Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why are you still here?

The Frau read an interesting statistic: After most expatriates have lived in Switzerland for 10 years, 80% of them typically leave. But this statistic is holding up no longer, because more and more high-earning expatriates from countries like the United States, Australia, and Canada are staying beyond 10 years. Why is this changing?

Is Switzerland becoming friendlier towards expatriates? Is the rest of the world becoming less attractive? The Frau believes both to be a bit true.

The Frau will celebrate seven years in June even though she only planned to spend three years here. So why is she still here? Below are 10 (okay, 11) reasons The Frau is still living in Switzerland.

–She loves the great outdoors. She loves living in the center of her village. And in Switzerland, she can enjoy both. Within five minutes from her front door she can be shopping at a major department store, hiking in the woods, or getting on a train that will connect her to almost anywhere in Europe.

–She loves not having a car. And with Switzerland’s amazing public transport system, she doesn’t need one.

Baden, Switzerland
–She loves her work/life balance. Funny how you enjoy your career even more when it doesn’t consume your entire life.

–Her daughter is learning another language effortlessly. (The Frau is jealous of course).

–Another country is just 20 minutes away. Three more are just an hour away.

­–She loves writing about Switzerland. It’s become a niche. She feels creative here.

–Switzerland is doing well while the rest of the world struggles: Switzerland has low unemployment and employees are protected by an unemployment system that works (70% of your salary for 18 months).

–She loves all the swimming and ice skating facilities and how surprisingly affordable they are (typically 200 CHF for a yearly pass). It seems every Swiss village has their own indoor pool, outdoor pool, and ice rink. She has become a year-round swimmer because of them.

–She loves how close Zurich Airport is and the ease of getting there. Where even more countries are just a two-hour flight away. (Can you tell The Frau loves travel?)

–Things just work. Everything is on a schedule and rarely goes off of it—even your baggage at the airport.

–Things close down. Stores close for the evening. Stores close on Sunday. Why is this good? Because it forces you to do something most Americans like The Frau could never do before they moved here: relax. It also supports the work/life balance concept that is absent in American society today.

But enough about The Frau. Why are you still here?


Susan said...

I am an expat from the States, my husband works for an international company in Zug (he worked for them previously in Chicago).

We were to be here for 18 months, and it will be 8 years for my husband next month (living here full time) - for me it will be 7 years in October (his first year I came over ever few months to visit, as all 3 of our kids were in University in the States - yikes!)

We remain for all the reasons you list - plus I don't have to work here, which I love (so does my dog) and my husband enjoys the healthier balance of work and family life.

Another thing for us: My husband is of a certain age that it is a big plus to have continued opportunities here that may not come his way if we were to return home.

Since I don't work, I return to the States to visit family twice a year. I feel very blessed, and am thankful for my life. Sure I have my "bad culture" days, but they pass.

Regular Reader said...

Dear Frau

I'm a regular reader of yours. Do I detect a change of mind? I thought the Frau didn't like the opening hours in Swissland?


Hattie said...

The reason I was happy to leave was that it was not my country. But both my husband and I are Americans. Your husband is Swiss, right? This would make you better integrated into Swiss life than I was.

Paul said...

Switzerland is certainly pretty central! I can understand the appeal of not having to drive, and the work/life balance.

Chantal said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks for your comments--yes, The Frau does think it's nice that many families seem to be able to afford to live on one salary here. It also helps that people are less materialistic. Also, when you live in smaller places, you run out of space to put things and therefore can't just buy anything you want!

Regular Reader,
After The Frau's husband's aunt was forced to work on Thanksgiving in the U.S. at a retail store, The Frau has rethought some of the store hours concept. Also, the Coop now opened in Baden on Sundays so that helps too for emergencies. She's also not so desperate now that she only works part-time.

No, we're 100% foreigner here. Herr Frau is an American too. But The Frau agrees with the fact that Switzerland will never be her country.

hannah said...

I'm spending next year abroad in Switzerland as a high school student... and this blog makes me happy. :) I love Switzerland for all these reasons.


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