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Old 27.09.2015, 14:06
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Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

Hi everyone


I am new to this site and my husband and I are in a real dilemma. He started working in Zurich in April and has just had his contract renewed for another year. I am in the UK with 2 children age 14 and 8. My husband loves it in Zurich especially the work life balance and we spent the whole of the summer there which was fabulous.


But now we are a crossroads in our lives as he loves his job and does not want to return to the UK but equally does not want us to live apart. But my eldest daughter has now started studying for the new GCSEs and so what do we do? Do we let her complete that and then move to Switzerland for her to do the International Baccalaureat or is that too late or do we need to make the move now so she can settle in. But equally she wants to go to university and our understanding is that most students do not go to Uni but take on an apprenticeship so then is it best for her to continue in the UK. She is currently at a good Grammar School so we are worried that if we leave here she would lose that place and would not be able to return if things did not work out for us.


I have read a lot of postings of people who have moved when their children have been young but has anyone been in our position and what decision have they made. We are really stressed about the decision and would really welcome some advice from education experts and expats who have been in a similar position to ours where the children are a at a crucial point in their education.


Many thanks
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Old 27.09.2015, 14:12
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

Realistically, your eldest daughter would need to go to an international school, where she could do GCSE/A-levels or a Baccalaureate.

Unlike the Swiss system, at an international school doing international qualifications the Uni vs Apprenticeship thing won't be an issue. Although, she'd probably have to go to Uni outside of Switzerland (unless she gets her languages very good during that time) as Swiss bachelor courses aren't taught in English.
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Old 27.09.2015, 17:11
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

Thank you Island Monkey for your response. She is studying German as a GCSE language. There is part of us thinking should we let her just continue here in the UK but have heard that the education system is excellent in Switzerland. And then if we leave it too late we will be in exactly the same dilemma with your youngest daughter. Thanks again and I guess we have a lot of thinking and researching to do.
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Old 27.09.2015, 17:41
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

There are many threads down in the Education section of the forum which may or may not help you make a decision.

The problem with an International school is that it's going to cost you over CHF35,000 in fees for her attendance and that's not including the initial registration fee of CHF500.

http://www.zis.ch/page.cfm?p=2454

Can you afford that?

There's also the concern that, depending on how far you are from the school, it could be that none of her new friends live locally unlike if she were to attend a public school. Here, there isn't usually any choice of public schools, your children go to the one nearest your home.

Your youngest should be alright for a public school now, but as you suggest the older she gets the more difficult it usually becomes because of the language issue unless she's already been studying German. At 8 she should still pick up the language fairly quickly and the Swiss are very good at providing extra help with this.
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Old 27.09.2015, 17:51
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

If you move the 14 year old to the Swiss school system it could work ( I know of one case where it did) but you would likely have to throw money at it, I know a family where it did work after a 40K intensive language year nad dropping back 1 year.

For the younger one it should work, it will likely be a little tough in the beginning but in the end it should be okay, if it is a long term move and she is happy to learn another language you should be fine.

If this is a short term move with a plan to go back to the UK later then it might be difficult for the girls to reintegrate as the systems are very different.

If you have questions about the Swiss university route secondary school system in Zürich please feel free to PM me I have a daughter in the system.
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Old 27.09.2015, 18:00
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

Your husband only has a new 1-year contract, so bear in mind you could be back in the UK in 12 months.

I'd put the 14yo in an international school following the UK curriculum. I've no kids, but I imagine the 8 year old will cope with whatever, but I'd still stick with an international school as otherwise she'll just spend the next year learning German while trying to understand what's going on.

Of course, if you do this and the contract renews, and renews and renews you'll kick yourself about why you didn't save tons of cash and put them in local schools with all the integration advantages that offers.

Personally, for a 1-year contract I wouldn't even bother to move to be with him But that's just me.
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Old 27.09.2015, 18:45
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

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but have heard that the education system is excellent in Switzerland.
It's different. I don't think it's better, just different. Depends what you are looking for, as you already mentioned, the Swiss system decides quite early on if you will do academic study or head down the apprenticeship route. Good if you are definitely suited to one or the other, not so good maybe if you are in the middle.

