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Old 06.07.2016, 21:33
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Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Hi all,

I am coming to Zurich for the first time this August to decide where we will live, so I am trying to work out now which areas we should focus on to look for a flat - your advice and recommendations will be much appreciated.

I am posting here because our choice will be based on schools and after-school etc. activities for children (as long as we can afford the rent)

I have found an enormous amount of useful information on all sorts of things on this forum and in other places, but I don't really feel much the wiser in terms of identifying specific areas. Maybe we don't fit usual profiles, or maybe we do and I just haven't found the right information yet.

So... we are a Franco-British and Belgian family with two small boys (one is 5, the other 3). We have been in London for around 20 years and are relocating to Zurich in the Autumn for the long term.

Here are our criteria:

1) One or more state schools with arrangements in place for children to stay at lunch time/after-school so that we the parents can both work.
Questions: Is it possible to find a school which both a 5 year old and 3 year old can attend?
Is it still the case that timetables and lunch time organisation in the majority of state schools make it near impossible for both parents to work, or are things completely different now?

2) We would rather live outside Zurich city/ somewhere as green as possible, but still with activities for children. I'm not sure Zurich city would be financially possible for us anyway.

3) on that note: we could afford, at the very most, about 3500 Swiss francs in total per month on a flat for 4/5 persons.

4) Both our boys are bilingual French/English. As we speak French at home, we would like to be in an area where there will be other English speakers, playgroups etc. (as I said we're not keen on either the Lycee Francais nor an international school)

And more questions: I assume we need to have some accommodation/an address before we can apply for schools etc. and that we will have to liaise with the competent authorities in each area/commune/village to find out about timetables/lunch/after-school options - is that right or is it possible to:
- talk to one central authority/education department for the whole canton to get information?
- get the process of applying started now (i.e. could I get on the waiting list for 2 or 3 nurseries now if they are several months/years long anyway?)

Thank you for your patience if you have read all of this, any advice will be gratefully received!
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Old 06.07.2016, 21:42
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Zollikerberg? Cheaper than Zollikon but same school district. Zollikon has Tagesschule concept. One of the first in Canton Zurich. Not cheap though.

No school for 3 year old though. School doesnt start until 5 years. So you need to go for Kinderkrippe. Which againisnt cheap.

Zollikerberg and Zollikon has a very large international community.
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Old 06.07.2016, 22:36
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Welcome to the forum.


Just to add my two pence worth: child care here in general is extortionate, you can "easily" pay 2.5K per child per month if you want them to go to childcare full time. A friend of ours puts both of her children (both under 3.5) in day care 4 days a week and pays 4500CHF per month (total, not each child).

In my experience, a lot of daycare offered here is not the same as in the UK, there are differences, some of which threw me.

Please also be aware that the first two years of school - Kindergarten - is mornings (plus one afternoon) only, and no lunch time provision. If you want/need that, then that is likely to be extra.


To be blunt: it is not easy/cheap for both parents to work full time. I work (very) part time around Spielgruppe hours and it's still verging on the ridiculous. Edited to say, yes, in answer to your qu 1, it's still almost impossible


Feel free to PM me with questions (I moved here with a 14 month old around 15 months ago) if you think I can help.


Best,


Rufus.

Last edited by RufusB; 07.07.2016 at 12:45. Reason: Added info
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Old 06.07.2016, 22:51
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

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No school for 3 year old though. School doesnt start until 5 years.
Unless you move to Ticino, then it starts at 3.

And while the first year is only mornings, many communes offer full day care.

Tom
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Old 06.07.2016, 23:12
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Which part of "relocating to Zurich" didnt you understand Tom? :-)

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Unless you move to Ticino, then it starts at 3.

And while the first year is only mornings, many communes offer full day care.

Tom
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Old 06.07.2016, 23:17
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

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Which part of "relocating to Zurich" didnt you understand Tom? :-)
With the new train tunnel, Ticino is within easy commuting distance of Zurich.

(at least from the RAV point of view)

Tom
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Old 07.07.2016, 00:01
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

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With the new train tunnel, Ticino is within easy commuting distance of Zurich.

(at least from the RAV point of view)

Tom
lol, got a point there
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Old 07.07.2016, 11:11
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

If both of you want to work a 100% you will need to pay about 4-5.000 chfs per month.

Simply the 'social-work-family' model here is 'clasic'. They assume that one of the parens ( or both of them) should spend a lot of time taking care of the kids at home

The school and Kita schedule is crazy just some hours in the morming and a couple of hours one day per week in the afternoon.

