January 30, 2013

You're moving too?

So I was thinking...maybe you are moving to Switzerland too? Maybe you stumbled upon my blog via some searches on the ol' google? And because I was in the same shoes as you, I thought I would be helpful and post some information and links that helped us in our research of moving & living in Switzerland. I would like to point out that I am already a Swiss citizen (I have dual citizenship with Canada....which is where I live now....and my husband is Canadian....and our son is both!) so the whole permits thing is a much easier thing for us, then a lot of other people....I will provide a helpful link to some information concerning that subject, however, I am by no means an expert on that matter (or any other matter really....just trying to be helpful ;) )
I am not going to get into moving costs yet....because I don't know that yet! ;) These are just very general things that Justin and I have researched so far and found helpful for our soon to be move.
I am going to make this post a few parts...I think it would become too long (and honestly, I want to make these posts useful and not take any shortcuts to get it over with) if I wrote it all today...

So today's post will be about some general monthly expenses to consider, getting a place to live, and transportation.
Here we go!

Ahhhh....Switzerland....it's pretty nice, right? I think so too. I am glad we are agreeing on stuff....

I am assuming that you already familiarized yourself with the country itself (visited it, read about it, looked at photos, dreamed about it...etc...)

The Swiss flag...

Map...You are here....or have the urge to be...
So, when Justin and I first decided on this crazy adventure, we immediately started to research cost. We wanted to know what our potential earnings could be and what our potential monthly costs would be. That being said, we plan on renting an apartment...not home ownership (which is actually not common in Switzerland).
I wanted to make sure that we were aware of every little cost that could potentially crop up on a monthly basis....I learned about Billag, nebenkosten, the health care system...etc...
This is the list we came up with for ourselves...

Rent & Nebenkosten (basically means side costs...like utilities)
Billag (which is a yearly/monthly cost you pay for TV/Radio) The Billag site is found here ...it is in German only...but you can clearly see the cost (for radio and tv per year it is $462.40). We don't plan on having a tv, we don't use cable now at all, even though we have access to it. I prefer to download the few shows that I really like and for Felix, we have a few dvd's that we put on for him here and there. For radio only, the cost per year is $169.15. If you have a radio in your car, they consider that too!
Health Insurance & other Insurance (it is mandatory to have health insurance in Switzerland and it must be purchased)
Transportation (we will not be buying a car...the rail system is amazing in Switzerland)
Food/Essentials (Felix will be out of diapers by then...we use cloth diapers, but disposables at night and on long trips...so that cost will be down...yay!) If you are going to be in a building with shared laundry (very common in CH), laundry costs are another expense to calculate into your monthly expenses.
Taxes (I am still researching how exactly the tax system works over there, but safe to say to save a months worth of salary for taxes....so we plan on dividing one months salary by 12 and putting that amount into a savings account each month in order to be prepared for taxes)
Phone/Internet (I believe you have to have a home phone in Switzerland (I could be wrong) so you can't just have a cellphone only....which is what we do here at the moment....we are thinking that we might not have cellphones over in CH to keep our costs down....)
Extras (always nice to put a little aside for exploring and checking out new restaurants....especially once you have first arrived....we plan on getting a zoo membership if we end up in Zurich)
Pop Ups (like haircuts, gifts, clothes)
Daycare  (Something we are considering once we are settled and I start looking for work as well)

You Might have a similar list to consider or you might have extras.... eg. If you have animals....insurance & food for them etc...

Where to live?

Depending on your language skills (there are four (4!!!) main languages spoken in Switzerland...German, Italian, French & Romansh. Different parts of Switzerland speak these languages. While growing up in Switzerland, my parents had a summer house near the border of Italy, in Bellinzona. A lot of people did not speak German there, which was hard at times....but we got by. So it is important to educate yourself on the area where you hope/plan to live.
Some good links for finding housing...
 This forum I found, has been so helpful with everything and anything to do with Switzerland. I do caution you to use the search function button before posting any kind of question(s) and also to post an introduction  of yourself first (in the appropriate area and without questions in it)...they are a picky bunch of people on that forum....picky, but helpful too. ;)
Their housing thread found here has been beyond helpful....much of the same links that I gave above can be found in this thread, along with a lot of other helpful information to do with housing in general. I don't want to get into the actual money number costs of housing and other things to be honest. I think it is so subjective. I think once you start researching these links for yourself, you will get a good idea of the actual numbers for yourself (depending on area, size, etc..)


Transportation !

It is pretty awesome in Switzerland. Both times that I traveled to CH with Justin we got the Swiss Pass. This pass allowed us unlimited use of any mode of transportation (bus, train, tram, or boat) in all of Switzerland (& Liechtenstein) during a certain period of time (that we chose). You can purchase one for 4, 8, 15 or 22 days or one month and  it also allows a free entrance to over 400 museums and exhibitions. It also saved us a percentage on mountain lifts etc...
Definitely worth the price if you plan on exploring a lot. Mind you this is a good idea for visiting the country (or if you are on a holiday)....I think it would be too expensive for everyday stuff. BUT! there are amazing rail pass options to fit your needs....whatever they may be....and they can be found here.
Through one of the lovely blogs I read...which is another thing I would suggest....find blogs (like this one!) that will be helpful with your move and inspiring too!....I love reading Swiss Lark! I have found a ton of good information for living in Switzerland from that blog....and it is fun to read. Just the other day, I found an amazing link on her site about car sharing. So if you are sick of taking the train/bus and want to have a car for a special trip in Switzerland, go here.

I hope that this has been somewhat useful so far for you?

Stay tuned for the second part! :)


  1. Lovely! I can't wait to see your pictures. I will never move back...butI will always, always miss it. Please post lots of pics when you do. <3

    1. You can count on that! I will have to hold back so I don't go overboard with photos! ;)
      You probably saw the link for another blog (Swiss Lark) that has gorgeous photos of life in Switzerland...I think you would enjoy it :)

  2. This is a great list! thanks for it! My husband and I lived in CH for 2 years and are looking to move back. I know all about these costs, but it's great to see a list of them to remind me. We also need to sit down and crunch numbers to see if it will be a wise move for us. One extra cost for us is what I call "bills from America," that is we still have student loans to pay off... :(

    1. ah, yes...debt. don't feel too bad, that is and will be on our list too. hopefully by moving back though, you will be able to get rid of it faster? i know that is our hope/dream :)


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