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Old 25.03.2018, 09:22
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Should I be planning to leave Switzerland - even though I'm staying

Odd question - I know, but I want to make sure I'm doing the right "stuff" for my future.

I've been here in Switzerland about a year.
I'm from the USA
At some point I'm sure I'll return to living in the USA - don't know when/or why or .....

What should I be preparing for, if I leave Switzerland
What lessons do people have once they've left Switzerland.

Let me give you a few examples (just examples)

* I wish I would have put more money into my Pillar accounts
* I wish I would have NOT put any money into my Pillar accounts
* I wish I would have invested in a property while I was in Switzerland, the roi would have been better then keeping money in the bank/stocks/mutual funds
* I wish I had invested in a business
* I wish I moved apts a few times to live in different areas of the city
* I wish I went back to school to get an international school experience
* I wish I didn't spend so much money on "tourist" locations in Switzerland
* I wish I spent more time at "tourist" locations in Switzerland
* I wish I volunteered at these places
* I wish I had, I wish I wish....... (or "I regret not doing x, y , z)

Here's the deal: I don't have any plans of leaving Switzerland, HOWEVER I want to make sure I'm preparing myself so when it happens I don't have any "regrets" or "How stupid of me if I had only done X I could be in such a better financial position"

I know this is an ODD question but now that I've been here a year, maybe I should be PLANNING my life and not just letting it happen for me.

Does that make any sense?
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Old 25.03.2018, 12:08
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Re: Should I be planning to leave Switzerland - even though I'm staying

We too are Americans. We know we will likely have to leave Switzerland once OH retires.

At one point, about the 5 year mark when we got our C permits, we had envisioned a future here. But that has proven to be unlikely.

Remember that a non-EU person is never guaranteed the right to stay in Switzerland. Despite C permits, we are aware that we are nonetheless vulnerable, even moreso with the change in the law allowing for the possibilty of a downgrade to your permit. IMO, a prudent non-EU citizen must always have a Plan B to leave Switzerland.

So with that in mind:

I've written on other threads about how the Swiss Pillar system does not necessarily work well for Americans, so won't repeat that here. Obviously you need to consider your own financial situation, but do understand the impact of double taxation of your pension (including the employer's contribution and upfront taxation of retirement money you may never see) on your financial goals and stability.

Staying in Switzerland after retirement could amount to a significant total tax burden that would make it financially unviable. YMMV, but start tax planning now.

Understand how Pillar 1 could affect your US Soc Sec via WEP.

Understand how being overseas could affect your Medicare should you return to the US in your later years. You have to enroll in Medicare Part B (and maybe D? I have to look that up...) at age 65 or else your premiums will rise by the late enrollment penalty, per missed year, forever, if you do return. If you even think you might return, consider paying into Part B from abroad. No, you will not get benefits abroad, but you might save yourself a significant amount upon return.

Also be aware that you might be unable to claim Medicare for 5 years after returning, despite having paid into it for decades. Consider the impact this will have on your health insurance if you return as a senior citizen - what coverage will be available to you?

Also be aware that US Medicare and Soc Sec are likely to see significant changes given the current prevailing political climate - one needs to make sure that these issues don't slip off your radar while abroad.

---

I own a house here. I would never go back to renting, but that stance is more driven by my American DNA that sees home ownership as the normal state of being rather than by financial benefit. I hated the constriction of renting, that was my primary motive for buying here.

I don’t expect to make much, if any, profit on the sale of the house (we have owned for 15 years, expect to sell around the 20 year mark) so the financial gain comes from the fact that the mortgage is significantly less than the absurd expat rent we had to pay. But even if no realized profit is made the savings over renting has been significant.

Be aware that the IRS sees the sale of property abroad not only as a property transaction but also as a currency transaction. Be aware of the tax implications.

Be aware of the 'anti-speculation' penalty some (most?) Swiss cantons levy on the sale of a property here. The years owned increase or decrease this penalty, so figure that into your financial calculation.

---

A now for the airy-fairy stuff, to expound on some of your other 'what if's. Most of mine are due to personal circumstances and choices and so may not apply to you. But be that as it may:

I do wish I'd had a chance to see more of Europe.

That didn't happen largely because of family circumstances. Our holiday time has had to be spent back in the US to fulfill our responsibilities there. That’s part of the decision to live far away from your responsibilities.

In addition to the opportunity costs, there is the financial consideration to that decision. During the worst of those years either my husband or I had to travel back to the States every few weeks. You can imagine the cost. Even if we had the free time to travel throughout Europe the cost of maintaining our responsibilities in the US pretty much ate up our discretionary budget.

Additionally the 'lifestyle' path I chose to take here also precluded seeing much of Europe.

