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  #21  
Old 14.05.2011, 14:32
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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...assuming that 80 per hour was a decent premium for moving over....
per day, not per hour
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  #22  
Old 14.05.2011, 14:44
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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Time and time again the UK agency told me they had "loads of other contractors on the same sorts of rates working in Switzerland"
That's not research; that's listening to someone with a vested interest whose entire job is based on bending the truth. They're recruitment consultants. Never trust them. Ever.
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  #23  
Old 14.05.2011, 14:51
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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First off, assuming that 80 per hour was a decent premium for moving over.
As pointed out above, per day not per hours. but agreed. And that was where my research started. The claim (from SwissAgency) that finding accommodation at 1000CHF/month would be "easy" (and that they would assist with this, only revealing later that this would only be AFTER I signed the contract) seemed to confirm this assumption, but then I discovered these forums and it became clear quite quickly that gems such as the British B&B on a farm that I found for £40/night at Milton Keynes were NOT going to be equally easy to find in Switzerland. Adding in the various taxes/insurances as well my "flight home every fortnight" evaporated too.

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Secondly, I would aim to stay here more than a year to be sure the IR are going to stay off your back.
Very hard to have any control over this though. On the table was a six month contract with a verbal promise that chances of being extended were high, but the actual contract spoke of one week's notice after the first month, four weeks after 3 months. Having just come off a contract for a large insurance company where all the talk at initial signing had been of my staying for a couple of years if I was up to the job, but being "let go" after 5 months because the company decided to completely can the whole project (in a new technology I was an "expert" in) and had far too many of its permies "on the bench" for the whole time I was there, it is very clear that this is a huge risk. I have a glowing reference from that client, but reality is it was shut down after 5 months when initial discussions had implied that wouldn't happen. One of the problems with my CV is that although every contract has been extended it is still regarded as being "weak" for not having long (>6 months) periods with different clients on it. So the ability to stay perhaps up to 2 years was very attractive, but there are absolutely no guarantees as my last contract proved. I have a glowing reference but the reality is that even with all my hard work it was ended prematurely after 5 months. There is nothing to say something similar wouldn't happen with the new Swiss client. It's an added risk, a higher risk than the equivalent happening in the UK.

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Thirdly, choosing where to live affects your tax rate, and can almost double your tax bill.
An important point and one that hasn't really been raised in any of the "three scenario" (different levels of pension etc) gross/net salary scenarios I've been shown by the Swiss agency. I don't think "choice" comes into it (at least in the first few months). My "choice" would be to live outside the city but what became clear last week is that finding anything, anywhere even whilst in Zurich (and especially at this time of year) was difficult veering on impossible. There's no "choice" involved. I think I got lucky in finding a "serviced appartment" that I could view by being online all day looking. The fact that suddenly the person offering it is talking of problems sorting out issues with his next appartment (having lived in Switzerland 4 years) appears to prove how difficult things can be even when you're local and have the time to investigate further.

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Finally, there are lots more costs, like permit registration charges for the whole family, cleaning costs when changing apartments, insurance for each family member, travel costs, electricity and Apartment costs tv license fees, that are all more expensive than the UK. In addition, contractor rates are continually falling in real terms, and have been since the mid 1990s. In real terms, UK contractor rates have not been affected so much. Top rates in London seem almost on a par with CH.
Again an important point. The family costs aren't applicable in my case. And I can cope without a TV (although reports here of possible "fines" for not having a TV licence when you have a mobile phone were certainly worrying) The only specific extra costs I'd brought up were mobile phone and internet (was quoted 100 CHF on top of the 2500CHF appartment cost if I wanted internet as well) as well as checking the supermarkets to see how much more expensive living costs would be (answer: substantially)

Last edited by IanSmithUK; 14.05.2011 at 15:00. Reason: Correction to "per hour" which should be "per day"
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  #24  
Old 14.05.2011, 14:58
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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That's not research; that's listening to someone with a vested interest whose entire job is based on bending the truth. They're recruitment consultants. Never trust them. Ever.
True. I was lulled into a false sense of security by other contractors telling me of other people working out there who enjoyed it. When I investigated further it invariably turned out to be that these people were sent out for "secondments" by UK companies who just picked up all the expenses and put them up in nice, plush expensive hotels for the duration.
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  #25  
Old 14.05.2011, 15:07
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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Can you elaborate on some of that detail? My learning curve has been steep and fast so am interested to hear where I may have misunderstood or got the basic research wrong. Thanks.
Details!
  • "high probability that the exchangerate will deteriorate when UK base rates rise in September"
    I think it will take more than that to improve the UK rate vs CHF. ECB already increased rates without improving euro vs chf.
  • a sick note is required (at a cost of CHF200) as well as c.CHF300 permonth to be registered with a doctor
    Never been asked for a sick note in 17 years (not being paid for sick days is enough!) & never had to pay to register with a doctor
Accomodation is a big issue in the cities with associated complications of deposits & guarantees; also high risk you will lose some or all of your deposit when you leave the accomodation.
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  #26  
Old 14.05.2011, 15:08
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

You can actually find accommodation for under CHF1000 a months but that'll be renting a room in a shared apt.
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Old 14.05.2011, 15:09
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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... who just picked up all the expenses and put them up in nice, plush expensive hotels for the duration.
It makes a huge difference when working in one of the world's most expensive countries, for sure. I had a similar shock when I first arrived. I'd researched the big stuff (flights, accommodation) and was pretty much spot on. But I didn't research the little things (food, food, and food) which still haunts me

Also, if your contract was to be in Zurich or, even worse, Geneva, it's not the cost of an apartment which will concern you, but the fact it takes so long to get one and until you do you're living in an over-priced and depressing "aparthotel" type place.
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  #28  
Old 14.05.2011, 15:12
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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I'm still totally confused about what the "health insurance 'tax'" covers since the hidden doctor registration costs were never mentioned until I mentioned the £140 for a sick note story I'd read about in a "Complaints" forum post here.
Simply put: The "health insurance" tax covers your health costs.

