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Old 17.04.2011, 19:39
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Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Hi, I am new to this forum.

I would like to move to Switzerland. I am currently living in California (as you probably guessed) and I know Switzerland is the ideal place for me. I am very laid back, enjoy hiking with my dogs, cooking and traveling. I have done a lot of research and I am thinking I would like to live in Bern or in the south. I originally thought I would prefer Geneva or Zurich but now I am not so sure... It seems like people here don't find Geneva to be a great place to live so I have changed my tune.

Anyway, I would appreciate any tips on how to find employment. Is this dream a possibility? I speak some French and English, no German or Italian. I have a 4 year degree and 10 years of experience in the field of marketing/design. My focus has been on branding/identity, web development, real estate marketing, communications... My fiance is a Senior Systems Engineer and he focuses on video and systems design, implementation of video...

I am very serious about this and I would love to make this dream a reality but I don't want to get my hopes up if I don't have a shot. The only thing holding me back is the inability to work.

Does anyone have any advice for me? If it is "forget it" that's ok too. I just want to know if this is worth pursuing. It seems like most people don't choose where they want to go, they usually end up there for work. Maybe I am doing this backwards
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Old 17.04.2011, 23:11
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Re: Looking for some Advice.

What is it about Switzerland that attracts you?
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Old 17.04.2011, 23:26
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Re: Looking for some Advice.

It is beautiful and I want to travel. It is central and there is a lot of English spoken plus there are a lot of companies that I feel may be a good match for employment.

Not a good plan?
Honestly, I would like to hear, even if the news is bad.

I was also thinking about Vancouver or moving within the US. Unfortunately, another state in the US wouldn't satify my desire to live abroad. I have traveled across the US 3 times and I haven't visited a state I could see staying in long-term.

Canada is tough, I can't work there legally & it is extremely cold. I may be happier here in the US but you never know unless you try. All I know is, I've made a few moves and each time I am happier. I get ideas and I try to make them happen. Maybe this is a bad idea.
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Old 17.04.2011, 23:50
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Have you visited Switzerland before? I *strongly* suggest you visit here for at least a few weeks (or preferably longer) before deciding whether or not this really is a place you would want to live.
I am from the US originally and there really are a LOT of cultural differences, not only with the people but also in terms of standard of living and just the general "way of life". In my opinion, life here can be very stressful when compared to life in the US, but I'm sure that depends on what city you're from and which area you move to. The cost of living here really is VERY high. And a dream of ever owning a house here is probably unrealistic unless you make a LOT of money or perhaps are willing to live in the "middle of nowhere" so to speak. Also, German is very difficult to learn for many native English speakers, and actually, it's been my experience that many people here do not speak English.
I'm certainly not trying to dissuade you, but I think that a lot of people who romanticize living in a foreign country do, unfortunately, end up finding the reality of the experience to be, well... not quite so romantic.
But I certainly do wish you the very best with wherever life takes you! And I am sorry if my post seems to have a bit of a pessimistic tone, but I'm just trying to be realistic with you. And of course I can only speak from my own experiences. But please do feel free to private message me with any questions, etc.
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Old 18.04.2011, 00:24
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Thank you for your response Carrie. I have not visited Switzerland but I have visited France and I know what you mean about people not speaking English and it being difficult to communicate.

I just hate to be trapped only living in countries where people speak English, where can I go? The US, Canada, UK or Australia, that's pretty much it. I do speak a bit of French and that could be useful in Switzerland? I would love to have the opportunity to learn more French but I am not at all fluent, I probably wouldn't do very well in France, unless I was in a major city where many people spoke English.

I would love to live in the middle of no where, that's my dream but the problem is that I need to make some money. I don't even care to make a lot of money, just enough and I am working on some ventures that could create monthly income that won't require me to go to a place of employment every day. Hopefully one takes off. I have had many failed businesses so I know the reality is that it will not take off but you know the saying, if at first you don't succeed, try again! One day I will make it happen. I already have clients and websites that generate some income but I need more to live in the middle of no where. That's why, for now, I have to try to live in a city.

