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Old 23.07.2011, 17:18
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Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Last week I was informed that my employer will transfer business operations to their UK site (near Swindon) and close down their Swiss offices. I received an offer to transfer with the company, albeit for a lower salary, meeting "internal equity"...

I have a long existing desire to live and work in England, but my wife would prefer to stay in Switzerland. The prospect of being without a job in Switzerland does not appeal as much as being in a - perhaps insecure - continued employment in England. So, it's probably either landing a new job here pretty quickly, or make the move to the Midlands.

I moved to CH from the Netherlands for this job in December '09, my wife and daughter followed me in June '10. We invested pretty much (on a personal level) to adapt to Swiss life, which has so far turned out better for my wife and daughter than for me... My social life here is pretty much non-existent; I cannot say I haven't tried, but I have not yet succeeded in befriending the locals.

Would you please assist me in my deliberations as to why/why not stay or why/why not move to England? This is one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to make!

Many thanks in advance,
Marcel.
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Old 23.07.2011, 17:51
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Hello Marcel.
Whilst Swindon certainly isn't the most exciting place in the UK, it's certainly not the worst, and you have a job offer there.
If you stay here, you may be lucky and be offered another job in the Market Research field, but maybe you won't and what then?
How do you pay the bills?
Would your wife be more easily able to find a job here?
If your daughter is young she'll adapt easily to moving to the UK, and it doesn't sound as though you're enjoying your life here too much anyway.
I wish you the very best of luck in making a difficult decision.
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Old 23.07.2011, 17:52
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

are you in Banking? seems alot of these jobs are leaving the country.....Id go , check it out and maybe keep the wife in CH (if she also works) for the time being. if you dont like it you can always come back at a later stage
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Old 23.07.2011, 17:56
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Hard to advise without knowing the details. How much of a pay cut after tax are you taking? If it's less than 25%, you will be doing well as most things are quite a bit cheaper in the UK. Tax is much higher there, so be careful about jumping to conclusions when doing your calculations.

Swindon itself (not quite in the Midlands, by the way) is a dull town though the countryside around it is very nice. Bristol is the nearest big city, with London easily accessible too -- though you'll find public transport expensive.

On the other hand, if you're being made redundant here, you are presumably eligible for the generous benefits from the state which will go a long way towards helping while you looked for another position here. If you're getting a pay-off from the employer, even better. If you work in a profession where another job isn't hard to get here, that would help persuade me to stay. If you might be out of work a long time, the move looks more attractive.

How old is your daughter? If school changes have to be factored in that would complicate things.

As I said, it's impossible to offer strong advice without knowing more but at the very least I would say that the choice facing you is not a bad one. Either stay here with a happy wife, with a financial cushion for a while, or go to a guaranteed job in a country you want to live in.

Employment is highly uncertain in the UK at the moment but if your employer is willing to finance your relocation, it can be assumed they are unlikely to get rid of you in the near future.

An obvious thing to suggest is that you all go for a week or two to the Swindon area and try to get a feel for it.
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:00
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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are you in Banking? seems alot of these jobs are leaving the country.....Id go , check it out and maybe keep the wife in CH (if she also works) for the time being. if you dont like it you can always come back at a later stage
Nope, not in banking, but in pharma. Turns out that HQs in CH were never supported from the manufacturing sites, but have rather been some status symbol from the previous CEO and General Counsel. Those replaced, sanity seems to have returned. But had I known before I came to join the company, I would probably have let the opportunity pass by. On the other hand, the future looks good and the new CEO's strategy seems to make sense...
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:04
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Although tax rates are higher, there are less compulsory deductions from your salary in the UK compared to here. I'm not a fan of Swindon, but then I'm a London snob.

