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Old 03.12.2014, 00:05
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Please help me fill in the gaps!!

Hi All -

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to read my post and hopefully help me out...much appreciated and I hope to return the favour one day!

Ok, so the background is that I'm a Brit moving from NY to Zurich in Jan '15. I'm coming with my American girlfriend. We're shipping our stuff over shortly. I'll be on a work permit and we're aiming to get her a stay permit initially, then a job. She's got 2 x Bachelors, 1 x Master's, Private Banking experience and fluent in both English + Spanish. We like to travel and intend to cover most of continental Europe in the next couple years; and there doesn't seem to be a better starter point than Zurich.

I've done a tonne of reading online and I'm still struggling to ascertain a few things:

1) Is there a reasonably priced moving company with a good reputation that I'd best have bringing our stuff from NY to CH?
2) Where are most Brit/Yank expats living in Zurich?
3) Should I be able to get a decent 2 bedroom apt in Kreis 4 or 5 for CHF 2.5k per month?
4) We'll both be using trams every day and also intend to see other cities in CH, so what's the best tram/train pass to get? e.g. I'd rather pay more upfront, if it's gonna be a lot better value over 12 mths.
5) Will I be able to get my (American) mrs a bank account without too much hassle?
6) Does anyone have any tips as to what works/doesn't work when applying for "specialist" visas without an employment contract offer on the table?
7) What's the best mobile phone provider for those looking to call the UK and US frequently?
8) Is there anything that I should buy in the US and ship, rather than buying in CH? e.g. 2nd bed
9) Are there any expenses in CH - beyond alcohol, dining out and taxis -that I should start accounting for that differ greatly in price to NY?

Again, thanks a bundle.

George
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Old 03.12.2014, 08:59
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

Welcome to the forum. The most important item in your list of questions relates to the status of your American girlfriend who does not have a job waiting for her.

As far as I know, the only permit available to her under those conditions will be a concubine permit. Some cantons are more amenable to issuing concubine permits than others and I think Zurich is one of the more difficult cantons to acquire one of these.

If you both arrive next month and you have not yet secured a permit for her, she will only be able to stay for 90 days and then she will have to leave the country. Whomever is working on procuring YOUR permit, (I'm assuming your HR department), should also be applying for your girlfriend's permit as it will be directly pinned to yours and you will have to prove that you earn enough money to support her for five years once she has arrived.

You have two things working against you that are going to complicate your permit process: not being married and your girlfriend being non-EU. It's not impossible, it's just more complicated.

Good luck!
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Old 03.12.2014, 09:16
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

2) There's a street called "Englischviertelstrasse" so I assume the Anglo population must have been centered there at one time... it certainly isn't now though. Brits and Americans I know in Zürich are scattered all over. Families tend to live in suburbs where it's easier to afford a big apartment, or one with a garden. Couples without kids may be drawn to Kreis 4/5 for the nightlife.

3) oh. you know about Kreis 4/5 already. I would have thought you could get an apartment for that much, then again it's been a few years since I left Zürich and that is an up-and-coming district. Best advice is check prices online. If you find 2.5k seems to be low-end, consider a different district or a smaller apartment. (It's quite common not to have a spare bedroom here, friends who visit don't expect one.)

4) Your three options, depending how frequently and widely you envision traveling in the rest of Switzerland, are a GA (season pass for all of Switzerland), a Zone 110 pass (city only) plus a half-fare card, or a ZVV all-zones pass (whole Zürich region) plus half-fare card. There is also a Rail Plus card which gets you discounts on international rail travel, if you plan to do a lot of your cross-border sightseeing by train this is an extra worth getting.

5) Yes, but only with the big two, CS and UBS, and you will probably be sent to the branch in downtown Zürich that handles US clients, rather than the one closest to you. You can forget having a joint account (although to be honest you should probably forget that anyway for US tax reasons.)

8) Several threads on this. Flat sheets if you use them; the standard here is fitted sheet + duvet. Spices and any other non-bulky ingredients for whatever cuisine you like to cook.

