a 3-bedroom condo for $230,000.

See what I mean?

I am speaking in broad generalities and I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I hope it will at least give you a starting point in your search.

Your 10-yr old would be starting middle school soon. Your two youngest would be in elementary school. Depending on how long you plan to live here, I would take a good look at the high schools too. Inter-district transfers are possible, but often difficult. Also, when picking a place to live, make sure you know what the school boundaries are. Call the school district! Don’t rely on information your realtor/rental agency gives you.

The better private high schools generally cost an arm and a leg—upwards of $25-30K per year (parochial ones are upwards of $15K/yr). I imagine the elementary schools are very expensive too.

P.S. Just out of curiosity, I looked up the API numbers for a school district I am somewhat familiar with. Personally, I don’t think I’d go with an API in the 600’s or lower, 700’s would be iffy, I would probably be okay with something in the 800’s, but would definitely prefer something in the 900's. But, I have high standards
Holly, thanks for this excellent info. If I may ask, do you have children in the local school here? How would you rate your typical Zürich local school in this API rating? I've got on one San Jose-based forum, and the rent/school correlation is definitely clear. Let me follow your link and understand more this API rating.
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  #49  
Old 20.03.2015, 20:18
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

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How would you rate your typical Zürich local school in this API rating?
Sorry, can’t help you there. We purposely made the move just after our children finished school so we wouldn’t have to deal with this issue.

What I can tell you is that in the excellent school districts, the community as a whole is invested in making sure the kids get the best in education. Why? Because we all want our houses to maintain/increase their value and the value depends on those API scores. This translates into better teachers, better resources, etc. Funding for "extras" like music, art, and sports comes from the community. These are the things that get cut back first when a school has to tighten its belt.

If I had to pick, I think I would go about it backwards. I would pick the high school first and then pick any of the elementary/middle schools that feed into that high school. In any case, your choices will be limited by what you can afford to pay in rent/mortgage.

(And, I wholeheartedly concur, that $120K for a family of 5 would be quite difficult in the South Bay.)

P.S. Just found this article on API scores: http://www.dailybreeze.com/social-af...-maybe-forever

It seems that huge changes in education are underway in California so there is no way to compare the two educational systems.

HTH.
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Old 20.03.2015, 20:58
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

Regarding health insurance, here are some numbers for 2015 from an excellent employer in the Bay Area. Not all employers are this generous.

The monthly employee contribution (i.e., what you would pay) for a family is:

$0 for the bare minimum
$250-$350 per month for Kaiser (which is pretty good)
$550-$650 per month for the best

(These numbers do not include out-of-pocket expenses like: co-pays, deductibles, etc. but may at least give you a vague idea of health care costs.)

In this example, the employer is contributing about $1200-$1500 per month towards the premium.
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  #51  
Old 20.03.2015, 21:03
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Re: Cost of Living: Zürich (suburbs) vs. Bay Area, CA

I am from the Bay area. I dont have kids though . send me a message of where you are looking , how old the kids are , what kind of school you want them enrolled in etc. I will put you in contact with some families in different suburbs. Have you ever lived in California _ Its very different from Switzerland you have the option to live within the financial range that you need to ... Shopping at Target rather then Pottery Barn Food is cheaper , housing is cheaper , so are wages . family of 5 in some suburbs on 120k is tight but can be done
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