I have lived in Manhattan and Los Angeles, both are very expensive cities. Rents are usually around 2,000US for a 1 bedroom. I did read some Swiss German translations a few weeks ago and I can see it being difficult for an American to pick up.

It is very hard for me to travel for a period of time because I have pets and I don't like being away from them.

Thanks for the positive thoughts. Where are you from in the US? would you consider coming back here?
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Old 18.04.2011, 00:46
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

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I was also thinking about Vancouver ..

Canada is tough, I can't work there legally & it is extremely cold..
Vancouver is fab! Actually, out of whole Canada, the weather in Vancouver is mild. It is as pictoresque as here, but lot less uptight.

I think if you secure an income before you show up, it is ideal. Although, to get a permit, might be difficult for a US person, if you are only self employed. You will be expected to show a steady income.

The rents are comparable, but it depends where you live. In the boonies, you can pay 700fr a month for a nice apartment, in one of the cities, you can triple that for a half size of an that apartment. It might also be difficult to find a place to live if you have a lot of pets. Again, my experience is, in the country, landlords are more tolerant, than big cities with horrific renting situation.
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Old 18.04.2011, 01:09
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

You guys are the best. You're really helping me organize my thoughts.

I do think Vancouver is a good option but you're right Music, it's probably just as difficult for me to work there being I am not a citizen. That is going to be my biggest challenge. I think I could have more of a chance to get to Switzerland because there are a lot of larger corporations there, whereas Vancouver, maybe not so many? It is worth taking a look at Vancouver but I don't think there is as much business. Plus, I don't imagine it as being quite like Switzerland. I don't know, I see pictures of Switzerland and I think it is perfect. I want to hike the mountains and visit all the cities. Living in the boonies wouldn't help my work situation. I think I need to push really hard to get some new projects off the ground. If that happens I won't have to be so reliant on finding employment to get out of here!

I have to see if my fiance can get EU citizenship. If he can that may make things easier.

I have 2 small dogs. Not a lot of pets but they are needy and we are very attached to them.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 18.04.2011, 01:35
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Cali, you mention that you have two dogs...

Even if you find employment and a work permit, please research the issues surrounding having dogs here in Switzerland before making your decision.

The most difficult issue for dog owners is housing - it is becoming increasingly difficult to find dog-friendly landlords. Browse through the housing section, read the threads by dog owners discussing the search with pets in tow.

Be aware that we live in very small spaces, a private postage stamp sized garden is a luxury.

What breeds are your dogs? Be aware that several cantons have enacted BSL, some breeds are banned, some breeds are restricted (muzzling and on-lead in public) in those cantons. If you have a listed breed, think very carefully.

You also mentioned that travel was one factor driving your dream of moving here. I, too, love to travel - yet I can no longer do so because I have been unable to find appropriate dog care since my sitter retired a few years ago. Perhaps you will be luckier than I - but be prepared to make finding care a top priority. Also, be aware that good care is quite expensive.

Spend some time browsing through the Pets Corner - you will find quite a lot of information, opinions, experiences. Take it all with a grain of salt, but do be aware that life is not always easy for dog owners here - all the more so if you have more than one dog.