How much you pay, which cover you should choose, whether your need/should get additional cover, whether you even need a swiss health insurance depends on numerous different factors. Therein lies the problem.

Based on such an unspecific question. It would take me hours to formulate an answer that has a high enough chance to cover all your information needs.... Hence, (unfortunately) the need for more specific questions.

Just one point: With the the normal health care cover, there is no such thing as a registration fee.
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  #29  
Old 14.05.2011, 16:39
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

Migros an Coop do the basic food essentials quite cheap - Leffe same price as here too! Feldschlossen a pound a tin and Diet Coke even cheaper in Migros, 1CHF!

Fresh meat tho - God!!
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Old 14.05.2011, 17:23
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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Migros an Coop do the basic food essentials quite cheap - Leffe same price as here too! Feldschlossen a pound a tin and Diet Coke even cheaper in Migros, 1CHF!

Fresh meat tho - God!!
If you live close enough to a border there's always well priced meat in Germany and tasty fish in France
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  #31  
Old 14.05.2011, 18:10
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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True. I was lulled into a false sense of security by other contractors telling me of other people working out there who enjoyed it. When I investigated further it invariably turned out to be that these people were sent out for "secondments" by UK companies who just picked up all the expenses and put them up in nice, plush expensive hotels for the duration.
You should move - we like it better here then London (where we contracted). Hubby took a contract here 8 years ago and we are still here. Life is so much better here for us!
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  #32  
Old 14.05.2011, 18:21
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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You should move - we like it better here then London (where we contracted). Hubby took a contract here 8 years ago and we are still here. Life is so much better here for us!
I agree with your sentiments entirely. I think it was easier back then than now. Living and property was cheaper, especially in Zug, and contract rates were perhaps a little higher than they are now. Still, the OP isn't bringing over family, and if he could rent his UK place, with interest rates still low he could be off to a good start.
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Old 14.05.2011, 18:22
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

Back in the days when I contracted abroad I would only take the contract if I was paid in sterling through an offshore company + fully paid temporary accomodation organised by the agency or bank. Although for you sterling vs chf is a bit on the loopy side at the moment.

There is so much insurance red tape here and extra costs as a contractor its got to be worth your while for the hassle if on a short term basis, as you can be out on your ear as soon as you were in stuffed with a whole bundle of insurances and couple of month rent payments left to pay.
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  #34  
Old 14.05.2011, 18:38
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

Many agents/agencies are absolute scum. They advertise in one
currency and find out they made a "mistake".

There is also usually a local agency as well. They also want their
cut which leaves the person that actually does the work with
much less.

I have many horror stories with agents and/or agencies. The
bottom line is BEWARE and see that you get everything in
writing. EVERYTHING.
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Old 14.05.2011, 21:38
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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Still, the OP isn't bringing over family, and if he could rent his UK place, with interest rates still low he could be off to a good start.
I won't rent out after a terrible experience when I worked in Saudi, despite paying a management company a good fee to supposedly vet the tenants and keep an eye on things. Six months to get bad tenants out who weren't paying, and they left the place in a disgusting state. Cost me a fortune. Never again!
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  #36  
Old 14.05.2011, 21:44
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

It all comes down to greed, doesn't it? There are a few of us here whom manage to enjoy ourselves on less than CHF 4,000 per month!
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Old 15.05.2011, 00:12
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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It all comes down to greed, doesn't it? There are a few of us here whom manage to enjoy ourselves on less than CHF 4,000 per month!
Yes but do those people have a family & dwelling to support in another country plus cost of frequent visits plus paying the higher taxes in the other country?
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Old 15.05.2011, 06:59
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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Yes but do those people have a family & dwelling to support in another country plus cost of frequent visits plus paying the higher taxes in the other country?
Should these people be blaming others for their personal needs and situation?
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  #39  
Old 15.05.2011, 07:28
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

My advice for anyone wishing to contract here from the UK is.

1. Be aware of exchange rate exposure - there's nothing you can do about it.
2. Add another third to your expect UK rate to get a comparable "cost of living".
3. Be aware of dual taxation. If you work anywhere abroad for a short period, you pay the UK tax rates.
4. Contract rates, in my experience, have fallen about 10% since the financial crisis, exchange rate 33%. (I'm convinced what 17Clarence said is true - Agencies are creaming of the extra 23%).
5. Don't expect to be better off here than in the UK on a short term.

I do know contractors from the UK who've worked here and enjoyed it. But it isn't for huge financial rewards - it's for the experience, and, often, the work. (I.e. it's better to be earning something rather than nothing.).
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Old 15.05.2011, 09:19
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Re: Contracting in Switzerland - Let the Naive Beware!

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I won't rent out after a terrible experience when I worked in Saudi, despite paying a management company a good fee to supposedly vet the tenants and keep an eye on things. Six months to get bad tenants out who weren't paying, and they left the place in a disgusting state. Cost me a fortune. Never again!
You can insure against that. Funnily enough, better quality tenants seem to get pushed towards your place if you insure using the managing agents in-house scheme. Othewise you are lumbered with council tax, and need to pay someone to inspect the place for leaks, break ins, etc while you are away.
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