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Want to relocate to Switzerland: Any Advice?

Want to relocate to Switzerland: Any Advice?

Old May 31st, 2002, 09:55 AM
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Want to relocate to Switzerland: Any Advice?

Hello fellow Fodorites:

My husband and I are seriously considering on moving to Switzerland. Any suggestions or insights on relocating from the states to Suise. Any pros or cons...we just had a visit and had a marvelous time!

Thanks for the advice!
Old Jun 1st, 2002, 05:14 AM
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Hi Karen,

Welcome to the group of Swiss lovers! It really doesn't take much, does it? One visit, one glimpse of the mountains, one view of the lakes, one touch of the user-friendly life, and we're hooked.

Anyway, I've been working (passively, alas) my own plan to retire in Switzerland, and I can give you what I've found so far. You don't say whether you are retired or employed, whether you have medical insureance, whether you are old hands at travelling in Europe, so I don't know if you already know all of this.

The website for the Swiss Embassy in Washington is at www.eda.admin.ch/washington_emb/e/home.html. Click on "Visas" then "Visa Types" to see the requrement for living there. Basically, it covers three classes of long-term stays in Switzerland: you can stay in Switzerland for only six months of each year with no paperwork; you can retire in Switzerland if you are 60 years old, do not work, and have relatives in Switzerland; and there is some info on working in Switzerland, but I've never read that part.

You should also know that you must apply to the Canton of your choice, and each Canton has different rules for accepting foreign residents. The Canton actually votes on admitting the applicants (there was a funny story in a newspaper in Canton Vaud one year about an immigrant family who were protesting when the Cantonal officials inspected their house, living conditions, cleanliness -- I don't think they were allowed to stay. These folks are serious!). Some cantons are more lenient than others.

You can also look into hiring a private firm or immigration lawyer to make the move easier for you. One such firm is at www.switzerlandisyours.com/e/index/html. This website also notes a financial requirement of 100,000 CHF a year for applicants that the official Swiss site doesn't mention.

But even with all of those restrictions and rules, I think it doesn't hurt to try. After working in the US government for 20 years, I believe there is a waiver for each rule (I don't really think that Audrey Hepburn, Richard Burton, Noel Coward, Charlie Chaplin, et al, had relatives in Switzerland). An immigration lawyer can help you make the necessary contacts or cut through the red tape.

Another consideration would be medical insurance coverage; as a non-citizen, you are not eligible for the Swiss medical system, I think.

And finally, you can fuel your dreams at www.ired.com, an international real estate web site. Go to the Europe then the Switzerland portion and dream away.

Personally, if my initial efforts to retire there fail, I aim to sell most of my stuff and split each year between the US and Switzerland.

Good luck and happy dreaming.

Old Jun 1st, 2002, 06:20 AM
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Take a deep breath for a while. We too would like to relocate on the last country we visit each time we go to Europe but I concur with experience posters here---visiting versus actually living in Switzerland from each other. Anyway, good luck!!
Old Jun 1st, 2002, 06:23 AM
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Sorry, the previous sentence should have read: visiting versus actually living in Switzerland are VASTLY DIFFERENT from each other!!
Old Jun 1st, 2002, 06:48 AM
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From my little knowledge of Switzerland but for someone with many years of experience living in Europe, may I offer a few thoughts of mine:
1. Switzerland, together with Monaco, is perhaps one of the most difficult European countries in which to obtain long-term residence for anyone without Swiss nationality or married to one. Being outside of EU, the federal government regulates the inflow of foreigners as it pleases, and each Canton has its own rules about admitting them as residents. This has been considerably tightened in recent years. Clearly they only want people who will fit in with the Swiss way of life and its standards, and will make substantial financial contribution. There is high minimum income requirement. Audrey Hepburn, Chalie Chaplin etc may not have had relatives there, but surely assets running into millions.
2. There is, or has been, a severe restriction on foreigners acquiring properties, and price range and type of properties available is also limited. Rental prices are high, esp in large cities and in winter sport resorts.
3. Everyone living there for more than 3 months must have health insurance. Cover from health funds (Krankenkasse or caisse maladie), cheaper than private insurance, cost roughly 200 to 250 SFr per month per adult. I don't know how this compares with similar cover in US.
4. Even though many Swiss speak good English, your social contact will be restricted if you don't speak the prevaling local language - German, French or Italian.
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