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Old 07.05.2012, 20:10
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First Timers in Switzerland - Family Life Questions??

Hi all,

I am sure there have been a million and one versions of this question so apologies for any duplication but I was hoping for some tailored advice on my situation and maybe some further direction.

I have been exploring opportunities around Zurich / Zug and think I have found a great job. Pay will be between 110K - 120K CHF per year plus bonus.

My wife and I (with our baby (due any day now)) will be looking to move out. My wife will not be working for the foreseeable future and will be responsible for looking after our little baby girl!

The questions I have are below.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

1) Again the Language Question. My wife is also not a German Speaker so will she be OK to get by during the day? Meeting people friends etc?

2) We have identified both Horgen and Thawil as being great spots to live but are there a lot of English Speaking people here?

3) Is there a lot of play groups for my wife to go to with our Daughter?

4) Is there English TV Programs on the TV?

5) Is it expensive to own and run a car in Switzerland?

THANK YOU X 1000000 for any help or direction


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Old 07.05.2012, 21:55
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Re: First Timers in Switzerland - Family Life Questions??

Hi Ed,

Your wife will be fine to start off with, although the sooner she can learn some German the better. While most people speak some English not all do, or not all speak it happily. For example, I've often found that while a doctor might speak English his receptionist doesn't. This also goes for the Kinderspital (the Children's hospital - we've spent quite a bit of time there!). Many of the nurses didn't speak any English and I was so glad that I did speak a bit of German, even if at the time it was just enough to ask for someone to repeat something or to speak slowly.

There's also nothing worse than stressing out about making a phone call in another language, and with a small baby it's likely that both of you will have plenty of contact with doctors etc.

I can't help with the car because we don't have one. If you live in the city it is incredibly easy to get by without one. When we do want to use one we use a mobility car (mobility.ch) which is a car share system. Even with a baby I think it's very easy to get by without one.

For public transport, use map.search.ch (great for finding everything but also train/tram stops) and sbb.ch

There are lots of different English language playgroups around on both sides of the lake and in Zurich. There are also plenty on offer in German, which can be a great idea for meeting locals for both your wife and your baby.

My best piece of advice for your wife is to make contact as soon as possible with women in a similar situation. I joined a couple of playgroups in Zurich and this really really helped keep me sane.

Can't help with the tv either, as we don't have one, but as far as I know there are a range of cable packages you can buy with English channels.
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Old 07.05.2012, 22:14
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Re: First Timers in Switzerland - Family Life Questions??


I moved to Zurich two years ago with my husband and 2 kids. One thing to remember is that Switzerland is a very expensive country to live in. I was surprised when I first came, even though people told my this before we went. An advise is to try to make a budget including "as much as you can", to understand how much you can afford with your swiss salary.


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Old 07.05.2012, 22:40
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Re: First Timers in Switzerland - Family Life Questions??

We arrived at the beginning of March with two small children. We speak very little German, although husband is French so he can mainly get by with that. The main problem I have with trying to learn German at the moment is my children! I can't take them with me to the language classes and I'm too knackered by 7pm to do an evening course. There are MuKi-Deutsch classes run in my Gemeinde for newcomers who have children to learn some basic language skills but it doesn't start until August- maybe your wife could look into this? I am also finding Michel Thomas CDs very helpful at the moment.

We have the Cablecom 'middle' package which includes quite a few English TV channels.

There will almost certainly be English-speaking baby groups in Zurich. There is Babies and Tots in Brugg but that may be a bit far for your wife to travel!

I'm still finding it eye-wateringly expensive here, way more than we budgeted for originally. Shopping in Germany helps cut food bills, and I'm slowly learning not to convert to sterling.

Good luck!
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Old 08.05.2012, 05:21
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Re: First Timers in Switzerland - Family Life Questions??


1) Meeting people speaking english only is not a problem at all. Learning German is a great idea however difficult if you live somewhere like Zurich because when you speak German people know you are not from the area and speak english back to you (so far what I have found) Understanding it for doctors visits etc. is something else but meeting other english women won't be a problem, she just has to get involved in some things.. Post natal yoga in zurich allows you to bring your baby with you and can be a great way for her to meet new moms in the area.

2) Can't say much about those two spots. I lived close to Bern before, now in Zurich and find there are way more english speaking people in Zurich than other areas in Switzerland. (Expats make up a huge part of this)

4) English tv programs can be ordered through cable com and sometimes you can switch the language even on Swiss-TV to english when it plays movies... same with Euro sport and some other channels. There is also online streaming as an option with a plug in to the TV with an HDMI cable you can watch pretty much anything online now. www.sidereel.com has Tonnes of free stored tv shows all in english.

5) Owning a car is not 100% necessary in Switzerland. The more efficient the car is on gas etc. the less you pay in tax, and obviously you are saving gas $$ . Make sure you look into that before you buy. Also parking depending on where you live can be pricey. But if it isn't a major city you should be fine.

Regarding overall cost of living, I find it very expensive but manageable on one income including full private insurance for us both. My husband and I have been doing great off just one salary as I am expecting this coming July and didn't take a job because of this when we moved to Zurich recently.

If you budget well you can live a great lifestyle.
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