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  #41  
Old 18.07.2013, 11:18
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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and want to travel throughout Europe while there, so a vehicle is a necessity rather than a luxury.
I would not assume a vehicle is a necessity, public transport is excellent here, and for travelling Europe there is indeed excellent train service, and generally good public transport, at least compared to the non-existant public transport in the US. Owning a car is expensive here, adding insurance, inspections, and running costs.

As others have said, the biggest issue will be getting the permission to live here, which as non-swiss non-EU, may prove impossible. Certain income levels will be necessary at a minimum. Keep in mind, if I recall correctly, if you come here as a retiree at an age under the swiss official retirement age, currently 65 for men, you will be required to participate in the swiss AVS system, which can add significantly to your costs.

The other thing to consider, your income in USD and exchange rate issues to CHF. This is not in your favour, and if trends continue, could put you in a disasterous situation in the future.

And lets not forget the US tax and Swiss taxes, possibly US state taxes as well. You will find it very difficult to live here tax wise. For retirees cannot offset using the FEIE, and while there is a double taxation treaty, there are so many things that fall through the cracks, there is indeed double taxation. Expect to pay the US on top of CH taxes, as CH taxes will likely be lower and will not offset all your US obligations.

If indeed swiss residency is granted, swiss mandatory health care insurance will follow. Only under very limited circumstances would foreign health insurance we allowed, i.e. like a temporary work assignment.
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Old 18.07.2013, 11:21
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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Not compared to where the OP lives.

Tom
You have a point there. Both of you do actually. So I would prefer to live close to, but not in, the heart of the mountains. (Yes I know - a silly thing to say about Switzerland, given mountains are everywhere.) I just don't want my only access to the outside world to be a frequently snowed in mountain pass.
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Old 18.07.2013, 11:30
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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...his gold-plated, cadillac, pays-for-everything US health plan would not satisfy the SZ authorities. Once resident he would have to take a Swiss insurance plan - and at his age he could only qualify for the basic plan, supplemental would be denied due to preexisting conditions.

FYI, Medicare generally does not pay overseas. Veering off topic from your original question, but pertinent to Americans resident abroad: if one ever expects to return to the US one needs to watch the Part B enrollment deadlines despite being ineligible for medicare coverage. Interesting reading for all Americans overseas:
http://americansabroad.org/issues/healthcare/

You would need to speak directly with the relevant authorities in the canton in which you plan to reside to determine what coverage you would be required to obtain. But I'd be figuring in the cost of a Swiss plan, just in case.

But again - the first hurdle is can you even qualify for residency.
I wish I truly had the gold plated, pay for everything version of health care; I don't, but what I have I intend to keep. And I will pay attention to the Medicare requirements too. Always best to keep all options open as long as possible. I assumed I'd need a Swiss plan as well; hence my questions pertaining to it. It's costs need to be factored into my decisions. You mentioned "once resident" I'd need the insurance. When would I stop being a visitor and become a resident?
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  #44  
Old 18.07.2013, 11:33
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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When would I stop being a visitor and become a resident?
You are only allowed to visit or be a tourist for 3 months. And then you have to go home. From home you may try to apply for residency and permit in CH, but it would have to granted by the authorities in advance.
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Old 18.07.2013, 11:36
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you, Victor - but in your enthusiasm you seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

As many posters have said: You can't just move to Switzerland because you want you. You need to qualify for residency, which for a non-EU citizen is very difficult.

Have you researched how you might qualify?
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Old 18.07.2013, 11:50
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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...Owning a car is expensive here, adding insurance, inspections, and running costs.

...Certain income levels will be necessary at a minimum. Keep in mind, if I recall correctly, if you come here as a retiree at an age under the swiss official retirement age, currently 65 for men, you will be required to participate in the swiss AVS system, which can add significantly to your costs.

...Expect to pay the US on top of CH taxes, as CH taxes will likely be lower and will not offset all your US obligations.

If indeed swiss residency is granted, swiss mandatory health care insurance will follow. Only under very limited circumstances would foreign health insurance we allowed, i.e. like a temporary work assignment.
1) How expensive is owning a vehicle? I am aware of the basics - cost of petrol for example. It's the rest I am unsure of. What would I expect, on average, to pay for insurance, yearly inspections, and the like, excluding repairs? These expenses run about $900 US a year here.

