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Old 07.03.2020, 10:53
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PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Hi All!

I have been offered a Paid PhD position (70% activity rate) at the University of Neuchatel and I couldn't be more ecstatic! However, happy as I am about the opportunity, the thought about going through the visa process and bureaucracy (which some things I am still unsure of) terrifies me. I've already done some initial reading in the threads here but I was hoping that by posting through this forum, you guys would be able to provide feedback, advice, or maybe even some answers that are more specific to my situation

So, just a bit of background about the situation and myself: I am a Non-EU citizen (Filipino) but I am currently based in Dublin, Ireland. My husband is also Non-EU (Filipino) and we have been living here in Dublin for around 18 months. We currently have no children. The 1st year gross salary of my PhD position is at 69,900 CHF.

Here go my questions:

1. I have read from a couple of previous threads in this forum where Non-EU PhD students (particularly in Neuchatel) were able to get a family reunification visa for their spouse as well as their spouse getting full working rights. However, none of these are current (nothing 2019 onwards). I was wondering if this is still the case for Neuchatel canton or has immigration tightened up their regulations?

This is extremely important to me as my husband currently has a good job here in Dublin (he works for Facebook). He has been extremely supportive about me pursuing my academic career (lucky me!) and said he is willing to move to Switzerland to support me. Also, I am not delusional and believes he will get a job in the first 6 - 12 months with zero French but he has shown willingness to learn French so hopefully him being able to work is something I would really like in the next 12 months or so

2. With a net salary of around ~49,000 CHF (70% rate), is this enough for immigration to grant him the family reunification visa? Do they look at gross salary or net salary?

I know it's 2000 CHF per month/person and I guess I could supplement whatever is missing but do you think by itself my PhD salary will be enough?

3. Are students exempted from withholding tax? Tried ETZ's salary calculator but couldn't be sure I am inputting the correct data as I don't know exactly the tax requirements for PhD students

4. With a net salary of ~3500 - 3800 CHF monthly, is this potentially going to be enough for 2 people?

I've done a bit of research in this as well and I noticed Neuchatel and Dublin's living cost are kind of similar (heck, Dublin's rent is even more expensive than Neuchatel - the surprise!). I'm not big on shopping (or most material things TBH), we don't go out drinking/partying much, don't really dine out (even here in Dublin we limit it to once a week as dining out is EXPENSIVE). However, what I would like is a decent one-bedroom apartment, some money for grocery, food, utilities, transpo, and even some extra stash if possible.

Whew, what a long post but I thank all of you guys in advance for the generosity of your time to give help and advice! I would be extremely grateful and I hope to meet some of ya'll very soon!
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Old 07.03.2020, 11:33
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

This is the official site for Neuchâtel

https://www.ne.ch/autorites/DEAS/SMI...-familial.aspx

1. If you are granted family reunification then your husband will be allowed to work here.

2. I don’t know the criteria used for determining if there are sufficient funds for granting the family reunification visa

3. Phd students are not exempt from Withholding tax.

4. I know a couple who lived here on a PhD salary of less than that without any issues.

Welcome to Neuchâtel, it is a lovely place to live.
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Old 07.03.2020, 11:39
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

A Belgianmum says, no problem with a PhD salary in Neuch (as we affectionately call it) - as rents are reasonable. If you think you might enjoy a more rural life and a short commute, you can find even much cheaper rents in some of the lovely villages along the railway lines in the direction of Val-de-Ruz or Val-de-Travers, or in the busy watch-making town of La Chaux-de-Fonds. Rentals in town or by the lake are generally more expensive.

And it is indeed a lovely place to live, lake and mountains- and so well connected by public transport/train to the whole of Switzerland and indeed Europe. Enjoy - always happy to meet for coffee. I live in the mountains above- but come down to Neuch very regularly.

Last edited by Odile; 07.03.2020 at 11:51.
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:01
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This is the official site for Neuchâtel

https://www.ne.ch/autorites/DEAS/SMI...-familial.aspx

1. If you are granted family reunification then your husband will be allowed to work here.

2. I don’t know the criteria used for determining if there are sufficient funds for granting the family reunification visa

3. Phd students are not exempt from Withholding tax.

4. I know a couple who lived here on a PhD salary of less than that without any issues.

Welcome to Neuchâtel, it is a lovely place to live.
Hi Belgianmum! Thank you! We are looking to move there this May/early June so I am trying to do all the research I can possible to make sure it's as smooth as possible! So, what I infer from that is as long as I am able to get the family reunification visa (D) from the Swiss embassy here in Ireland, my husband should be able to get the B permit with full working rights?

If so, this is fantastic and I am very happy to hear this!

Quote:
A Belgianmum says, no problem with a PhD salary in Neuch (as we affectionately call it) - as rents are reasonable. If you think you might enjoy a more rural life and a short commute, you can find even much cheaper rents in some of the lovely villages along the railway lines in the direction of Val-de-Ruz or Val-de-Travers, or in the busy watch-making town of La Chaux-de-Fonds. Rentals in town or by the lake are generally more expensive.

