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Old 07.07.2011, 13:17
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Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

Hello,

I've just been offered and accepted a secondment to Zurich for 11 months, which is really exciting, but the downside is that it's all been rather last minute - visa dependent I should be stating on 2 August. Probably wouldn't be too stressful if it was just me, but I'm not on my own - wife with bump (due mid November) and daughter (17 months) are coming over also.

So we're looking for somewhere to live, starting asap!

Because we are only staying for 11 months, my work have assumed that we will want a furnished apartment rather than bring everything over (which makes sense). We foolishly started looking on homegate.ch before my employers put us in contact with a relocation agent, so we'd seen some properties we liked, but of course they've pretty much all gone now.

Also, we probably were looking too much on size/furnishings, rather than location, because aside from knowing where I will work (Opfikon, Zurich) and limiting area to 45-50 min commute by public transport, we don't know where are good and less good places to live.

Because my wife will have a newborn in November, won't be working and we're only here 11 months, we aren't realistically going to be able to fully integrate into Swiss life, so it's important that wherever we live she isn't going to be isolated from other English speaking people/playgroups.

With that in mind, does anyone have recommendations of places to live (or indeed knowledge of any furnished accommodation not advertised on homegate)? Are we silly to rule out unfurnished normal lets (we can rent furniture) or does it make sense to rule it out because of the short time we're here and trying to find a sub-let when we leave?

The relocation agent has so far found us one place near the city centre
Seefeldstrasse 141, 2 beds, 95m2, and another in Erlenbach 3 beds, 93m2. We're going to say no to the first because we really want 3 beds and ideally 100m2+. Erlenbach is a possibility - any opinions on the area? Apparently the agent will only find us 3 properties to choose from so I'm a little concerned that none of them will be ok and we'll be finding/booking ourselves!

Many thanks to all posters - really appreciate your opinions.

Btw - I am happy to post our housing budget if it helps, but I understand money is a taboo in Switzerland and don't want to start off on a bad foot!!!
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Old 07.07.2011, 13:26
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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Btw - I am happy to post our housing budget if it helps, but I understand money is a taboo in Switzerland and don't want to start off on a bad foot!!!
I think it would be helpful to post your housing budget.
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Old 07.07.2011, 13:32
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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I think it would be helpful to post your housing budget.
Up to 5,500 CHF/month (to include utilities, no need for parking) - thanks
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Old 07.07.2011, 13:42
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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Up to 5,500 CHF/month (to include utilities, no need for parking) - thanks
With that kind of budget you should be able to find something furnished. I would recommend against unfurnished given your short stay but I have arranged short stay unfurnished housing for clients when furnished was just not suitable and arranged all the furniture for them. Your relocation agent should figure all this out for you.
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Old 07.07.2011, 14:14
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

Hello,
I recently moved from the US with my family under much of the same circumstances. While I cannot tell you about good locations, I can share my experience thus far.

We (husband and 5 years old) are living in a one bedroom furnished apartment in the city. This is a fantastic city, but I do not like it having a child to raise. We are from a small town outside of Phoenix Arizona and I like that setting for our family. Now if I was single or just David and I, it would be completely different. I don't think you could make us leave, even after his contract is up.

Schooling was another concern in where we were going to live. Like you, I started with home-gate.ch and narrowed the locations that were someplace between schools his work location. Home-gate allows you to calculate your commute if you have your work address. I used that function to calculate the distance from work and from the schools. We have decided on the suburb of Adliswil 8034. This might be a place for you to consider. The Swiss International School is located there. I'm sure that the school will attract many English speaking people along with health care professionals to care for the 800 kids at the school. I do not speak any German and have the same concerns as your wife. While most people speak some English, it isn't the same. Hats off to your wife. She is a brave woman and I admire her for having the strength to moving this late in her pregnancy.


Once you get here, many of the people will tell you that furnished apartments are completely overpriced. I now agree with them. You can get used furniture at a place called a Brockenhause or from of English forum if you don't mind second hand. There is IKEA which delivers new. Alot of the moving sales you see on English forum are IKEA furniture. When you divide the cost of buying furniture over the time of stay, it may make sense to lease a regular apartment. That is what we are going to do. It seems like more hassle, but you will get the apartment you want in the exact place you want. Ask your wife which would be more difficult on her - running around looking at furnished apartments or pulling out an IKEA catalog and having fun setting up her new home... My experience with renting our current apartment sight unseen was less than satisfying.