2) Where might I find information on the income levels you mentioned or the AVS? This is the first I have heard of either.

3) I've already assumed I'll need to pay Swiss taxes on top of the US ones. Have to give Uncle Sam his due, because some of my income is tax deferred. Also have to give Swiss authorities their cut of the pie, to pay for the services etc I'll get by virtue of living there. Uncle Sam lucks out - I'll pay taxes and not use any of the services those taxes buy me. The $60K US income I quoted as available is AFTER I've paid what is due Uncle Sam.

4) At what point does Swiss Residency requirements kick in? Once I have the Class C permit, or is it after I've lived there for 10 years (unsure on this time frame)? Or is the 10 years the time needed to qualify for swiss citizenship, after having obtained a residency permit?

5) Would my being employed by a touring company, headquartered in the US, but also incorporated in Germany (GmBH), that runs frequent tours through various parts of Switzerland, help matters any in my endeavors to gain residency / citizenship/
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Old 18.07.2013, 11:58
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you, Victor - but in your enthusiasm you seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

As many posters have said: You can't just move to Switzerland because you want you. You need to qualify for residency, which for a non-EU citizen is very difficult.

Have you researched how you might qualify?
All of this is in the beginning stages. I am, in many ways, putting the cart before the horse. I happened upon this forum and thought it a good idea to ask all of you for your thoughts and opinions, as you are there already. My assumption being many of you have already run into some of the hurdles and issues I will be facing, and can steer me in the proper direction to avoid them. All of you can't be EU citizens! All of you are part of my research group, and if nothing else can tell me about Switzerland proper. All information is good information, and although I have been there many times and traveled from one end of the country to the other, what I know is superficial at best compared to someone who has lived there for a while.
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Old 18.07.2013, 12:01
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding you, Victor - but in your enthusiasm you seem to be putting the cart before the horse.
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At what point does Swiss Residency requirements kick in? Once I have the Class C permit, or is it after I've lived there for 10 years (unsure on this time frame)? Or is the 10 years the time needed to qualify for swiss citizenship, after having obtained a residency permit?
You really are putting the cart before the horse if you are talking C permit and have not even figured out you cannot enter the country without permit/permission with the intention of staying. Please, please do not arrive on CH soil and tell the customs officier you plan to reside here with only your US passport in hand. They do take these things very seriously.

Now you are talking about two different things--employment and retirement. Which one? the answers will differ. I think it would be very difficult for a German company to apply and get approval for a CH work permit for an american, given how many europeans are out of work and can do tour operations, it is not really a specialised work. And as for retiring here, i.e. no employment or lucrative activities, have you looked at the requirements or possiblities others have mentioned on this thread?
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Old 18.07.2013, 12:13
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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1) How expensive is owning a vehicle? I am aware of the basics - cost of petrol for example. It's the rest I am unsure of. What would I expect, on average, to pay for insurance, yearly inspections, and the like, excluding repairs? These expenses run about $900 US a year here.
I have a car, always had a car, and will always have a car. I live 10 kms from the center of Lausanne and the public transportation here is nothing like the mythic "swiss public transportation" system. As a consequence my village is quite cheap to live in, low taxes and lower rents, house prices. On 60K you'll be in the same boat. You'll need to move out to the country for affordable living and thus may not have the best public transport.

I have a teeny tiny car which is brand new so I pay 750CH a year for insurance, which still includes coverage if my car gets wrecked not just if I wreck someone elses. Look at the Comparis.ch website. You can do simulations and find out costs.

My teeny car costs about 50CHF a week in petrol. I drive about 18K kms a year.


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2) Where might I find information on the income levels you mentioned or the AVS? This is the first I have heard of either.
Can't say about AVS

There is no set minimum income, though the general rule for immigration purposes seems to be you need to make more than the limits that are set for people to get social benefits. More realistically to be approved for immigration you're probably looking at around the 100K mark. That is the number most sites list.

