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  #21  
Old 20.08.2011, 02:42
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

It seems that the prevalent wisdom is to put the kid in a local school. We are thinking of a combination: put him first in an international school till Sept 2012 to ease the shock, and then from Sept 2012 start in the German school.

Another issue we have currently is that we do not have a Green Card, but are in the process of obtaining it. I know if you have Green Card you need to pay taxes in the USA. I am not sure how much though on my salary. Any help here is useful. If it is like 2-3K then we will keep the Green Card, but if it is like 30K, then we will give it up.
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Old 20.08.2011, 07:28
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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Another issue we have currently is that we do not have a Green Card, but are in the process of obtaining it. I know if you have Green Card you need to pay taxes in the USA. I am not sure how much though on my salary. Any help here is useful. If it is like 2-3K then we will keep the Green Card, but if it is like 30K, then we will give it up.
I believe you pay taxes on what you make above $90,000(ish - it changes yearly), minus some deductions (what you pay in Swiss tax, rent if it's above a certain amount, etc. etc.) I'd suggest talking with a tax expert before making a decision about the green card though.
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Old 20.08.2011, 07:30
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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I believe you pay taxes on what you make above $90,000(ish - it changes yearly), minus some deductions (what you pay in Swiss tax, rent if it's above a certain amount, etc. etc.) I'd suggest talking with a tax expert before making a decision about the green card though.
Here's a decent overview - I know there are some good books that describe taxes for expats, as well: http://www.taxmeless.com/page4.html
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  #24  
Old 20.08.2011, 10:32
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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I will give you our experience, although when our kids were plopped into the German speaking world, it was in Germany, not Switzerland, but most points should apply.

When we came over our kids were 5, 3 and newborn - the older 2 went into German kindergarten knowing about 3 words of German. Within 2 months the oldest was pretty much fluent, and the younger one was doing great as well. The kids will adjust. It is you and your wife that will have more issues.
Having one parent speak the local language at home isn't quite the same as suddenly finding yourself in a place that is completely different without that advantage. Kids do adapt, sure, as my 4yo daughter was already bi-lingual before arriving, but it can't be easy for them and things pop up in other ways as they cope with the change, e.g. my daughter started having nightmares, stopped eating just about anything, etc. and that was with going to the bi-lingual school. It's a big change, even if they don't show it in the same ways we do. Kids adapt, but depending on your child, you might want to make that transition easier if you can. Perhaps it's because we only have one child and I was used to paying $24k per year for day care back in the US, I didn't bat an eye at the bi-lingual tuition here.

And it is a very, very good point to make about the international schools making it a bit easier to deal with the administration as you want to be aware of what's going on with your child's education and what's going on at school and, if you aren't fluent in German then that's a pretty big hurdle unless you have friends here already who can translate.
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Old 20.08.2011, 16:22
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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Another issue we have currently is that we do not have a Green Card, but are in the process of obtaining it. I know if you have Green Card you need to pay taxes in the USA. I am not sure how much though on my salary. Any help here is useful. If it is like 2-3K then we will keep the Green Card, but if it is like 30K, then we will give it up.
If you're leaving the US, will you be able to get your green card? On what basis are you getting it? (Doesn't seem like marriage or employment apply unless i misread your posts). And if you get the green card will you be able to keep it if you're no longer a resident. And finally if you're leaving the US, why do you want a green card if you're not going to live there?

I'm not up on the green card regs anymore, but at one time, I thought you had to come back at least once a year, and if you were gone more than 2 years, it could be a problem. I'm assuming you're on an H1B or similar right now... if you have job offers in the US, would your employers not do the green card filing thing for you, when and if you decide to return?

It depends on your field of course, but my husband is also an academic here. Some things are better than in the US, and some things are not better, but all in all, we're happy we made the move. He went through the tenure process in the US, so he didn't have to do it here again. Best of luck with that!
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  #26  
Old 21.08.2011, 15:01
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

As a teacher at an International School, you can not beat the quality! I will send my own children to International schools, Swiss schools will affect your child's English learning.
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  #27  
Old 21.08.2011, 16:29
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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Having one parent speak the local language at home isn't quite the same as suddenly finding yourself in a place that is completely different without that advantage. Kids do adapt, sure, as my 4yo daughter was already bi-lingual before arriving, but it can't be easy for them and things pop up in other ways as they cope with the change, e.g. my daughter started having nightmares, stopped eating just about anything, etc. and that was with going to the bi-lingual school. It's a big change, even if they don't show it in the same ways we do. Kids adapt, but depending on your child, you might want to make that transition easier if you can. Perhaps it's because we only have one child and I was used to paying $24k per year for day care back in the US, I didn't bat an eye at the bi-lingual tuition here.