9) Services in general. Meals out, yes, but also nails and hair for example. A cleaner if you employ one. Try www.expatistan.com for category-by-category comparison.
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Old 03.12.2014, 09:48
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

1) We moved from Seattle so our stuff had to go the long way round - from NY it should be much easier but I don't know of any particular movers to recommend.
2) Take the image you have of Zurich in your mind and shrink it down. This place is small. Too small to have neighborhoods of predominantly anything, other than what is based on rents or, in the case of outlying areas, houses instead of apartment buildings. My impression, at least. And always excepting our neighborhood in Wollishofen which seems to be populated by seniors and pre-schoolers (4 nursing homes within a few blocks of us.)
3) It is crazy difficult to find a nice apartment within the city. Your budget seems a little low for Kreis 4 or 5, to me, especially if you are looking for something that has been renovated. There are lots of posts on this subject - keep in mind that a two bedroom is called a three room apartment here.
6) If your gf does not get a visa and has to leave the country after 90 days just be aware that her status in Switzerland will be as a visitor. She is not allowed to exit and re-enter indefinitely. So a few times would probably work, as she could be touring Europe and coming back to visit you. But a long series of "visits" of 90 days followed by brief trips out of the country is sure to raise some red flags.

Welcome and enjoy yourself here. Many positives to make up for the price of dining out and taxis. We limit how often we eat out and I think we've taken a taxi 3 times since we moved here 3 years ago.
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Old 03.12.2014, 10:45
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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1)
6) If your gf does not get a visa and has to leave the country after 90 days just be aware that her status in Switzerland will be as a visitor. She is not allowed to exit and re-enter indefinitely. So a few times would probably work, as she could be touring Europe and coming back to visit you. But a long series of "visits" of 90 days followed by brief trips out of the country is sure to raise some red flags.

Welcome and enjoy yourself here. Many positives to make up for the price of dining out and taxis. We limit how often we eat out and I think we've taken a taxi 3 times since we moved here 3 years ago.
Um, no she can't. As an American I believe she can be in the Schengen Area for a maximum of 90 days at a time, not just Switzerland. So that omits most of Europe. She could go to the UK or Ireland, but that's about it. And 90 days out of the country isn't a brief trip. Effectively she can only visit for 6 months of the year, broken into two 90 day periods.

There is no such thing as a specialist visa here. She's either a tourist for 90 days or a resident who does or doesn't have a job. You need to check with Zurich whether they actually have the concubine permit possibility that TheSpouse mentioned (contact details below). Because otherwise, unless she has a job with a permit already approved waiting or she can afford to support herself financially (and not work ever), then she isn't going to get a permit. Without the concubine option, you will be assessed as two separate people and not as a couple so without a job or her own financial base she won't get a permit. Also if she's coming here long term she needs a Type D visa which would only be issued once the concubine permit is approved. I wouldn't advise coming in as a tourist and then applying for it later. Zurich get quite stroppy about this and will insist she at least goes to another country to apply and wait for the visa, if not insisting she returns to the US to get it. I'm afraid you've left this very late and this could cause problems with your moving plans if she has to delay her departure as normally you need to apply for the visa at least 2 months before you travel.

Migrationsamt des Kantons Zürich
Berninastrasse 45
Postfach
8090 Zürich
Tel.: 043 259 88 00
Fax: 043 259 88 10
Internet


Georgerfen, do you hold a Green Card? If so, then be aware that you'll also have US tax filing obligations unless you give up the card formally by filling in an I-407 form when you leave. Make sure you have a copy of this as it's the ONLY proof that you've given it up.

Keep anything financial totally separate if you can, otherwise it'll need to be reported to the IRS. That means she can't have signing authority or power of attorney on your accounts either. Research/google FATCA and search for it under our Finance/Taxation section - there are plenty of threads on the subject. Also research US tax obligations, starting here:

http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Inter...-Aliens-Abroad
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Old 03.12.2014, 18:19
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

Thanks too all and for the granular detail, it helps me a lot.

Your comments reaffirm that getting a visa/permit for my partner will be my greatest challenge, so at least I know this is what my primary focus will be.