I guess your choices are:
  1. Refuse, and get RAV benefit whilst looking for a new job. They pay around 70% of your salary or something like that, so it could be a good choice.
  2. Accept - hello Swindon!
  3. Negotiate - ask for more money, relocation, some cash to cover termination of apartment here etc. and hello Swindon.
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:16
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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Hard to advise without knowing the details. How much of a pay cut after tax are you taking? If it's less than 25%, you will be doing well as most things are quite a bit cheaper in the UK. Tax is much higher there, so be careful about jumping to conclusions when doing your calculations.

Swindon itself (not quite in the Midlands, by the way) is a dull town though the countryside around it is very nice. Bristol is the nearest big city, with London easily accessible too -- though you'll find public transport expensive.

On the other hand, if you're being made redundant here, you are presumably eligible for the generous benefits from the state which will go a long way towards helping while you looked for another position here. If you're getting a pay-off from the employer, even better. If you work in a profession where another job isn't hard to get here, that would help persuade me to stay. If you might be out of work a long time, the move looks more attractive.

How old is your daughter? If school changes have to be factored in that would complicate things.

As I said, it's impossible to offer strong advice without knowing more but at the very least I would say that the choice facing you is not a bad one. Either stay here with a happy wife, with a financial cushion for a while, or go to a guaranteed job in a country you want to live in.

Employment is highly uncertain in the UK at the moment but if your employer is willing to finance your relocation, it can be assumed they are unlikely to get rid of you in the near future.

An obvious thing to suggest is that you all go for a week or two to the Swindon area and try to get a feel for it.
* pay cut after tax: I am still waiting for their offer
* Swindon vs. country side: we would prefer living in the country side, but having Bristol and London nearby appeals
* If you might be out of work a long time: hard to say, pharma is changing rapidly
* How old is your daughter?: turning 10 in December, so I think she is flexible enough to adapt.
* go for a week or two to get a feel for it: it was suggested that this might be offered, although probably not for two weeks.

My trade is pharma market research, or business/market/competitive intelligence, as it is also called. >20 years experience, which would complicate moving into another industry.

It feels like searching for a job has turned into my life's purpose instead of growing into a job. No guarantees in today's business any more.

I would very much hate to be dependant on state benefits, not the least because this was never my intention when I moved here. And regarding Swiss xenophobia, I would not be too happy feeding that...
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:18
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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Although tax rates are higher, there are less compulsory deductions from your salary in the UK compared to here. I'm not a fan of Swindon, but then I'm a London snob.

I guess your choices are:
  1. Refuse, and get RAV benefit whilst looking for a new job. They pay around 70% of your salary or something like that, so it could be a good choice.
  2. Accept - hello Swindon!
  3. Negotiate - ask for more money, relocation, some cash to cover termination of apartment here etc. and hello Swindon.
2 = 3, IMO.

Would you know how long RAV benefit would be offered, in case I might need it?
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:43
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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2 = 3, IMO.

Would you know how long RAV benefit would be offered, in case I might need it?
I thought it was up to 2 years, but someone will confirm
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:46
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Hello,

Not quite sure if your wife works out of the home, but even if you are the sole "bread winner", it's really important that your wife is in on the deal. Just speaking from personal experiences, I am a trailing spouse, housewife, and my husband doesn't hear the end of it every other day, of how much I want to go back "home".

I know I shouldn't, because he started a new job here two years ago, and doesn't need me to nag him, but who else I'm I going to b***h at?

Whatever course you take, make sure it's mutual, especially going to a new country.
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:47
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

given the number of pharma companies here, wouldn't it be quite straight forward to get a job here? as a london snob also, i would turn my nose up at swindon, but that's my uninformed bias.

i guess you might both enjoy it very much there.
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Old 23.07.2011, 18:53
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Rav payments will be for 400 days over the next 2 years assuming you have worked for 18 months and your over 25 years old. So thats 18 months if you do no work at all, if you do some short contracts the Rav never runs out, as you always requalify
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Old 23.07.2011, 19:01
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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given the number of pharma companies here, wouldn't it be quite straight forward to get a job here? as a london snob also, i would turn my nose up at swindon, but that's my uninformed bias.

