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The Beginning of a Swiss Life

Updated: Oct 7, 2018

On March 26, 2014 we took one of the biggest steps in our lives. After living in Seattle for 6 years and then in California Bay Area for another two, we packed our stuff and along with our two dogs sailed (all right, we flew) across the ocean to the Old World and moved to Zurich, Switzerland. My husband Alexis and I have always wanted to live in Europe, but we determined that vagabonding was not an option for us nor was it taking a sabbatical. So in order to make that wish a reality, we simply decided to be open to the possibility of a transfer or finding a job somewhere in Europe. We knew that was not an easy task and most likely we were just waiting for some kind of miracle to happen.  It didn’t matter because we were not in a hurry as we were both in happy places, professionally and personally. I worked as a Human Resources Manager for a great company and he worked as a Software Engineer for a company in Silicone Valley. We loved our jobs and had no complaint whatsoever. We have a close-knit group of friends and were really enjoying the wonderful California weather. But we were sure that sooner or later we were going to live abroad. I personally knew that if we were ever able to make the move it was going to be because of Alexis’ job. Working in the tech industry may give you that flexibility, plus he makes a bigger paycheck so I knew the opportunity had to make sense for both, but specially for him professionally. I guess we were lucky because we had the “luxury” of being picky and just wait for the right opportunity and we are so glad we were patient and waited. Why Zurich? Well, to be honest Zurich was never one of our top choices, in fact, we never considered moving to Zurich. Our top 3 choices were London, Madrid or Paris. Although we were always open to new opportunities and were constantly contacted by recruiters through LinkedIn, everything kind of happen all of the sudden. One day we had 3 options on our table: Stockholm, London or Zurich. Since we were considering London, we already had done our research there, but Stockholm? Zurich? Heck no. We had no idea what to expect from any of those places, and so our homework began. From finding where exactly in Europe were those places located in the map (shame on us), to trying to learn as much as we could about taxes, lifestyle and of course, how easy was to travel to other countries from each of them. At the end, one of the purposes of moving to Europe is to travel to other countries. 

Alexis & I at SFO airport, before boarding our flight

We were impressed with how centrally located Switzerland is and how relatively easy is to visit other countries from here. The quality of life was also taken into consideration. Zurich always ranks in the top 10 places with the best quality of life in the whole world. The Swiss tend to be very happy and have one of the best quality of life judged in terms of wealth, health, and trust in public institutions. According to an article by MSN Money Zurich is known as the economic engine of Switzerland, with one out of every nine jobs in the country based there. Its low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up headquarters there, while the assets of the 82 banks based there constitute more than 85% of the total value of all assets held in the country. In all fairness, Sweden, along with other Scandinavian countries, also rank with the highest quality of living. The downsize is that Zurich is Europe’s third-most-expensive city, according to Mercer’s cost-of-living survey and is 70 percent more expensive to live in than New York. But Stockholm and London are not cheap either, so that lead us to the next “must” in our list: weather. Alexis got sick and tired of rainy/gray/crappy weather after living in Seattle for 6 years. London’s weather is pretty similar to Seattle’s and I knew the eternal winter in Stockholm with only 3 hours of sun in several months was going to kill the poor guy of severe deficiency of vitamin D. So at the end, having four proper Seasons, prime location and how dog friendly the city was were the winning factors in our decision, so Zurich won. We want to share our experience with friends and family, and as we learn more about this city, we hope we can provide some tips to anyone considering to move here. Stay tuned for more...


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