And it is indeed a lovely place to live, lake and mountains- and so well connected by public transport/train to the whole of Switzerland and indeed Europe. Enjoy - always happy to meet for coffee. I live in the mountains above- but come down to Neuch very regularly.
Hello Odile,

I certainly look forward to moving to Neuch! From what I gather, it looks absolutely lovely! I am also quite surprised by the rent - I was able to find from Homegate and Immobilier some 2.5 rooms that were less than 1000 CHF. Granted they were unfurnished but this is a far cry from my current situation in Dublin. I am paying the same amount for an apartment that is currently shared by 7 people (though it is a 5 bedroom house but the hassle really of sharing with so many people).

Quick one re housing, would you recommend we rent a temporary sublet for the meantime on arrival or should we contact and get a more permanent lease prior to arriving?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 07.03.2020 at 12:29. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:10
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Personally, I'd rather rent temporarily and have a few months to see which location suits me/us best, and have time to look around in person.
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:13
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Here is a list of some temporary furnished appartments/studios in the region

Some are easy to reach by bus or train, some are not- so do ask.

https://www.immobilier.ch/fr/louer/l...uchatel/page-1

click top right for English
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:15
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

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Hello Odile,

I certainly look forward to moving to Neuch! From what I gather, it looks absolutely lovely! I am also quite surprised by the rent - I was able to find from Homegate and Immobilier some 2.5 rooms that were less than 1000 CHF. Granted they were unfurnished but this is a far cry from my current situation in Dublin. I am paying the same amount for an apartment that is currently shared by 7 people (though it is a 5 bedroom house but the hassle really of sharing with so many people).

Quick one re housing, would you recommend we rent a temporary sublet for the meantime on arrival or should we contact and get a more permanent lease prior to arriving?
I would find a short term temporary let initially and look for something more permanent once you move here and get a feel for the place.
There is lots of affordable housing in Neuchâtel all within easy reach of the town centre but most of it is unfurnished.
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:15
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Quote:
Here is a list of some temporary furnished appartments/studios in the region

Some are easy to reach by bus or train, some are not- so do ask.

https://www.immobilier.ch/fr/louer/l...uchatel/page-1

click top right for English
Thank you sooo much for this! This is really helpful! I think you're definitely right, better get a temp one and see which locations best suits me.

Hope to meet/get in touch with you soon in Neuchatel!
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:17
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

There are many places where you can buy second-hand furniture VERY cheap in Neuchâtel- some are charities like the CSP (run by Protestant Church- you do not have to be of the faith to avail yoursel though)- and of course, there is a massive IKEA about 1 hour away in Aubonne, between Lausanne and Geneva.
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:25
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Quote:
There are many places where you can buy second-hand furniture VERY cheap in Neuchâtel- some are charities like the CSP (run by Protestant Church- you do not have to be of the faith to avail yoursel though)- and of course, there is a massive IKEA about 1 hour away in Aubonne, between Lausanne and Geneva.
The second-hand furniture - would they be of good/decent enough quality? The PhD contract is four years so I would like to invest in some quality furniture if possible but seeing with the moving expenses, etc. that would be too much initial expense so the second furniture is definitely helpful in the beginning.

The IKEA in Aubonne, does it deliver to Neuchatel? I would not have any access to car/van and I would not be able to get a drivers license soon so if it doesn't deliver, my biggest worry is how to get that to the apartment.
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:27
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

The second hand furniture in the CSP shop is all checked and of top quality. Very often a 1000x better quality than IKEA, but often just out of fashion.

https://csp.ch/neuchatel/brocantes-e...nnes-affaires/ only in French I am afraid- but you can have a look. They can arrange delivery too for a small fee.

There are many 'brocantes' shops too in the region, also with excellent quality furniture, and many selling sites on the Internet and Facebook, like Anibis.

For IKEA- yes, delivery no problem

https://www.ikea.com/ch/en/customer-...ices/delivery/
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:37
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Quote:
The second hand furniture in the CSP shop is all checked and of top quality. Very often a 1000x better quality than IKEA, but often just out of fashion.

https://csp.ch/neuchatel/brocantes-e...nnes-affaires/ only in French I am afraid- but you can have a look. They can arrange delivery too for a small fee.

There are many 'brocantes' shops too in the region, also with excellent quality furniture, and many selling sites on the Internet and Facebook, like Anibis.

For IKEA- yes, delivery no problem

https://www.ikea.com/ch/en/customer-...ices/delivery/
Thanks so much, Odile! You have been God-send haha! You just eased and answered most of my worries and concerns about living, getting an apartment, furniture, etc.!
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:44
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

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Thank you sooo much for this! This is really helpful! I think you're definitely right, better get a temp one and see which locations best suits me.
Personally I would go for something fairly central initially with easy access to the uni either on foot or by public transport.
Make life as easy as possible for yourself until you get settled in.

