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Old 10.05.2007, 23:38
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Cost of Living in Switzerland

Hi

I have been offered a job in CH - Zurich area. I am software development engineer with >10 yrs experience and 6 yrs management experience. The salary offered is about 120K CHF + about 20% bonus (not guaranteed). Is it fair and should I consider it? Currently I earn more (but I live in Silicon Valley and I am not sure how the cost of living compares)
Another question - I have 2 children who do not speak German. Does anyone know if public schools provide assistance/accomodations for non-German speaking students? Can they go to a public school at all? From what I saw, I cannot afford a private school (30K+ per child)

Thanks
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Old 11.05.2007, 00:54
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Re: Living in Switzerland

Forgot to mention that I don't speak any German either. While English is the "official" documentation language, the company is traditionally Swiss, and I am not sure what this might mean for my career... I've read some posts here about traces of discrimination even against people who do speak German, but not Swiss German, so I am a bit worried. Any advice? Should I do the move


Thanks again...
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Old 11.05.2007, 06:16
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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I have been offered a job in CH - Zurich area. I am software development engineer with >10 yrs experience and 6 yrs management experience. The salary offered is about 120K CHF + about 20% bonus (not guaranteed). Is it fair and should I consider it? Currently I earn more (but I live in Silicon Valley and I am not sure how the cost of living compares)
Another question - I have 2 children who do not speak German. Does anyone know if public schools provide assistance/accomodations for non-German speaking students? Can they go to a public school at all? From what I saw, I cannot afford a private school (30K+ per child)

Hi,

For a job in software development, 120K is pretty good. Cost of living here will be the same or even higher than in the US but I think taxes are a bit lower.
How old are your kids? I don't know what the official policy on this is - but when I was in primary school, we sometimes got kids from other countries who didn't speak German - and they usually learned the language extremely quickly. They might lose a year, though - but nobody is going to care once they're done with school.

I myself strongly believe that learning German is absolutely essential for anyone who moves to the German speaking part of Switzerland. I couldn't imagine what it'd be like if I had to ask other people to translate contracts etc. for me. Apart from that, there are laws being prepared to make German classes mandatory for anyone who wants permanent residency.
I also don't see the point in sending younger kids to international schools - if someone knows he or she'll be in the country for a short while only, those schools make sense. But if you're here for the long haul, integration should be on your agenda. Even if someone moves back again after a while - the additional language the kids will have learned and the cultural understandings they'll have gained while interacting with the local children will be of great value for their lives.

dawiz
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Old 11.05.2007, 06:55
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Re: Living in Switzerland

Thanks for the reply dawiz. My kids are 6 and 12. I would preffer if they can go to a public school, I am just a little worried that they will feel like outsiders - especially if they do not speak German. Of course, I am sure they will learn it much faster than I will ever do. ...
It is just that it is a big jump and I am not sure - there are several things that are piling up - for example, my company is not paying for my relocation (and it is an intra - company move!) and it will cost me at least 15-20 thousand , they are offering me less than I am makinvg here etc.. Anyway, at this point I am debating with myself should I negotiate with them or just walk away... Or maybe I am just being bitter... Will seee.
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Old 11.05.2007, 08:13
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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Thanks for the reply dawiz. My kids are 6 and 12. I would preffer if they can go to a public school, I am just a little worried that they will feel like outsiders - especially if they do not speak German. Of course, I am sure they will learn it much faster than I will ever do. ...
It is just that it is a big jump and I am not sure - there are several things that are piling up - for example, my company is not paying for my relocation (and it is an intra - company move!) and it will cost me at least 15-20 thousand , they are offering me less than I am makinvg here etc.. Anyway, at this point I am debating with myself should I negotiate with them or just walk away... Or maybe I am just being bitter... Will seee.
I wouldn't worry about the kids - I never heard that English speaking children were discriminated in school. There are always idiots and bullies around - but that's something Swiss kids have to live with, as well.

