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Old 09.04.2021, 12:00
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Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

Hello - I recently discovered this fantastic forum full of wonderful discussion on life in Switzerland. First time poster and thought I'd enquire to catch some thoughts.

So as background: I've been offered an employment contract with one of the major pharmas in Basel. I'm a French citizen and currently living in Paris. I'm in my mid-40s, married.

I have one option of simply taking up a G-Permit, continue living in Paris and commute into Basel as and when needed (post-covid of course!) - something I think would be max once or twice a month. In this case the wife would not need to change jobs, no need to sell the home or put it up for rent, and life carries on - simple enough I guess.

But the other option would be to relocate to Switzerland and get a B-Permit. I could have the option of living in a French speaking region like GE or VD instead of Basel as this would make life easier from a language perspective. But on the other hand I'd likely lose out in learning German if I go this route.

So I would very much appreciate getting some thoughts and advice:

1. Do you think relocating from Paris to Switzerland in one's 40s is wise, being mid-career and to some degree where your best career years are perhaps slightly behind you, while still being too far off from retirement?
2. On the topic of retirement, do all the contributions made in France get taken into account in Switzerland, should I end up staying till I 'come of age'?
3. If things did not work out and I were to be made redundant during the 1st year, while living in Switzerland under a B-Permit, would all the contributions I made in France be taken into account so that I could qualify for unemployment benefit?
4. If I take the G-Permit route, are there any pitfalls to watch out for (i.e. tax/social security/healthcare/retirement etc.)?

I'm sure I'll have more questions later on, but would appreciate any feedback. Once again wonderful forum here and look forward to further chatting!
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:23
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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Hello - I recently discovered this fantastic forum full of wonderful discussion on life in Switzerland. First time poster and thought I'd enquire to catch some thoughts.

So as background: I've been offered an employment contract with one of the major pharmas in Basel. I'm a French citizen and currently living in Paris. I'm in my mid-40s, married.

I have one option of simply taking up a G-Permit, continue living in Paris and commute into Basel as and when needed (post-covid of course!) - something I think would be max once or twice a month. In this case the wife would not need to change jobs, no need to sell the home or put it up for rent, and life carries on - simple enough I guess.

But the other option would be to relocate to Switzerland and get a B-Permit. I could have the option of living in a French speaking region like GE or VD instead of Basel as this would make life easier from a language perspective. But on the other hand I'd likely lose out in learning German if I go this route.

So I would very much appreciate getting some thoughts and advice:

1. Do you think relocating from Paris to Switzerland in one's 40s is wise, being mid-career and to some degree where your best career years are perhaps slightly behind you, while still being too far off from retirement?
2. On the topic of retirement, do all the contributions made in France get taken into account in Switzerland, should I end up staying till I 'come of age'?
3. If things did not work out and I were to be made redundant during the 1st year, while living in Switzerland under a B-Permit, would all the contributions I made in France be taken into account so that I could qualify for unemployment benefit?
4. If I take the G-Permit route, are there any pitfalls to watch out for (i.e. tax/social security/healthcare/retirement etc.)?

I'm sure I'll have more questions later on, but would appreciate any feedback. Once again wonderful forum here and look forward to further chatting!
A lot of the answers will depend on your contract setup if you move to Switzerland. Are you formally resigning in France and being hired by the Swiss Legal entity or will the company keep you contract in France and send you on an international assignment?

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Old 09.04.2021, 12:24
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

A worker who lives in France, and work more than 25% of their activity rate in France, is subject to the french social security system (as is their employer).

French social security rates are substantially higher than Swiss.

If more than 50% of employment activity takes place in France, and/or the work location in Switzerland is not explicitly indicated in the employment agreement, the employee (and employer) become subject to French employment law.

This may not be the intent or optimal for either employee, or employer.