I'm not a green card holder and based on the potential tax implications you've highlighted, we'll avoid joint accounts etc. Thanks for the heads up!!

It's sounding like while opening a bank a/c at CS or UBS is possible, it will also be a headache. I've also heard a rumour that it's easier to circumvent all that grief by opening up a savings a/c at the Post Office instead - is that true?

Lastly, I'm grateful if anyone has anything to add for items #1 and #5??

Thanks,
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Old 03.12.2014, 18:50
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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It's sounding like while opening a bank a/c at CS or UBS is possible, it will also be a headache. I've also heard a rumour that it's easier to circumvent all that grief by opening up a savings a/c at the Post Office instead - is that true?
No. Wherever she opens an account your girlfriend will need to sign a W-9 form to allow the bank to pass the account info on to the IRS. She may also need to prove she's US tax compliant so make sure she brings copies of recent returns with her to show if necessary.
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Old 03.12.2014, 21:30
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

It's unlikely she will get a bank account at all even at those two banks unless she is a resident. Post Finance used to give accounts to non-residents but even there I'm not sure if it's still possible.
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Old 03.12.2014, 22:01
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

George, your numbers 5 and 6 are completely irrelevant. #6 doesn't exist, period. #5 is impossible unless and until your girlfriend has a residency permit of some kind.

You are not getting any responses on #1 because most people moving from the US have their moving expenses paid as part of their ex-pat package. There are many people on here who could give you advice about self-shipping from the UK or the EU, but not from the Americas. Those of us who moved from the Americas did not pay directly for our container or our air freight.
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Old 03.12.2014, 22:08
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

Be careful with your girlfriend and the permit. She can't just arrive as a tourist and then apply for a residence permit as she is non EU. She should apply for the permit (you have to apply for family reunification) before she leaves the US and if it is approved then she will be issued a D-visa to enter Switzerland on. It may be the case that you have to arrive in Switzerland get your permit and then apply for her to join you.
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Old 03.12.2014, 23:00
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

But the girlfriend is not eligible for family reunification because they are not married. She is only eligible for a concubine permit.
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Old 03.12.2014, 23:06
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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But the girlfriend is not eligible for family reunification because they are not married. She is only eligible for a concubine permit.
...if Zürich even allows that. I haven't seen anyone confirm that they do yet in all the discussions on EF. I've only seen Vaud.

OP - Is marriage at all in the works? The permit is not a reason to get married per se, but if you're already planning then it may be best to just head to the courthouse and get it done. You could then apply for family reunification now, in NY.

It would take away a lot of the uncertainty for you both, and it would give her a "leg up" in job hunting because she'd have a permit that allows her to work (versus an employer having to go through the non-EU hiring process if she came here as just a tourist).
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Old 03.12.2014, 23:13
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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Those of us who moved from the Americas did not pay directly for our container or our air freight.
I did. It's amazing what you can fit in two suitcases.
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Old 03.12.2014, 23:21
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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I did. It's amazing what you can fit in two suitcases.
+1, no free ride here!
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Old 04.12.2014, 08:42
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

3Wishes, this thread seems to suggest that Zurich do recognise it.

EU Member with Swiss Partner (not married) Residence Permit

As does Bern according to this thread.

Family Reunification without a work permit

I think it's more widespread than we think. It's just that Vaud canton perhaps is the only canton to put details about it on their website.

Georgerfen, the lack of a permit/Type D visa is your main problem here so sort that out asap. Here are the details for the consulate in New York.

https://www.eda.admin.ch/newyork

Get on to this quickly because with Christmas/New Year coming up it's going to slow things down even more.

As far as 9) goes, yes food in general, clothing maybe, but electronics may be as cheap or cheaper. I don't know about US prices, but that's often the case for these goods compared to European prices.

8) Depends on what you're actually shipping over. If things like beds then yes the sheets etc to go with them because European/Swiss sizes are different. Electrical stuff too because the voltage is different here so you'll need adaptors for any items.
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Old 04.12.2014, 20:07
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

Pretty sure poor George has run screaming from this thread because he figured out tout de suite that there was an issue with his girlfriend's permit.