I hope this helps,
Lisa
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Old 07.07.2011, 14:40
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

One suggestion, as you are going to be here less than a year:

In your negotiations with your company, make sure that they are responsible for any and all charges resulting from you leaving.

Most standard leases here in Switzerland run for at least a full 12 months, some longer, and have strict notice period clauses. You may find that you will be responsible for paying the extra month's lease if you cannot find a replacement tennant (which at 5000+ pm may not be easy to do.) You company certainly knows this about Swiss leases, and having chosen to bring you hear for a shorter term than a standard lease they should pick up any resulting costs from early termination - not you. Best to get that negotiated upfront.

(To give you an example: without us knowing, the relo agent assigned by my husband's company signed a 5 year lease on our behalf... when we were here on a 1-2 year contract. Now, we ended up staying, so all's well that ends well, but had we gone back as originally intended we would have had some huge hassles/costs to deal with.)

If you are not happy with any of the choices that the company's relo company has presented you, I'd suggest working with a relocation agent who represents you, not the landlord - or your company. In the tight ZH market, this is the kind of relo agent you need, especially for a short term assignment. And, were it me, I'd negotiate with the company to pick up those fees as well... as their agent did not provide the service necessary to find you suitable accomodation.

Erlenbach is a very nice town, easy transportation to the city, a fair number of expats - you'd not have much trouble settling in. It's the ZH gold coast... you might find that a positive or negative, depending on your outlook. Access to the lake, nice hiking in the area, easy transportation also to Rapperswil and beyond for weekend jaunts. This would be my pick over Seefeld - but then, I'm not a city person.

Are tax rates an issue for you? If so, do take that into consideration when making your choice. (Erlenbach will save you a fair chunk over ZH city, assuming you are not on Quellensteuer. If you are on Quellensteuer there is no difference between towns within Zürich canton - but living in another canton can have a large impact.

Would you consider living farther out? You'll get more space in AG, lower taxes in SZ, ZG.

Good luck with the move.
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Old 07.07.2011, 15:06
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

I agree that furnished can be overpriced, but while companies are happy to pay up to, say 5.5K CHF in monthly rent, they become rather stingy when being asked to pay for furniture, even if renting unfurnished + paying for furniture might work out cheaper than renting furnished.

Re your area, you will have noticed that the airport is rather close by. Do make sure your future place is not right under the flightpath, unless you like living in the equivalent of Hounslow.

"Bad" places (as in no-go areas, dangerous UK concil estates and suchlike) are rare in Switzerland. Maybe it's best to avoid Kreis 4 in Zurich in your situation. Otherwise, a 50 min commute from Opfikon covers most of NE Switzerland. Have you had a look at Wintherthur?

One thing re your wife's pregnancy. Run this page through Google translate before you choose a health insurance. Basically, make sure that the excess and the franchise are low for your wife. If nobody has spoken to you yet about Swiss health insurance, get advice now.

Also, your wife needs to understand that unlike in the UK, care for pregnant women is doctor-led (as opposed to midwife-led) in Switzerland, in line with most of mainland Europe. That is an important cultural difference that your wife needs to be aware of to avoid feeling left alone by the system. In other words, she is likely to see a lot of her obstetrician and not very much of her midwife before she goes to hospital. Not that the care is in any way worse than in the UK. Swissmom.ch has lots of infos (in German - Google translate is your friend).

Best of luck!
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Old 07.07.2011, 15:10
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

Thanks to all the posters - sadly I can't thank you properly yet as I'm too new a member - 7 more posts to go!

Whilst I like the idea of renting an unfurnished, and then either buying or renting our own furniture to make it our own, I think as Meloncollie points out, there's the risk that we can't sublet at the end and are paying for however many months there are to go (and my employers won't pick that up). I think the furnished flats being looked at are all let on a month by month basis - so we do pay through the nose a bit, but should be no risk involved (at least I hope not - I'll definitely check now Meloncollie before signing anything!).

Lisa - I agree, my wife is very brave and I'm very lucky she's willing to do this. Thankfully we don't have to worry about schools as well as our kids will be too young to go. I think we like you would prefer to stay out of the city.

