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Old 25.02.2010, 10:53
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Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it [EU citizen, logistics, ideas & info]

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Following up on this thread , this is what I can tell you for my experience – all info correct as per 25th feb 2010 and related to moving to / living in CH-8953 Dietikon (Zurich canton), married couple no children (yet…) with little car

COST OF LIVING
Taxes and contributions: these vary according to whether you are married/single, the partner works/doesn’t work, children/no children, religious/not religious etc. As a rule of thumb, about 25% of your gross salary will go the Swiss government. If you want to have an exact figure, get in touch with the HR dept of your new company and explain your situation in details, they’ll work out the net salary figure for you through the payroll dept.
Rent: for a 3 bed (4 ½ rooms in Swiss lingo), between 2000 and 3000 CHF per month, depending on whether you are within short walking distance from all amenities (trains, buses, schools, shops) or not. This will usually include water usage and all common areas expenses. Depending on the landlord or your Swiss legal status (nationality, permit category, length of residence etc…) you’ll have to leave a deposit between 1 ½ and 3 months rent. Some landlord will accept Swiss caution, but it is entirely a voluntary choice. A parking space, if not included in the rent, will be about 70/120 CHF per month. As a starting point to look for a place, check this website
Bills: Mobile phones (2), 100 CHF per month each. Landline,Internet and cable TV, 100 CHF per month. Electricity, approx 20 CHF every 3 months. Billag (TV license), 115 CHF every 3 months. Private Medical insurance (compulsory), 260 CHF each per month. House contents and personal liability insurance, 370 CHF per annum. Train passes to zurich (unlimited travel), 113 CHF each per month, but you can get a hefty discount (pay for 10 months and get the other 2 free) if you can do it in January and pay in one go for the rest of the year
Others: weekly food & drinks (for home), approx 150/200 CHF, dinner out (for 2 with wine) between 150 CHF to whatever (your Chateau Margaux ’82 will probably bump this up a bit), beer in pub 6/8 CHF, burger in pub 15/20 CHF, pizza in restaurant 15/20 CHF, glass of wine in bar, 6 CHF to whatever (see comments above). Clothes and beauty products are very expensive (take UK prices and add 50%), along with meat and fish. You’ll soon work out that going out a lot will hammer your budget, we usually go out for dinner maybe every 3 wks and out for a few glasses of wine every second week.
Sorry can’t help with schools / kindergarten / cost of nappies

IMPORTING / INSURING YOUR CAR
We got in by car with a lot of stuff in the back and then went back with a 3.5 tonnes Transit van to pick up furniture etc…
When you cross the border into Switzerland you need to have this form (18.44) completed and ready. It is a good idea, if you have boxes, to number them and itemise on a separate sheet the contents. They probably won’t look at it but is better to be over-prepared than being caught pants down. Mind that there are strict limit on the amount of certain product you can import duty-free, see here for details.
At the border they may “import” your car too, that is they give you the 13.20a form (blank) with a unique 9 digit number that is related to the chassis number. I say “may” because not all borders are equipped for this and those that are only do it at certain times. Don’t worry if they don’t, read on.
Now that you and your car are in Switzerland, you need to get a car insurance. In order to have an insurance in Switzerland you need the 9 digit number on the 13.20a form. If you didn’t get at the border, you have to go to the Import office (look here according to where you live in Switzerland) and they’ll issue one for you. Take car documents / passport with you.
With the 9 digit number, ring up a few insurances companies (I have Zurich Connect, contact form here) and get quotes. My insurance, for a Ford Fiesta 1.4 is about 600 CHF per year. Once you are happy to get with one, agree on the policy and they will issue a certificate of insurance. This covers you as any insurance would BUT remember that, technically, no Swiss insurer is allowed to insure a car unless that car has swiss licence plates, there fore you are now in a temporary situation. You need to get swiss licence plates