i guess you might both enjoy it very much there.
There's nothing too bad about the town -- it's just a little ordinary in my experience (apart from the famous Magic Roundabout -- an experience that all motorists should terrify themselves with at least once in their lives). But it doesn't matter much. There is plenty of very pleasant English countryside around there with nice villages to live in. So the OP has to be aware that this is not the same as living in London. Swindon and Wiltshire is very much quiet, 'middle England'.
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Old 23.07.2011, 19:11
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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given the number of pharma companies here, wouldn't it be quite straight forward to get a job here?
Pharma is moving very quickly at the moment. With massive numbers of M&As and uncertain development pipelines, the job market is not at its most favourable. For technical specialists and (lab) researchers it is perhaps easier than for intelligence professionals.
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Old 23.07.2011, 19:23
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

If you have worked for more than 12 months then you qualify for up to 80% of your Salary as Unemployment Benefits up to 18 months. Also they well help you find a new Job.

For more information check this:
http://www.alkzh.ch/Inhalt/entschaedigung.htm

Best is to go to your RAV office and there have a conversation with the official and get a calculation of how much money you will get...etc.. then compare with your Salary in UK and it might help your decision making...
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Old 23.07.2011, 19:35
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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If you have worked for more than 12 months then you qualify for up to 80% of your Salary as Unemployment Benefits up to 18 months. Also they well help you find a new Job.

...
They honestly don't help much.

Your unemployment payout in Switzerland will be capped at a certain salary - so you might be entitled to 80% of your salary, but if you earn over X amount, you won't get more than the maximum.

I ported my Swiss unemployment benefit to Manchester, UK. I found that what ate up my entire unemployment payment in Switzerland went much further here. I used about half per month than I did in Switzerland.
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Old 23.07.2011, 22:49
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

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I have a long existing desire to live and work in England
Yes, it is extremely important to consider all the practical implications.
However, on a different note, I donít think that you can be successful or happy in a place where you donít really want to be. I wonder if your wife really loves Switzerland or is the prospect of yet another relocation too daunting for her.
I for one have always tried to pursue my desires and have always found it very hard to make calculated decisions.
I wish you all the best and I hope you will share with us what you finally decided.
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Old 24.07.2011, 21:17
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Hi Marcel
That's not an easy decision particularly since if your wife prefers to stay she may well hold it against you if the arrival in Swindon is less than smooth.
I moved to the UK 10 years ago and just arrived in Switzerland.
I made 2, maybe 3 English friends in 10 years, the rest are all international but it helped that I lived in London. What I am trying to say is that befriending locals can be very difficult anywhere you go. One of the things I don't miss about England is the constant separation of the social classes - lower middle and upper classes simply do not mix. I think that's probably a much flatter structure in Switzerland.
Additionally Switzerland is probably a lot closer to Holland culturally than England.. I can say that as I've lived in all 3 places.
The friends that I have made here to date are not Swiss unsurprisingly.
I would look at the tax situation carefully as well, it's a large part of why I moved here.
Finally, I think it depends on how you live. If you are an outdoors person and like to ski, etc you will miss Switzerland. The weather in England prohibits fun outdoor activities the majority of the year.
And for the record you should have no qualms about using your redundancy entitlement. Over 10 years in the UK I paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in taxes. When I lost my job, the "allowance" I would have been given was £60 per week. Another thing to think about..
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Old 26.07.2011, 15:04
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Re: Please assist my decision making - UK or stay?

Well, I received my transfer offer yesterday, and that probably makes the decision a lot more easy to make...

Compared to my CHF salary converted to GBP (1:1.32), the offer is only half the amount. Using the best guesstimates I could find for costs in the UK, we simply cannot afford the move. Now, this salary may be market conform, but it will definitely not cover equal living standards!

Better email some more recruiters quickly...

Thank you all for your contributions, I will keep you updated through this thread.

Marcel.
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