However, I wouldn't let your 60K stop you from applying. These types of visas are granted subjectively. I've read things like "must prove ties to Switzerland", "must be able to meet basic needs", etc. You'll probably have to make a strong case for why you want to live in Switzerland specifically and list any ties you might have to country, visits in the past, and that you understand how much it will cost to live here, perhaps even proving you've done your research.

Personally, I'd suggest you get yourself to the consulate and start a discussion with them.

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4) At what point does Swiss Residency requirements kick in? Once I have the Class C permit, or is it after I've lived there for 10 years (unsure on this time frame)? Or is the 10 years the time needed to qualify for swiss citizenship, after having obtained a residency permit?
Your Swiss residency will kick in once you've been approved by the consulate in your country of residence, move to Switzerland and then register at the commune within 8 days of your arrival. You won't even be in the country until you've been approved.

12 years residency at the federal level. This is a very complicated issue that you'll have to research separately.
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5) Would my being employed by a touring company, headquartered in the US, but also incorporated in Germany (GmBH), that runs frequent tours through various parts of Switzerland, help matters any in my endeavors to gain residency / citizenship/
No! It will hurt your chances. Once you are give residency based on retirement you will not have authorization to work.
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Old 18.07.2013, 12:17
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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All of this is in the beginning stages. I am, in many ways, putting the cart before the horse. I happened upon this forum and thought it a good idea to ask all of you for your thoughts and opinions, as you are there already. My assumption being many of you have already run into some of the hurdles and issues I will be facing, and can steer me in the proper direction to avoid them. All of you can't be EU citizens! All of you are part of my research group, and if nothing else can tell me about Switzerland proper. All information is good information, and although I have been there many times and traveled from one end of the country to the other, what I know is superficial at best compared to someone who has lived there for a while.
The research I've done to this point has indicated to me the individual cantons are responsible for issuing residency permits, rather than being done on a national level. Please correct me if I am wrong about this. If this is so, then I very much need to decide where I would like to live, in order to contact the proper authorities for the residency requirements in that canton. Not putting the cart before the horse at all. I am still looking for information detailing what makes it "very difficult" for a non-EU citizen to qualify for residency. Any information any of you can provide in that regard would be extremely helpful. For example, the only mention of any minimum financial requirements I have come across is a vague reference to showing you have the equivalent of 100 CH per day to cover your stay in Switzerland.
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Old 18.07.2013, 12:38
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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You really are putting the cart before the horse if you are talking C permit and have not even figured out you cannot enter the country without permit/permission with the intention of staying. Please, please do not arrive on CH soil and tell the customs officier you plan to reside here with only your US passport in hand. They do take these things very seriously.

Now you are talking about two different things--employment and retirement. Which one? the answers will differ. I think it would be very difficult for a German company to apply and get approval for a CH work permit for an american, given how many europeans are out of work and can do tour operations, it is not really a specialised work. And as for retiring here, i.e. no employment or lucrative activities, have you looked at the requirements or possiblities others have mentioned on this thread?
I've no intention of simply showing up with passport in hand and saying "Take me in". That is ludicrous. My purpose here, now, is to simply the beginning of figuring all that stuff out ahead of time, in order to have whatever I need in hand before I go. At a minimum the move is four years away.

As for the German company and employment - It is actually an American company. I'd be an unsalaried employee of it (long story - 41 year old family business. If my living expenses are covered by my existing savings / pension from another job I see no need to take any more than a nominal salary). I do not know the specifics of the GmBH they created; just that it exists. If I work at all it would be for the family business, as a tour guide; otherwise I will be retired in practice.


I've no idea how the GmBH part of it factors in, whether being an employee of one means I am employee of the other; I just know they are now also a GmBH in Germany. If that could be beneficial I'd look into that angle as well.
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Old 18.07.2013, 12:44
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

Victor please understand that several of the poster on this thread are EU citizens, and thus benefit from the free movement treaties between Switzerland and the EU. You as an American do not have that luxury.

There are two classes of immigrants: EU citizens, and everyone else.

An EU person doesn't have such high hurdles to overcome, and can indeed move here hoping to live as frugally as possible (for Switzerland) as several posters have detailed.

