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Old 18.04.2012, 14:48
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Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

Hi All,

My wife and I are a recently married proffesional couple (30y/o). I recently got a job in Neuchatel - my wife and I are very excited on the potential move to Switzerland. We visited Neuchatel this past weekend, and though we found the town to be lovely - it does seem to have a bit of a small town feel to it, with limited things to do in terms of restaurants/bars/etc. We also found that the the housing there was all very concrete and modern, not many places with a bit of character to it....?

Which further doesn't help in Neuchatel is the French... Neither my wife nor I can speak French... Something which I fear will severly limited her job selection (she works in designer fashion industry)...

So I have been investigating some options around Neuchatel... The obvious choices seem to be Lausanne and Berne...

Pros for Berne :
- Quick link to Zurich (1hr) which means the job search for my wife can extend to Zurich
- Tax advantage over Neuchatel
- German which I might pick up much quicker than french

Cons for Berne :
- 45min drive from Neuchatel
- Miss out on social aspect of life in Neuchatel with other ex-pat work colleagues
- Even though it is 1hour train to Zurich, I don't think you will easily get a 3.5br apartment very close to the Berne station

Pros for Lausanne :
- Beautiful town
- Closer to Geneva for travel transport links
- Perhaps more jobs than Berne for my wife

Cons for Lausanne :
- Mainly French

I would appreciate any Feedback - so far I have found very usefull responses on this forum.

Thanks,
John
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Old 18.04.2012, 15:01
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

Have you considered Fribourg?

Plenty of character in the old town, and right in between Geneva, Zurich and Basel for transport links....

Plus its bilingual - so both French and German (and plenty of English), and there is plenty to do (in my opinion at least).

Pays to be aware of all the formalities of living and working in different cantons though. Shouldn't be an issue though (especially because you are EU).
Work and live in same canton?
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Old 18.04.2012, 16:34
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

I would choose Neuchatel. It's really hard to say where and how fast your wife will find a job, and my guess would be that the fashion side of the market is stronger in the Romandie (french speaking) part.

If you know neither German or French, I recommend you do not give up on neither. I personally found it much easier to learn French. Sounds difficult at the beginning, but the rules are far less confusing.

As for accommodation, try looking in small towns around Neuchatel if you are after "character" - the area is amazingly beautiful. I would also assume that housing will be cheaper in that part of the country comparing to Bern and especially to Lausanne.
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Old 18.04.2012, 18:00
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

I honestly don't know much about the fashion industry, but
I would personally choose Bern of the few places you mentioned.
My apartment was a 3 minute bus ride from the Bern station.

Why is German easier for you to learn? Have you studied it
before?

If you are starting from the beginning, French is probably
a bit easier IMHO.
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Old 18.04.2012, 18:04
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

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I honestly don't know much about the fashion industry, but
I would personally choose Bern of the few places you mentioned.
My apartment was a 3 minute bus ride from the Bern station.

Why is German easier for you to learn? Have you studied it
before?

If you are starting from the beginning, French is probably
a bit easier IMHO.
Only reason why I think German would be easier for me is that I come from a Dutch Background. Also I have always lived in a City... I'm actually scared of living in the country side! I've never experienced that for more than a weekend or holiday...

I do know that BVLGARI's head offices are in Neuchatel and many of the Richemont Brands... But French is required.
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Old 18.04.2012, 18:28
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

I would choose Neuchatel too. If your wife does find a job somewhere else at least there will only be one of you commuting.
As far as the language is concerned if you don't know either French or German then it will make no difference where you are as you will be starting from scratch in any case. Also Swiss german is not the same as German German and it varies depending on which area you are in so it will be different in Bern than in Zurich for example.

If you're looking for more character then you should look just outside Neuchatel for accommodation. Le landeron and la neauville (which is in canton Bern but is French speaking) are both nice going north and Colombier, Auvernier, boudry and bevaix are south but also nice. You could also look in the Val de travers or Val de Ruz going up from the lake towards France which also have some nice villages with character.

Lausanne is very difficult when it comes to finding a place to live and is more expensive than Neuchatel. I don't really know about Bern.
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Old 18.04.2012, 18:44
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

I would agree with what Belgianmum has said, having lived in Neuchâtel for years until recently. It's a lovely little place, very relaxed, very easy to get to Bern for an evening out (half an hour on the train).

I like Bern a lot too, I could happily live there - it's a great mixture of lively capital city and sleepy provincial town, you can see the surrounding countryside from practically everywhere in the town centre, that's how compact it is. Lausanne is more sprawling and, in my opinion, doesn't have much charm, although people tell me it's good for shopping and nightlife.