For furniture there are the second hand stores as stated and as well as IKEA in either Bern or Aubonne there are Lipo and Conforama stores in nearby Bienne and Livique in Neuchâtel itself. All of them offer delivery.
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:52
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

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Personally I would go for something fairly central initially with easy access to the uni either on foot or by public transport.
Make life as easy as possible for yourself until you get settled in.

For furniture there are the second hand stores as stated and as well as IKEA in either Bern or Aubonne there are Lipo and Conforama stores in nearby Bienne and Livique in Neuchâtel itself. All of them offer delivery.
Glad to hear Ikea and the rest of the furniture stores offer delivery! Was worried when I read from previous threads that Ikea Aubonne takes 6 weeks to deliver to Neuchatel.

Thanks Belgianmum!
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Old 07.03.2020, 12:53
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

Quote:
The second hand furniture in the CSP shop is all checked and of top quality. Very often a 1000x better quality than IKEA, but often just out of fashion.

https://csp.ch/neuchatel/brocantes-e...nnes-affaires/ only in French I am afraid- but you can have a look. They can arrange delivery too for a small fee.

There are many 'brocantes' shops too in the region, also with excellent quality furniture, and many selling sites on the Internet and Facebook, like Anibis.

For IKEA- yes, delivery no problem

https://www.ikea.com/ch/en/customer-...ices/delivery/
The delivery fees are not small, for 2 on a PhD salary, just saying.

OP - we have a Wanted Subforum here, just holler. People will donate, the rotation of newcomers/leavers is high in Switzerland.

And if you feel like hanging out with fellow study buddies, create an event here, I will come. My virtual cohort saved my sanity
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Old 07.03.2020, 14:32
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

I did my PhD in Neuchatel as well and loved it. It's a great little city. I started on a lower salary than you and brought my non-EU wife with me. I was EU however so she was given right to work in Switzerland on that basis.

You have a decent salary for Neuchatel. Is there an increase per annum? We used to hire a mobility Van and go to the IKEA near Bern. Always found more English speakers there than in the French side and the distance is similar to the one near Lausanne.

You will pay tax but if your husband isn't working it will be very little. You will also probably have social deduction and pension deductions
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Old 07.03.2020, 15:03
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

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The delivery fees are not small, for 2 on a PhD salary, just saying.

OP - we have a Wanted Subforum here, just holler. People will donate, the rotation of newcomers/leavers is high in Switzerland.

And if you feel like hanging out with fellow study buddies, create an event here, I will come. My virtual cohort saved my sanity
The delivery fees also worry me but hopefully with some savings in the bank, we might be able to figure something out. Obviously my main priority is to keep costs as low as possible so anything we can scrimp on, I'm doing for sure!

Thanks for letting me know on the Wanted Subforum! I will definitely check and post as soon as things are sorted for us, hopefully, this May when we get there.

For sure - I look forward to meeting fellow study budies/foreign (and locals of course) alike so I am definitely going to take you up on that offer!
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Old 07.03.2020, 15:10
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

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I did my PhD in Neuchatel as well and loved it. It's a great little city. I started on a lower salary than you and brought my non-EU wife with me. I was EU however so she was given right to work in Switzerland on that basis.

You have a decent salary for Neuchatel. Is there an increase per annum? We used to hire a mobility Van and go to the IKEA near Bern. Always found more English speakers there than in the French side and the distance is similar to the one near Lausanne.

You will pay tax but if your husband isn't working it will be very little. You will also probably have social deduction and pension deductions
I was recently in touch with another from this forum who told me that they were both Non-EU but they were able to get the family reunification visa and work-permit B easily in Neuchatel. I'm hoping we get to be as lucky as them. This whole visa process is always a nightmare for Non-EU citizens and I'm always anxious how our outcome will be.

I agree, my salary is very decent - my supervisor also said the same thing. Yes, he did say the pay grade increases every year and there is a possibility to increase activity rate up to 100% in the subsequent years. On this note, how livable would the 1st year salary (3500-3800 CHF monthly) be in your opinion for 2 people with a moderate lifestyle?

On another but not unrelated note, was your wife able to find any English speaking jobs in Neuchatel or did she have to learn French, etc.? My husband has zero French and hoping we get the B permit with full working rights for him, my goal is that he would be able to find work in the next 6 - 12 months or so. Any information on finding English jobs in Neuchatel would be highly appreciated!
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Old 07.03.2020, 15:18
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

What does your husband do? There are multinational companies in Neuchâtel with English speaking jobs.
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Old 07.03.2020, 15:24
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Re: PhD Student Moving To Neuchatel

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What does your husband do? There are multinational companies in Neuchâtel with English speaking jobs.
My husband currently works at Accenture at the moment for the Facebook Account in their Trust and Safety Department. He isn't a Developer or in IT but rather it's a more specific/technical role of the department.

For his education though, he has a Masters in Education (particularly in Leadership & Management). He has 12 years experience in the education sector + some experience in Project Management (briefly worked for 2 years for the Dubai govt. too). It's not necessarily highly skilled such as IT which is my worry that he might have a hard time finding work in Neuchatel.
 

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