And it is a very, very good point to make about the international schools making it a bit easier to deal with the administration as you want to be aware of what's going on with your child's education and what's going on at school and, if you aren't fluent in German then that's a pretty big hurdle unless you have friends here already who can translate.
It will definitely be hard trying to send the child to the local school if neither parent speaks German - I often feel like I miss half the things going on and I am pretty comfortable with the language! I do know some people in Germany who have done this, and their children have been very successful - but it probably depends on how independent the child is and able to communicate with the parents (until they know the language well enough) with messages from the teacher, etc.

I would say that if your wife is going to work then going the International School route will most likely be the best choice. As has been mentioned before, the school system here does not easily accommodate 2 working parents - with 2 hour midday breaks and then only sometimes classes in the afternoon. Although in Zurich I am sure you would have the infrastructure to deal with this (lunch available as well as after school care) - that is just more that needs organizing.

If we didn't have 3 children (making it financially impossible on 1 income) I would have most likely considered the international school more. I am happy with our situation - and with us now having our 2nd move in 2 years (would like to break that habit, though) - I have not seen any ill effects on any of our children. But I do think that since they have each other does help a bit and it would be socially a lot harder if they had to do it on their own.
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Old 22.08.2011, 02:39
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

MsNY,

You say that you cannot beat the quality. Can you be more precise ?

In what sense is the quality better than at a local school ?

From what I was told by the Swiss, and what is being said here, it seems, local schools are pretty good and do not have the high turnaround of people that International Schools have (if there is big turnaround, it may be hard to make longer-term friends for the child, and the parents).

Re: Green Card. We are not sure if we will even pursue it (it is currently in progress. I am trying to figure out all the implications, especially tax returns, and required travel, if we do get it).
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  #29  
Old 22.08.2011, 03:42
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

It is always difficult to advise someone when you don't know the person- their tastes, their aims.

If you like NY then you might like to live in the center of Zurich. It would also be nice if you could live close to work- if you are working in the city Zurich.

When you return your child will be 11 years old. Where will you be moving on to? Have you checked the rules with the green card? The rules have changed; they are a lot more stringent than they used to be.

I am not that impressed with the academic standards in Swiss international schools. Any school that you consider, see where they pupils go to next, are there any parents that you can talk to? How do they rank academically in terms of internationally or Swiss recognized standards. What is the turnover for pupils, on average how long do they stay at the school? How do pupils fare when they go on to High School?

The advantages of the international school are the timetable, the contacts and networking within the ex-pat club, parental involvement. Watch out for hidden costs.

If you choose a Swiss school look at the ethnic mix and how many of the pupils go on to gymnasium. You will have to choose the school first then find accommodation within the catchment area.

The advantages are that your child will be bi/multilingual as long as you work to support the other languages. If the catchment is an area of educated parents then most probably, the academic standard will be high too.There are other ways to network with English speakers without having your child at an English speaking school. You could spend the money on extracurricular activities or private tuition.

Your wife may not find it that easy to get a visa that enables her to work.

There may be other foreign academics where you teach- why not ask what others do?

I moved from Switzerland to Upstate NY. I don't like to eat out. I prefer to snack on Swiss delicacies.
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  #30  
Old 22.08.2011, 04:20
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

At your child's age they will learn the local lingo extremely fast. Do you speak your mother tongue with them at home? (Hope so!) If so, they are already bilingual and to get German on top of that will be excellent. You say 5 years, it's hard to know now what will happen in that length of time. In the event you stay it would be sad if your kid hadn't learned German and Swiss German. Also, while I understand you wanting to ease the transition, if you do one year of International school that's Shock #1, then stick them in a local school that's 2 school changes in as many years plus the language change; that's a lot of transition for a kid.

My advice is go local, and just work on the English at home. There is certainly no shortage of movies and cartoons for kids in English, plus you'll get a good handful of BBC/ITV channels on TV here (though the poor thing might come away with a British accent ). What Hoppy said about International schools lacking academically mirrors what I've gathered about them, though I can't back that up with any hard data or facts. Stick the money you would have spent on school in an account to help with the University years . In the event you do go back to the U.S. you'll be glad you did...

Being from Eastern Europe you may find the proximity to family more alluring than the sparkle of the U.S. Who knows, maybe 10 years from now you'll be obsessing over your Migros and Coop cards and shaking your head at the neighbors who have neglected to vacuum their lawn that week .
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  #31  
Old 22.08.2011, 05:45
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Re: green card. You may want to check on the implications of leaving the US while your application is in progress. It used to be that you could not travel outside the US without permission while you had an active application to adjust status. If you did travel without permission your application would be considered "abandoned" and you could be denied entry to the US. It might be worth it ask an immigration attorney - just so you can easily return to the US on an occasional basis and long term if you wish. Likewise, you may be better off to formally withdraw your application. I don't know. US immigration works in mysterious ways.
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  #32  
Old 22.08.2011, 06:00
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

Some, who thought that they only had to return to the US once a year to keep their green cards, have lost them.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encycloped...ard-29707.html
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  #33  
Old 22.08.2011, 12:37
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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Swiss were like uptight Germans on Steroids.

As a Swiss person I find this very funny...

Welcome to Switzerland, mswiss.