Someone suggested Fribourg, but it's an hour's commute to Neuchâtel by train, and even by car it's 45 minutes... and Neuch is hell on earth for parking if you are going to be working in the centre.

And yes, the language... don't expect the German in Bern to be anything like the language spoken in Germany, it's a very different dialect with its own grammar and vocabulary... although funnily enough, if your ear is tuned in to Dutch you may actually pick it up quite easily.

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I do know that BVLGARI's head offices are in Neuchatel and many of the Richemont Brands... But French is required.
I thought they had been in "layoff mode" rather than "hire mode" for the last three or four years anyway...
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Old 18.04.2012, 18:48
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

The Richemont group is huge and many are hiring thick and fast at the moment. Spread all over the area from Fleurier, Couvet. Le Locle, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Bienne, and they are finding it difficult to find the right calibre of people. How long it will last- you tell me.
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Old 18.04.2012, 20:21
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

I would suggest Lausanne or Fribourg. But not because you wife will have more job opportunities. She is going to have a very hard time finding something in the fashion industry unless she works online/remotely/home office/project based. It's not very likely she will find a full time in office job in fashion in Switzerland.

Neuchatel is very small town. So if you don't like that type of atmosphere you won't like living in Neuchatel. Both Fribourg and Lausanne have more going on. Fribourg is closer to Neuchatel. Next after those two would be Bern, which I love but also has a very small town vibe.

Having said that, none of these are exactly "metropolises!"
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Old 18.04.2012, 20:26
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

I am biased, and I love Neuchatel, my home town. How good is your French - here is an article about Sorbier fashion in Travers, and future fashion projects.

Et dans le château partiellement libéré, Isabelle Tartière rêve déjà de travailler avec des artisans de la région sur les collections de haute couture, et pourquoi pas, transformer Travers en un centre de formation… A Couvet, Frank Sorbier rêve d’expositions de photographes, de conférences, de défilés… Alain Barbal rêve de voir la région devenir un pôle d’attraction pour des entreprises dédiées au domaine du luxe, des artistes et des artisans d’art. Le canton se prend à rêver de son passé glorieux, du temps où l’industrie textile rythmait la vie de ses habitants, sans oublier son précieux présent horloger. Des envies, des rêves, des désirs…
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Old 18.04.2012, 20:32
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

My advice? None of them. All dull dull dull, full of humourless people, shops without any choice, nowhere to go, nothing to do. Stay in our lovely UK which for all its faults is 100% more fun, exciting, alive and colourful than Switzerland could ever hope to be.
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Old 18.04.2012, 20:36
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

Lonay Lady said recently : 'Well we live in a lovely village in the Jura, called Saint George and love it.'

How quickly things change. However I can assure you Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne are a lot more fun than St George, lol. Although it is very pretty with fabulous views, and where I have great friends who are lots of fun
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Old 18.04.2012, 20:45
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

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My advice? None of them. All dull dull dull, full of humourless people, shops without any choice, nowhere to go, nothing to do. Stay in our lovely UK which for all its faults is 100% more fun, exciting, alive and colourful than Switzerland could ever hope to be.
It seems to me you do not like Switzerland at all, I am sorry to tell you then your opinion might be a bit biased. Poor guy has already decided to move here and is only asking for tips, how can you tell him to stay in London?
Anyhow, to the OP: I will visit Neuchatel pretty soon and by what I have heard I am looking forward to it, let's see if time tells I get a chance to move there! Best of luck during the relocation...
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Old 18.04.2012, 20:55
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

A lot depends on your lifestyle and what kind of entertainment you like. Compared to London, only Zurich will feel alive enough, but to commute to Neuchatel you need Bern or Lausanne really. Lausanne is terrible for housing but at least there's a lot going on downtown and in the area, and you can get by with English. If you like the quiet life, Neuchatel is ideal (apart from the friggin' buskers all through the summer if you try to eat at a terrasse). It's not an easy choice to make but you're better off doing one language not two so try to live in the French speaking part if at all possible.
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Old 19.04.2012, 16:16
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Re: Neuchatel, Berne or Lausanne? Moving from London...

Hey OP,

Know how you feel, I have just had to go through all this, moving to the area and working just outside Neuchatel.

Simply put...you do have to consider the taxes first. Neuchatel sucks and you you dont save anything in lower cost of rent. So it immediately rules out living in Neu.

Bern is OK and is easily commutable to Neu, I have been living there for the last two months, the train is 45mins between the 2 places, which is a noddy commute. Bern is a gorgeous city, but is duller than Nofolk.

Ive just discovered Fribourg and it looks fairly pretty, nice and some stunning views. With a bit of luck Ill be taking on an apt there in a few weeks. It does really need a car living there though, rather than the train.
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