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Old 19.01.2013, 09:42
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Potential Move to Zurich

Hi - I am new to the forum. I was recently approached by my employer and asked to consider moving to Zurich. As a single mom of an adoptive Guatemalan 11 year old, want to find out how we would fit into daily Zurich life. My main concerns are for my daughter - would need live in help as I'll need to travel, would need private school as she does not speak german, etc. Thank you in advance for any guidance you can share
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Old 21.01.2013, 22:50
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

Hi srosol! Welcome to the forum. I am also new to the forum and moved to the Zurich area from North Carolina. My family and I relocated to Zurich under circumstances very similar to your situation and we have a 7 year old daughter.

I would consider how long your employer would want you to live in Zurich, and how much of a pay increase you would receive. Have you looked into private schools? Our daughter attends a private bilingual school, and we are still suffering from sticker shock. The cost of living is pretty high here.

Our employment contract was until retirement, and we looked at that as job security at the time. However, now we wish that we would have negotiated an end point to the contract where they would provide us assistance with returning home if this is what we decide.

Being centrally located in Europe will provide you the opportunity for endless travel.

Best of luck with your decision!
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Old 21.01.2013, 23:29
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

Private schools are very expensive 30-35K. Try to get a
good COLA or get the employer to pay for the school.

At 11, it would be very hard for your child to start
a local Swiss school.
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Old 21.01.2013, 23:41
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

Not necessarily. Our daughter was 11 and our son 14 and they both did great in school without previous German knowledge. It depends on the child, the school, the teachers...but it also depends how long you want to stay in CH. If you want to stay for the duration of a contract do not put them through a local school but if you want to live here...it is the best integration tool for your kids.


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Private schools are very expensive 30-35K. Try to get a
good COLA or get the employer to pay for the school.

At 11, it would be very hard for your child to start
a local Swiss school.
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Old 22.01.2013, 05:19
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

Employer would need to pay for nanny and private school, as well as COLA. If not, could never afford it. I've read that COLA is double that of Chicago. WOW!
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Old 22.01.2013, 05:23
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

I am not planning this to be a permanent move. Rather a short term, 2 year stint, to help my career. Integrating with the culture would definitely be part of the experience. Just need to balance with education. Maybe we could get some language immersion once there? Thanks for the response
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Old 22.01.2013, 09:07
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

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I am not planning this to be a permanent move. Rather a short term, 2 year stint, to help my career. Integrating with the culture would definitely be part of the experience. Just need to balance with education. Maybe we could get some language immersion once there? Thanks for the response
I don't think you can learn German in Zurich in 2 years, especially if you are already busy with work. If it helps your career and financially you can manage it, you can enjoy your time here, but the local dialect makes learning German a real challenge.
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Old 22.01.2013, 18:39
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

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I don't think you can learn German in Zurich in 2 years, especially if you are already busy with work. If it helps your career and financially you can manage it, you can enjoy your time here, but the local dialect makes learning German a real challenge.
Reminds me of the days in mid 1960, when we suddenly had François in our 2nd Primariy Class, whose family had just fled from Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo and who did not speak single word. Our teacher and us taught him both Standard German AND dialect within 3 or 4 months.
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Old 22.01.2013, 18:49
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

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Employer would need to pay for nanny and private school, as well as COLA. If not, could never afford it. I've read that COLA is double that of Chicago. WOW!
I am not sure it`s twice as expensive as Chicago. We moved from NY and it`s not anywhere near twice as expensive as NY. There are things you just won`t get here, like a big house, but if you are prepared to live in a nice modern apartment or smaller house then it`s not THAT bad especially if the nanny and private school are taken care of.

Depending upon your income level you may be liable for some US tax as well as Swiss tax. This is definitely something to take into the planning process.

Good luck.
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Old 23.01.2013, 11:39
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

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Reminds me of the days in mid 1960, when we suddenly had François in our 2nd Primariy Class, whose family had just fled from Léopoldville in the Belgian Congo and who did not speak single word. Our teacher and us taught him both Standard German AND dialect within 3 or 4 months.
I think as a working adult it's a lot more difficult to learn a new language than as a school kid.
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Old 25.01.2013, 14:29
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

I was moved to France by my parents when I was 12 and I must say I found it awful at first and even now I have mixed feelings.
Admittedly, we ended up somewhere very different to Zurich. I found myself stranded in the middle of the countryside with no friends and a pretty poor state school where I received no help with learning French but was expected to follow classes like the French students. I had left a grammar school behind, and missed it so much. I was miserable for 2 years until I finally managed to learn enough French to do ok, and was able to board in Bordeaux when the switch to Lycee came. After that things were better.

The thing is, at this age friends start to become really important, and with the onset of puberty youngsters can be extremely vulnerable. Sometimes the last thing they need is a complete upset in their surroundings too. I think you should consider this before moving your child. Is she resilient and out-going, or a sensitive and shy like I was? This'll have a big impact. Also, is it worth it just for 2 years?

My parents still live in France, and I stayed until I was 17, then went to uni in the UK. I became fluent in French, but was never as good at writing as I am in English. I really feel this had a big impact on how well I did at school. At 12, children are usually too old to pick up a language "just like that". It's those that are under 8 that usually take it in their stride.

If you are going for only 2 years, your daughter will not have time to get her German up to standard for a Swiss school. You definitely will need a private school, and one thing about Switzerland is that however expensive you think something might be, it will probably be twice that in reality. Your employer really needs to contribute!

However, Zurich is a really great place to live. If you have a decent income, there's plenty for your daughter to do here, and lots of opportunites for family outings. The mountains and lakes are fantastic. There's swimming, sailing and walking in the summer, sledging and skiing in the winter. It will open up your daughter's world, and because it's so international here she'll hopefully make friends from many different places. The quality of life is good, and the city is a secure place for a young girl to live.

I think, on the whole that if she can deal ok with the change, the move could have the potential to make her life so much richer, and remove to fear when she's older of getting out there and leaving her home country if that is what she needs for career, education, love etc. If the move will upset her schooling, or if you feel that she is already fragile, I would think carefully about it.
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Old 25.01.2013, 14:43
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

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Employer would need to pay for nanny and private school, as well as COLA. If not, could never afford it. I've read that COLA is double that of Chicago. WOW!
Yes, make sure they will pay international schooling, and all costs for a full time nanny, including insurance and social charges. This will be very expensive (about 100,000 chf) but if they want you that much, they would need to pay. Being a single parent is CH is not easy but if you have these two things covered then I believe it is do-able. I wouldn't do it if these were not covered by your employer.
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Old 25.01.2013, 15:50
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

I moved here when I was 13. Don't think it harmed me that much. I think I could've been more successful at school back home but it's just meant I've need to do some detours to get where I want but it's also had it's benefits I certainly don't regret having been moved here. If you would be planning to live here long-term I'd certainly put your child in a local school. Pluss looking for a job speaking fluent English, German (by then) and possibly spanish (?) would give her a big advantage over her peers.

What I don't know is how are the local school times in Zurich? I know in many places the local school hours can be very irregular which would be an issue to think about
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Old 26.01.2013, 18:10
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Re: Potential Move to Zurich

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I think as a working adult it's a lot more difficult to learn a new language than as a school kid.
This is definitely true.

In the year that we have been here, I have been unable to find the time to learn any German except the pure basics.

Our daughter, who is 11 and had no German skills has picked up a lot and is able to communicate efficiently with her school friends and also translate/interpret for us when required. The local school were very good as they have a number of non-German speaking students and she attends extra German lessons in place of some of the English lessons

She has also picked up some Swiss German just from talking to her friends during breaks.
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