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Old 19.11.2012, 21:58
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Life in Zug

Hi

I am considering to move to Zug with my husband and 2 toddlers, and it is a huge decision.

In order to make the right move I need to know as much as possible about life in Zug for a family. I don't speek much German, but I am willing to learn. Also I need to know what would be a good income for a family of four, more about health insurance, taxes, rent vs. owning a house, schools and so on.

I am reading the threads and I find out more and more. If you live in Zug and have more detailed information that would be awesome.

Thank you,
hungarian
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Old 19.11.2012, 22:06
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Re: Life in Zug

Not the 1st time this has all been asked, and this is Switzerland so nothing changes much and if it does it's at a glacial pace. The search function will answer all your question but pretty sums it up:
- pretty scenery,
- pretty quiet,
- pretty soulless,
- and pretty expensive
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Old 20.11.2012, 00:24
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Re: Life in Zug

Where abouts in the USA do you currently live?

Zug (the town) is very expensive real estate wise, Zug surroundings can be a little cheaper but still probably expensive compared to what you are used to.

Like most of Switzerland apartments are more common than houses, houses are more expensive. Space is scarce, much more so than the US.

Zug has very low taxes, but that won't help you that much as assuming whoever is working is a US Citizen you will still be required to pay US taxes if you earn over a certain amount. You get credit for the Swiss taxes you pay but unless your income is under 6 figures you may owe Uncle Sam something.

Zug has a lot of expats, you can navigate in English pretty easily. Learning German helps but its not easy (at least for me).

Health insurance is compulsory but may or may not be provided by your employer. Unlike the US its most likely not.

Most goods are more expensive in Switzerland. Dining out in Switzerland is very expensive compared to the US, groceries in general are a little more expensive, meat especially steak is a lot more expensive here.

Day care is very expensive.

There are loads of threads on here from people with the same question, maybe so many that you can't even figure out which ones to read.

We moved from New York and I would say if someone offered someone moving from NY the same salary in Zug you would not have the same standard of living.

I hope thats helped a bit. Look around there`s loads on this forum.

Zug is quiet, its not a city it`s a small town. The area is good for children, children in general in Switzerland still walk to school from a very young age something I don`t think you would see in most parts of the USA.

Zug is close enough to Zurich airport to get out and about, Switzerland is a great starting point to see Europe. When you think Italy, France, Germany, Austria are all drivable in less than 3 hours and you can get to so many other European destinations by train or plane.
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Old 20.11.2012, 09:54
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Re: Life in Zug

I think Zug is a good area for a family but you need a good income. For two people with two kids, I think you would be stretched on anything less than 120k.
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Old 20.11.2012, 18:55
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I think Zug is a good area for a family but you need a good income. For two people with two kids, I think you would be stretched on anything less than 120k.
Thank you.

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Where abouts in the USA do you currently live?

Zug (the town) is very expensive real estate wise, Zug surroundings can be a little cheaper but still probably expensive compared to what you are used to.

Like most of Switzerland apartments are more common than houses, houses are more expensive. Space is scarce, much more so than the US.

Zug has very low taxes, but that won't help you that much as assuming whoever is working is a US Citizen you will still be required to pay US taxes if you earn over a certain amount. You get credit for the Swiss taxes you pay but unless your income is under 6 figures you may owe Uncle Sam something.

Zug has a lot of expats, you can navigate in English pretty easily. Learning German helps but its not easy (at least for me).

Health insurance is compulsory but may or may not be provided by your employer. Unlike the US its most likely not.

Most goods are more expensive in Switzerland. Dining out in Switzerland is very expensive compared to the US, groceries in general are a little more expensive, meat especially steak is a lot more expensive here.

Day care is very expensive.

There are loads of threads on here from people with the same question, maybe so many that you can't even figure out which ones to read.

We moved from New York and I would say if someone offered someone moving from NY the same salary in Zug you would not have the same standard of living.

