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Old 11.07.2012, 17:32
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To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

Sorry if this has been posted before, but I'm struggling with a decision (and maybe just putting it out to random strangers is the way forward) - so do I:

- make use of a relocation agent offered by the new company (the agent will help me with temporary accommodation, permanent accommodation, bank account and general familiarisation) in Zurich only; or

- take a cash amount offered by the new company (which will be advanced but still subject to tax in my first month's salary) and do all the above myself.

Any ideas or experiences would be most appreciated. I am moving from London to Zurich - me and the cat.
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Old 11.07.2012, 17:36
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

after we did it, I'd wished we'd just taken the lump sum, but we were pretty unhappy with our relocation agent. but, assuming you get a good one, it's nice to not have to think about these things too much as you're packing and moving Especially if you do not speak the language, having a consultant there at a viewing can be really helpful.

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Sorry if this has been posted before, but I'm struggling with a decision (and maybe just putting it out to random strangers is the way forward) - so do I:

- make use of a relocation agent offered by the new company (the agent will help me with temporary accommodation, permanent accommodation, bank account and general familiarisation) in Zurich only; or

- take a cash amount offered by the new company (which will be advanced but still subject to tax in my first month's salary) and do all the above myself.

Any ideas or experiences would be most appreciated. I am moving from London to Zurich - me and the cat.
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Old 11.07.2012, 17:46
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I'm happy I used one at the time (paid by employer): I got here alone, installed into my temporary accommodation, immediately started work a couple days later, within a week I was already traveling outside of the country on business trips. It would have been impossible for me to do all the apartment searching, etc. on my own. Or it would have been possible, but at the risk of losing my sanity!

So I would say it depends: if you have a 9-5 type job, a buffer period before you start working, have the extra time to look around, have a spouse/significant other/family member/friend who can help, perhaps you can do it on your own. But if you are anywhere close to the scenario I was in, I strongly recommend to use the reloc agency.
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Old 11.07.2012, 17:47
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I would take the relocation agent, especially if you don't speak swiss german. Wading through all the paperwork and making calls is quite stressful without the local language, and finding accommodation in Zurich is a nightmare in general. We didn't have one and I frequently reflect on how different (and much more complicated) our experience was compared to some friends who had all the roadblocks smoothed over for them.
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Old 11.07.2012, 17:54
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

If you were to take the cash there is a third option:

Moving to Switzerland or just arrived? Like some help finding your feet?

From personal experience, too many relocation agents simply disappear the moment you land here, as we discussed in my radio interview. The other advantage is that Your Swiss Lifeline operates nationally so it doesn't matter where you live. I'm also in the process of putting together a dedicated "arrival package" covering all the paperwork and assistance you need to get going when you arrive - there is a particular order things need to be done in due to dependencies and it can take a long time and cost money if you learn the hard way! We also make all those phone calls for you on your behalf. Feel free to drop me a PM if you'd like to discuss the options in more detail
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Old 14.07.2012, 18:04
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I'm going through that right now and I have learned to appreciate the help of the relocation company. I work a 9-5 job and there's no way in hell I would have time to schedule appointments and all that, especially in another culture. So far I've had a good experience with the relocation agent, but I have also done my homework. For example, the real estate agent insisted on opening a bank account with UBS, but then I did some researching, and I thought it was better to open it with PostalFinance (this group was great help by the way). So the relocation agent is there to help you, but they probably get some commissions for taking you to certain places. You just have to look out for these things, and not give them complete control, since some of the things they recommend, might now always be to your benefit.
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Old 14.07.2012, 18:21
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I can give you our experience, when we moved to Switzerland from The Netherlands, we used the relocation agent and we were very happy. They helped us get a house (I had done some pre moving work looking at homegate etc), they also helped us getting the permits, the household insurance and all the services like internet etc.
Now we are relocating within Switzerland and we found a place ourselves but will use them for getting internet and other services started.
The sort of negative side of using them is that sometimes they will show you houses of companies they know and maybe (this is just a guess) they get some sort of commission if they get a new tenant. I am not sure but I have a feeling this might be like that.
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Old 14.07.2012, 19:10
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

