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Old 10.08.2015, 04:32
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Geneva or BUST!!!!`

Hi everyone!

My name is Tracy and my goal is to begin life anew in Switzerland! I am from Boston, MA and I intend to find a job and relocate to Geneva ASAP!

I read a great article on the quality of life and work in Switzerland and it makes my prospects in the good ol' US of A seem like a call to agrarian life!

I hope I can make it - I am 36, of Haitian American descent, very bright, vivacious and adventurous and I love meeting new people and doing the possible - which is everything!

Thank you for reading this! You can find my profile on LinkedIn - last name: Syverain! TMI??
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Old 10.08.2015, 05:00
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

Tracy from a fellow New Englander who spent many years in Boston (Brookline, to be specific) before retiring in the mountains of NH. Where do you live in the Boston area? Oops ... if I had looked more carefully I would have seen that you live in Chelsea

I bet that Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture is the article you read ... it has been quite extensively discussed on this forum Working in Switzerland: An American perspective.
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Old 10.08.2015, 05:06
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

The very one and the same! LOL Great article! Eye-opening! Have you given it much thought as well? I've been applying to jobs all day and I am qualified for so many and the salaries are so incredibly high - I mean, it is a living wage for the work one extolls, practically unheard of here.

I am starting a family soon so I'd like to expatriate ASAP!
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Old 10.08.2015, 08:20
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

Hi Tracy, and welcome to the Forum! You have plenty of that American "can do, will do" quality, which is very welcome in the US. Which types of employment are you applying for?

Here unfortunately the natives are suspicious of eager workers. You would need a more conservative approach while presenting very good qualifications. As a non EU person you are bottom of the list for work permits, so you need to be exceptional in your field, to be chosen above the Swiss and EU candidates.

Geneva is full of foreigners trying to make a rich living. I haven't read the article, but there have been many similar previously. You need to know that Geneva is a mad house. The rental situation is impossible, you will probably only find affordable accomodation in France!

You should perhaps read the book "Living & Working in Switzerland" to understand what you are going to experience, if you do find work here, buy only a recent edition, http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...ng+Switzerland

Good luck, and fingers crossed!

PS Geneva is not affordable for families!!
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Old 10.08.2015, 09:24
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

The US is a non-EU country and there is no special agreement with Switzerland to allow American citizens to work in the country. Without special skills your chances of getting one of the around 6,000 non-EU work permits granted annually are probably close to zero. You might wish to review the following:

"Working in Switzerland as third-country nationals"

https://www.ch.ch/en/working-foreign-national-requirements/
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Old 10.08.2015, 10:25
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

Welcome to the forum, but do try and be realistic about this please. Because we get a lot of Americans who think they'll just move here without doing their research first.

For a start non-EU nationals are last in the jobs queue so unless you're highly skilled/experienced and what you can offer isn't available from Swiss/EU nationals then you won't make it, sorry. I see from your profile that you are a real estate agent - sorry, but there are going to be plenty of Swiss/EU nationals who can do this so employers won't go to the time and expense of trying to get a permit for you. The criteria for employers being able to hire non-EU nationals is outlined here:

https://www.bfm.admin.ch/bfm/en/home...zulassung.html

As an American citizen you're required to file US tax returns no matter where you live in the world and could end up owing the US tax on top of Swiss ones. Start your reseach on that here:

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inter...-Aliens-Abroad

Also to get a bank account here you'll need to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to send your account info on to the IRS. You want a mortgage or investment account here - forget it. As an American you're persona non grata because these accounts also have to be reported to the IRS and so the banks will no longer allow Americans to have these. FATCA (google and learn) is the cause and will affect your life outside the US no matter where you move to.

And any "foreign", i.e. outside of US, bank accounts will also have to be reported on an FBAR form if the aggregate amount comes to more than $10,000 a year.

Then there's the practical stuff like living here. As already said Geneva is overcrowded and accommodation is at a premium. Most people live in apartments here - is that something you want to do? Starting a family (hubby/partner okay with the move btw?) means expensive childcare which will eat into any extra money you make. You'll have to take out mandatory Swiss health insurance too.

You won't be able to live in France so don't even think about that - again to get permission as an American to do that you need to have a pre-approved job there - not Switzerland - so that option is out. And again Swiss/EU nationals will take precedence on the job front.

And finally - remember not everyone enjoys living here:

Eventually Escaped...But Even That Was Painful!