All the best to you - hope you find a way to make your dream come true.
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Old 18.04.2011, 02:04
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Thanks Melon! Maybe if I ever get there I can be your sitter

I have 2 Italian Greyhounds. They are very easy to care for and both about 15 pounds, not aggressive at all. I wouldn't move if losing them were a possibility. I actually read the pet corner a bit before posting and I saw that it is required that they are chipped, I haven't gotten mine chips because I've heard it is quite painful for them but I would consider it if it meant moving to Switzerland could become a reality. They meet the other regulations and I fly with them in cabin often all over the US, they are extremely well behaved. I have driven across the country with them as well. I envisioned being able to travel with them to different cities. I hate being away from them. They are a bit skittish and hide from people they don't know. I would love to live in the countryside somewhere where they have some land to play and maybe I could have a garden. Is that is unrealistic? If I am in a place where I can afford to rent and have land, am I too far away from anywhere to work?
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Old 18.04.2011, 02:08
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

I admire your vision, though I agree you should visit first. I am moving to Bern from New York at the end of June. I have two dogs. I am a freelance cinematographer. I have many friends doing the type of work you and your fiancé do. I am not sure about the rest of Switzerland, but I have discovered that there is a market for video production and web work in English in Zürich and Bern. The Swiss often market internationally in English. Actually, there seems to be this type of niche all over Europe. Maybe, I've just been lucky, and I'm sure having a Bernese girlfriend helps, but there seems to be freelance work readily available. Apartments are difficult without connections in the city, but if you don't mind living outside of town, there seems to be more options. You will need a steady income, however, to qualify for a lease unless someone is willing to be a guarantor.

Good luck!
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Old 18.04.2011, 02:29
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Wow Boke, you're on my opposite path. I don't particuclarly care for NY, it's too financially driven and if you're not in the field of finance, it gets very tiring working and never making enough money to afford a place that is more than 600sf. Do you plan on living in Manhattan? It's hard with dogs but if you're not in Manhattan, the commute can be a real hassle. I used to spend 1.5 hours+ each way communting from the suburbs. Later, I moved to Manhattan and it still took me 45 minutes to get from downtown to uptown!

There is a lot of work where I am for video, web, advertising and creative type people, I have always had better luck in Cali than in NY. I actually think the quality of life is better here in CA, much less conservative and the weather is better.

I think Bern would be ideal for us but I look around and I don't see much work opportunity. Maybe you have to be there to find employment?

I hope you guys do well in NY! If you have any questions about going to NY, let me know, I lived in NY for many years. I lived upstate, in the burbs, the hamptons and in the city.

Where are you from?
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Old 18.04.2011, 02:43
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Sorry Boke, I had your situation backwards. You're doing the same move that I want to do!!! Lucky you!
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Old 18.04.2011, 08:15
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Switzerland is a lovely place to live if you're prepared to abide by the rules, but you do need to ask yourself some questions before you come to live here:
  • Are you happy to live in a very socially conservative part of Europe, where things are done because this is the way they are done, and your business is your neighbours' business?
  • The populated parts of Switzerland have a population density equivalent to that of Bangladesh. Are you happy to live in an apartment with a view of other apartment blocks (and maybe some mountains in the distance, if you are really, really lucky)?
  • Are you happy to put up with very high living expenses, to acknowledge that eating meat might become a once-a-week experience, that eating fish might become a once-a-month experience, and that going out for dinner with a friend is likely to cost you more than 100 dollars?
  • Are you happy to pay for compulsory health insurance and (depending upon your affiliation) a government administered church tax?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then you can have a very pleasant life here. American notions of individual liberty and privacy are meaningless here, but if you're prepared to acknowledge the fact that Switzerland is on a completely different planet to California (let alone anywhere else in the United States), then there is plenty of hiking, sightseeing and mountain-gazing to be had, and lots of new experiences!

Good luck!
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Old 18.04.2011, 09:24
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Cali, hopefully your dogs can fly in the cabin, but at 15 pounds the dogs may be borderline - the usual cabin restriction is 7-8kg including travel crate. A friend's 15 pounder was recently required to fly cargo, but some airlines may be more lenient than others; check with your airline for current regs. The rules for importation into Switzerland can be found here:

http://bvet.bytix.com/plus/dbr/default.aspx?lang=de

I use a professional shipper to organize my dogs' travel - I find the cost well worth the peace of mind. (Mine must fly cargo.)