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The sort of negative side of using them is that sometimes they will show you houses of companies they know and maybe (this is just a guess) they get some sort of commission if they get a new tenant. I am not sure but I have a feeling this might be like that.
It could also be that they know which landlords/rental agents are easier to deal with and which aren't.... So it might not be so much that they get commission but that they are trying to avoid their clients having to deal with the likes of Wincasa....
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Old 14.07.2012, 20:20
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

Our agent in Switzerland was mostly useless. But I believe it was just her, as a person. When we moved to Spain, we had the best agent we could possibly dream of!
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Old 14.07.2012, 21:13
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I think if you don't speak the language then it's going to be quite hard to sort everything out yourself. You'll be dealing with contracts and other documents which will not be in English as well as dealing with people who also don't speak it. And if you have someone from your company or authorised by your company like a relocation agent then I think landlords will look more favourably on your application than if you did it yourself.

It will depend on the person in the end, but as others have said, if you get a good one he/she will be a real boon in sorting out any problems that might come your way.
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Old 14.07.2012, 21:27
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I'd go with the Relo agent as well. Given that it sounds you are alone (just you and the cat) and how utterly difficult it is to find a flat in Zurich, you need all the help you can get. The relo agent should be able to get you to the head of the list and one of the flats you really want. Trust me, this is worth it. Doing it on your own is a nightmare.
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Old 14.07.2012, 22:22
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I'd take the money. We had a relo' agent and other than a bit of driving 1 day didn't do much else. A good 1 may have a handle on properties coming up but most simply use the same search tools that are available to your right now in terms of property searches etc.

For banking, if you don't speak German walk into any UBS or Credit Suisse and they'll set up your accounts with all documentation and online facilities in English. If you do speak German than pick one that the folks in the office say is good, but a banks largely a bank and there isn't much to choose between them. All you need is a copy of your contract and your passport and a chat with someone to fill the form in and your done... easy peasy.

Registration, your employer may take care of this anyway, so you just pop to the commune where you'll be staying, even if it's temporary, and register there. Again most offices have an English speaker to some degree, and they are normally very helpful.

For property searches, again websites such the 2 below will give you an idea of what's available. It's about being realistic especially with a pet, we have 3 dogs and got the 1st and only apartment we applied for. Your coming from London so you'll appreciate the difficulties:
http://www.immoscout24.ch/IS24Web/_V...-1&lng=en&wl=1
http://www.homegate.ch/en?a=default&l=default

English is very widely spoken, although having German does help but really isn't essential. With a bit of application you can do it all yourself easily enough, it just isn't as bad as some make out. If you do your homework before you get here in terms of what to do when etc I'm sure your could do it yourself. It's worth remembering Relo' agents are not magicians, they can make it easier, or not if you get a bad one, so you may still end up doing most of the chasing yourself anyway. So cut out the potential, take the cash and take control yourself.
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Old 14.07.2012, 22:37
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

Will hiring a relocation agent helps getting an apartment quicker. I am finding it too hard to find the apartment here ins Zug. And also filling up the applications in German

Someone please suggest a good relocation agent

Regards
SN
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Old 14.07.2012, 23:37
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Check out YourSwissLifeline .... An English woman whose been through it all and now set up a company to help out expats going through the same thing. She will treat you well I am sure. And her rates are reasonable- Depending on how much is being offered, you could take the cash then pay her out of it. She's a good soul.
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Old 14.07.2012, 23:45
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I didn't have a fantastic experience with the relocation agency and I believe it is possible to do it on your own with good results (as a matter of fact, I got 2 apts offers on my own out of 3 attempts, and 1 offer out of 3 attempts with the relocation agent). The only thing I really valued was getting me a new temporary apt in a couple of days after problems in the first one, but they did not take responsibility for the couple of nights I had to spend at hotels. Still, getting a new place in a matter of days is no small feat.

But, other than this (unusual) situation, I'd say it depends on your availability and the amount of money this represents to you. Honestly, coming here on my own I'd always get the agent just for the peace of mind and comfort. However, having lived through the experience if I ever need to move again I'm definitely doing it on my own.