The options are:
- Tagesmutter: A woman taking care of kids at her home. About 20chfs/kid-hour.
- Private kinder garden: About 100chfs per kid-day plus 15-20chfs for the lunch.
- Aupair: About 2.00chfs per month plus german classes ( 24chfs / hour..) plus....
- One of you at home or both of you at 50%+-

The 4-6 years kids have to go to the KITA ( it is mandatory) and it is free , so you can win some hour of freedom the next year...

We chose a small town at 20 min from Zürich it is cheaper ( Zürich is the most expensive city of the most expensive country...), is more comfortable for the kids and there are a little comunity from people of others european countries. The starting in Swiss, if you do not speak german, is easier.
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Old 07.07.2016, 12:40
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Welcome to the forum and soon to Switzerland.

Understand that you don't apply to schools. The gemeinde will decide which school you children go to, you don't have a choice as you do in the UK. So until you have an address it'll be difficult to proceed with school registration.

Although it's changing most schools still don't have lunch facilities and children come home for lunch. Obviously you'll need to check with the gemeinde what your particular school will do. Same for any after school activities.
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Old 07.07.2016, 16:38
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

We moved from London to Bonstetten with children the same age as yours a few years ago as we wanted to live somewhere green and close to the city by public transport. The school has full day childcare from kindergarten and the village usually has at least one english speaking playgroup running. There are lots of activities for children eg: gymnastics, football, painting studio, hockey club. The exact school schedule depends on the individual teacher, not just the school, but usually at 5 there would at most 2 afternoons of kindergarten.

My friend's lovely large ground floor flat with a shared garden is newly available to rent from October for Fr. 3000 (although there will be new houses being built next door over the coming year).
http://www.immoscout24.ch/en/d/rent-...46&ci=13&ct=17

Good luck!
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Old 07.07.2016, 19:44
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Many thanks everyone (I don't have any reputation yet so I can't thank you individually in-thread).

I've done some research on Zollikerberg and it looks promising. I will now look at Bonstetten too!

I have a few more questions:

- any other specific areas of Zurich you think I should look at?

- is there some sort of central authority which has information about all schools in the canton (I assume that if we move to an area with more tagesschule/kinderkrippe and similar facilities, we will be more likely to attend one)

- i've heard of groups of parents helping each other with childcare - is there a specific name for this and is it just something people arrange informally with their neighbours/friends/other parents from the same school, or is there some sort of association/organisation system?

(I'm not planning to work full time but I'd like to be able to work with others and outside my home - I currently work mostly as a translator from home and about 50% of the time, I wouldn't mind changing both)
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Old 07.07.2016, 20:05
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Your scope of questions is so wide reaching, that I doubt you'll find any definitive / satisfactory answers here.

I don't mean that detrimentally, but any of us living here for years with family (even Swiss nationals or with Swiss partners) also go through the same questions, and debate and question things for months / years before making the next step according to personal circumstances (family, financial etc. etc.).

If you receive the "perfect" answer, you might find that it's constrained due to costs, language, logistics etc. etc.

You might also find some contacts on meetup.com (I've never used the site myself), but they seem to be a good source for group contact that also might be able to share their experiences of relocating here.

Good luck with the relocation!

Edit: PS. Here is one of the best English speaking Montessori schools in Zürich, which I can highly recommend (my daughter - now at University in Zurich - went here from 4 years old). She and almost all of her schoolmates ended-up in university (or following their wished careers, and had a great, fun and well-balanced time in learning, and still love learning.

http://www.dinsle.ch/index_en.php

Last edited by ZuriRollt; 07.07.2016 at 20:23.
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Old 08.07.2016, 12:44
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Your scope of questions is so wide reaching, that I doubt you'll find any definitive / satisfactory answers here.
http://www.dinsle.ch/index_en.php
Thank you very much ZuriRollt, your daughter's school does look amazing.

I apologise for "where to live in Zurich canton?" being such a general question - I realise it is impossible to give a right or definitive answer to that but all the contributions to this thread help me get a better idea of what is there and how to proceed to find our first place in Zurich.

As I've said I have never been to Zurich yet and will only have about a week to visit and view flats - I am sure you are right and we will keep thinking and changing our organisation as time goes by.

Because I am starting from scratch, every bit of information is helpful and although I realise no one holds any "absolute truth" here, you are all parents and in or around Zurich, so you definitely know lot more than I can guess!

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We chose a small town at 20 min from Zürich it is cheaper ( Zürich is the most expensive city of the most expensive country...), is more comfortable for the kids and there are a little comunity from people of others european countries. The starting in Swiss, if you do not speak german, is easier.
Many thanks Tsman, may I ask which small town you live in?