My volunteer work with rescue dogs, along with my own herd, gave me back the meaning in life that I had lost when I gave up my profession and everything else to follow OH to Switzerland. The work has been fulfilling and certainly rewarding... but it has placed constraints on our lives here because the services I would need to be able to travel for leisure are simply not available in Switzerland. If one chooses to live in a way that is not the Normal Swiss Way, one should understand that there likely could be limitations - and possibly regrets.

---

But since you queston whether or not you should be doing more planning...

Perhaps my biggest regret is that I have spent 20 years living in a state of uncertainty, needing to make plans but unable to do so because of our non-EU status, which has impacted my ability to really enjoy our time here. Or perhaps I should say that I regret allowing that uncertainty to weigh so heavily on my shoulders.

This is a country where planning ahead is woven tightly into the social fabric, but because we live without the ability to say ‘yes, our future is in Switzerland' I feel caught in a Teufelskreis. We cannot put down roots, financial or social, because we have no right to do so, any roots I put down could be pulled out at any time. Yet I feel I cannot live what I view as a normal life without making future plans, everything is temporary, impermanent. I feel our uncertainty all the more because of the contrast: stability is a bedrock of Swiss culture.

There is a saying one hears often around these parts: 'Auslšnder haben viele Pflichte, kein Recht'. I feel this keenly, it has set the tone for much of my time here.

So my long winded advice summarized: To avoid falling into the trap I did, try to find a way to overcome the uncertainty of your status so that you can truly make a life here. Or grow a thicker skin than I was able to. (But don’t forget that Plan B.)

---

I'm sure I'll miss Switzerland when I go - and frankly, going back to a country that has changed beyond all recognition from the one I left terrifies me. But we have to plan for that.

---

Wishing you all the best.

Last edited by meloncollie; 25.03.2018 at 12:22.
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Old 25.03.2018, 14:01
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Re: Should I be planning to leave Switzerland - even though I'm staying

Some good questions there, which I'm sure you will get interesting and helpful answers to. Specially the ones about buying property here and pension investments I think are worth checking well as a "foreigner".

As to "spending money to see tourist places", I truly believe you should check out as much of Switzerland as you possibly can, so you won't regret later not having seen this and not been there ... As you live here, not all places have to be done the expensive tourist way.

Personally I don't believe in planning too much of life. I can stay here for ever if I want to but I for example never bought a house or a flat because I always felt, it would tie me down. Although I ended up living many years in two flats so far, when I moved in they were always meant to be an interim-solution to me. It's not that I don't ever commit but basically it's always been possible for me to up and move on within max. 6 months. And I wouldn't want it any other way. I simply need the knowledge that I can.
Meloncolly on the other hand regrets not having been able to plan really long term. Which is also a valid desire.

So the first thing you have to find out - should you not know it about yourself yet - is which type of life you want to live. Then plan the financial part accordingly and live all the other parts to the fullest - in the here and now where ever that is at the time.
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Old 25.03.2018, 19:32
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Re: Should I be planning to leave Switzerland - even though I'm staying

Quote:
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We too are Americans. We know we will likely have to leave Switzerland once OH retires.

At one point, about the 5 year mark when we got our C permits, we had envisioned a future here. But that has proven to be unlikely.

Remember that a non-EU person is never guaranteed the right to stay in Switzerland. Despite C permits, we are aware that we are nonetheless vulnerable, even moreso with the change in the law allowing for the possibilty of a downgrade to your permit. IMO, a prudent non-EU citizen must always have a Plan B to leave Switzerland.

So with that in mind:

I've written on other threads about how the Swiss Pillar system does not necessarily work well for Americans, so won't repeat that here. Obviously you need to consider your own financial situation, but do understand the impact of double taxation of your pension (including the employer's contribution and upfront taxation of retirement money you may never see) on your financial goals and stability.

Staying in Switzerland after retirement could amount to a significant total tax burden that would make it financially unviable. YMMV, but start tax planning now.

Understand how Pillar 1 could affect your US Soc Sec via WEP.

Understand how being overseas could affect your Medicare should you return to the US in your later years. You have to enroll in Medicare Part B (and maybe D? I have to look that up...) at age 65 or else your premiums will rise by the late enrollment penalty, per missed year, forever, if you do return. If you even think you might return, consider paying into Part B from abroad. No, you will not get benefits abroad, but you might save yourself a significant amount upon return.

Also be aware that you might be unable to claim Medicare for 5 years after returning, despite having paid into it for decades. Consider the impact this will have on your health insurance if you return as a senior citizen - what coverage will be available to you?

Also be aware that US Medicare and Soc Sec are likely to see significant changes given the current prevailing political climate - one needs to make sure that these issues don't slip off your radar while abroad.

