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Old 21.02.2008, 15:02
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Introduction and request for advice

Hello, I'm new to this forum, living in England at the moment but potentially ( hopefully ) relocating to Switzerland soon. I may well be jumping the gun here but I'd like to ask for information on the Swiss education system, I've applied for a job with a company in Zug , haven't been offered the job yet but I got the impression that if I were offered the position that the company would expect a quick decision. Myself and my wife are both very enthusiastic about the idea of relocating to Switzerland but the fees for private education in an English speaking school seem prohibitive. I've looked at a few International schools in the Zurich / Zug area and the average annual fees seem to be around 24000 swiss francs .We've got two children , does anyone on the forum have experience of Swiss State Schools ? My children are age 13 and 10, they haven't had any lessons in the German language and I'm worried that they would struggle in a German speaking State school. Are there any state schools in this area that provide assistance for non German speaking children ? Any advice gratefully received.
Thanks.
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Old 21.02.2008, 17:00
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Welcome.

Did you try your luck in the family matters forum and/or a search? The forum has quite a big base of previous threads that will for sure allow you to home in on specific questions. You will then find people are more than happy to chip in.

D
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Old 13.03.2008, 15:01
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Another request for information / advice

Hello Folks, I've been offered a job in Zug which I am very keen to accept but it would be helpful to get some general information first to help me make the decision, could anyone please come up with answers to these general( ish) enquiries .....

We're looking at buying a house either in Schwyz or Aargau ( apologies if misspelt) cantons , roughly what percentage of the property cost should we allow for as incidental expenses , stamp duty , legal fees etc. ?

Is there a Swiss version of council tax, if so what would the rough cost be in these cantons, is it levied according to the price of the property ?

Utility bills, I know that the cost of living in Switzerland is higher than in England, roughly how much more expensive are electricity , gas and water bills than for say a three bedroom house in Hampshire ?

Food costs, when you folks do your weekly supermarket shopping in Switzerland then come back to England for a visit and nip into Sainsburys
roughly how do the costs compare ? I know that this question is verging on " How long is a piece of string ? " but even a rough indication would be very helpful.

School fees, I'm sure that I read somewhere that if you send your children to a fee paying school then some cantons will make a contribution towards the cost as they are not occupying a place in a state school, does anyone have any information on this please ?

Health - I'm diabetic, how easy is it to register with a Swiss G.P ? Is it correct that in Switzerland employees pay 5.5 % of their salary as a sort of National Insurance healthcare tax ? Would I be able to obtain insulin and syringes through this scheme or would I have to pay for them on a prescription ?

Finally, my son plays rugby in the under 11's age group at his club , does anyone know of any clubs in the Zurich / Zug area that he would be able to join ( he doesn't speak any German ).

Thanks very much in advance for any help that you can offer.

Regards
Shedfield ( small Sunday afternoon village cricket team in Hampshire)







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Old 13.03.2008, 15:07
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Re: Another request for information / advice

http://www.englishforum.ch/complaint...ss-school.html
Should I still try to buy a house in Switzerland?
[Ins and Outs] Buying Property in Switzerland
Cost of living in Switzerland? Fact or fiction?
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Old 13.03.2008, 15:11
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Re: Another request for information / advice

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We're looking at buying a house either in Schwyz or Aargau ( apologies if misspelt) cantons , roughly what percentage of the property cost should we allow for as incidental expenses , stamp duty , legal fees etc. ?

Is there a Swiss version of council tax, if so what would the rough cost be in these cantons, is it levied according to the price of the property ?

Utility bills, I know that the cost of living in Switzerland is higher than in England, roughly how much more expensive are electricity , gas and water bills than for say a three bedroom house in Hampshire ?

Food costs, when you folks do your weekly supermarket shopping in Switzerland then come back to England for a visit and nip into Sainsburys
roughly how do the costs compare ? I know that this question is verging on " How long is a piece of string ? " but even a rough indication would be very helpful.

School fees, I'm sure that I read somewhere that if you send your children to a fee paying school then some cantons will make a contribution towards the cost as they are not occupying a place in a state school, does anyone have any information on this please ?