REGISTERING YOUR CAR
Technically, for the first 12 month of your stay in Switzerland you can drive with your foreign plates, but practically after about a month the insurance will start pestering you to change to swiss plates. So, first thing you need to take your car to a garage (ideally your brand dealer) and get one of the mechanics to check your car. Chances are that you will need to adjust your old or buy new headlights (which must point to the RIGHT side of the road) and you need to have the engine cleaned. You can’t clean the engine on your own, they have to put it on the lift-bridge and thoroughly clean it under too… plus they will perform a good check up to the car, filters, fluid levels, brakes, the whole hog. Plus, they will give the exhaust emission certificate (which you need to have in the car at all times).
Note, if you do this in winter they will ask you if you want to change your (summer) tyres to winter ones (different shape/deeper threads). This is not compulsory under Swiss law but if you have an accident in the snow without winter tyres the insurance will probably refuse to pay for your own damages, so either get the winter tyres or don’t drive in the snow / on ice…
Once the garage gives your car a clean bill of health (they probably take it for the whole day), you need to get in touch with the local cantonal inspection office (link here for zurich) and ask for a inspection to get the swiss licence plates. They will get back to you after a few days with a place, date and time. Give these details to your insurer as they need to send the insurance documents to the inspection office in advance.
Swiss licence plates (the ones for the back of the car) come in 2 different shapes, square (writing on 2 lines) or elongated (writing on 1 line), see here for examples. According to the shape of the back of your car, you need to get frames that hold the right shape plate. You can’t get these at the inspection office, so buy them in advance (any garage will have them). They are a bit tricky to put on, so ask the dude who sold them to you to show you how to fix them.
You need to go along to the appointment taking with you your insurance certificate (even if they have it already), your car documents, the exhaust emission certificate, the 13.20a form and the 18.44 form (all in original) and a screwdriver to remove your old plates and fix the new ones. The inspection will last about 1 hr and is a very thorough inspection, after which the inspector will fill in the 13.20a form with all the details and will send you to an office. Take off the foreign plates and go to the office where you will swap the old plates for new ones. They will give you the new car documents too. Then fix your new shiny swiss plates on the car and Bob’s your uncle. Once all done, give your insurer the new licence place number.
Cost of importing a car: import certificate (13.22a), 20 CHF. Garage bill (getting the car ready for inspection), mine was about 500 CHF + the cost of the new headlights (mine was 450 CHF, but you may be able to get your own cheaper on Ebay / somewhere else). Car Inspection procedure, 542 CHF (includes the inspection itself, documents, new plates and road tax until the end of the calendar year – I’ve done mine in January, so I guess that if you do yours in November it will be less)

CONVERTING YOUR DRIVING LICENCE
Note, this is for a EU driving licence. All complete procedures explained here
You are legally allowed to drive your car for the first 12 month of your stay with your foreign driver licence, after which you have to convert it to a swiss one. You can convert your licence after 12 months as long as you are not (caught) driving. I suggest get it done asap and out of the way.
You need to download the form here, fill in and then take it to either your doctor or an optician to get your eyesight tested. He will fill in the relevant part. Once that’s done, you need to go to the address on the form with a passport, 2 pictures and your old driver licence. They will make a copy of your DL and keep the original to send it back to the issuing country/office. You can drive with your photocopy. About a week later you will get your new swiss driver licence in the post, is in credit card format, valid forever (no need to renew it) and, oddly, doesn’t have your address on it. A while later again you will get a bill for 100 CHF for the priviledge. I don’t know how much the eyetest costs as my doctor sends the bills straight to my insurance.
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Old 25.02.2010, 13:38
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

And here's some more cost of living numbers, from a family of 4 in Vaud:

HOUSING
We live in a village between Morges and Lausanne. Here, a 5 room appt in a new building is around 2,500-3000 a month. A larger duplex appt is 4-5000. A large detached villa 30 seconds from Lake Geneva is upwards of 10k. Based on when we were looking at houses, these costs are pretty similar all the way along the Geneva-Lausanne strip, with the obvious variance for proximity to train stations, town centres and the lake. Prices drop by 30% if you go 15 mins inland. There will be a utility charge for water, heating and general maintenance on top, usually about 10% of the rent.

FOOD
We spend around 1200 a month on food (including 3-4 bottles of wine a week). No nappies, no tobacco. We eat meat perhaps 5 days out of 7 - prices of regular meat here are comparable to always buying organic in the UK. For other groceries, assume 50% on UK costs. Wine is quite cheap - drinkable stuff starts at 5chfs a bottle, especially if you look out for multibox promotions, and good stuff is 10chfs upwards.