Many find it difficult and can't wait to leave again.

It's not an impossible dream, but it will be difficult to achieve and you do need to do a lot more research on how it would affect you and a future family than just deciding to move on the basis of one article. Get the book Sbrinz mentions, read the various sticky threads here on the forum and use the search function to find more on getting a job here as a non-EU national, cost of living, schools, etc. Read the various info for non-EU nationals living and working in Switzerland on www.ch.ch and https://www.bfm.admin.ch/bfm/en/home.html (scroll down to the bottom of the page).
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Old 10.08.2015, 11:06
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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The very one and the same! LOL Great article! Eye-opening! Have you given it much thought as well? I've been applying to jobs all day and I am qualified for so many and the salaries are so incredibly high - I mean, it is a living wage for the work one extolls, practically unheard of here.

I am starting a family soon so I'd like to expatriate ASAP!
I hope you do understand those what you find are incredibly high wages is because there is incredibly high prices to go along with that. You should want more then money alone. Also....what languages do you speak and have you ever lived abroad before?
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Old 10.08.2015, 11:18
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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The very one and the same! LOL Great article! Eye-opening! Have you given it much thought as well? I've been applying to jobs all day and I am qualified for so many and the salaries are so incredibly high - I mean, it is a living wage for the work one extolls, practically unheard of here.

I am starting a family soon so I'd like to expatriate ASAP!
That article is quite a bit overblown. While some points mentioned are correct, others arent (e.g. the tax situation, which is largely irrelevant to you anyway as you'll keep being subject to the IRS due to your US citizenship). But even those points mentioned don't all apply everywhere, or in all industries.

Even though one of the most important things (speaking a local language, french in your case) is covered already you do want to inform yourself first. Switzerland isn't the land of milk and honey.
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Old 10.08.2015, 11:26
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between a qualified Somalian doctor who comes here as an asylum seeker because he wants a better life and posts like the OP's (and I don't mean this personally OP...you are in excellent company)?
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Old 10.08.2015, 11:39
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

It is frustrating when you have a "world citizen" mind to be restricted in your movements, but other posts are correct, you will not be given priority as far as Swiss immigration is concerned. Similarly, us Europeans who would want to work and live in the US would be equally stopped in our tracks.


You might be lucky if you apply with a company who knows the ropes well and are willing to do all the bargaining on your behalf, so not impossible.


Salaries are high indeed, but in proportion (and sometimes, not enough) with the huge cost of living here, particularly accommodation. If you are not totally set on Geneva, other cantons like Fribourg or Neuchatel may have more work permits available for non EU citizens, albeit with a lot less choice for industry and international organisations. Fribourg for example is only 1h15 from Geneva and a beautiful place.
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:06
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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Tracy from a fellow New Englander who spent many years in Boston (Brookline, to be specific) before retiring in the mountains of NH. Where do you live in the Boston area? Oops ... if I had looked more carefully I would have seen that you live in Chelsea

I bet that Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture is the article you read ... it has been quite extensively discussed on this forum Working in Switzerland: An American perspective.

Hi RetiredInNH,

I'll check out the forum! Thank you!
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:27
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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Hi Tracy, and welcome to the Forum! You have plenty of that American "can do, will do" quality, which is very welcome in the US. Which types of employment are you applying for?

Here unfortunately the natives are suspicious of eager workers. You would need a more conservative approach while presenting very good qualifications. As a non EU person you are bottom of the list for work permits, so you need to be exceptional in your field, to be chosen above the Swiss and EU candidates.

Geneva is full of foreigners trying to make a rich living. I haven't read the article, but there have been many similar previously. You need to know that Geneva is a mad house. The rental situation is impossible, you will probably only find affordable accomodation in France!

You should perhaps read the book "Living & Working in Switzerland" to understand what you are going to experience, if you do find work here, buy only a recent edition, http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_...ng+Switzerland

Good luck, and fingers crossed!

PS Geneva is not affordable for families!!

Hi Sbrinz,

Thank you for the advice! Golly, Switzerland seems ideal. Stateside you have to roll over and beg for a job, even if you ARE the most qualified candidate. I sometimes feel like merit doesn't extend as far as it should here, which is one of thr reasons I am so keen on Switzerland.