I see your options as;

Move now and put eldest in a private international school (Expensive! Maybe husbands employer could offer this as part of his package? I've heard of this before) and youngest in Swiss State school.

Move now and put both kids in State school. But eldest my end up repeating a year whilst learning the language.

Move later. Then you have the same problem with younger child.

Stay in the UK for both your kids education.

Put eldest in a UK State boarding school (you just pay for the boarding side of things) and she comes to Switzerland in the holidays. Many families not keen on this. Personally I would have loved to go to boarding school, never forgiven my parents for not sending me
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Old 27.09.2015, 21:58
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

Brilliant - thanks to each of you for advice and comments. Although the contract is for a year my husband said that he does not want to return to the rat-race life he was in before he moved. We live in Bucks and as he works in the financial market, all the jobs are in London so a good 2 hour commute each way. So as unemployment is low in Switzerland he would look for another contract there.


And on top of the whole issue about the girls, I have 2 businesses here that I have and still am working my socks off to grow.... why is life never simple!!
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Old 28.09.2015, 10:09
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

We arrived from Canada when the kids were 10 & 12 two years ago. They are now both pretty much fluent in German. That said, I would not put the 14 year old in a local school, if I were you, especially, if you want her to go to uni. My son is happy going the apprenticeship route, but even that is tough. He is now in 8th grade and has to call companies to introduce himself , arrange to meet them, write his resume, etc. Your daughter would be arriving in the middle of that with no preparation. So you would definitely need to put her in an international school. The 8 year old would probably do just fine in local school though. Good luck with the decision.
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Old 28.09.2015, 15:02
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

That's great thank you for your response. Yes I think you are absolutely right that our eldest daughter would need to go to an International school but we certainly could not afford to send them both to one.

Such a daunting decision because of the timing otherwise it would be a no brainer. Did your children go to an International School to start with?

Leena
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Old 28.09.2015, 16:12
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

Maybe helpful to define priorities -i.e. marriage more important than kids, kids more important than career, etc. If you do what's best for your most important priority, the options/locations for lesser priorities are quite simplified. However, seems your family is already set on work in CH and finding solution for the children's schooling.
My two pence's worth:
- Local school for 8 year old should be ok after initial hiccups of first months
- Consider enrolling 14 year old also in local school; you'll save a ton of money to fund her eventual uni fees in UK, she'll pick up fluent German for a lifetime, and even if you hold back 1 year it's won't matter a bit in her college or career. Maybe even easier for your children to both be in same situation instead of one English, one German program
- If you want to take family holidays, be aware Intl Schools and CH local schools can have drastically different free dates
- Explore options for local schools before committing to housing rental - having teachers experienced with integration of students can vary widely school to school. Don't be afraid to ask
best of luck to you!
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Old 28.09.2015, 22:06
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

That's great - thank you for the advice. We have to think about so much.. not an easy decision but know that we can't live like this either!! Thanks again.


Best Wishes


Leena
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Old 29.09.2015, 14:14
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

We were in a similar situation a few years back and decided that it was better to let our daughter finish her GCEs in the UK - 14 is such a difficult age to make such a huge upheaval. Is there anyone she could stay with term time or failing that she could board at a school.
The holidays are long so she could spend lots of time in Switzerland and get to know the place then.
Only you will know what she can cope with.
For you to try and juggle your life and businesses will put additional pressure on you - hope it all works out!
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Old 30.09.2015, 22:09
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

OR depending on how independent your daughter is, send her to boarding school in the UK. I know a LOT of families who are sending their kids back to state funded boarding schools (you just pay the lodging) to finish their education.

she then comes over for the school holidays.

may not sound like a good idea but actually could make a lot of sense.
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Old 01.10.2015, 10:10
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Re: Thinking about relocating to Switzerland

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- Explore options for local schools before committing to housing rental - having teachers experienced with integration of students can vary widely school to school.
This is probably a very important aspect.

It is my understanding that in the UK the parents pick the school. In CH it's different, the child is assigned to a school with very little influence by the parents, if at all - usually it's the school closest to home, nonetheless there's a fair chance that the child will be assigned to one further away.
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