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Old 29.09.2019, 14:02
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Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

Hi everyone,

My husband and I are both EU nationals who moved to South Africa in our teens (currently in our mid 30's) and due to a number of reasons (mainly high rate of crime in SA) have decided to emigrate out of SA. We have a four year old child. We are considering between Switzerland (Zurich) and Canada (Toronto). In my case I am able to obtain a transfer from my company to either Zurich or Toronto. My husband would have to look for a job whichever country we decide. He has about 10 years experience in corporate banking. We are looking for "live experience" in both countries to help us with our decision. Our main concerns are regarding ease of employment opportunities, cost of living vs salaries in both cities and child care for our son.
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Old 29.09.2019, 14:03
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

Good for you to do your research well, first.

Which languages do you and your husband speak? And are you willing to learn? If you've lived in South Africa and picked up any Afrikaans, that would be a help in learning German.
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Old 29.09.2019, 14:12
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

If you start at this point https://www.englishforum.ch/forum.php
you'll see all the sub-fora.

In many of them, right at the top, there are so-called "sticky" threads, which contain a great deal of standard, basic information about how things work in that area of life in Switzerland. Don't worry if they are not brand new. Things change slowly in Switzerland, so - with the exception of the permit story, but you are EU anyway - much of the info you find in those stickies will still apply.

Another good resource is www.ch.ch, a government umbrella website which leads you through various areas of life here. The reasource is excellent, but its search function not so good, so if you can't immediately find what you're looking for, just try as many synonyms as you can think of.

The search function of this forum (top right-hand corner) is not so hot, either. However, if you search using google, but from outside the forum, and type in "englishforum" as one of your search criteria, and then the rest of your searchwords, the yield is much better.

This is not to discourage you from asking, but you may find that many of your initial questions have been answered already, and once you've grasped the basics, you'll be more likely to be able to ask specific questions, and get a lot of help and advice. Welcome!
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Old 29.09.2019, 14:20
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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Hi everyone,

My husband and I are both EU nationals who moved to South Africa in our teens (currently in our mid 30's) and due to a number of reasons (mainly high rate of crime in SA) have decided to emigrate out of SA. We have a four year old child. We are considering between Switzerland (Zurich) and Canada (Toronto). In my case I am able to obtain a transfer from my company to either Zurich or Toronto. My husband would have to look for a job whichever country we decide. He has about 10 years experience in corporate banking. We are looking for "live experience" in both countries to help us with our decision. Our main concerns are regarding ease of employment opportunities, cost of living vs salaries in both cities and child care for our son.
I’ll be honest with you. The chances of getting employed here as a banker from SA are very slim. The chances of even getting a bank account here even slimmer.

Someone may well correct me, but I’ve worked here since about 30 years in banking.
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Old 29.09.2019, 14:27
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

ZuriRollt, did you see that they are both EU? That makes their situation much better, I think. As long as one of them has a job that can support them both, they should be okay to get into Switzerland, and opening a bank account should be no problem.

Whether, then, the banker will find a job here is, of course, another matter. But one spouse already has a job offer here.

OP, I suppose it's a question of what's more important: leaving South Africa because you don't feel safe there, vs both of your having employment. Things that can improve your husband's chances are being willing to learn a local language in this case German, since your job is in Zurich) and possibly to do some exams (depending on his qualifications, perhaps to get a local one, here),
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Old 29.09.2019, 14:43
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

Toronto - sky high taxes, expensive real-estate (although where isn't these days), the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) has close to 6m people, government funded health care that is mediocre at best, decent state schools, Toronto is the financial capital of Canada and the big 5 banks (RBC, CIBC, BMO, TD, Scotia) all have their offices there. Winters can be bleak and cold but the summers nice. Generally safe for a large city but crime is on the rise. Canada is infected with an aggressive PC (political correctness) agenda so depending on your political views you may or may not like living in left-leaning Toronto.

Zurich - a village by comparison population wise. Low taxes, expensive real-estate, excellent health care (although you pay for it), great state schools, Zurich is the financial capital with UBS/CS being the "big 2" banks and having big offices here. Winters can be tough if you don't enjoy skiing/going up into the mountains. Summers are fantastic. Very safe and no real ghettos or unsafe areas. You don't need to speak German here but if you don't you will have a much more restricted social life and might feel isolated and bored here. No aggressive PC culture and can be quite conservative in some respects.
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Old 29.09.2019, 15:06
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ZuriRollt, did you see that they are both EU? That makes their situation much better, I think. As long as one of them has a job that can support them both, they should be okay to get into Switzerland, and opening a bank account should be no problem.

Whether, then, the banker will find a job here is, of course, another matter. But one spouse already has a job offer here.

OP, I suppose it's a question of what's more important: leaving South Africa because you don't feel safe there, vs both of your having employment. Things that can improve your husband's chances are being willing to learn a local language in this case German, since your job is in Zurich) and possibly to do some exams (depending on his qualifications, perhaps to get a local one, here),
Thank you for the detailed response... just for more info, I speak Portuguese and English and my husband french and English

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I’ll be honest with you. The chances of getting employed here as a banker from SA are very slim. The chances of even getting a bank account here even slimmer.

Someone may well correct me, but I’ve worked here since about 30 years in banking.
Thank you for your response... would you elaborate more. What are the reasons for the impossibility, are SA qualifications and work experience not considered at all, language issues what would be the underlying reason. I just want to understand the obstacles

Last edited by 3Wishes; 29.09.2019 at 16:47. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 29.09.2019, 18:26
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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Thank you for the detailed response... just for more info, I speak Portuguese and English and my husband french and English



Thank you for your response... would you elaborate more. What are the reasons for the impossibility, are SA qualifications and work experience not considered at all, language issues what would be the underlying reason. I just want to understand the obstacles
Technically (from nationality) you shouldn’t have any problems. And of course with Afrikaans etc. as a possible language background, you’re best positioned.