If a Basel based employer is offering a choice to WFH in France for the majority of your activity rate, their HR team will be able to bring clarity to the tax, social security questions, retirement, benefits and contractual implications.
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:25
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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But the other option would be to relocate to Switzerland and get a B-Permit. I could have the option of living in a French speaking region like GE or VD instead of Basel as this would make life easier from a language perspective. But on the other hand I'd likely lose out in learning German if I go this route.
There are French-speaking areas much closer to Basel than that, actually commutable to Basel. A couple of little pockets close to the French border in an exclave of Soloturn, but a whole (half?) canton in the shape of the Jura, with Delémont only 40 mins away by train.

TBH in your position I might just move there and not bother with the German at all.

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1. Do you think relocating from Paris to Switzerland in one's 40s is wise, being mid-career and to some degree where your best career years are perhaps slightly behind you, while still being too far off from retirement?
I don't see why not. I was 40, my wife a little younger, when we made the move, never thought of the age as being a signifcant factor, TBH
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:27
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

Hello, and welcome to the Forum, and congratulations on an excellent first post!

Do you have children?
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:42
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

Surely the question is not your age and situation now, but where you want to be in five or ten or twenty years?

From a career viewpoint it's probably neutral - being foreign in a multinational isn't generally much of a problem; being EU means there are few barriers; speaking French and English is obviously good. Swiss employment is far less protected than in France, on the other hand Swiss companies are generally very stable.
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Old 09.04.2021, 12:48
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

You already got an offer, I think the question would be whether your wife's career would easily transfer. Too many trailing spouses without easy opportunity for their own professional life here. So..If you both have permits B and transferable careers, then it shouldn't be so complicated.

Your age is important only if your job position isn't so strong. People get laid off after 50 and it can be really tough here to bounce back. Good luck and good move!
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Old 09.04.2021, 13:29
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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1. Do you think relocating from Paris to Switzerland in one's 40s is wise, being mid-career and to some degree where your best career years are perhaps slightly behind you, while still being too far off from retirement?
2. On the topic of retirement, do all the contributions made in France get taken into account in Switzerland, should I end up staying till I 'come of age'?

1) The first question is whether the job in Basel is worth it for you career wise. Then consider where to live.

2) Yes, but more importantly your Swiss pension contributions in absolute terms are likely to be higher than your French. Good chance to bump your pension and later retire in France.
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Old 09.04.2021, 14:12
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

Thank you all for your very informative comments. Indeed next week I have a meeting with HR to go over the options where I guess I will get further clarity. Right now I'm leaning towards relocating to CH, but ok let's see! Thanks again to all
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Old 09.04.2021, 14:28
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

Even if you do settle in a French-speaking canton, I think you will find many differences anyway.

I don't think you are ever too old for change or for a challenge. But this all depends on your personal comfort zone and lifestyle for example. And whether or not you are the sort of person who easily makes new friends and adapts to new situations. This is not something anybody on this forum can answer for you. You need to think about it yourself and also discuss with your wife. As MC has said, remember that your work may help you socialize and occupy your mind with new challenges, but if your wife doesn't immediately find a job, she may not have the same opportunities as you.
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Old 09.04.2021, 14:43
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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Thank you all for your very informative comments. Indeed next week I have a meeting with HR to go over the options where I guess I will get further clarity. Right now I'm leaning towards relocating to CH, but ok let's see! Thanks again to all
Just another point to consider, not really related to where you live, is that some French people who've come to work in large Pharma companies in Basel have struggled to fit in, often seeming arrogant to Swiss and other Swissified employees. Some have been accused of having a bad attitude, being too sure of themselves, and acting in a way that makes it look like they think they have job security like they would in France.

I should stress that this is not based on my personal experience, but that of hiring managers in other parts of the organisation, and it's absolutely not meant to imply that French employees have a bad attitude, just that, from what I heard over many years, they may be perceived, perhaps mainly by Swiss colleagues, in that poor light.

So bear in mind that a humble and respectful attitude to fellow workers will go a long way, and that you may have to make an extra effort to overcome prejudices caused by some of your compatriots in the past.