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Understand that you don't apply to schools. The gemeinde will decide which school you children go to, you don't have a choice as you do in the UK. So until you have an address it'll be difficult to proceed with school registration.
Thanks Medea, that helps me put steps in the right order! Do you know how the Gemeinde decides which school you go to - is it mostly the nearest school in terms of distance as long as there are spaces available?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 14.07.2016 at 23:18. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 08.07.2016, 12:58
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Have a look as well at Dübendorf and Wallisellen?


Also, have a look at the map, as depending on where exactly in Zurich you will work, it might be beneficial looking at smaller towns just outside Zurich. Often the rent is a lot cheaper but the connections to zurich are still very good.


As an example, I live in Wallisellen, just outside Zurich, pay for my apartment (similar size) a couple of hundred CHF less than a friend who lives in Altstetten and Zurich HB is quicker for me to reach than from Altstetten.
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Old 08.07.2016, 20:20
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Hmmm, wouldnt be my first choice. Wallisellen, maybe, Dubendorf, nope. Communication is great no doubt but I would rather spend 500 chufs more on rent and live in one of the villages along the Forchbahn.


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Have a look as well at Dübendorf and Wallisellen?


Also, have a look at the map, as depending on where exactly in Zurich you will work, it might be beneficial looking at smaller towns just outside Zurich. Often the rent is a lot cheaper but the connections to zurich are still very good.


As an example, I live in Wallisellen, just outside Zurich, pay for my apartment (similar size) a couple of hundred CHF less than a friend who lives in Altstetten and Zurich HB is quicker for me to reach than from Altstetten.
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Old 08.07.2016, 22:29
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

If you are not keen on private schools, and you both wish to work 100%, you may not want to relocate to Switzerland. Daycare is quite expensive, and I've heard that it's difficult to get a spot in one sometimes. Kindergarten starts at 4 or 5 and it goes from 8:00 to 11:50, plus one afternoon a week 13:30 to 15:30. They really don't consider it the public schools role to be a free babysitter for all here. There are many school holidays, and if the teacher is sick, for example, the kids get the day off.

Here are some great places for families in my opinion:

Uster, Schwerzenbach, Fällanden, Benglen

Volketswil, Dübendorf

Wetzikon, Pfäffikon ZH, Fehraltorf

I expect these places to be nicer and less expensive than such places as Meilen, Zollikerberg, and Horgen. The towns along the Forchbahn are nice, but I think it's quite expensive to live there.

The towns near the airport might be good, I hear they are affordable, but I don't know much else about them.

I had a friend who lived in Affoltern am Albis, that may be a good area to look into.
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Old 08.07.2016, 23:20
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Here is a good indication on where to live:

http://files.newsnetz.ch/upload//4/0/40449.jpg

Ive lived in orange, red and dark blue. If on a budget I would choose light blue or cheaper areas of dark blue (like Zollikerberg). I would go down in size if I had to rather than move to orange/red. But hey, thats me.
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Old 14.07.2016, 22:40
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Hi there,
we are in a similar situation, relocating in autumn back to Switzerland after 2.5 years abroad, but now with a kid. We used to be in Schaffhausen where we wer e both working and we loved it - but now it looks more likely for me to find a job in Zurich, so we are moving in that area.

This is what I came up with from my search. Dubendorf sounds nice, and also the Winterthur region. The commute is reasonable and there are good connections. Bulach could also be an option. As for school, you will need extra care if you both work. we are looking at private day care for our 2.5yo (kita or kinderkrippe, or international centers). Playgroups are just not made for working moms. Same with kindergarden. You will have to find an afternoon program. A lot of the kindergartens I saw when I was in Schaffhausen offer the option for early hour and afternoon extras - at a cost. Or you'll need to get a part time nanny to handle the transfer from school to home and the afternoons.

From my side - the cost doesn't beat the fact that we'll both be working, and that I can keep my carreer going (I also worked through this international relocation), so it's worth it to us. But let's just say that the second job is not really going to increment any savings or pay for holidays.

Hope this helps even a little.
Cheers,
ValeC
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Old 15.07.2016, 00:34
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

Thank you again to everyone who has contributed above. I am making slow progress with detailed research right now (life in London has taken over recently) but I feel I've made giant awareness and thinking leaps thanks to your posts and replies.
I will definitely be back at some point with further questions (extra thanks to those who gave me permission to PM them for that purpose)
I'm not sure what sort of welcome we'll get in Zurich, but if it's half as good as on this forum I can't wait to get there!
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Old 15.07.2016, 00:40
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Re: Family relocating to Zurich with two small boys - where to live?

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Unless you move to Ticino, then it starts at 3.
It is actually not a bad idea to have the family in Ticino and have the bread earner weekend-comuting from/to Zürich. At least for the children's primary school and get the italian properly into their brain, changing canton when they are 10-12 if they have good grades and repeating a year to get the German going really good. Actually a good plan.
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