Health - I'm diabetic, how easy is it to register with a Swiss G.P ? Is it correct that in Switzerland employees pay 5.5 % of their salary as a sort of National Insurance healthcare tax ? Would I be able to obtain insulin and syringes through this scheme or would I have to pay for them on a prescription ?

Finally, my son plays rugby in the under 11's age group at his club , does anyone know of any clubs in the Zurich / Zug area that he would be able to join ( he doesn't speak any German ).

Thanks very much in advance for any help that you can offer.

Regards
Shedfield ( small Sunday afternoon village cricket team in Hampshire)







Allow 2% for purchase costs and you will be on the right side. Should be nearer 1%...
No council tax but there is a "tax" for living in your own home but this offsets being able to deduct the interest on the mortgage. Note you don't have an advantage here for paying off the purchase price...
Utility costs - I don't think there is any great difference here.
Food costs - I don't think there is any great difference here but there is less selection and as in England there are very expensive food shops here.
School costs - the contributions from the cantons is not worth factoring in, last time I looked it was CHF 1'000 per year... And not all cantons.
Health no not at all. The social state here is restricted to caring for the old and infirm. Your health insurance will however fully cover this. I would suggest taking the lowest franchise which is CHF 300 as thereafter the health insurance covers the cost...
Rugby no idea but I doubt you will find much here...
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Old 13.03.2008, 15:11
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Re: Another request for information / advice

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Is there a Swiss version of council tax, if so what would the rough cost be in these cantons, is it levied according to the price of the property ?

Utility bills, I know that the cost of living in Switzerland is higher than in England, roughly how much more expensive are electricity , gas and water bills than for say a three bedroom house in Hampshire ?
Council taxes are included in your normal tax bill, and as a foreigner you'll be taxed at source. Any additional expenses are usualy covered in the rent (Nebenkosten)

The nebenkosten would usualy also cover your heating and water bills, most people only pay electricity seperately.

Of course, if you're buying (most people rent here), your situation will be different.
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Old 13.03.2008, 15:13
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Re: Another request for information / advice

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Allow 2% for purchase costs and you will be on the right side. Should be nearer 1%...
No council tax but there is a "tax" for living in your own home but this offsets being able to deduct the interest on the mortgage. Note you don't have an advantage here for paying off the purchase price...
Not to forget the 25% cash upfront to qualify for the mortgage.
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Old 13.03.2008, 18:45
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Thanks very much to everyone for the facts and figures , I'll be going to Zug soon for a weekend " inspection visit" . If anyone else can assist with any more information , most importantly whether Zurich Rugby Club are looking for a small but aggressive , English speaking hooker for their under 12's team next season I'd really appreciate it.
Cheers
Shedfield.
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Old 13.03.2008, 18:48
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Rugby inf here
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Old 14.03.2008, 16:09
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

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Myself and my wife are both very enthusiastic about the idea of relocating to Switzerland but the fees for private education in an English speaking school seem prohibitive. I've looked at a few International schools in the Zurich / Zug area and the average annual fees seem to be around 24000 swiss francs .We've got two children , does anyone on the forum have experience of Swiss State Schools ? My children are age 13 and 10, they haven't had any lessons in the German language and I'm worried that they would struggle in a German speaking State school. Are there any state schools in this area that provide assistance for non German speaking children ? Any advice gratefully received.
Thanks.
Hello Shedfield,
I'm from a different Kanton but here is what I can offer:

Private English Speaking School: They are all really expensive, and get more so as your kids move up in the grades. Best is to get your employer to pay for this (or at least part of it) as part of your ex-pat employment contract. If they don't mention this then you should. I have had two kids graduate form ISB in Basel, self-paid, and I feel like I've had kids in college for the past 7 years (actually, some state universities in US are cheaper then the private schooling here, even for 'out of state' tuition! I know this from experience). So this is a 'big ticket' issue and with 2 kids 10 and 13 you are facing a real employment issue and up to CHF 60,000 per year.