HOUSEHOLD COSTS
Broadly the same as walter's above, except for electricity (which is think must be a typo). Our electric is a little over 200chfs a month - we're fairly heavy users, with a full complement of computers, electronic games, etc. Our first year, the electric company sent us a 'guesstimate' bill for a payment on account every 3 months, then calculated the final year's account afterwards. We were paying 160chfs every 3 months at first, based on... no idea, size of house or some such... but now they 'know' us and send us quarterly bills of around 600chfs. I have a PAYG mobile, and put 20chfs on it every 6 months or so - this is obviously a very variable cost. In Vaud, we also pay a compulsory fire insurance each year, based on property size - our 6 room appt costs 90chfs, so it's pretty negligible.

MEDICAL COSTS
We're paying about 180chfs a month for basic insurance, and 35-40chfs for supplementary, to get ambulance pick up, choice of hospital, free travel insurance, etc. This is for adults aged about 40, with a deductible of 2k. The kids (aged 10 and 6) cost about 80-90chfs each, with no deductible. A visit to a doctors for 15-20 mins costs about 100chfs, a flu jab is 25chfs, my asthma inhalers cost 30chfs each. A contact lens eye test costs 40chfs. I order contact lenses online from www.mclinsen.ch. Dental costs are high by UK standards - a simple filling is 150chfs, a 45 min hygiene scrape is 150chfs, a root canal is 1k upwards, having all of a child's molars treated for c**p enamel, drilled out, filled, and coated under a general anaesthetic is 3.5k. Looking forward to THAT bill come May.

CHILD-RELATED COSTS
Local schooling is free, apart from the usual 5-10chfs here and there for outings. A 3 day overnight camp is about 100chfs. My local French-speaking teen babysitter who covers for an hour or so during my Tae Kwon Do session is 10chfs an hour. My super-duper, children's entertainer-type adult native English-speaking babysitter who can watch the kids all day whilst we're miles away skiing is 20chfs an hour. A maman de jour/lunchtime childminder is 10chfs an hour, including lunch. Children's clothes are particularly expensive given their disposable nature; for UK viewers, imagine there's no Primark or Matalan and you're kitting out your little ones exclusively at Next and M&S (both deliver here) with an occasional flurry at Monsoon. And that all shoes are full-price from the most expensive Clarks ranges.

SPORT
My Tae Kwon Do club charges 50chfs a month to go to as many of the 3-times-a-week sessions as I like. Ski hire for the whole family - skis, boots, sticks - is around 900chfs. A ski pass for the day at most resorts around here is 35-45chfs. Some resorts do a PAYG system which works out much cheaper for us, as we can't ski for too long with our littlest child anyway. A 50chf PAYG adult pass will typically last us 3-4 visits, and can be swapped between the skiing and childminding parents. Ice skating is 7chfs including skates, swimming is 3chfs or free in the lake. Parking in town is 1chf an hour.

There, that's all for now. I'll add anything else I think of later.

kodokan
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Last edited by kodokan; 25.02.2010 at 13:40. Reason: Remembered about kids' clothes
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Old 25.02.2010, 19:43
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

How terribly complicated.

30 years ago I arrived in Basel on the night train from Amsterdam with one suitcase full of all my worldly goods, 2000 Swiss Francs and a bundle of letters from a man I had met 3 times.

From there on I took one day at a time, no planning, no looking back and things worked out just fine.

Think if I had had all the information above I would have been pondering whether to make the jump for 3 years at least.
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Old 26.02.2010, 05:52
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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How terribly complicated.

30 years ago I arrived in Basel on the night train from Amsterdam with one suitcase full of all my worldly goods, 2000 Swiss Francs and a bundle of letters from a man I had met 3 times.

From there on I took one day at a time, no planning, no looking back and things worked out just fine.

Think if I had had all the information above I would have been pondering whether to make the jump for 3 years at least.
I sometimes think this is the best way to do it - we overplan these things until we are in a state of anxiety - however it helps a bit to look at cost, it makes the postcard picture Switzerland a bit more realistic.
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Old 26.02.2010, 08:14
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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Broadly the same as walter's above, except for electricity (which is think must be a typo). Our electric is a little over 200chfs a month
not a typo, but then my electricity bill only covers what's coming out of the sockets I use, everything else (underfloor heating, washing drying, oven, stove) is included in the "ancillary" on top of the rent
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Old 26.02.2010, 08:37
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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not a typo, but then my electricity bill only covers what's coming out of the sockets I use, everything else (underfloor heating, washing drying, oven, stove) is included in the "ancillary" on top of the rent
Oh good - I knew we were quite high users, but I didn't think we were THAT bad!

kodokan
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Old 26.02.2010, 08:41
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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How terribly complicated...From there on I took one day at a time, no planning, no looking back and things worked out just fine.
Sigh... I remember that carefree life... I did a lot of student travel like that and you're right, it all worked out fine.

