Should I move into Switzerland?

Hello one and all! Greeting from Italy. I’m here trying to understand if it worth if to consider moving to CH to work (I want to be a doctor - radiologist - but I’m still in the “before the degree” zone) and trying to live comfortably.
And so far, considering how… peculiar, is the situation of the mortgages in CH, I’m not convinced. Maybe the stellar salary I COULD have will be able to rebalance this.

Edit: since this thread branched out unexectedly, some messages further down I write my doubts in their comprehensiveness.

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Why do mortgages matter at all? Just rent like most people in CH, it’s usually better financially.

Edit: and I would be extremely surprised if the savings after working 10y as a doctor in Switzerland are not an order of magnitude or more higher than Italy (median salary for radiologist seems to be 500k, junior must be at least 150k or 200k?).


Yea no problem with renting, just that apparently everywhere else is way easier to understand the “rent vs buy” situation. In CH it’s a damn nighmare! (I’ve been looking at this and other forum for a while, now, so i’m not completely uninitiated).

Second: I’m not comparing IT vs CH, but world vs CH. In few words, I want to maximise my financial well-being and life-style. Beware I’m still vaguely frugalistic, but not 360 degree.
Could I be more well-off in UAE/Qatar? What about Canada, Australia, or the mighty USA?
Again, honestly, if the RE market in CH was anything comparable to everywhere else I would go for CH eeeeasy.
I guess if there was a perfect country we would all be there haha :laughing:
I think I’ll start a thread with my doubts in the coming days.

I don’t understand what you mean with “the situation of the mortgages”?

The mortgage rates are pretty low, so I don’t see why this should be an issue?

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The “situation” unique to CH is that its mortgages are not designed to actually “be paid in full”, while for example in ITA eveybody tries to pay them as quickly as possible in order to pay as few interests as possible. The general “life rule” italians would wish they could follow is to avoid having any debt at all, especially when they retire, so the average italian life would consist in a 30 years mortage (starting at 25-35 year of age) to pay themself a house for retirement.
The anglosaxon world has the “propery ladder” concept, and their market is very fluid (especially the US’s, with the easiest cash-on-refinance possibility, which allows for the easiest “house flipping” possibility I found).

The CH also appears to be heavily influenced by the Eigenmietwert, which is completely absent in ITA, and I don’t like at first glance: it is punishing owners for the sole reason of owning a property. So if you are low on cash you could be pushed out for not being able to pay 70% of what your rent would be like. In Italy this would be considered as the hardest economic restriction in the history of our land, nothing short of a pure communsit dictatorship. BUT I’m openminded, I just want to see if the math adds up in a favorable way in the end.
If this tax was absent I would consider buying way better than renting in CH.

Lots of other countries don’t require mortgages to be payed in full. It us actually beneficial to not have to pay down very low interest debt as it reduced the opportunity cost of buying a house.

There are other ways to invest your money that has a better and more reliable return than your own home.

Eigenmietwert is reasonable because otherwise you would give home owners a tax advantage that wouldn’t be fair.

Removing the Eigenmietwert would only be fair, if rent could be deducted for taxes as well.

Most countries use a less fair system of property taxes to tax real estate.


I get the idea, it makes sense in abstract. In pratice, in ITA many old people own the house where they live in, and they can have a good life even if they have a low pension because they don’t have many unavoidable costs (while a tax would be unavoidable). So the ITA system pushes to “leave the old in peace”, we could say :sweat_smile:
This would be impossible in CH, right? OR maybe I’m missing something; if I had to guess, maybe what I’m missing is that the 3 pillars should be enough to leave a good life after retirement because they should be enough even to pay rent/mortage.

I get the thing about the opportunity cost, but do swiss people get it? Do we have a statistic on how many swisses are invested in stocks/ETFs/etc.?

What other countries offer this?

I believe this scenario actually inflates prices. Whereas before you could only afford a 500k house with a mortgage of 25 years, now you only need to own 35% and after just keep paying interest, so you are good to go to take on a 1M house…

I guess big pockets and banks are happy with this situation that in some sort is a rental with the bank…

@Pier I would think being in a neighbour country is a big +. Life is not all about numbers. UAE/Qatar can be an option for a few years - just make sure you also save for your retirement while there. Those are not countries to settle in, in my view. Also wonder their future once oil stops having such a big importance in economy.


Plenty of countries have it that way:

There is welfare for people who can’t maintain a minimal standard of living in old age. It is a higher “minimal standard” than for people who are poor and working age and you can are not forced to sell your house. However they may get some money back from the estate.