I hope thats helped a bit. Look around there`s loads on this forum.

Zug is quiet, its not a city it`s a small town. The area is good for children, children in general in Switzerland still walk to school from a very young age something I don`t think you would see in most parts of the USA.

Zug is close enough to Zurich airport to get out and about, Switzerland is a great starting point to see Europe. When you think Italy, France, Germany, Austria are all drivable in less than 3 hours and you can get to so many other European destinations by train or plane.
HI and thanks for your prompt answer.

Currently we live in Massachusetts where life is kind of expensive.
You wrote daycare is expensive. What about preschool?
Is it hard to find a place to rent?
Thanks for pointing out the taxation over the certain amount.
Very important for me personally is to learn German. I know a little bit: I did German as secondary language, but forgot it all. Are you aware of any local and possibly free language classes?

I need to think it through and write down all my questions.
Like one just came to me: do rentals come with furnished kitchen and bathroom? What about washer and dryer?

Thanks a lot.
Take care.

Last edited by jrspet; 16.12.2012 at 00:55. Reason: Merging of successive posts
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Old 20.11.2012, 22:31
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Re: Life in Zug

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do rentals come with furnished kitchen and bathroom? What about washer and dryer?
Usually only the modern (and therefore more expensive) appartments have their own washer and dryer. It's very common that you have to share a laundry room with other tenants and as a new tenant you might get your laundry shifts at an ackward time. One of my colleagues for example only has two shifts per month which sounds crazy to me.

Getting your own washer installed afterwards into an old building is often difficult as there's no room or connectivity for it anywhere. For me and my wife it was clear that we wanted to have our own but that seriously narrowed down our choices in an already tight market (we were lucky though). Good luck with everything!
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Old 21.11.2012, 00:24
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Re: Life in Zug

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HI and thanks for your prompt answer.

Currently we live in Massachusetts where life is kind of expensive.
You wrote daycare is expensive. What about preschool?
Is it hard to find a place to rent?
Thanks for pointing out the taxation over the certain amount.
Very important for me personally is to learn German. I know a little bit: I did German as secondary language, but forgot it all. Are you aware of any local and possibly free language classes?

I need to think it through and write down all my questions.
Like one just came to me: do rentals come with furnished kitchen and bathroom? What about washer and dryer?

Thanks a lot.
Take care.
We moved from New York, you ain`t seen nothing yet. If you are in Boston you may get culture shock from Zug as its a small town. Good news is Zurich and Luzern are both close, bad news is babysitters are also expensive.

I looked up one preschool, chf 2k per month per kid, full day. You are looking at 30k per year for International School per child (they do Pre school if required in English). You would have to ask someone else what age the children start public school if you want them to go to local schools but I believe its later than normal for Americans. The children will pick up German very very quickly so local school won't be a problem if thats what you choose.

There are not an awful lot of places to rent. As someone else said most places are apartments with a few shared amenities like washroom. Look at the link below Kanton Zug is not big so geographically you could live anywhere in the Kanton and commute to Zug. There are differences though between living in the Ageri`s (up the mountain, colder in winter, more snow, but more sun), living in Walchill (great views, but steep terrain) and Zug, Baar, Cham which are more central and more expensive. The rent will depend on how much space you feel you have to have, the location, and whether you really want a house or can live with an apartment. You could also look at Affoltern am Albis which is in Kanton Zurich but still close enough to commute easily to Zug.

http://www.homegate.ch/en?gclid=COnx...FYxa3godC0IATQ

You can take German classes through Migros school, I believe thats the cheapest option but not free. Ive had friends do it. I have not. There are also expensive private lessons.

Im not sure what you mean by furnished kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen will have a fridge, oven, maybe dishwasher but not pans, crockery etc. The bathroom will have a toilet, shower, bath but the rest is up to you. Its not so much like maybe what Ive heard about the German renting model where you take your kitchen with you. But unusually (for me) you seem to take your light fixtures so when we were looking at rentals they had no lights in the bedrooms, living rooms. We had to buy lights.