Chipping is mandatory, not only for importation into Switzerland, but also it is required by federal law for all owners. So there is no option if you are considering bringing your dogs to Switzerland - without a chip your dogs can't cross the border. A swiss vet will check that your dogs are chipped, by the way. Be aware that the US style chips are often not readable here, if you are implanting for the first time have your vet use the chip specified above. FYI if you plan to travel around Europe - chipping is also required in all EU countries. And when you get here, you should organize a Pet Passport - this is recognized throughout the EU, contains vac info as well as serving as an identification document, facilitates travel around Europe.

Not only must your dogs be chipped, but they (and you) must also be registered in the national database, ANIS. You will also need to register them with the Gemeinde.

You will pay a yearly dog tax. The amount varies by canton/Gemeinde - usually in the area of CHF 150 per dog. (Unless you live where I do, when each additional dog in the household is charged as a multiplier, in order to discourage owning more than one dog.)

You will be required to carry liability insurance on your dogs, usually ca. 1-3 million cover.

Dog control laws vary by canton - some are very strict, some more laissez-faire. Fortunately your IGs are not on any BSL lists. You will need to comply with local leash laws and other ordinances, though. For an overview, click on the canton:

http://www.tierimrecht.org/de/tiersc...echt/index.php

Unfortunately, you couldn't be my dogsitter , because thanks to the new-ish animal welfare law dogsitting is a regulated profession. A sitter must have a diploma or specific course work, and be registered with the cantonal veterinary office. Few sitters have been able to invest the time and expense needed to get certified, and so many are working illegally. Which puts their clients at risk, not only from the TSchV, but also with the tax man. Employing someone illegally can land you in serious hot water.

To give you an idea as to the costs, in-home care averages CHF 200+ per day. But even at that rate it is hard to find someone. I pay well above the odds yet still cannot find a sitter with the right skills working legally. Kennels (not an option I would consider) run around ca. 30-75 per day .

But the biggest problem remains housing. There is an extreme housing shortage in many areas of Switzerland, landlords often have dozens of candidates vying for an available flat. So many don't need or want the hassles of dog-owning tenants. You already have two strikes against you - a foreigner and a dog owner. When you start looking, consider using the services of a dog friendly relocation agent (many aren't) who works for you, not the landlord. Also, make sure that a landlords knows what an IG is - many will hear 'Greyhound' and assume the dogs are big, and turn you down out of hand.

You may need to compromise on areas and quality of housing to find a landlord willing to rent to you - and be prepared to pay up. When we were renting we ended up paying a ridiculous rent for a run-down old house that had been converted into two flats - and considered ourselves lucky.

Additionally, your neighbors have far more influence over how you live your life here than is imaginable for an American. For instance, quiet hours: Your dogs must be quiet at all times, but barking during official quiet hours (before 7:00, between 12-14:00, after 22:00, all day on Sunday) can get you a visit from the police. Seriously.

Some landlords do not allow dogs to be left alone in the flat - which means that if you work you will need to have someone at home while you are gone or find doggy day care. Be sure you understand conditions before signing on the dotted line.

If you have friendly, dog tolerant neighbors then you and your dogs could be very happy here. But if you have a dog-hater living nearby your life can be a living hell - and there is nothing you can do about it.

For the most part, Switzerland remains a dog-tolerant country. I lived here many years with many dogs and life was largely good. But attitudes are changing. A dog-hater has recently moved into my neighborhood - which means that giving my dogs the quality of life they deserve is now very difficult, despite owning my own home with private garden. My home is certainly not my castle, an idea that is very difficult for Americans to come to terms with. As things now stand, for the dogs' sake I may have to move back to the States if I cannot find another house. (The market is as tight for purchases as it is for rentals - I have been looking for a 'dog friendly' property for years now.)

Just be aware of the cultural differences you may encounter, be aware of the power your neighbors might have over you, and make an informed decision.

Best of luck to you and your doglets.