Edit: just to add that one of the things that has been mentioned is the attitude to punctuality - the French can be perceived by the Swiss and Germans as being a bit lax in this regard, particularly wrt things like going for a coffee break just after they've got in in the morning, taking long lunches, etc. Again, this may not be justified but it's a stereotype you should probably be aware of to ensure you don't conform to.
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Old 09.04.2021, 14:52
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

Things that make the decision to move to Switzerland easy:
1. You want to
2. The increase in salary would be life changing.

I can imagine the pandemic and working from home situation to go on for some time yet, including perhaps also the turning a blind eye to tax residence rules.

Many pharma folk actually live just over the border in France, but you have to like village life.

Basel's not the prettiest place and doesn't have the stereotypical Swiss feel. Good food is hard to come by.

I wouldn't worry about German. Most official things are also available in French and your English seems pretty good. The city isn't bilingual but there are many French speakers here.
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Old 09.04.2021, 15:02
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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Things that make the decision to move to Switzerland easy:
1. You want to
2. The increase in salary would be life changing.

I can imagine the pandemic and working from home situation to go on for some time yet, including perhaps also the turning a blind eye to tax residence rules.

Many pharma folk actually live just over the border in France, but you have to like village life.

Basel's not the prettiest place and doesn't have the stereotypical Swiss feel. Good food is hard to come by.

I wouldn't worry about German. Most official things are also available in French and your English seems pretty good. The city isn't bilingual but there are many French speakers here.
He wants to learn German, in fact, it seems to me. Basel is a cute place, really, quaint, there is river floating with buoys in the summer and really nice river bank to sit on and chill. A bunch of really nice and famous museums. With good food to find just over the border. I really like the 3 culture feel there, it is more cosmopolitan than Geneva. People will disagree, of course, but here aside of Geneva we are in the sticks.

If I was somebody who had a job offered, my primary worry would be why and how to de-root my partner, though. As we wrote before.
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Old 09.04.2021, 15:03
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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Hello - I recently discovered this fantastic forum full of wonderful discussion on life in Switzerland. First time poster and thought I'd enquire to catch some thoughts.

So as background: I've been offered an employment contract with one of the major pharmas in Basel. I'm a French citizen and currently living in Paris. I'm in my mid-40s, married.

I have one option of simply taking up a G-Permit, continue living in Paris and commute into Basel as and when needed (post-covid of course!) - something I think would be max once or twice a month. In this case the wife would not need to change jobs, no need to sell the home or put it up for rent, and life carries on - simple enough I guess.

But the other option would be to relocate to Switzerland and get a B-Permit. I could have the option of living in a French speaking region like GE or VD instead of Basel as this would make life easier from a language perspective. But on the other hand I'd likely lose out in learning German if I go this route.

So I would very much appreciate getting some thoughts and advice:
Hi, i'm also new to the forum so welcome
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1. Do you think relocating from Paris to Switzerland in one's 40s is wise, being mid-career and to some degree where your best career years are perhaps slightly behind you, while still being too far off from retirement?
Yes, if you feel it, why not? I had a similar offer and had the same questions almost 2 years ago. A lot has happened in that time and it's been a really great move overall, especially considering what's happened in the world recently.
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2. On the topic of retirement, do all the contributions made in France get taken into account in Switzerland, should I end up staying till I 'come of age'?
Not sure about contributions from France - i think they might count but you'd need to check. I do know that retiring here requires a very decent nest egg and i personally would look to retire somewhere cheaper to live. But who knows, that's a way off yet.
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3. If things did not work out and I were to be made redundant during the 1st year, while living in Switzerland under a B-Permit, would all the contributions I made in France be taken into account so that I could qualify for unemployment benefit?
This i do know about as the contract i came here for was ended whilst i was on a C permit (B is better) and i was fired 8 months into a 2 year posting. MY contributions from the UK were taken into account and i was given 80% of my earnings (up to 120k) with very little hassle and was made to feel very relaxed about the whole affair after the initial panic of being fired in a foreign country.
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4. If I take the G-Permit route, are there any pitfalls to watch out for (i.e. tax/social security/healthcare/retirement etc.)?
Not sure.
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I'm sure I'll have more questions later on, but would appreciate any feedback. Once again wonderful forum here and look forward to further chatting!
To give you an idea from an over 40's person who relocated here with my whole family, i'd say that it's been a hugely positive experience for us all, despite me being fired just a month before corona popped it's ugly head up.
The kids have loved it here, as have my wife and i, and the whole experience of unemployment was, thankfully, rather nice compared to the UK experience.