---

I own a house here. I would never go back to renting, but that stance is more driven by my American DNA that sees home ownership as the normal state of being rather than by financial benefit. I hated the constriction of renting, that was my primary motive for buying here.

I donít expect to make much, if any, profit on the sale of the house (we have owned for 15 years, expect to sell around the 20 year mark) so the financial gain comes from the fact that the mortgage is significantly less than the absurd expat rent we had to pay. But even if no realized profit is made the savings over renting has been significant.

Be aware that the IRS sees the sale of property abroad not only as a property transaction but also as a currency transaction. Be aware of the tax implications.

Be aware of the 'anti-speculation' penalty some (most?) Swiss cantons levy on the sale of a property here. The years owned increase or decrease this penalty, so figure that into your financial calculation.

---

A now for the airy-fairy stuff, to expound on some of your other 'what if's. Most of mine are due to personal circumstances and choices and so may not apply to you. But be that as it may:

I do wish I'd had a chance to see more of Europe.

That didn't happen largely because of family circumstances. Our holiday time has had to be spent back in the US to fulfill our responsibilities there. Thatís part of the decision to live far away from your responsibilities.

In addition to the opportunity costs, there is the financial consideration to that decision. During the worst of those years either my husband or I had to travel back to the States every few weeks. You can imagine the cost. Even if we had the free time to travel throughout Europe the cost of maintaining our responsibilities in the US pretty much ate up our discretionary budget.

Additionally the 'lifestyle' path I chose to take here also precluded seeing much of Europe.

My volunteer work with rescue dogs, along with my own herd, gave me back the meaning in life that I had lost when I gave up my profession and everything else to follow OH to Switzerland. The work has been fulfilling and certainly rewarding... but it has placed constraints on our lives here because the services I would need to be able to travel for leisure are simply not available in Switzerland. If one chooses to live in a way that is not the Normal Swiss Way, one should understand that there likely could be limitations - and possibly regrets.

---

But since you queston whether or not you should be doing more planning...

Perhaps my biggest regret is that I have spent 20 years living in a state of uncertainty, needing to make plans but unable to do so because of our non-EU status, which has impacted my ability to really enjoy our time here. Or perhaps I should say that I regret allowing that uncertainty to weigh so heavily on my shoulders.

This is a country where planning ahead is woven tightly into the social fabric, but because we live without the ability to say Ďyes, our future is in Switzerland' I feel caught in a Teufelskreis. We cannot put down roots, financial or social, because we have no right to do so, any roots I put down could be pulled out at any time. Yet I feel I cannot live what I view as a normal life without making future plans, everything is temporary, impermanent. I feel our uncertainty all the more because of the contrast: stability is a bedrock of Swiss culture.

There is a saying one hears often around these parts: 'Auslšnder haben viele Pflichte, kein Recht'. I feel this keenly, it has set the tone for much of my time here.

So my long winded advice summarized: To avoid falling into the trap I did, try to find a way to overcome the uncertainty of your status so that you can truly make a life here. Or grow a thicker skin than I was able to. (But donít forget that Plan B.)

---

I'm sure I'll miss Switzerland when I go - and frankly, going back to a country that has changed beyond all recognition from the one I left terrifies me. But we have to plan for that.

---

Wishing you all the best.


Thank you - Thank you - Thank you for all of your comments.
I'll need to re-read and research what you stated about retirement / medical and the like but this is very helpful and I hope to learn from both your wins and your challenges.
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Old 25.03.2018, 19:35
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Re: Should I be planning to leave Switzerland - even though I'm staying

Quote:
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Some good questions there, which I'm sure you will get interesting and helpful answers to. Specially the ones about buying property here and pension investments I think are worth checking well as a "foreigner".

As to "spending money to see tourist places", I truly believe you should check out as much of Switzerland as you possibly can, so you won't regret later not having seen this and not been there ... As you live here, not all places have to be done the expensive tourist way.

Personally I don't believe in planning too much of life. I can stay here for ever if I want to but I for example never bought a house or a flat because I always felt, it would tie me down. Although I ended up living many years in two flats so far, when I moved in they were always meant to be an interim-solution to me. It's not that I don't ever commit but basically it's always been possible for me to up and move on within max. 6 months. And I wouldn't want it any other way. I simply need the knowledge that I can.
Meloncolly on the other hand regrets not having been able to plan really long term. Which is also a valid desire.

So the first thing you have to find out - should you not know it about yourself yet - is which type of life you want to live. Then plan the financial part accordingly and live all the other parts to the fullest - in the here and now where ever that is at the time.
YES, very good point "set roots in or let them grow". I'm doing my best at experiencing Switzerland (and trying to make it cheaper then a tourist). Thank you for your comments.
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