Hope that helps. Im hoping/ assuming you guys are going to visit before making a decision? Switzerland is a beautiful country but it is VERY different culturally from the US.
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Old 21.11.2012, 03:24
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Re: Life in Zug

OP, didn't you learn German in school in Hungary?
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Old 21.11.2012, 09:11
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Re: Life in Zug

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I think Zug is a good area for a family but you need a good income. For two people with two kids, I think you would be stretched on anything less than 120k.
I don't have kids, but I hear they are expensive...I'd put that figure closer to 200k.
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Old 21.11.2012, 12:24
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Re: Life in Zug

[QUOTE=BrianJW;1722705]
You would have to ask someone else what age the children start public school if you want them to go to local schools but I believe its later than normal for Americans. The children will pick up German very very quickly so local school won't be a problem if thats what you choose.


If you put the children into local school, they start a little earlier than in the USA. There is a 2 year Kindergarten (which is roughly equivalent to pre-K and Kindergarten in the USA). Then they start the equivalent of Elementary school at the age of 6 1/2 - 7 1/2 dependent on where their birthday is. Which is about the same as starting 1st grade in the USA.
Here in canton Zug, the school year as far as date cut-off runs from the 1st March - 28th Feb. so the oldest kids in the class are the March birthdays.
My daughter started in the Swiss Kindergarten at the age of 4 years 7 months ( this is when free local school starts!) and the First Grade at 6 years 7 months. She is a January birthday, so one of the youngest in the year.
She was quiet in Kindergarten, but now in First Class is speaking away with her friends with no problems. I can't understand a word she says in Swiss-German but that's my problem!!
They also give the non-swiss kids german lessons in the Kindergartens and schools to help them adapt to the language.
She loves the school and gets the opportunity to try many sports through the school etc. The children are expected to walk to and from school by themselves/with other children which is a big change from many other countries. The school hours are variable between cantons. In Zug Kindergarten 1 is 4 mornings and 1 afternoon, Kindergarten 2 is 5 mornings and 1 afternoon, First Class is 5 mornings and 3 afternoons, after that I'm not sure but no swiss kids go to school on Wednesday afternoons. Kids also go home for lunch, although I think you can pay in some schools for them to stay and eat.
They also have swimming lessons in Kindergarten and Elementary. We are very happy with her experience so far.
I also have 2 older kids who are in the International School, and I am also very impressed with that. They are very different systems but both very good. My older two go to ISZL which has pre-K through 8th grade in Baar, and then 9-12 grade in Hünenberg.
Hope some of this has helped, if you have any more questions I'll try to help as I have experience of both options in canton Zug.
Good luck with the move, if you decide to go for it!
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Old 21.11.2012, 14:09
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Re: Life in Zug

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In order to make the right move I need to know as much as possible about life in Zug for a family. I don't speek much German, but I am willing to learn. Also I need to know what would be a good income for a family of four, more about health insurance, taxes, rent vs. owning a house, schools and so on.

I am reading the threads and I find out more and more. If you live in Zug and have more detailed information that would be awesome.
Taxes aren't much in Zug, 13% at 150k Fr. to slightly over 20% for 300k with 2 kids. Health insurance is 200-300 fr. a month per adult, kids 50-80 a month depending on options taken. Daycare/private pre-school/private primary school around 2-2.5k a month per child.

3.5k+ a month should get you a decent, newly renovated 4.5 room (3 bedroom) apartment. Check out this one: Those with views or extra big spaces the sky is the limit. Places that need renovation, those on major roads, train lines or under power lines (yes really ) are generally more affordable.

We are a family of 4 living in Zug city in a 4.5 room house. We are stuck to another house, but can walk to work and the city/train station. We don't have a big garden, or a pool like back home in Sydney, but we have an indoor pool, a soccer field and basketball courts within a 2 min walk away.