George, I'm going to say once again, your HR department at whatever company that you work for, should be all over this. This should not be entirely up to you. It can be done, it is just difficult.

Just marry the girl and all will be well!
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Old 04.12.2014, 20:37
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

There's no doubt that I'll "put a ring on it", but that's not an option at the moment. Before I'm prepared to go down that road, I have to speak with her old man, I have to find (and pay for) the ring and I need to get this poxy move out the way. I also don't think things are that desperate such that we'd need to push that through just to live together in CH. [Touch wood]. I spoke with HR and we're going aim to get her a stay permit to begin with. Let's see how that goes and then look at our options.

I've been quoted $6,200 for my furniture to be shipped, which, in my mind, is more than my furniture is worth! I'm thinking I should dump it all and start again with a day trip to IKEA. But then I start to think about a day spent in IKEA and I want to find a bridge. All the decisions are driving me barmy!!
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Old 04.12.2014, 20:53
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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There's no doubt that I'll "put a ring on it", but that's not an option at the moment. Before I'm prepared to go down that road, I have to speak with her old man, I have to find (and pay for) the ring and I need to get this poxy move out the way. I also don't think things are that desperate such that we'd need to push that through just to live together in CH. [Touch wood]. I spoke with HR and we're going aim to get her a stay permit to begin with. Let's see how that goes and then look at our options.

I've been quoted $6,200 for my furniture to be shipped, which, in my mind, is more than my furniture is worth! I'm thinking I should dump it all and start again with a day trip to IKEA. But then I start to think about a day spent in IKEA and I want to find a bridge. All the decisions are driving me barmy!!
Well, that's what moving to another country does for you. Just be grateful you don't have to pack up and move +10 tonnes of stuff like we did. Practically the first words out of the moving supervisor's mouth when he saw all the stuff was "tell the boss we need a lot more boxes." Took them 3 full days and they still didn't get everything in the moving van and had to send the rest in a second load.

Frankly, I'd plump for the IKEA given the differences in stuff between the US and here. And it's more than likely to be cheaper.

Cost of filling an apartment with Ikea furniture = 3200 CHF

If necessary just get the main basics from there and then depending on what styles you like look at places like the brocki-haus and HIOB for secondhand things. You can pick up some good stuff at very reasonable prices.
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Old 04.12.2014, 21:18
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

Ok, George, marriage is not in the offing. She will arrive when she arrives. Meanwhile, I can assure you that a 20 ft. container will cost you upwards of 5,000 USD. Is your sh*t worth more than that? If so, then pay for the container. If not, then buy everything once you get here.

Listen to Mathnut. She arrived with 2 suitcases. She now has a husband, a baby, an awesome place out in the idyllic countryside and is living the dream. Persevere, buddy. Persevere.
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Old 05.12.2014, 00:30
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Re: Please help me fill in the gaps!!

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There's no doubt that I'll "put a ring on it", but that's not an option at the moment. Before I'm prepared to go down that road, I have to speak with her old man, I have to find (and pay for) the ring and I need to get this poxy move out the way. I also don't think things are that desperate such that we'd need to push that through just to live together in CH. [Touch wood]. I spoke with HR and we're going aim to get her a stay permit to begin with. Let's see how that goes and then look at our options.

I've been quoted $6,200 for my furniture to be shipped, which, in my mind, is more than my furniture is worth! I'm thinking I should dump it all and start again with a day trip to IKEA. But then I start to think about a day spent in IKEA and I want to find a bridge. All the decisions are driving me barmy!!
You won't need to go to Ikea. You will be able to buy all your furniture for more than 1/2 price from people who are leaving. Trust us on that one.

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Listen to Mathnut. She arrived with 2 suitcases. She now has a husband, a baby, an awesome place out in the idyllic countryside and is living the dream. Persevere, buddy. Persevere.
I think she has 3 babies. It's MathNut we are talking about. Things multiply quickly.

Last edited by miniMia; 05.12.2014 at 11:06. Reason: late night typos.
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