Unless the pay cut would mean a significantly decrease in quality of life (which I doubt - 120k is way above average in Switzerland), there are other factors that may outweigh that draw-back - for example I'm pretty sure you'd have much more vacation time here (probably somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks per year - and these aren't theoretical numbers like in the US :-) You'd also have a safer contract, health insurance that you don't lose if you lose your job, unemployment insurance that will pay about 80% of your last salary for up to 2 years, excellent public transportation etc.

dawiz
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Old 11.05.2007, 08:21
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Re: Living in Switzerland

I would suggest to the company for whom you will work that the relocation costs are a factor in your decision. If it is, for example, a big bank, they might well foot the bill for the move. I know someone who came from an audit firm in Chicago to a bank here and their move was paid for.
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Old 11.05.2007, 10:19
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Re: Living in Switzerland

I would say (Contrary to the above) that CHF120K is slightly on the low side for someone of your experience level. We pay just short of that for PhDs and graduates with 1-2 years experience.
I would also quiz your potential employer over the 20% bonus. I was offered a package like that with 5-10-20% bonus and it was hinted that the 20% was very achieveable in 2006 by HR. Now that the 2006 bonus has been declared at 5.1%, I have asked around and it seems my company have never paid out more than this in the last few years. Some other expat friends have had the same experience here in Swizerland. So ask yours what the bonus calculation actually produced for at least the last 2 years. I don't know it may be different in IT, but don't automatically assume the 20% is payable.
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Old 11.05.2007, 10:25
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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I would say (Contrary to the above) that CHF120K is slightly on the low side for someone of your experience level. We pay just short of that for PhDs and graduates with 1-2 years experience.
I think that where you work is the exception rather than the rule. Nearly all of the PhD's I worked with were on less then CHF100,00 & as for graduates way under that. For a permie Software developer 120k is around the going rate unless it is a management position then it is a bit low.
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Old 11.05.2007, 10:40
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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I think that where you work is the exception rather than the rule. Nearly all of the PhD's I worked with were on less then CHF100,00 & as for graduates way under that. For a permie Software developer 120k is around the going rate unless it is a management position then it is a bit low.
OK thanks, maybe we should start paying less:
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Old 11.05.2007, 10:51
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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OK thanks, maybe we should start paying less:
No just be happy you earn more than average .
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Old 11.05.2007, 11:26
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Re: Living in Switzerland

120k is just about right. Dont forget that you can always move up within the company.

Howabout telling us the good and bad things about working in Silicon Valley. Why you are making such a big move from the mother ship.
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Old 11.05.2007, 17:06
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Re: Living in Switzerland

All,
Thank you very much for all of the replies - I really appreciate it. I am quite confused and all this helps a lot. Basically, the position that I was offered IS a management position (mid management - I will be leading a couple of engineers, which is similar to what I do now). I tried to research this forum about average compensations for this type of positions and I was left with the impression that they are slightly higher so maybe I have a little bargaining power there ... On the other side, you are right that if the quality of life does not change too much, maybe it is OK - I don't know, maybe I will try to ask and se what happens - if you don't ask, you don't get, right? Also, I will ask for compensatin my moving expenses...
The other question is, myself being non-native German speaker, what is the outlook for growth in the company? Of course I will do my best to learn the language, but I guess I will never sound like a Swiss? Would that impede my progress? Any experience there? Also, someone mentioned you don't lose your health insurance if you lose your job - I would assume you don't lose it as long as you are able to pay it?

What is good and what is bad in the Silicon Valley? Excellent question, maybe I should have done the pro/cons for myself, you would think...
The good things - no matter where you are from, you can progress fairly fast if you know what you are doing. You can grow very fast. Also, pretty much everyone is a foreigner and not speaking ideal English is not a big deal at all (which can be also put a bad thing, because this can be an "insentive" not to learn it at all - it is not uncommon to see someone who has been nere for 25 years and barely speaks any English! Large closed communities also contribute to this)
Other good things - good weather, lots of sunshine, without being really hot, ocean is close etc etc... There are definitely lots of good things here - we have moved about 10 years ago and we have done pretty well.
On the bad side - very corporate centric, cut-throat attitude (depending on the company, ours has actually been pretty reasonable), minimal vacations, no sense of community, no places to go (well, there are few places like San Francisco, but that is pretty much it). Other bad things - bad, bad education, individualism, crime, etc. Health isnurance is crazy - if you are young you pay about $200, if you are over 55-60 , you may pay $2000. So if you are older and without a job, you are pretty much in God's mercy. I was literaly canceled a life insurance, because I have had a surgery before, and I had a slightly high blood pressure (140/90)! Go figure...