After day care fees and food (health insurance is thankfully paid by the employer), we honestly couldn't afford to rent the house we own, so buying really made sense for us.
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Old 21.11.2012, 20:50
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Re: Life in Zug

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Are you aware of any local and possibly free language classes?
Free language schools will allow you to learn numbers and VERY basic vocabulary.

Local schools in Zug are limited to very expensive courses for company executives to a mixed-bag of language schools. Some are full of people who would rather not be there. Those type of classes just waste your time. Your best bet would be something in Zurich if you really want to learn.

Language schools are EXPENSIVE. Category levels start from Beginner, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. To be considered fluent, is around a C1 to C2. Each level takes 3 months to attain through intensive courses 3 hrs per day. In most good schools you will spend over 1000 Francs per month plus books and transportation. (If you plan to do course once per week, expect to take about 15 months per level at about 700+ per 5 months at a minimum)


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Do rentals come with furnished kitchen and bathroom? What about washer and dryer?
Most kitchens are furnished. You will have to purchase your own microwave if you want one, as they are not commonly part of a furnished kitchen. Dishwashers are not common in older buildings. Everything is sized MUCH smaller than typical US appliances. You will be hard pressed to find a 2-door fridge with ice-maker and water-dispenser.

For a "washer and dryer" in your own apartment instead of a shared one in the basement, you will need to look for a newer and more expensive building. It's considered a PREMIUM in Switzerland. A dryer is not as common as a washer by itself. As someone else said, you can always try buying your own and installing it, but that depends on how much space you have and IF the LANDLORD WILL ALLOW IT. Keep in mind prices for a washer and dryers are typically cost 50-100%+ than what you see in the US. Think higher-end US models prices for lower to mid-level appliances. Again keep in mind it's a significantly smaller capacity size.

And don't buy the line from the landlord stating that in Switzerland, they do not have washer and dryers in apartments. A complete lie they tell foreigners. I had a few tell me this. If this happens to you, walk away.

Will you have relocation services provided by your company? It's very IMPORTANT for a non-German speaker. Most contracts are in German and most will not provide you an English translation. Many apartments are only advertised in German and the contact usually does not speak English. Others will just refuse to speak English. Keep in mind some will understand what you are saying. So save your thoughts until you leave.

Additionally, will you have some expat packages such as tax preparation? Everything is in German and you won't know the rules. They have "special rates" when you come in after the year has started. What about temporary housing? I would suggest 3 months minimum in a temporary apartment as it will take you some time to find.

If you translate your US salary from dollars to Euros (Exchange rate is 1USD: 0.7815 Euros), then change the Euro sign to USD, that will give you a rough estimate of your purchasing power in Switzerland based on what you currently earn where you are.

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Is it hard to find a place to rent?
Apartments in general are expensive in Zug and difficult to get. The demand outstrips supply by far. If you look for an apartment, generally you have to view it before you can receive an application form. If the apartment is good, you can expect to see up to 20 other people looking at it also. Within a day or two, that apartment will be taken off the market. A rule of thumb is that the agent will estimate your take home salary and the monthly rent cannot exceed 25%. If it does, you will most likely not be selected. Keep in mind that most of these are apartments the size you'll find in Midtown NYC or downtown bean town. Don't expect a 2500 sq ft place, as it would cost a fortune. I believe you will require an apartment (1,000 to 1,300 sq ft) in the range of 3,500-5,500 Francs/ month. Estimate your net is between 65%-75% of your gross. I will let you do the rest of the math. If you don't meet this basic number, don't bother coming. It will be too difficult for you and the toddlers.

Culturally, you are in for a SHOCK. It's akin to a sleepy tourist town in Maine OFF-SEASON, but more foreign. Most stores are closed after 5 or 6pm. No stores are open on Sundays. If you are used to a city with a population of more than 1 million, you should look at Zurich.