Meloncollie - again, good point about the tax rates, however in this case it's not relevant as my employers are paying taxes for me. So maybe I should find the highest tax rate area to get the lowest rent?!
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Old 07.07.2011, 15:17
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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Meloncollie - again, good point about the tax rates, however in this case it's not relevant as my employers are paying taxes for me. So maybe I should find the highest tax rate area to get the lowest rent?!
Then look for the nicest furnished flat you can find.
Do you already have a child and one on the way? As you said "kids", I wondered. In which case I think you need at least a 3 bedroom apartment. Just my 2 cents worth.
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Old 07.07.2011, 15:22
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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I agree that furnished can be overpriced, but while companies are happy to pay up to, say 5.5K CHF in monthly rent, they become rather stingy when being asked to pay for furniture, even if renting unfurnished + paying for furniture might work out cheaper than renting furnished.

Re your area, you will have noticed that the airport is rather close by. Do make sure your future place is not right under the flightpath, unless you like living in the equivalent of Hounslow.

"Bad" places (as in no-go areas, dangerous UK concil estates and suchlike) are rare in Switzerland. Maybe it's best to avoid Kreis 4 in Zurich in your situation. Otherwise, a 50 min commute from Opfikon covers most of NE Switzerland. Have you had a look at Wintherthur?

One thing re your wife's pregnancy. Run this page through Google translate before you choose a health insurance. Basically, make sure that the excess and the franchise are low for your wife. If nobody has spoken to you yet about Swiss health insurance, get advice now.

Also, your wife needs to understand that unlike in the UK, care for pregnant women is doctor-led (as opposed to midwife-led) in Switzerland, in line with most of mainland Europe. That is an important cultural difference that your wife needs to be aware of to avoid feeling left alone by the system. In other words, she is likely to see a lot of her obstetrician and not very much of her midwife before she goes to hospital. Not that the care is in any way worse than in the UK. Swissmom.ch has lots of infos (in German - Google translate is your friend).

Best of luck!
Tom - thanks, lots of good info in there, will have a look at Winterthur. I must admit we saw a place advertised in Kloten that looked very good - 3 beds, nice size, good furnishings, under budget and then realised how close it is to the airport.

Thankfully my employers are going to provide health insurance (details tbc), but I must admit to getting a bit confused by it all when I was looking into healthcare before I knew that they would.

We'd heard that care is more doctor-led, which my wife is a bit sad about, she's a doctor herself but prefers the more light touch birth that mid-wives generally give. Without wanting to go too much off topic, does anyone know if I can be present during childbirth? It may be theoretical anyway as I doubt they'd let me take in my daughter, so think we'll both be sat outside.
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Old 07.07.2011, 15:25
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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Then look for the nicest furnished flat you can find.
Do you already have a child and one on the way? As you said "kids", I wondered. In which case I think you need at least a 3 bedroom apartment. Just my 2 cents worth.
Yes, one 17 month old daughter, and a baby to arrive. So we'd like 3 bedrooms as otherwise I expect the newborn will not only wake us but also our daughter and I think she's too young to be patient and understanding about that!
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Old 07.07.2011, 16:21
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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We'd heard that care is more doctor-led, which my wife is a bit sad about, she's a doctor herself but prefers the more light touch birth that mid-wives generally give. Without wanting to go too much off topic, does anyone know if I can be present during childbirth? It may be theoretical anyway as I doubt they'd let me take in my daughter, so think we'll both be sat outside.
Fathers are present at birth in a lot of cases. Younger children aren't, but are often taken care of by friends and relatives.

Re light touch birth: The rule on the Continent is that in hospital, most every single delivery is made by a doctor, with midwives assisting, and that doctors are not called when things go awry only - so they get the "easy" births as well. Also, gas and air is not usually available as an anaesthetic (it is considered "old-fashioned" and not specific enough), and TENS machines are not common either (although you can bring your own). Result in most cases of natural birth: epidural [walking or non-walking].
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Old 07.07.2011, 16:33
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

My own feeling is for such a short time, somewhere central in the city would be your best bet.
Sure, you can live somewhere gorgeous with stunning views and lots of space further out...
BUT - you have one tiny child and a baby on the way. To me, the priority should be your wife's day-to-day social life. For her own sanity, she will want to make English speaking friends straight away.

IMHO, it is much easier to make playdates and arrange to meet up at the parks and playgrounds and pools, the various Starbucks cafes, get to the English speaking playgroups around Zurich, and have other mums and kids come over to your place at the drop of a hat if you live somewhere people can get to very easily (and very quickly).