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Think if I had had all the information above I would have been pondering whether to make the jump for 3 years at least.
Think if you had had a wife/husband and a couple of school-age kids you would have been pondering whether to make the jump for a few days at least.

kodokan
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Old 26.02.2010, 09:57
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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Sigh... I remember that carefree life... I did a lot of student travel like that and you're right, it all worked out fine.



Think if you had had a wife/husband and a couple of school-age kids you would have been pondering whether to make the jump for a few days at least.

kodokan
Probably not. I just trust my intuition. Problem would be getting the whole family to agree to the move.
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Old 28.02.2010, 17:40
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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Sigh... I remember that carefree life... I did a lot of student travel like that and you're right, it all worked out fine.

Think if you had had a wife/husband and a couple of school-age kids you would have been pondering whether to make the jump for a few days at least.

kodokan
Once the opportunity was presented, it took me a very short time to make the decision. However, with a family, having all this information helps in informing expectations. And the better informed the expectations, the easier it will be (I hope) to settle into a new life and blend in to a new culture.
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Old 25.06.2010, 18:45
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it [EU citizen, logistics, ideas & info]

This helped me a lot.
I have realized, midstream in my move, that my ignorance is huge, despite the fact I have been to Switzerland all my life. You read the cookbook for what you must do only to find all kinds of details that turnout to be essential but would be unknown unless you had done it before.
For example, I still have no idea what is required of the household inventory that must be presented when bringing in personal effects. Dining room furniture? Dining table and six chairs? Wooden dining table, two fabric armchairs and four wooden chairs? In my case I am moving in three phases, but the entire inventory has to be presented for the first phase. Who knew? So I am holding up everything until I can get back to Geneva to meet with the Zoll and ask!
I loved your post. Thank you.
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Old 26.06.2010, 12:25
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it

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How terribly complicated.

30 years ago I arrived in Basel on the night train from Amsterdam with one suitcase full of all my worldly goods, 2000 Swiss Francs and a bundle of letters from a man I had met 3 times.

From there on I took one day at a time, no planning, no looking back and things worked out just fine.

Think if I had had all the information above I would have been pondering whether to make the jump for 3 years at least.
Agreed but doesn't just apply to 30 years ago - did pretty much the same thing just a few months ago.
Too much information leads to hesitation and procrastination
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Old 02.07.2010, 22:08
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it [EU citizen, logistics, ideas & info]

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This helped me a lot.
I have realized, midstream in my move, that my ignorance is huge, despite the fact I have been to Switzerland all my life. You read the cookbook for what you must do only to find all kinds of details that turnout to be essential but would be unknown unless you had done it before.
For example, I still have no idea what is required of the household inventory that must be presented when bringing in personal effects. Dining room furniture? Dining table and six chairs? Wooden dining table, two fabric armchairs and four wooden chairs? In my case I am moving in three phases, but the entire inventory has to be presented for the first phase. Who knew? So I am holding up everything until I can get back to Geneva to meet with the Zoll and ask!
I loved your post. Thank you.
From my experience (went through customs in Zurich) this should be enough:
Dining room furniture (1 table, 6 chairs)
My understanding is that there are no strict rules how the inventory should like, so just make it descriptive enough but not too much.
And remember, when they ask if there is anything new, just say "everything's oooooold".
Dunno abt phases though...
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Old 02.07.2010, 22:29
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Re: Relocating to Switzerland - how I did it [EU citizen, logistics, ideas & info]

For those moving here for love and marriage - good luck!! - no back on topic, you also get an additional 10k allowance for new wedding presents. It is easier if you get married here but (for memory) I think they give you three months but want receipts (big smile). We bought in about Chf15k smiled and pleaded (well my new Swiss german wife did) and got a bill for Chf300.
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