It's a whole different ballgame for non-EU citizens. Switzerland actively restricts non-EU immigration - especially now in this difficult economy.

A non-EU citizen first needs to be attractive to the Swiss authorities in order for him/her to be allowed residency. For many here, that attractiveness came from a job offer, where the employer first had to prove that no CH or EU citizen had the skills or was available to do that job. That is a rigorous process, especially in today's economy when there are many EU/CH folks out of work. (Some of us came long ago, when barriers to entry were not so high.)

For someone who is looking to retire to Switzerland... well the bottom line is: what do you bring to the table? It isn't enough to be able to cover your own expenses - what can you contribute to the Swiss economy/tax base, what incentive do the authorities have to allow you into this already far too crowded (in the perception of many Eidgenosse) country? This should be among your primary considerations.

In Switzerland things are generally regulated at both the federal and cantonal level - you need to research for former first, then the latter.
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Old 18.07.2013, 13:06
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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The research I've done to this point has indicated to me the individual cantons are responsible for issuing residency permits, rather than being done on a national level. Please correct me if I am wrong about this. If this is so, then I very much need to decide where I would like to live, in order to contact the proper authorities for the residency requirements in that canton. Not putting the cart before the horse at all. I am still looking for information detailing what makes it "very difficult" for a non-EU citizen to qualify for residency. Any information any of you can provide in that regard would be extremely helpful. For example, the only mention of any minimum financial requirements I have come across is a vague reference to showing you have the equivalent of 100 CH per day to cover your stay in Switzerland.
The individual cantons will issue the resident permit when you move there.

The step before that is getting approved on the federal level which you do by applying at the consulate in your country of residence. Once you have that approval, as I said above, you will register in the commune of your choice. Nothing happens before that.

The 100CHF rule is generally for tourists. My friend from South America had to prove the equivalent of 100CHF per day for the duration of her stay even though she was staying with friends and spending almost nothing during her stay.

The rules are vague for a reason. They want to be have the freedom to reject or accept anyone for any reason. Period. This is why I said above to talk to the people at the consulate and put in a thorough application anyway.

As for the question of working, again, if you get a retirement visa you do not have permission to work.
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Old 18.07.2013, 13:10
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

You'll be amazed just how arbitrary the conditions are for a ye or a ne. No rules as such - it can come down to just a hunch, a gut feeling, who you know, how long your ties to Switzerland are, how many friends you have here, and who are prepared to give you a good reference, your knowledge of the area and Swiss culture and/or history, how much money you'll be bringing in (and pay tax on) - the list does not exist, the list is endless
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Old 18.07.2013, 14:08
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

I appreciate your enthusiasm, Victor, as well as your research. The most sound advice you've already received - set up an appointment at the consulate and get more information.

It's hard to compare our experiences to yours. I can't think of any Forum member who simply moved here as a non-EU retiree. There could be, but I am not sure who. Instead, most of us came here for one of a few reasons:

- Swiss citizen returning home
- EU citizen with free movement rights
- Married to one of the above (trailing spouse, with or without working)
- Child of one of the above
- Student permit for studies
- Job transfer from a company with operations in home country and CH
- New job in CH, where the employer applied for the permit
- Diplomatic permit

Since you don't fit nicely into one of those categories, your situation is a bit more complex. It is one thing to visit here and like what you see and experience. Entirely another to uproot your life for the "golden years" without knowing the language and culture intimately. The grass is literally greener over here but...

Last edited by 3Wishes; 18.07.2013 at 14:09. Reason: forgot one, probably more.
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Old 18.07.2013, 15:07
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

Hi Victor - one point you may have missed is that all citizens living in Switzerland have to be registered with the local city hall residency department. De-registering and re-registering as and if they move. Even hotel guests have their details lodged with the local police.

This quite unlike the US and UK where you are checked at entry but once in are free to stay, legally or otherwise.