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The requirements to get a mortgage in Switzerland are pretty high.

It is probably easier to get a 30 year mortgage for $800’000 on a 1M home in the US than the same in Switzerland. So I’m not sure that this will cause price inflation.

Ok so, here I’ll write my doubts overall.
The premise is that I’ll write just with a “what system can I get the most benefit from?”-mindset, but this does NOT exclude the fact that I’m not pshycologically distraught by the idea of having to to give something back to the system/society.

If you are in a hurry you can skip to the very final question, before that it’s just for context.

I’m italian, I’llbe 28 y.o. by the end of 2021, still in medicine school, I’ll get my degree presumably when I’m going to be 32, and at that point I would like to move out of ITA, to start the specialization/residency in radiology. Keep in mind I’m around 7 years behind an ideal path (which would have the degree at 25 years of age). I’m fluent in english and italian, almost zero third languages (but I know the basics of esp, fra, deu).

Now, I look for the best possible earnings for doctors/radiologysts, and unsurprisingly we are talking about the usual suspects: USA, CA, Australia, CH, Norway, Netherlands.
The EN-speaking ones are tough to get into (they don’t recognize EU-specializations, so I would have to get there straight after the degree to avoid aving to repeat the residency, but is not easy at all, since they have very hard tests). The non-EN speaking are all in EU (I include CH) so it’s easier to get into their system, but I need to learn the language.
So on one hand I need to put some thousands hours to study for a test, on the other I have to put those hours in mastering a third language (possibly even some 4th language, since specializing doctors have to rotate the regions in CH).

Then: I don’t really like cold weather, even though I don’t hate it. But I do hate too much flatness (I like my motorbike and straight plain roads just don’t cut it).

At the end of the day CH would be a safer choice for me, but how much (disposable) income I’m leaving on the table not going for the US?
And how much am going to regret the greyness of CH? I hope the annual winter vacation to sunny beaches is going to be enough to mitigate this :sweat_smile:

Easy, go to Ticino, they speak italian. I’ve heard they will open a faculty of medicine sooner or later. Not sure if it’s needed for residency.

Other than that you are either picky or you are looking for excuses for not to go away.

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What excuses? I will do one or the other. There is no option which includes me staying here.
You cant be a “fully trained doctor” staying just in Tessin. Not possible neither legally nor considering the lack of big hospitals.

Ok I see. I wasn’t sure about that. Check if in '32 there will be something. It might make every decision easier.

Anyway you have to pick what’s important. If I were you I’ll think more about your health than the money. You can still move later. But don’t think too much about the greyness of Zurich. You can move elsewhere in Switzerland to work OR you can go in sunny places during the weekends. During the winter I go to the office while the sun is down and go back home where the sun is already gone. So it won’t make a big difference (unfortunately)

US: Do you have the USMLE? Do you have a green card or any other valid motive to immigrate? If not, that’s going to be a hurdle. J-1 visas are easy to get, e.g. if you do a fellowship but you have to commit to returning to your home country for at least two years before applying for another resident visa. After that you’re looking at H-1B. Harder to get though as it must be sponsored. Your odds finding a US hospital to sponsor a non-US trained specialist are slim. Specialist salaries can go through the stratosphere but you have to live on a miserly wage throughout your fellowship.

AU: Probably your best shot in terms of good life/work balance, straightforward recognition of your skills, very decent salaries, shooting very high in later stages of your career (that’s also true for the US). There isn’t much diversity though, certainly not as colourful as the US and you should be willing to be 24h away from other western civilisation outposts. Shoot for Melbourne or Sydney. Other cities just don’t live up to the likes of Rome, Milan or Firenze. There’s a large Italian expat/immigrants community. Melbourne and Sydney probably offer the best food scene money can buy in the entire galaxy. I met a great many Europeans who emigrated to Australia and who never looked back too.

For Australia I recommend that you take a look at skilled visas and check whether radiologists are in demand. Australia has a skilled labour, point-based pathway for the grant of immigration visas. If you’re on the list and you score 65+, you’re in luck and you should do the paperwork to lodge an application.

I lived in both countries with my partner who’s a trained specialist (not in radiology though, much cooler than that :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: – I’m joking – actually, I’m not). The US can be a rough place but if you’ve got the means and the grit, there’s virtually no better place on earth to make it rain.

Real estate is more affordable in both AU and the US but definitely not built to Swiss standards. Quality comes with a price, hey?!

Tootle pip!


Holy mackerel we need to be friends! :rofl:
What is she specialized in? Almost… anything is reputed cooler than radiology (which is huge plus for me: less competition!).