Kids in Swiss Schools: I only know anecdotes, but the general feeling around the ex-pats I know is that this is usually a difficult transition, and is best done at a very early age. My kids were 8 and 11 when we moved here. The younger one is fluent in German, the older one never clicked. I know that to have forced them into a local school would have been the wrong decision. You know how young boys are world over, and they are the same here. Auslanders are harrassed, picked on and all that stuff. I'm not making a stereotype here, because I find the adult world of Switzerland to be a very comfortable and tolerant place. But kids will be kids. Unless your kids are really secure, confident and resilient, they may be crying at home every night to move back to wherever-they-came-from.

Those are my thoughts. If it were me I would go to my employer-to-be and find out their policy on this -- now!
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Old 14.03.2008, 19:06
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Hello, Thanks for that, you've confirmed the reservations that I had about state schools, I'm pretty sure that both of my kids would struggle to follow Chemistry lessons in German. It looks like we'd have to put them through an International school, my prospective employer has said that they'd consider making a contribution towards the fees, hopefully things will turn out o.k in this regard. I think that either system has problems, the language problem in the state schools , the financial cost of private schools, to be honest I can't see an easy answer. If you don't mind me asking, how did your kids get on at the International school ? Was the atmosphere there generally pretty friendly ? I'm slightly concerned that in a community of presumably predominantly " rich kids" for want of a better description that my kids coming from effectively the wrong side of the tracks may come across some difficulties, maybe I'm worrying unnecessarily, any thoughts on this gratefully received.
Cheers
Shedfield.
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Old 16.03.2008, 11:34
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Hi, we too are moving this summer to Kanton Aargau, we have two children 7 and 10, we are getting no assistance with int school fees, therefore our children will go to local school. We have been over and have spoken to many people on this matter. Our findings are that one of the biggest bonuses of local schools is that your children also have the opportunity to make local friends and not feel isolated as the kid that goes to Int School, also by going to local school they have a much better chance to learn the language both in class and the playground. I feel that if you have strong and confident children they will adapt.

Good luck Glenda
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Old 16.03.2008, 22:42
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Hello Shedfield,
The problemm is that there isn't one schoolsystem in Switzerland, there are 26 and wery diffrent the one from the other.
The real problem is the language. Swiss kids don't speake german, neither do some of the teachers. Local dialect, the schwyzerdütsch is difficult to understand and obviously difficult to learn too.
Public schools are in most kantons of very good quality, but you have to learn local language first. Be aware: to change school from one canton to another can be as difficult as it is to change country.
An example: I teach in Ticino, an Italian speaking Kanton. Our students begin learning french when 11 years old (first elements of french are given at primar schols, put onli spoken). At 13 kids begin with german and with english, some with latin too. If you want tu study at a swiss university you need tu master german or french almost like a mothertongue speaker.

I really wish you good luck!

Boccalino.
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Old 16.03.2008, 22:53
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

An important factor is the time frame you envisage being in Switzerland.

Just 2 or 3 years? Send the children to an international school.

Intend to be here for 10 or more years? Then the state schools are the choice. The transition will be painful. Afterwards the youth are integrated, can enter Swiss universities, and with multi-lingual multicultural skills have a great future in a globalised world.
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Old 16.03.2008, 23:00
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

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Hello Shedfield,
The problemm is that there isn't one schoolsystem in Switzerland, there are 26 and wery diffrent the one from the other.
The real problem is the language. Swiss kids don't speake german, neither do some of the teachers. Local dialect, the schwyzerdütsch is difficult to understand and obviously difficult to learn too.
Public schools are in most kantons of very good quality, but you have to learn local language first. Be aware: to change school from one canton to another can be as difficult as it is to change country.
An example: I teach in Ticino, an Italian speaking Kanton. Our students begin learning french when 11 years old (first elements of french are given at primar schols, put onli spoken). At 13 kids begin with german and with english, some with latin too. If you want tu study at a swiss university you need tu master german or french almost like a mothertongue speaker.

I really wish you good luck!

Boccalino.
I might be misreading a little but if you really are suggesting that teachers in German speaking Kantons may not speak High German then you are misinformed. This is the language of the classroom and, in Zurich and Saint Gallen at least, this is a policy to which the schools strictly adhere.

