Two Adults and a Cat Relocate to Switzerland

 

Marc H

-Where were you born?

I grew up in Southampton and then Bournemouth.

-In which country and city are you living now?

I've just moved back to England, but was living in Schaffhausen which is in the North of Switzerland near the German border. It's about a 30 minute drive from Zurich.  We lived in a small farming village just outside of Schaffhausen with views of the Alps and beautiful countryside - it was idyllic.  

-Are you living alone or with your family?

With my wife and young son... and also our cat. In fact, it cost more to fly our cat back and forth between the two countries than it did a family of three... something to consider if you are going to take a pet with you :-)

-How long have you been living there?

For two years, although we have just relocated back to the UK now due to our son being born whilst we were living in Switzerland.  

-What is your age?

36

-When did you come up with the idea of living in Switzerland?

I was working as an Online Marketing Manager in the UK for an American company called Garmin.  They offered me a new role at their European HQ based in Switzerland as the Online Marketing Manager for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.  It was too good an opportunity to pass up as I had always wanted to work abroad and experience a different culture, language, and way of living.

-Was it hard to get a visa or a working permit?

Thankfully a lot of the paperwork for the move was handled by Garmin, the company that I work for.  Having said that when we first arrived it was quite hard to manage the bureaucracy that exists in Switzerland.  There seems to be a form for everything... plus everything also seems to have a monetary charge associated to it.

-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?

No not at all.  The Swiss health system is private, and again, the company I work for took the health insurance out for my family.  Just as well really because our son was born whilst we were living there, and I also had to go to hospital for an operation.  The Swiss health care was second to none though - it was like being in a posh hotel when you went to hospital.

-How do you make your living there? Do you have any type of income generated? 

I was working full-time for my employer so thankfully did not have to look for work whilst there.

-Do you speak Swiss and do you think it's important to speak it? 

I learnt enough German to get by and the local area we were in was a Swiss-German speaking dialect.  If I could roll back time I would definitely have learnt German to a more advanced level.  A lot of Swiss and German people are multi-lingual, more so than English people seem to be so we didn't have too much trouble on a communication front.  Most of the time we would start to speak in German and would be stopped mid-sentence as the local would break into English.  They made it easy for us, but at the same time this meant we never progressed our language skills as much as we could have done.

-Do you miss home and family sometimes?

We still managed to see family and friends regularly as it's only an hour's flight, and a lot of them wanted to experience the Swiss lifestyle.  Whilst in Switzerland we drove all over Europe, over the Alps, down through Italy, to Germany, France, Liechenstein - all over the place really.  It's very central, and where it is such a small country it's very easy to drive over borders and visit new places.  

-Do you have other plans for the future?

We've just moved back to England.  After our son was born in Switzerland we thought it made more sense to be around friends and family during his formative years.  

-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?

We rented a 4 bedroom house in the Swiss countryside.  The rental costs were around 2000 Swiss Francs each month which equates to around £1500 GBP monthly.

-What is the cost of living in Switzerland?

Switzerland is very expensive.  However, it's all relative to the actual wage you earn.  In Switzerland the wages are very high, I think the highest in Europe.  Being near the German border is good, because it's very cheap there... and when you take your Swiss money over the border you can shop like a king.  We would go to Germany every weekend to do our shopping and really did well doing this.  

-What do you think about the Swiss People?

Because we were so close to the German border we met lots of German people, who in our experience are very similar to the British.  Swiss people we met seemed to be more private by nature but still very good to us. 

-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Switzerland?

 

  • Positive: The scenery, outdoor living, fresh air
  • Negative: They don't so spicy food... they say that it is "sehr scharf"... but it's not.

 

-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Switzerland?

Try to find some expat groups as at first you will find it hard to be-friend Swiss nationals.  There are so many different nationalities living in places like Zurich that you will soon fit in.  

-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about anything related to being an Expat in Switzerland?

The English Swiss Forum was a very helpful resource for when we first arrived.  We met a few people on there that went on to become friends. If you go and live in Switzerland then make sure you sign-up.  Now I am living back in England I've started my own company up which is called Expert SEO Bournemouth - if anyone wants help in getting more visibility online with their business then check that out.