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Thanks Melon! Maybe if I ever get there I can be your sitter

I have 2 Italian Greyhounds. They are very easy to care for and both about 15 pounds, not aggressive at all. I wouldn't move if losing them were a possibility. I actually read the pet corner a bit before posting and I saw that it is required that they are chipped, I haven't gotten mine chips because I've heard it is quite painful for them but I would consider it if it meant moving to Switzerland could become a reality. They meet the other regulations and I fly with them in cabin often all over the US, they are extremely well behaved. I have driven across the country with them as well. I envisioned being able to travel with them to different cities. I hate being away from them. They are a bit skittish and hide from people they don't know. I would love to live in the countryside somewhere where they have some land to play and maybe I could have a garden. Is that is unrealistic? If I am in a place where I can afford to rent and have land, am I too far away from anywhere to work?

ETA:

Another thing to think about: Have you considered the tax consequences of being an American overseas? There are many threads on this subject, do take a look. Whether or not your total tax burden is increased, or whether your credit for Swiss taxes paid offsets your US liability will depend on your individual situation. But be aware of the bureaucratic nightmare that is the FATCA and FBAR - these hit all Americans resident or with assets overseas.

Last edited by meloncollie; 18.04.2011 at 10:24.
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Old 18.04.2011, 18:19
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Wow, after reading all of this, I don't think Switzerland would be for me. I pictured living outside the city in the country somewhere in a chalet on a mountain-side with my dogs and being able to have a laid-back lifestyle but it sounds like that would be impossible.

I think my fiance could get EU citizenship - maybe somewhere else would be a better option?

I am actually thinking I am spoiled in the US. I have a big place and many mountains to hike, the ocean is only 10 miles away... no one cares if you have a dog, in fact, everyone has a dog and you are not forced to chip or pay ridiculouss rates for dog care or dog taxes. I never leave my dogs with anyone regardless, I work from home & I am able to be with them the majority of the time. I also need a place with a washer and dryer and parking would be nice. I really don't want to go back to laundrymat or shared laundry. I also like US TV. Do you get the channels we have here? My brother lives in Asia and he doesn't get any channels. When he comes here he is like a kid in a candy shop.

I am agnostic, would that reflect badly on me in Switzerland? Is there an agnostic tax?

I don't think I can afford to be a Swiss.

Perhaps I will come for a vacation without pups. No reason to put them through chipping and vaccines they don't need. I don't like that you have to get a rabies shot within a year of arriving, a rabies shot lasts 3 years!

Thank you all for the insight.
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Old 18.04.2011, 19:34
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Don't get me wrong: Switzerland is a wonderful place to live out your dream - as long as it isn't an American dream.

I'm sitting at the dining table in our apartment in a small town in the canton of Glarus. I have a magnificent view of mountains in at least three directions (there's another mountain behind me, which I can't see). Across the street, one of our neighbours is having a cigarette out of her kitchen window. She's also having a good look at me typing on my laptop. Down in the street, some kid is blowing a whistle like he's at the Street Parade. Any minute now his mom is going to open her window on the 4th floor and yell down at him to shut up. It'll be quiet for a while, then the church bells will start up.

I love it. I wouldn't live anywhere else. Growing up in a nasty post-industrial dump in the English Midlands, I could never have dreamt of living in a place as beautiful as this. But it isn't the Alpine dream you describe.

I do, however, know a chap who lives the Alpine dream. He has a small farm on the side of a mountain, with breathtaking views down the valley. His neighbours all own telescopes, pointed at each others' farms, not at the sky. One of his neighbours recently threatened to kill his dogs. He loves living there, but is under no illusions about living the life of Heidi. His life is hard, but at the end of a long day he can sit under the eaves of his barn with a cold beer and look at a view of which most people can only dream.

You can have a fantastic life here if you take the country on its own terms. It isn't Montana with chocolate. It is Switzerland, love it or hate it, and will never be anything but.

