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babbage's Journal: Arbeit in der Schweiz? (Practicing my German, more like...) 5

Journal by babbage

My wife's company would like to transfer her to an office in their Swiss office in Lucerne / Luzern, but she's got baggage -- me.

So, they're willing to sponsor her, take care of her visa & other paperwork, help set her/us up with an apartment, and bring her over for a couple of year, while she learns how the European side of her company works and she gradually makes her way up the management ladder.

Meanwhile, I'll have to leave my job and basically start over; there's basically no chance that her company's Swiss office would have any IT work (it's all either in the US or outsourced to India). But that's alright, it's an opportunity strongly to be considered, right? But I haven't the slightest idea what the IT market is like in this little, seemingly rural part of the country, and there's so much that needs to be sorted out before going and once we get there.

  • What skills are in demand in central Switzerland? How does one go about learning such things? Same as here, I guess -- find & browse job listing sites...
  • Is there any IT work in a medium sized city, or is it better to commute to Zurich or Bern? How feasible is it to commute that far each day?
  • How much of a liability is my weak grasp of the languages? I'm sure I can pick it up once I get there, but at this point my German and French are both very weak, and I only know as much Italian as I can puzzle out from the Latin I took waaaaay back in high school. I've heard it said that most IT work is done in English, but as a practical matter, don't you have to have a grasp on the dominant local language[s] as well?
  • Is there any chance of finding full time, salaried employment, or will it all just be consulting gigs? I guess I don't care either way, but a nice predictable job sounds appealing right now...
  • Is it better to be paid in Swiss Francs, Euros, or US Dollars? Or will that question even come up? If the dollar keeps plummeting, as it seems like it will, the Euro looks more appealing -- but then when the IRS comes knocking it could become painful, fast.
  • What happens back home? We bought a car before this opportunity came up -- a Subaru Forester -- a nice, reasonable car for snows and mountains. Is it insanity to ship it over with us? Is it insanity to sell a three month old car with less than 4000 miles on it? And what happens with our mortgage back home -- does it make more sense to rent or sell?
  • Will it make sense to talk to someone at a Swiss consulate before going, or getting in touch with some kind of relocation agency? I suppose it would make more sense than babbling about it on Slashdot, but oh well, the timing of this article caught me right as I was starting to consider all these questions...

Maybe it would be easier to just bus tables at a ski resort and take a few years off from IT...

I need to start working on my resume, or CV I guess. European CVs don't bear much resemblance to American resumes, do they? It seems like they're a lot chattier & biographical than the dry list of titles & skills & credentials that is expected over here. Just one more thing to do in the next handful of months....

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Arbeit in der Schweiz? (Practicing my German, more like...)

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  • She has baggage named Babbage?

    If your wife's company's offer is generous, have you considered that this might be a good opportunity to do something that might not have an immediate but have some long term advantages?

    For example, you could send out book proposals to companies like O'Reilly and Manning, and use the initial time in Switzerland to work on the book. Then you have the props of being a published Author.

    Another idea would be to look into schools that have "Online or Distance Education" prog

    • She has baggage named Babbage?

      har har har :-)

      (Actually, I'm disappointed in myself for not having thought of that one before...)

      If your wife's company's offer is generous, have you considered that this might be a good opportunity to do something that might not have an immediate but have some long term advantages?

      I hadn't, but it's an obviously good idea. Thanks!

      But if you do decide to go to Switzerland, I'm not going to meet you half-way between your office and my office for lunch.

      Bah, wus

  • For one thing, the country's name in German is "die Schweiz". The preposition "in" takes the dative case, thus it's "in DER Schweiz". ;-)

    The Swiss are notoriously picky about visas, immigration, and work permits. Be forewarned.

    You should take Euros or Swiss Francs. Sfr are especially solid, but not in widespread use, so you'll pay exchange fees more often when you order stuff or travel. The dollar is headed long-term for a slide, so Euros are probably your best bet.

    The IRS will not come knocking so lo

    • Yeah, my grasp on the language is bad, no getting around that. But at least I have a couple of months to cram, fill up the iPod with language instruction books, etc.

      I'm assuming that being paid in local currency will be the norm, and not at all a bad thing... ...unless the dollar keeps sliding (or collapses), in which case $75k per annum might not be such a big deal by Swiss terms.

      The car I'm still on the fence about. Massachusetts emissions laws are pegged to California standards, and I see cars just

      • I'm assuming that being paid in local currency will be the norm, and not at all a bad thing... ...unless the dollar keeps sliding (or collapses), in which case $75k per annum might not be such a big deal by Swiss terms.

        Depends on the employer, and you can probably negotiate. Zarf and I can tell you, though, that being paid in a foreign currency (in your case dollars) is a double-edged sword that can quickly ruin you. (That's why Zarf ended up giving up and going back to the States. He couldn't afford to l

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