In banking though, I think that in an already competitive market that is adverse to reputation risk, it will not be easy to find a job.

But good luck to you if you do it - you would be the first South Africans I’ve met here in the past 30 years. Me personally, I came here directly from SA with a CH passport at that time , and had to decline all offers from friends to open CH bank accounts or smuggle rand and gold at the same time.
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Old 29.09.2019, 18:37
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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Hi everyone,

My husband and I are both EU nationals who moved to South Africa in our teens (currently in our mid 30's) and due to a number of reasons (mainly high rate of crime in SA) have decided to emigrate out of SA. We have a four year old child. We are considering between Switzerland (Zurich) and Canada (Toronto).

You are in a fortunate situation getting to choose between two of the best countries in the world!



Canada is truly a country of immigrants so you will fit in quickly especially because you both already speak English. Lots of immigrants from SA in Canada already.


IMO excellent education systems for your son in either country.
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Old 29.09.2019, 18:42
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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You are in a fortunate situation getting to choose between two of the best countries in the world!



Canada is truly a country of immigrants so you will fit in quickly especially because you both already speak English. Lots of immigrants from SA in Canada already.


IMO excellent education systems for your son in either country.
Agree, but if it was me I’d personally opt for Canada today - and after quite a while in CH, that is now my dream retirement destination.

Wow, the OP really has a dilemma i.e. Canada or Switzerland.

If you like nice wide open spaces and the ocean, then I’d go for Canada. If you’re OK with beautiful views while living within a quite indistinct but relatively safe environment, then CH.
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Old 29.09.2019, 19:14
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

Compare the climate, and think about how much you can deal with (or enjoy) snow. Not in the winter-wonderland sense, but in terms of city sludge, and the clothing. In particular, compare the average number of days per year on which it snows in either city.
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Old 29.09.2019, 20:52
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

Other things to compare would be airfare and flying time from either city to wherever else you want to be, for example to visit family or their visit you.

And the local groups of your various cultures and countries, and hobbies or affiliations or beliefs. They can be a huge help as you adapt and integrate.

And Switzerland, besides everything else, has this Forum! So it must be the centre of the world, n'est ce pas?
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Old 29.09.2019, 21:10
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

It boils clearly down to wherever you prefer Tim Hortons or Rösti
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Old 29.09.2019, 23:03
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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Other things to compare would be airfare and flying time from either city to wherever else you want to be, for example to visit family or their visit you.

And the local groups of your various cultures and countries, and hobbies or affiliations or beliefs. They can be a huge help as you adapt and integrate.

And Switzerland, besides everything else, has this Forum! So it must be the centre of the world, n'est ce pas?
Again, thank you so much for your advise and insight... In terms of family, Switzerland is a winner (we have family in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe which is not far from Switzerland). Our biggest worry though, is the ease with which my husband would be able to find employment in Switzerland or Canada depending on which one we choose) as well as cost of living compared to one's earnings ability in the countries under consideration
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Old 30.09.2019, 00:25
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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It boils clearly down to wherever you prefer Tim Hortons or Rösti
You can have bot in Canada
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Old 30.09.2019, 13:35
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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You can have bot in Canada
And you can get poutine there - an excellent reason to decide on Canada.
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Old 30.09.2019, 13:53
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

OP, it must be a hard decision as you have the choice. As you can see, the tendency from members posts is not 100% Switzerland! It’s more of a “see if you can survive here” approach. And I believe that’s completely correct.

It might sound chocolate-box, however it’s not. But you can make a wonderful, relatively safe life here. I did, but my dream would be to retire in Canada (Vancouver Island to be specific, but I’d be OK with living half of my life in gum-boots).

If you opt for the European continent, then CH is a good bet. Yes, the winters are very grey, but you can get over it with practice or if you can afford/have the desire to go skiing at the weekends. Summers are just wonderful if you know where to look.

As said however, the job market is very competitive. Large banks such as UBS and CS have put caps on the amount of non-Swiss it employs (or this was enforced on them).

It’s a risk, whatever you choose. I don’t think that Switzerland should be ruled out, but I personally wouldn’t make the same choice today.
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Old 30.09.2019, 14:06
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Re: Switzerland (Zurich) Vs Living in Canada (Toronto)

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OP, it must be a hard decision as you have the choice. As you can see, the tendency from members posts is not 100% Switzerland! It’s more of a “see if you can survive here” approach. And I believe that’s completely correct.

It might sound chocolate-box, however it’s not. But you can make a wonderful, relatively safe life here. I did, but my dream would be to retire in Canada (Vancouver Island to be specific, but I’d be OK with living half of my life in gum-boots).

If you opt for the European continent, then CH is a good bet. Yes, the winters are very grey, but you can get over it with practice or if you can afford/have the desire to go skiing at the weekends. Summers are just wonderful if you know where to look.

As said however, the job market is very competitive. Large banks such as UBS and CS have put caps on the amount of non-Swiss it employs (or this was enforced on them).

It’s a risk, whatever you choose. I don’t think that Switzerland should be ruled out, but I personally wouldn’t make the same choice today.
My Navy son lives in Vancouver Island . Bring Money
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Old 30.09.2019, 14:06
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Again, thank you so much for your advise and insight... In terms of family, Switzerland is a winner (we have family in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe which is not far from Switzerland). Our biggest worry though, is the ease with which my husband would be able to find employment in Switzerland or Canada depending on which one we choose) as well as cost of living compared to one's earnings ability in the countries under consideration
Why doesn't he take a look at the job market to get an idea of the kind of jobs available? Although jobs.ch is good, most companies now publish openings on their own websites.
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Old 30.09.2019, 14:08
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