Even though (for example) Erlenbach is only about 30 min by train to Zurich HB, that can be taxing when you have a double buggy and 2 tiny kids to entertain on the journey there and back!


If you were staying longer term, my view would be different

But really, do consider a smaller 'city living' flat for your short stay. You can still do all the lovely lakes and mountains and hiking and scenery at the weekends as a family together, and your wife won't be isolated during the working week.

Good luck with your hunt!
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Old 07.07.2011, 19:28
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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We'd heard that care is more doctor-led, which my wife is a bit sad about, she's a doctor herself but prefers the more light touch birth that mid-wives generally give. Without wanting to go too much off topic, does anyone know if I can be present during childbirth? It may be theoretical anyway as I doubt they'd let me take in my daughter, so think we'll both be sat outside.
If your wife would prefer midwife led care then I strongly recommend you look at birth houses. I gave birth at Delphys Geburtshaus (www.delphys.ch) in central Zurich after moving to Zurich at 34 weeks pregnant and it was a calm and pleasant experience (as much as birth can be!). It's like a home away from home.

Women can have all of their check-ups there as well as the birth, and it's all run by a team of midwives, all of whom that I met spoke english (though some better than others). My husband was in the room the whole time with me, lay on the bed for a lot of it. I don't know for sure but if anywhere will let your other child in then a birth house probably will.

Only the medical costs will be covered by basic insurance, but the rest is not a lot extra to pay for peace of mind and somewhere you feel comfortable giving birth (a lot less than your monthly housing budget!). Happy to discuss in more detail if you want - send me a PM.
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Old 07.07.2011, 19:33
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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Result in most cases of natural birth: epidural [walking or non-walking].
I don't think I agree with you there, as far as Switzerland is concerned, though I don't have any stats to back it up (do you?). While gas and air is not common in Switzerland - some places do have it - pethidine is also used, under another name that escapes me for the moment though there are plenty of EF threads on giving birth in Switzerland that would have the info. I know lots of women who delivered via the traditional route and without an epidural (which are not available in birth houses btw, in case that affects your consideration of them!).
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Old 07.07.2011, 19:54
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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Also, gas and air is not usually available as an anaesthetic (it is considered "old-fashioned" and not specific enough), and TENS machines are not common either (although you can bring your own). Result in most cases of natural birth: epidural [walking or non-walking].
They definitely offer gas and air at Zurich University Hospital or did in January last year

Good luck with the move and the birth. I moved here with my partner when I was 8 months pregnant. If possible, have relatives lined up to help out your wife after the birth. It is very easy to feel isolated here with a newborn and having family around for a week or two will help as long as you let them know they are there to help and not be looked after
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Old 09.07.2011, 09:58
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

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I don't think I agree with you there, as far as Switzerland is concerned, though I don't have any stats to back it up (do you?).
According to Bundesamt fuer Statistik, 40% of births were with an epidural (in 2002/2004). Now 30% are caesareans, which leaves 30% "other". Which is less than e.g. France where you had (2005) 51% epidurals plus about 33% ceasareans.
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Old 15.07.2011, 23:32
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According to Bundesamt fuer Statistik, 40% of births were with an epidural (in 2002/2004). Now 30% are caesareans, which leaves 30% "other". Which is less than e.g. France where you had (2005) 51% epidurals plus about 33% ceasareans.
I just saw your post, interesting stats (though this thread has gone a little off original topic!), wouldn't there be overlap between the 40% and 30% though? As epidural and c-section are not mutually exclusive, so 'other' might be higher than 30%? Interesting. I like stats.
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Old 16.07.2011, 11:37
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

Bit late to the party, but although your children are too young for school, if there is the slightest risk that you might want to extend your contract and stay in Switzerland and you wanted your children to be educated outside the Swiss system, then most of the international schools tend to be on the "cold coast" i.e. the opposite side of the lake to Erlenbach (lovely as it is over there). In that case, you might want to consider looking at somewhere on that side of the lake from the outset. The international schools are also a very good source of social contacts for expats, particularly mothers
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Old 26.07.2011, 15:38
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Re: Moving to Zurich early August from UK - help!

I just wanted to write a quick thank you to all those who wrote with advice.

In the end we have chosen to live in Seefeld. Now I just need to wait on my work permit!

Thank you all
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