As previously stated unless you either do work that nobody here wants to or can do, you can't stay longer than 3 months and that as a tourist. If you are retired and will bring over you bank deposits that run into millions, you could probably cut a deal like Tina Turner did. This is not Florida...
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Old 18.07.2013, 15:27
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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The research I've done to this point has indicated to me the individual cantons are responsible for issuing residency permits, rather than being done on a national level. Please correct me if I am wrong about this. If this is so, then I very much need to decide where I would like to live, in order to contact the proper authorities for the residency requirements in that canton. Not putting the cart before the horse at all. I am still looking for information detailing what makes it "very difficult" for a non-EU citizen to qualify for residency. Any information any of you can provide in that regard would be extremely helpful. For example, the only mention of any minimum financial requirements I have come across is a vague reference to showing you have the equivalent of 100 CH per day to cover your stay in Switzerland.
It doesn't really matter as it would have no effect on getting you into Switzerland as an American, especially if you're not going to get paid for it. This is what an employer has to do to be able to employ a Third State national such as yourself:

http://www.bfm.admin.ch/content/bfm/...zulassung.html

It's time consuming and expensive as you can see because it's meant to encourage employers to hire people already living in Switzerland who have a valid work permit. Unless you have specialised skills/experience that are in demand here or can fill a niche in the market, working here is very difficult for Third State nationals.

I have seen mention on other threads the figure of CHF2,600 per month minimum for people such as students so not too far off the CHF100 per day figure. But you will get a better idea once you decide where you want to live and can do some actual calculations.

I think you need to do two things:

Contact your nearest Swiss embassy/consulate and talk to them about your plans so they can advise you on what you're going to need to do. Research Switzerland and it's various cantons to narrow down where you think you'd like to live and then contact those cantons to find out their requirements. If there are places you think you'd like then simply google them and you'll find their websites and other info too.

A couple of books that may be useful are "Living and Working in Switzerland" and "Buying and Renting in Switzerland" both by David Hampshire. The first will give you a good general idea of what expenses you'll likely to have while the second will give more detailed info on the property side. You can order them from your local bookshop or via the Internet.

For properties and price ideas:

www.immostreet.ch
www.immoscout24.ch
www.homegate.ch
www.home.ch

And for other things like insurance comparisons:

www.comparis.ch

I don't read German so I don't know if this doc will give you more info or not:

http://www.bfm.admin.ch/content/dam/...staetige-d.pdf

Last edited by Medea Fleecestealer; 18.07.2013 at 15:54.
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Old 18.07.2013, 15:54
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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Hi Victor - one point you may have missed is that all citizens living in Switzerland have to be registered with the local city hall residency department. De-registering and re-registering as and if they move. Even hotel guests have their details lodged with the local police.

This quite unlike the US and UK where you are checked at entry but once in are free to stay, legally or otherwise.

As previously stated unless you either do work that nobody here wants to or can do, you can't stay longer than 3 months and that as a tourist. If you are retired and will bring over you bank deposits that run into millions, you could probably cut a deal like Tina Turner did. This is not Florida...
AbFab is the only person in this thread making any sense. Victor, I personally know a few Americans who have chosen to retire here, but this was after they had lived here for a number of years as ex-pats and they are all multi-millionaires.

If you want to petition the CH consulate to move here indefinitely as an American retiree, you had better bring a sound portfolio, a conviction that you are never going back and a smattering of one of the local languages. (I think Tina got in with only "greutzi".)

P.S. If you are even having to ask questions about insurance and cars, you are in way over your head. In other words, if you can't afford a car or can't afford to pay for healthcare out of pocket, forget it. Have you considered France? It's lovely and much cheaper.
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Old 18.07.2013, 17:01
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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Hello Everyone. I speak german, so living outside the expat communities is not of great concern to me.
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Thank you for the thoughts on Jura. I've been concentrating on the German speaking area because it will help me assimilate quicker. Not speaking French, it will take a lot longer in Jura.
You do realise, don't you, that the Swiss in the German speaking part of Switzerland don't speak 'German German'? They speak Swiss German and although if your German is good, they will understand you, you can forget all about understanding them. If you are lucky, they will swap to High German if addressing you, they young ones may try out their English (though Swiss English isn't quite the same as American English ) but together in a group it's back to SG most of the time. I like cheering people up.
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Old 18.07.2013, 17:30
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Re: Can I afford to retire to Switzerland?

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... I like cheering people up.
Head on over to Ethan's thread then could use some cheering.
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