I can play it cool. Job, no job, living wage, no living wage, housing, family, whatever.... See??? LOL

I've been applying to administrative and HR posts. My true passion is lies with NGOs and non-profits and I have had trouble any traction in those fields. I DO believe they may have more qualified candidates in the latter and certainly not the former.

My work ethic is such that I strive for perfection. My previous employers agree that they certainly received more than they bargained for when I was under their employs. Owners of businesses were pleasantly surprised to find that I was overqualified, extremely happy and very well-educated and traveled. I believe I am overqualified for some of the roles and I won't know until I try!

I can appreciate the caution the Swiss display. Here in the states, the extent to which Americans distrust foreigners is beyond compare and rather embarrassing. I rather see myself as a citoyen du monde and think all those lines on a world map are rather gauche and off-putting. I love experiencing the culture and world view of anyone different from me. Every fingerprint is a story I've never know, p.o.v. to consider and count upon to enrich my own world-view, but to each his own.


I want to thank everyone so much for being so welcoming! This was my first thread and I have yet to figure out how to thank you each individually.

As for raising a family, I am VERY flexible. I just want to breathe the Swiss air.... have any of you read "Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri? It is a series of short stories that chronicles the immigrant experience. It is simply heaven! Of course, I cried and more than that, it encouraged me to do as my mother did when she emigrated to the United States from Haiti: it encouraged me to be a pioneer, strike out on my own, create a new world, a new path, a new experience. If I have a family in Switzerland, I will also imbue a diasporic ethos from within and encourage the same flight to their own patch of unaccustomed earth as well.


Thank you again everyone! I'll take your advise to heart! Igt would be everything to me to be able to do this. I must!
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:36
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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That article is quite a bit overblown. While some points mentioned are correct, others arent (e.g. the tax situation, which is largely irrelevant to you anyway as you'll keep being subject to the IRS due to your US citizenship). But even those points mentioned don't all apply everywhere, or in all industries.

Even though one of the most important things (speaking a local language, french in your case) is covered already you do want to inform yourself first. Switzerland isn't the land of milk and honey.

Hi Urs Max,

Thank you for your post! I speak French. I'd love to learn German. Taxes are taxes. Hmmm? In the United States, the Equal Rights Amendment that would guarantee equal pay to women failed ... YEARS ago and we are paid approximately 70 cents for ever US dollar a man makes. Would you say this is the same in Switzerland or are the sexes treated equally?

The number is even lower if you are a black woman (62 cents). I am in my 30s and I've held a number of positions where I have been the best qualified, I've won the most awards and recognition on the job and yet it doesn't merit equal pay. It's rather disconcerting. I watch the news and it seems every day the violence is suffocating. I am afraid for my life and for my family to think violence could visit us without the slightest provocation, save stepping out of doors.

Rather than live this way, I thought perhaps I could make a change for myself, for my future. Perhaps I'll go on holiday and visit staffing agencies and see what it may be like in person, although my heart seems pretty set on this move.

Did you like Switzerland? Would you not recommend it?
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:37
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

Have you explored coming in through the "backdoor" of Switzerland, meaning, are you possibly eligible for EU citizenship? Some of the more common "EU citizenship by descent" schemes include: Irish, Italian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak, Slovene and probably others.

Are you possibly a descendent of Jews who were forced to give up their German citizenship between 1933 and 1945? If yes, you might be able to claim German (and possibly Austrian) citizenship.

Are you a descendent of Sephardic Jews who were forced to leave Portugal and Spain about 500 years ago? If yes, Portugal and Spain may have a citizenship program for you.

As a US citizen, you could resettle to Germany and then register within about 90 days of arrival, i.e., no need to obtain a visum in advance. See German forum "toytowngermany.com" for discussions on this topic.
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:48
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

The difference being when your mother immigrated migrants were more welcome. Now they are not. However good your work ethic is will not make a bit of difference if you don't have desirable skills/experience that can't be found here. Nothing you've said so far has given me the impression that you do. And as far as I know NGO's and non-profits are still going to have to meet the same non-EU hiring rules so for HR/admin jobs there are plenty of Swiss/EU nationals to go around.

Citizen of the world you may be, but those lines on the world map are very real physical barriers that are meant to keep you out. And they will only get more difficult to cross with the current problems Europe is having with thousands of illegal immigrants from elsewhere.

Don't listen to what you want to hear - listen to what is actually being said.
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:48
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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It is frustrating when you have a "world citizen" mind to be restricted in your movements, but other posts are correct, you will not be given priority as far as Swiss immigration is concerned. Similarly, us Europeans who would want to work and live in the US would be equally stopped in our tracks.