With two kids, a car is needed. Avoid bringing one from the US. Even if it's a German car, it will be very difficult to get the Swiss plates and papers. Keep in mind that all of the communication will be in German. The auto market here is EXPENSIVE. A small VW Golf can easily exceed $30k.

To get an idea of the cost of everyday items checkout a local grocery store website: http://www.coopathome.ch

I hope you find this helpful in making your decision.
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Old 21.11.2012, 20:53
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Re: Life in Zug

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I believe its later than normal for Americans.
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Old 21.11.2012, 21:24
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Re: Life in Zug

The local children at least in our village started Kindergarten at age 5, and that`s half a day, no preschool.
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Old 21.11.2012, 21:53
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Re: Life in Zug

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I don't have kids, but I hear they are expensive...I'd put that figure closer to 200k.
I have 3 kids, but no US tax liability, and I would agree that 200k is closer to the mark.
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Old 22.11.2012, 18:59
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Re: Life in Zug

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US tax liability
Good point! hungarian, are you or your spouse a permanent US resident or citizen? If so, you also have to pay US taxes in addition to Swiss taxes. Hence you would need a higher income to compensate for it.
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Old 23.11.2012, 14:57
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Re: Life in Zug

Hello!
from experience, I suggest you consider Luzern/Zurich rather than Zug especially If you are used to city life.
Zug is quiet and scenic, not alot goes on...ever.
Luzern is much better in terms of shopping, social interaction/events and what I would consider 'normal living', plus if you live quite centrally in Luzern you can walk to the local shops for food and clothes and dependent to where you live you can still have the best of both worlds with having a very scenic view.

Although Zug has a lower tax rate, I think the benefits of being in a busier town totally out weighs this.
Plus lots of families live in Luzern and you can have a much better social interaction from that side and the schools are good too.

I would not consider living in Zug (even for the slightly cheaper tax rate) - you need the social side especially if you dont know much German!
I think you would feel a lot more cut off.

Hope that is helpful!
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Old 23.11.2012, 15:16
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Re: Life in Zug

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Hello!
from experience, I suggest you consider Luzern/Zurich rather than Zug especially If you are used to city life.
Zug is quiet and scenic, not alot goes on...ever.
Luzern is much better in terms of shopping, social interaction/events and what I would consider 'normal living', plus if you live quite centrally in Luzern you can walk to the local shops for food and clothes and dependent to where you live you can still have the best of both worlds with having a very scenic view.

Although Zug has a lower tax rate, I think the benefits of being in a busier town totally out weighs this.
Plus lots of families live in Luzern and you can have a much better social interaction from that side and the schools are good too.

I would not consider living in Zug (even for the slightly cheaper tax rate) - you need the social side especially if you dont know much German!
I think you would feel a lot more cut off.

Hope that is helpful!
If you like city life then it would be Zurich 1st, Luzern 2nd, Zug last. But most places/ villages in Zug you can walk to the local store. Zug, Baar, Cham, Rotkreuz just to name a few, there are lots of smaller supermarkets.

There are lots of families in Zug and the rate of expats is very high so English is spoken by the majority of people. I`ve been told as high as 30% but have no actual data.

From our house Luzern is 20 minutes drive, Zurich 40 minutes drive. Ive been to Luzern on a Tuesday night, its a ghost town (Zug is a ghost town most nights) and even been to Zurich midweek to see a movie and it`s very quiet. So even if you choose not to live there both Luzern and Zurich are easily accessible.

If you are used to big city life like New York or Boston you ain`t going to find it in any of these places. Zurich is a small city, Lucern even smaller, Zug is just a town.

I hope you plan to fly over and check out these options for yourself.
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Old 14.12.2012, 21:30
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Re: Life in Zug

Any update? Or did the usual forum spirit tell her how welcoming it will be in Zug?
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Old 14.12.2012, 21:44
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Re: Life in Zug

Really? Plenty of us manage quite fine on a lot less than that.

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I have 3 kids, but no US tax liability, and I would agree that 200k is closer to the mark.
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