I agree that starting in a French speaking Kanton and then moving to a German speaking one would be difficult but for a non German speaker to adopt German in primary school up to 13 or 14 is not only feasible but generally quite natural - parents tend to project their own difficulties in learning a language on to their children.

To suggest that Swiss schoolkids in German speaking areas do not speak High German is just nonsense - they absolutely need High German to progress in the school system, particularly to get into Sekondarschule or Gymnasium.

As for dialekt, one of my children, native English speaker, has stuck with High German only and has had no issue with his schoolmates or life outside school.

Another issue I have is with your statement about the difficulty of learning Swiss German - maybe it is difficult for me or you but for my 11 year old it was a piece of cake.

Finally, you do not have to learn the local language before starting public school. Although it differs between areas, in most places additional language support is provided.
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Old 17.03.2008, 02:05
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Hi the first time i moved to switzerland, me and my sister were thrown straight into a fench speaking state school. I was 8 and she was 10, i didn't even know that other languages existed. The only french words I knew when we touched down was un, deux, trois...
Within 6 months, we were both fluent. I'm now moving my partner and children to Switzerland from the UK (none of them speak french). And i wouldn't think twice about sending them to a state school. Knowing the additional languages has given me a great advantage in life, so i would say go for the deep end mate. Save yourself the money and get the experience.

Cheers

José
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Old 17.03.2008, 14:56
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Thanks very much to everyone for taking the time to respond, sorry to be a pain and keep pushing for more information , hopefully at some point in the future I'll be able to contribute to this forum rather than just keep asking questions but one more question ....

Initially I must admit I hadn't really considered state schools but given the costs involved with the International schools I might have to think again.
Hopefully we'll be moving either to Schwyz or Aargau cantons does anyone have any specific information on the education policies in these cantons for non German speaking pupils. Generally speaking do secondary ( comprehensive ? ) schools offer much support to pupils who are unable to understand German ? I was hoping that some subjects, possibly Maths wouldn't be too difficult as there would be quite a large proportion of visual instruction but that Chemistry and Physics for example would be difficult to follow for non German speakers. I suppose to a certain extent that the level of support the schools are able to offer depends on the number of English speaking staff that they have but if anyone has any specific information about this I'd really appreciate it. I take the point that if the kids were to go to state schools that it would help them integrate and hopefully allow them to make some friends with local kids so that's obviously a big advantage.
Thanks again.
Shedfield.
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Old 17.03.2008, 15:04
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

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Generally speaking do secondary ( comprehensive ? ) schools offer much support to pupils who are unable to understand German ?
Yes, but maybe not in the way you think. Generally they offer additional language support - they will only speak English in extreme circumstances like a safety issue in chemistry for example.

My children received 6 hours a week of German on top of the normal curriculum. It took 6 months for them to become good enough that other subjects were not effected. After 18 months they are fluent.

Last edited by swissbob; 17.03.2008 at 15:04. Reason: Moths, hee hee
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Old 17.03.2008, 15:08
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

I don't know if its the same in those cantons, but when i moved to Switzerland the second time round, i was going to go to secondary school in neuchatel and i was put into a different school for a year to learn or catch up on french. There were students from all over the world. But it was a year basically designed to get you up to scratch so you are ready to go to your local school. it was really good.
And the way the sets work in Switzerland were different too. So it might be a case thay will start off in quite a low set for most subjects and then get moved up as they progress. I was also lucky, I had an english speaking dude in my class when i joined primary school, and there was a girl who wasn't english but spoke fluently cos her mum was english. And we met more and more people through them. My primary school teacher looked after me very well too, she spoke a little english.
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Old 17.03.2008, 15:10
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Re: Introduction and request for advice

Thanks, if you don't mind me asking, how old were your children when they started school in Switzerland, did they have any knowledge of German ? You mentioned an additional 6 hours a week instruction in German, was this after normal school hours ? I know that obviously every child is an individual but again, if you don't mind me asking this, how did your children cope in the 6 months before they picked up enough German to understand lessons more easily ?
Cheers
Shedfield
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