Come on over for a holiday and see it for yourself. Despite all you've read, it might surprise you - but not for any of the reasons you might have expected!
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Old 18.04.2011, 19:54
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Maybe another European country might have what you wish for?

I'm just giving you food for thought, I have no idea what their job markets are like or whatever, but I'm seeing mountains and rural areas in Austria, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands.
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Old 18.04.2011, 19:57
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

Cali, many people have an idealized vision of Switzerland - including me a decade plus ago.

The US media seems to have wasted a lot of ink lately, painting a picture of Switzerland based on clichés, superficial assumptions, and nostalgia. Interesting that both the far right and far left look to Switzerland as some kind of utopia.

Switzerland is indeed a very nice place, but it is not the American Dream, Heidi-style. The culture is indeed different, the level of social control is very surprising, perhaps shocking, for many Americans. For some this is a deal-breaker. Switzerland is tiny. We live in very small spaces, crowded together. There simply isn't the space for American-style individualism.

It's important to understand that this level of social control has served Switzerland well for the last several centuries, it is a large factor in keeping Switzerland the little paradise that it is.

The question is, can you live this way?

Many can, very happily. If you fit in, you will do fine. It is only when you find yourself the proverbial square peg that those social controls might come down on you like a ton of bricks.

I was happy here for many years - it is only recently that I have come into conflict with the 'dark side'.

I fully accept that the way I choose to live is somewhat unusual, and can understand why my neighbors look askance at me. But in order to fit in, I'd have to give up the thing that is most important to me - which is why I am questioning whether I can continue to live here.

If, however, one's passions are those which others share and can understand, and most importantly do not bring one into conflict with neighborhood norms, one can live happily ever after in this beautiful country.

I don't want to discourage you - but I would want you to make this decision with eyes wide open.

Take what I say with a grain of salt - many people, dog owners included - love it here. As one quickly learns in all things Swiss: YMMV.

---

(FYI, the most common rabies vac is three years here, too. This is a somewhat recent change IIRC - and as people are transitioning from the old regime or from other countries the regs are that that one needs to boost according to the manufacturer's instructions. People who were given a 1 or 2 year vac must boost before that expiry date. My guys are on 3 year cycles, and have been for quite some time now.)

Last edited by meloncollie; 18.04.2011 at 20:07.
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  #19  
Old 18.04.2011, 20:25
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

If you are adaptable to other cultures, I think you would be able to live here. I am not American, but know several - they typically fall into two camps: "Can't stand the social isolation - I want to go home" to those who enjoy it and come to accept the inconveniences of a small apartment, amongst others, instead of a large house with garden (I still yearn for an enormous garden, roomy house...). I think a lot depends on you and your expectations.

Best would be to visit first and an earlier post on your dogs in the cabin is correct - no more than 8kg in the cabin including the container.

True, the mountains are beautiful and there are great walks, the country is clean, the water is clean - lots to enjoy.

If you want to own/live in a house with a decent-sized garden, though, then either you need a really good job or France is an easier alternative.
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Old 18.04.2011, 20:40
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Re: Looking for some advice [work in CH]

So I can't live on the side of a mountain in a chalet with my dogs and some sheep?

What about northern Italy? Is that an option? Can I work there if I don't speak Italian?

Maybe I should learn about France. I do speak French, not well but I think I could learn quickly considering I have the basics.

I don't like the way the healthcare works in Switzerland. I don't like being forced to buy health insurance. It's not part of the dream. They are trying to implement this in the US and I think it is a mistake. We need universal healthcare, no more insurance companies.

I love isolation. I don't want a large house, 2 bedroom is more than enough but I would love a garden.

It seems I am stuck because I want to live in the country but I don't want to commute to a job and I can't legally live anywhere without a job. I would probably have to give up my kushy CA lifestyle to move to Europe. Not sure if it's worth it.

Which is more important: to live how you want to live or live where you want to live?
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