You might be lucky if you apply with a company who knows the ropes well and are willing to do all the bargaining on your behalf, so not impossible.


Salaries are high indeed, but in proportion (and sometimes, not enough) with the huge cost of living here, particularly accommodation. If you are not totally set on Geneva, other cantons like Fribourg or Neuchatel may have more work permits available for non EU citizens, albeit with a lot less choice for industry and international organisations. Fribourg for example is only 1h15 from Geneva and a beautiful place.

Hi McTAVGE!

Thank you for your post! This is great information. Speaking French, I thought Geneva was my best chance for employment. I did not realize Fribourg or Neuchatel were optional as well! This is very informative - thank you so much!

My last two places of employ hired lots of foreigners. One was a well established business (40+ years) and I worked in the HR department in which everyone knew what they were doing so it was easy to foreigners. The last place, the owner of the business emigrated from Turkey and mostly hired acquaintances of currently employees. He'd hired one Maldovan gentleman three years ago and through him, four more Moldovans received gainful employment. I found this particularly encouraging.

I must keep in mind that some people are allowed to emigrate, work and become part of the national tapestry. I like to believe I can be one in some.

So long as no more than hard work and determination is required, I will retain this hope until my ends are met!

Thanks again for this information. I have traveled to England, Paris, from Turin to Brindisi and the Greece. I have been in love with Europe since I was a child and could only experience it through books. My heart belongs in Europe. I am in love with culture and the idea of leading a simple life. I suppose one could find that anywhere. Why not Switzerland, I say.

I think I'd be pleased anywhere in Europe, Croatia, Dalmatia, Italy, France.... truly anywhere. I thought Switzerland had the most opportunity. If I am wrong, please let me know, if it isn't too much trouble?

Thank you and again and thank you everyone for your kindness. I still fear reprisal and yet I have received only kind words and helpful critically thoughtful advice.

With all my heart, I thank you!
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:51
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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The difference being when your mother immigrated migrants were more welcome. Now they are not. However good your work ethic is will not make a bit of difference if you don't have desirable skills/experience that can't be found here. Nothing you've said so far has given me the impression that you do. And as far as I know NGO's and non-profits are still going to have to meet the same non-EU hiring rules so for HR/admin jobs there are plenty of Swiss/EU nationals to go around.

Citizen of the world you may be, but those lines on the world map are very real physical barriers that are meant to keep you out. And they will only get more difficult to cross with the current problems Europe is having with thousands of illegal immigrants from elsewhere.

Don't listen to what you want to hear - listen to what is actually being said.

Hi Medea Fleecestealer,

I understand now. Thank you. Is there something I should be saying that would make my skill set more obvious?
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:54
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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The US is a non-EU country and there is no special agreement with Switzerland to allow American citizens to work in the country. Without special skills your chances of getting one of the around 6,000 non-EU work permits granted annually are probably close to zero. You might wish to review the following:

"Working in Switzerland as third-country nationals"

https://www.ch.ch/en/working-foreign-national-requirements/

Thank you Mullhollander!

I'll check it out right now!
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Old 10.08.2015, 14:56
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

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Hi McTAVGE!

I think I'd be pleased anywhere in Europe, Croatia, Dalmatia, Italy, France.... truly anywhere. I thought Switzerland had the most opportunity. If I am wrong, please let me know, if it isn't too much trouble?

Thank you and again and thank you everyone for your kindness. I still fear reprisal and yet I have received only kind words and helpful critically thoughtful advice.

With all my heart, I thank you!
As a US citizen, you can immigrate to the Netherlands under the Dutch American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) for purposes of setting up a business:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAFT_%28treaty%29

Generally, Americans with certain skills can immigrate to Canada and Mexico under NAFTA.

http://www.canadavisa.com/nafta-work-permits.html

Quebec, as I recall, operates its own immigration policies. As a Francophone, I believe you would be advantaged to immigrate there.
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Old 10.08.2015, 15:05
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Re: Geneva or BUST!!!!`

There are many NGOs in Geneva, and you just might be able to get employment through one of these. You need to search their websites for the vacancies.

Swiss telephone book, (I searched for United Nations in Geneva)

http://tel.local.ch/en/q?what=United...eneva&rid=v1ja
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