Yes, Swiss people are rather reserved and it's not easy to make friends here. But if you are a little patient and make some efforts, I am sure you will be fine.

As it comes to schooling: if you decide that you're kid is going to public school, he will learn Swiss German in no time. He is very young and will find new friends easily. I don't know much about the quality of private schools here, however, if you chose that option, where you live you're kid would have a hard time getting in contact with the local kids and I guess you're family would end up living in a parallel society of "American clubs" and similar. I would suggest sending the kid to a local school and use the money you save for leasing a home in a nice area, like hobby explained. If you keep on speaking English at home I would not worry about your son forgetting it. Anyways, I an extra English class for English speaking kids would do no harm, especially if you plan on going back.

My family moved to the US in 2009 and the kids, then 5 and 7, spoke a fluent English after two months -and they started with two sentences: "My name is such and such" and "I need to go to the restroom"

No that we're back the kids are going to an English class for English kids in an International school nearby. Probably you would be able to find something similar too.

Of course, I urgently recommend you to learn German as well, although I am very well aware of the fact that it is frustrating for new German learners that very often Swiss people keep on babbling in Swiss German and do not make the effort to speak High German. I am sorry for that, but can't change it... It will make life much easier, especially for your wife -even if you lease/buy in a nice area where people are educated and speak English.

Hope everything will go well for you
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  #34  
Old 22.08.2011, 13:29
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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As a Swiss person I find this very funny...

Welcome to Switzerland, mswiss.

Yes, Swiss people are rather reserved and it's not easy to make friends here. But if you are a little patient and make some efforts, I am sure you will be fine.
Well, see, the punchline I left out to soften the edge was that the story was in the Helsingin Sanomat (Helsinki's newspaper) written by a Finn who had lived in DE and then in CH before moving back home. If you think the Swiss are quiet and reserved...you need to try living in Finland for a while as they make y'all look pretty chatty and downright overly friendly.

I don't have the original article in front of me anymore, but the gist wasn't so much about the friendliness as, honestly, Finns really aren't all that keen on friendliness to begin with, rather it had to do with the extreme regimentation in every aspect of life.
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Old 22.08.2011, 13:42
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

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It seems that the prevalent wisdom is to put the kid in a local school. We are thinking of a combination: put him first in an international school till Sept 2012 to ease the shock, and then from Sept 2012 start in the German school.
I wonder if that is the best way, by the time he is used to the school, made all his friends, you take him out again and let him start all over........I would pick one and stay with it...
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  #36  
Old 22.08.2011, 14:02
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

It looks like I rather not try living in Finland...
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Old 22.08.2011, 14:12
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

If you take a local school, be aware that it's possible for your child to learn Swiss German, but not actually come out really fluent in High German.
If you don't speak German yourself, it will be hard to judge the quality of High German being taught, and furthermore, if the teachers are actually teaching in High German or just switching to dialect as soon as the door is closed. That, plus the spoken laguage being dialect, can make things complicated if your main reason for going local is learning fluent High German.

As other posters have said, it is extremely important to check the schools out ahead of time and move to the area of the school you choose.
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Old 23.08.2011, 00:05
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

I guess the main questions for schools are:

1. Do kids actually learn German or Swiss German or both ?
Seems it is: writing German, speaking in Swiss-German

2. Do kids actually learn any English ?
Seems: no

3. What are the +/- of international schools ?
+ English
+ Other families who have moved to Zurich
+ Easier short-term transition
- Quite Expensive
- A lot of movement
- More difficult long-term transition

Learning German properly, even writing, seems like a big plus.
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Old 23.08.2011, 00:07
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

We will actually be situated basically in the city center, in our first year, so we will be looking for schools in that area. After that, we may move to other (further) location.

Is there a ranking for all the schools in Switzerland.

As far as German, I am practicing on the Rosetta Stone program.
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Old 23.08.2011, 00:28
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Re: Moving to Zurich, Switzerland from New York, USA

I went through Rosetta Stone levels before we moved here 2 years ago, and it was a great help. A class that would teach you grammar explicitly after arrival would be even better.

Re: schools. If you are working for a university, you'll be getting absolutely no help with the cost of a private school from your employer. The fees are staggering (and most likely not tax deductible for you) and would significantly reduce your quality of life. If your child is reasonably easy going, the local schools would make more sense. Keep in mind that kindergarten here is not academic, and the primary school curriculum is generally significantly behind good american elementary schools. If your wife (and you if you'll have time) is willing/interested in "homeschooling" English/reading and making up for the other differences in level (lots of resources available, including fun online programs), then go for the local school. Having local friends is really important. If you pick your locality well, there would be English speaking kids in the local school as well. Spend the extra money on travel :-)
We moved here 2 years ago when our youngest son was 9. He is now fluent in German and Swiss German, learning French, and all without a significant detriment to his English. We are also paying for the international schools for the 2 older children, who were too old to painlessly start in the Swiss system, so are quite familiar with both worlds.
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