My wife has struggled a bit here tbh. Without something concrete to do here, there are limited options and as has been mentioned previously this can be a problem.
Corona has contributed significantly to that tbh, we would have done a lot of visiting family and friends back home but it's been quite lonely, particularly for my wife. Fingers crossed that will go away a bit now.
But overall it's been worth it for us and i wish you luck in your adventure. For us we saw it as just that, a chance for adventure before we got 'too' old
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Old 09.04.2021, 15:36
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

If you're in your mid-career stage you should feel free as a bird regarding employment and income :-P

Then the question is only whether you like some adventures or not.

I moved to Switzerland in my mid-career having already a working solid plan to build up a private retirement system in my home country as the state retirement was just a joke, an amount below minimal existential expenses, and all that despite social contributions ~37% of the salary.

So I came here just for a break, an adventure, but then I have stayed. My Swiss retirement, if I would stay till the old age, would be really minimal from the 1st pillar but combined with the 2nd pillar would be quite ok for swiss standards (I hope) and anyway really good to live in so many places in the world including my mother country.

Regarding B or G permit, some French colleagues said the main reason for G permit is the health insurance costs. So this also depends, firstly on your salary (it's ~5k annually, could be a peanuts or could be 2-3 months of your swiss savings), secondly on the employer (my current employer pays the health insurance for me)
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Old 09.04.2021, 15:42
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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my primary worry would be why and how to de-root my partner
As Rick would have said, sounds a bit rude.
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Old 09.04.2021, 15:50
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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Just another point to consider, not really related to where you live, is that some French people who've come to work in large Pharma companies in Basel have struggled to fit in, often seeming arrogant to Swiss and other Swissified employees. Some have been accused of having a bad attitude, being too sure of themselves, and acting in a way that makes it look like they think they have job security like they would in France.
Where those seeds have already been sown then the French are very much more welcome than anyone else, although it seems you still need to be from the right part of France. There are whole groups of workers who live in France, go to work in Basel but speak French all day as if Basel was in fact in France.
This applies to the North Basel big pharma more so than the other one where I have heard of French people not enjoying it perhaps because they get a taste of their own medicine.
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Old 09.04.2021, 15:55
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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This i do know about as the contract i came here for was ended whilst i was on a C permit (B is better) and i was fired 8 months into a 2 year posting.
I think you must have got this mixed up somehow.
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Old 09.04.2021, 16:00
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

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Where those seeds have already been sown then the French are very much more welcome than anyone else, although it seems you still need to be from the right part of France. There are whole groups of workers who live in France, go to work in Basel but speak French all day as if Basel was in fact in France.
This applies to the North Basel big pharma more so than the other one where I have heard of French people not enjoying it perhaps because they get a taste of their own medicine.
It's certainly true in the central Basel one as well, Some teams, usually with a French manager, attract and retain mainly other French people, and they do indeed form something of a clique and set themselves apart from other folks. Not good, but I definitely have seen this.
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Old 09.04.2021, 16:10
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Re: Moving to CH in your 40s - too old?

I still don't get it why the French bring up their French HR people to the company which makes everyone's life a nightmare forever on, and then they start complaining that the atmosphere went down. It's like the French can't live a happy life, they have to destroy it to have something to complain on

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It's certainly true in the central Basel one as well, Some teams, usually with a French manager, attract and retain mainly other French people, and they do indeed form something of a clique and set themselves apart from other folks. Not good, but I definitely have seen this.
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