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MOVING TO SWITZERLAND

How to overcome relocation blues after moving to Switzerland

Moving to Switzerland is a dream come true for many; it's a country that is bursting with natural beauty, artisan chocolate, and economic opportunities. But just as ice caps melt off the alps, so too does the initial joy that comes with moving abroad. What do you do when living in a new country starts to get you down?

How to overcome relocation blues after moving to Switzerland
Overcoming the blues in Switzerland. Photo: happyalex/Depositphotos.com
 
According to Coaching Hub Switzerland's Head Life Coach, Christine Billy, feeling uneasy about relocation is normal. But she believes you can overcome negative emotions, and setbacks by changing the way you perceive the move. 
 
“I see change as an opportunity. It is about welcoming and embracing change. Change is life, and if you embrace it – you will love living in Switzerland and learn more about yourself,” says Christine.
 
According to a 2018 Havard study, those living abroad often benefit from a 'clearer sense of self' which can boost an individual's psychological wellbeing. 
 
After working with many foreigners in Switzerland, Christine shares the biggest three obstacles to settling in as well as her top tips to overcoming the blues while living in Switzerland. 
 
1.    Overcoming isolation by establishing a community
 
 
At the end of 2018, the foreign resident population of Switzerland was over 2 million and for 48 percent of these residents, the main reason for coming to Switzerland was to take up employment.
 
Feelings of loneliness and isolation are common for many individuals living in Switzerland, particularly for those who have moved to support a partner's career change. 
 
“If you are moving to Switzerland to support your partner, communicate with them, and prepare for this change together. It should be a partnership,” says Christine.
 
She stresses the importance of finding a sense of community and encourages newcomers to reach out and get to know Swiss people by learning the local language.
 
Photo: sumners/Depositphotos.com
 
“Swiss people will always respect you more if you try to speak their language. It can be hard, so it is essential to be patient and do your best to learn the local language. It can take time, so laugh at your mistakes.”
 
Making friends is crucial, as it helps create a sense of belonging, but Christine says newcomers should be the ones to make an effort and not the other way around. 
 
“As a newcomer, you need to reach out to make friends. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking others should adjust to you. But that is not the case – you will benefit from becoming more open to meeting others.”
 
 
2.    Overcoming frustration with patience
 
With four official languages and 26 cantons, it can be frustrating to learn how to communicate in Switzerland. Understanding the customs and traditions in each canton can be mindboggling, but being patient is the best way to deal with the obstacles you face. 
 
“Swiss cities are generally very international, and there are opportunities to meet so many people from around the globe who are also feeling the same thing as you. Go out, talk to others and discover other cultures,” says Christine.
 
“If you are feeling very annoyed about something, talking with other foreigners in Switzerland will help. Chances are they are experiencing the same thing, and they can help you find solutions.”
 
There are also many social media groups for people living in different Swiss cities. These online forums can be a great way to connect with other foreigners in Switzerland and get receive advice about daily life. 
 
Photo: happyalex/Depositphotos.com
 
3.    Overcoming negative thoughts by transforming them into curiosity 
 
When analysing your negative thoughts, it's essential to consider whether you had a choice to move or whether you felt the move was 'forced' on you by someone else. Once you know and accept your reason for moving, Christine believes you can begin to identify where your negative thoughts are stemming from to overcome them. 
 
“Most of the time, we struggle with adapting to a new culture because of our own imposed rules or an unwillingness to change. For example, when I lived in the USA, I found it strange how people opened the fridge to eat at any time of the day. Then, I realised I was judging others,” explains Christine who is accustomed to French traditions, where snacking is not as common and mealtime is seen as a  ritual.
 
Photo: Bumble-Dee/Depositphotos.com
 
“I realised if I stayed in this 'judgment' mindset, I can't move forward. Instead, I became aware of my thoughts and shifted my thinking to curiosity, and then I started to think maybe this is a better way to do things? Then with that curiosity mind-frame, you don't reject your old culture, but instead, you merge it with the new one,” says Christine. 
 
 
When you find yourself unimpressed with aspects of Swiss culture, Christine recommends reflecting on your values and being curious instead of critical.
 
“Remember, it is normal to feel frustrated at the beginning of your move to Switzerland, but you need to realise that this is a great opportunity for personal growth.
 
“It is not about neglecting your own culture or completely embracing the Swiss one. It should always be about positively merging two cultures.”
 
 
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, always seek medical advice.
 
 
 

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PROPERTY

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Switzerland is not known for being a cheap country and property prices are higher than in other European countries, but it's still possible to find property bargains, some for even under CHF 100k.

Where to find property in Switzerland for under CHF 500k

Property prices are rising in much of Europe and Switzerland is no exception. As the average salary is high in Switzerland, finding homes for under CHF 1 million in some parts of the country becomes almost impossible.

Even when you do find cheap properties, they are sometimes quite literally too good to be true. For example, Switzerland’s famous one-franc home scheme had to be scrapped after nobody signed up. The cheap homes were, actually, too expensive when considering the costs for renovation or even how remote they were.

READ ALSO: Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Some of the properties in the scheme weren’t connected to the electricity grid, sewer system or even roads.

So, where can we find cheap(er) homes in Switzerland – that are still liveable or could be excellent investments for those who enjoy fixer-uppers (or huge DIY projects)?

Not an easy search

To find these gems, we used a property website that allowed us to search for real estate in the whole of Switzerland (instead of just a few main cities) and showed us homes with at least three rooms.

The price limit was set at CHF 500,000 (while our colleagues in Germany had theirs set at €100k, but, hey, this is Switzerland).

As of August 2022, we found 203 houses and 80 apartments following these criteria on sale.

Most of these definitely need some fixing up, but you can still snatch a home for under CHF 500,000 with lovely views of lakes and mountains or big terraces and gardens.

Going through the addresses with some of the properties, some things stand out:

Head for the border – most of the most affordable places are in Italian-speaking Switzerland. However, you can also find some of them in the French regions. In both cases, they are located very near the border with France or Italy.

Forget about cities – All the properties we found are quite far from the major cities of Zürich, Bern, and Geneva, which makes sense as the cost of living tends to rise in those regions. If you’re looking for a cheap home, you’re highly unlikely to find one in city centres.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Consider property type – It is also worth mentioning that there seemed to be a distinction between the homes in the west and those in the south. In the French region, there are more apartments and newer properties, with some outstanding options.

While in the Italian south, most of the properties are houses – and you need to inspect well because some will need a lot of work.

Research services – You should definitely check carefully the property’s location – some are not connected to basic services or even roads.

Renovation costs – Almost all of the properties we found were ‘renovation projects’. Some can turn out to be very good investments, but it takes time and work to renovate. Before buying, get an estimate of the likely works so you can see whether the property really will save you money in the long term, and be honest about your level of DIY/building skills and how much work you are willing or able to do.

Extra costs – Besides renovating costs, you must be mindful of property taxes and other living costs and how much they are in the region where you are buying property. Prices can vary quite widely depending on the canton, so research well.

You can check all our Property in Switzerland stories here.

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