Anyway, thank you guys again, I am really glad I found this forum. I will definitely try my best to make it to Switzerland... Plus, we (me and my family) always wanted to travel around, this might be a good oportunity...
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Old 11.05.2007, 20:20
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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impede my progress? Any experience there? Also, someone mentioned you don't lose your health insurance if you lose your job - I would assume you don't lose it as long as you are able to pay it?
It's really close to impossible to lose your health insurance. Health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland. The basic coverage pretty much takes care of everything - there's no real need for additional policies - and they have to accept everyone into basic insurance - regardless of your state of health.
If you're unable to pay for it (which extremely rarely happens because unemployment insurance, which is also mandatory, covers you for up to two years if you lose your job), the municipality you're registered at will cover your costs. Insurance will become more expensive as you grow older here, too but nowhere as expensive as what you were reporting about the US.

dawiz
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Old 12.05.2007, 09:33
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Re: Living in Switzerland

Dawiz, you make everything sound so simple. Firstly you can only claim unemployment benefit after working 12 months within a set period of time.

Binational.ch****

I'm assuming that Batvanio is not an EU citizen and therefore will be reliant on his company for his work permit. If his employment with the company ceases so will his right to stay in Switzerland unless he can find another company who'll employ him with a permit. Not quite so cut and dried.
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Old 12.05.2007, 18:28
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Re: Living in Switzerland

Thanks Oldhand,
I am an EU citizen but I am originally from the newly accepted members of the EU, so I guess it does not matter for Switzerland (am I right?).

Another issue I was worried was whether my wife can find a job there. I read some posts about spouses not being able to find employment for more than a year because they did not speak any German. My wife is a certified pre-school teacher, so we were hoping she could find a job in some of the English pre-schools around Zurich...
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Old 13.05.2007, 02:12
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Re: Living in Switzerland

Hiya batvanio, sorry for being presumptious about your Eu status and for throwing a negative into the thread. As far as your wife is concerned there are always openings for early years English teachers as long as there is no permit problem.
Good luck for your future.
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Old 13.05.2007, 07:06
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Re: Living in Switzerland

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Thanks Oldhand,
I am an EU citizen but I am originally from the newly accepted members of the EU, so I guess it does not matter for Switzerland (am I right?).

Another issue I was worried was whether my wife can find a job there. I read some posts about spouses not being able to find employment for more than a year because they did not speak any German. My wife is a certified pre-school teacher, so we were hoping she could find a job in some of the English pre-schools around Zurich...
Yeah - Switzerland (and most other European nations) won't automatically give permits to citizens from the new EU members for another couple of years. I have Swiss + Hungarian double-citizenship myself.

There are no (public) pre-schools in Switzerland. The Swiss school system is considerably different from the one in the US - instead of going to pre-school, kids go to kindergarten when they're about 4 years old and at 6 or 7 they go straight to primary school. English isn't taught in kindergarten. In order to teach primary school, your wife would need a Swiss teacher's diploma. Public schools are strict concerning the requirements for teaching here (as they are in the US - my wife's a High School teacher - we wanted to move to the US a couple of years ago but she was told that she'd have to re-do considerable parts of here didactic education if she wanted to teach overseas). But there are plenty of private schools that do teach English.
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Old 13.05.2007, 17:58
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Re: Living in Switzerland

Thanks dawiz,

I am really hoping that my wife can work in a private English school, not in the public system.
I don't think your wife would have serious problems teaching - California does require some credential but there is a serious teacher shortage in the public school system and you can start teaching while earning the credential (AFAIK). Depending on where you live however, a teaching salary might not be enough for making ends meet, you will need two incomes. (Teaching salaries aren't among the highest, hence the shortage... )
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Old 17.06.2007, 15:35
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Cost of Living in Switzerland

Dear All,

It’s a pleasant surprise to find this amazing forum.

I plan to come to Zurich for MBA program, which I will be attending at Swiss Business School (SBS), Zurich. I would like you suggestions regarding this institution as I have yet to visit in personally.

Presently I am trying hard to get an internal transfer from KPMG Pakistan to KPMG Zurich, but language seems to be a big obstacle!

Also, it would be nice if I can get an estimate of monthly living expense. I'll be relocating, so need to get down with the entire budget right away.

Regards
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Old 17.06.2007, 16:03
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Re: Hey Everyone!

Congrats on the impending transfer!

For work, usually English is spoken. Getting around Zurich, it has been my experience that some speak English, however learning Swiss German will ease things.

Best of luck!
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