The US are very high risk/ possible very high reward (but also very heavy workload and grinding in the first years, as you said), considering USMLE is brutal (basically one-time-only shot in life, since it’s non-repetable) and they say that residency places are more and more shrinking to the same number of US-people getting degrees, meaning that the internation competition is gonna be harsher and harsher.

I don’t care about expat communties that much. I do care about fruits/vegetable availability though, since I’m vegan, and impressively frugal in my eating habits. From CH I could easily go to buy the good part of my groceries abroad, since they are non-perishable (dried legums to begin with).

When I center google maps on Sidney, and I see that antarctica is the closes continent, my “map-centered-on-Rome”-mind looses its grip! :laughing:

Basically with CH I have thre problem: 1) time to learn a 3rd language, 2) climate 3) the stiffness of RE market (I like the idea of buying fixer upper properties and renovate them, even if just a couple in a life time - I know what I’m talking about here, being the son an architect and a “thermical designer”).

How would you compare the income/taxes of a doctor (or anyone, actually) in an AU-main city compared to ZH? Sorry to ask, but to get a decent idea of the CH situation I needed hours of research.

Finally, I get the impressione that if I want to direct myself to AU it could be a good idea to start learning some mandarin :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

There is more to life than earning as much as possible. Why not choose the country which you like the most?


I agree here, you should focus on quality of life first.

If you can’t live without sunny beaches and warm weather you’d better look for somewhere else…I once had a colleague from Brazil which came for the nice Swiss salary…and went back to the tropics in depression only few months later, as soon as the winter settled in.

As for the language barrier, coming from Italy all the romance languages should be pretty easy to learn. I would not exclude any French or Spanish-speaking country based on the language alone.

Concerning the RE market, I wouldn’t be too worried. Even in Switzerland if you have a high salary you’ll be able to get a mortgage and buy a property within few years if that’s what you want.

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USMLE is a three-part exam, with parts 2b and 3 that need to be done stateside. It’s doable in 3 months, but you must want it badly. My GF did in 3 months flat and passed easily but she did it 9-10 years after getting her MD so she had to brush up on quite some material to get up to speed. You should get a head start if you get to it immediately though.

Veggies are very abundant in both AU and the US, albeit at a premium in the latter. Food is generally inexpensive in Australia and of excellent quality. The spectrum is much broader in the US ranging from low end shops to Whole Foods. You’ll want to shop at Whole Foods most of the time. I have yet to find something remotely relatable in Switzerland. I dearly miss the US shopping experience in ZH. There’s Jelmoli and Globus and while the selection is fine, the emphasis put on the posh aspect is just too obvious to make it an enjoyable experience. I really miss Whole Foods here.

Sydney is 1h away from Melbourne, 3h from all of New Zealand, 9h from Hong Kong. You’ll find yourself hopping on weekend trips to Fiji, Bali, Singapore, Bali, New Caledonia and so on. It’s not that bad but if you’re after Berlin, London or Amsterdam, you won’t have that.

Australia is generally expensive too. So is the US actually. Long term though I think you’ll benefit much, much more from taking your education overseas and eyeing a possible return to Europe later on. Plus, you won’t sound like an educated idiot who actually can’t speak English (trust me, a lot of people here have a high opinion of their English skills – and just nothing to back that up, really). As a consultant radiologist in Australia, you’re looking at making upward of A$350k all the way up to A$1m. You’ll probably make a similar figure in the US.

Mandarin doesn’t get much traction in Australia. I think the cultural divide is just too great and it might just take generations before mainstream interest picks up. If you go there, I’d recommend learning Indonesian though.

Frugality gets a great deal of attention on this forum and that’s fine. If spending time commuting to a supermarket abroad to save pennies on your groceries is your idea of time well spent, then so be it. You might get away with that mindset in Switzerland as virtually all neighbouring countries have lower PPP but that obviously won’t work overseas. If you’re going to be making a killing being a consultant, being in AU, the US or CH won’t make much of a difference as far as taxes are concerned. AU taxation is much more open to deductions of various kinds and most there make it a point of pride to deduct just about anything as work related expenses, e.g. an iPad, this new iPhone, your car, and so on. Every time my GF flews to a conference in the US, she’d list travel expenses in her tax returns. Hell mate, she even deducted her US$20,000 USMLE (that’s for all three parts + books + flying twice to the US to sit the exams).

Good luck to you. If I were you I’d blast off. You truly won’t regret it.

Tootle pip!

Thank you a ton, I’ll have a good night of sleep before answering again, so to let my thoughts on these new info settle down a little :innocent:

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