Factors to consider:
1) how much time do you have to look for an apt? If you're being set up in a temporary apt by your company 2 months should be enough. If you don't have a temp apt, maybe get the agent to cover more ground faster but give precise instructions as to what you want and not.
2) how much flexibility do you have? Usually viewings are at the end of the day or saturdays, but end of the day may mean 17h and it's important to arrive early. Often companies are flexible as it's also in their interest that you get well settled.
3) what is your price range? My experience is that below 2000CHF for a 2 room apt within the city means A LOT of competition and an agent can be useful to follow-up. If you're willing to go for 2400+ or out of the city (transportation is indeed great), competition is much reduced and it's easier to get offers.
4) applications for apts are indeed in German, they usually require the registration doc (better, the permit) and highly value a recommendation letter from the employer. However, they're very easy to fill out and anyone at work or even at the post office or bank will help you translate (I'm sure there's an official office somewhere, but I found the other options worked as well)
5) there're some logistics to consider: registration is crucial, but easy to do - there's no central place to do this, it depends on where you live, you just need to ask the address from the person you get the apt from. Opening a bank account, getting internet/TV, etc. relocation agents can help you with that, but again, my experience is that people speak english and it's fairly easy to do on your own. You may have to sacrifice a lunch and/or a saturday morning, but it's completely doable. This country has no waiting lines... the most I've waited was 10min.

Hope that helps.
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Old 15.07.2012, 08:00
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

I have to say, our relo agent in Spain was totally amazing and we wouldn't have gone far without her. She was absolutely a life line for the first 3-4 months.

They key is to have a very good one recommended by others. Our Swiss experience left us a bad taste abut relocation agency. I believe it is best to look for a smaller agency who treat their clients more on a family basis kind.
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Old 15.07.2012, 10:30
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

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Any ideas or experiences would be most appreciated. I am moving from London to Zurich - me and the cat.

I am a relocation agent but do not cover Zurich city so I think I can give you some unbiased advice here. The Zurich rental market is very tough. I know this from my colleagues who I refer work to.

As you have a cat this complicates matters.

Your rent budget will also have some impact on your search.

It appears there are many people who used a relocation consultant and were not satisfied. Sadly there are those in the business who just want to get the job done. Also, in most cases where the service proviced was not satisfactory, the relo agent was assigned rather than selected.

I would like to know how many who chose their own relocation agent were unhappy? You need an agent who listens to you, and works for you. If you are not on the same page, it just won't work.

This year I have done almost 100 apartment handovers where there was no relocation support for the initial house search. You may not find out until you leave your flat just how valuable it would have been to have a relocation professional involved from the outset.

Every document related to your apartment lease conditions will be in German. I have never understood why anyone renting an apartment would sign a document they do not understand yet this is what many do.

Lastly, beware of private landlords and property owners who speak English. In fact, these are often the ones who are best at sticking it to foreigners.
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Old 15.07.2012, 10:38
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

One question, are you sure it is one or the other? We have been offered both, both times we signed new contracts.
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Old 16.07.2012, 17:30
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

Thank you so much for all the input - this is indeed very helpful and insightful.
As with everything in life, there are good points and bad points.
Homework seems to be the key ingredient in either option and we'll definitely be swatting up before we leave London.
Thank you again :-)
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Old 16.07.2012, 19:11
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Re: To relocation agent or not to relocation agent

When moving here I had a relocation agency and an on-site local agent which I found to be better than helpful. While I have no idea how much that local service cost (I am guessing 5k) since my work paid for it, I found that help to be beyond the best.

She met us at the airport, took me to my temporary apartment, immediately to register with the canton, then get a bank account, and when we got back to the apartment, she had two bags of groceries she bought for us.

Since then she has helped me translate docs, find my apartment, and more. I now consider her my friend.

I know it is different for everyone, but really, what I think is, if you are a demanding person and expect to be treated like you walk on water, it will not matter much who you choose, you will be disappointed and wish you did it all yourself. But, if you are easy going, understand the people working with you are humans, just like you, I think it will be a good experience.

All that said, if you are paying out of pocket, maybe you can get a hybrid support model where you take some help for the really important things, and manage the rest yourself.

Best of luck
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