Which City/Canton would you choose in the French Speaking part of Switzerland?

Hi everyone!

Intro

Me and my fiancee have been given the opportunity to work remotely in Switzerland (while keeping the same salary and benefits). We are currently in Schaffhausen and learning German: she is B1 in German and I am A2 in German.

  • Combined Salary is at 190K.
  • Current rent is 1590/mo for a 2.5 modern flat near the train station.
  • We do not own a car and are planning to avoid owning one for as long as possible.
    We would prefer paying +200-300/mo in rent vs living far away somewhere and owning a car

We both have family in the french part of Switzerland (Montreux+Clarens+Chatel-St-Denis) and with a plan to stay long term and eventually start a family.
I feel like it would be great if we have a support system around us.

Additionally, I have heard horror stories from portuguese immigrants whose kids face challenges in school due to German not being their native language. Both me and my fiancee have master degrees and want our future children to have sucess and not be limited due to a language barrier.

Big Decision

This is where your feedback comes in, if you could freely choose where to live, where would you live?

Some of what we are looking for:

  • Close to a Train Station would be preferable
  • The closer to Montreux the better, closer to Clarens or Chatel-St-Denis would also be great (we are open to other cantons/cities as well)
  • Our main goal is to get C1-C2 in French with this move so that we can be fully integrated and provide a good future to our future family
  • The lower the tax the better but I understand that in the French part, this is so common. But Schaffhausen has a relatively high tax burden anyways
  • We would prefer to live in a larger city rather than a small city (+50k would be great)
  • Since we would be working remotely, any city with a lot of clubs would be appreciated! We have a couple of mainstream hobbies so we should be able to find something (Running, Hiking, Cycling, Target Shooting, etc)

I know that everyone is different but for my fellow portuguese, how long did it take for you to become conversational in French?

Additionally, if you guys think I am not paying enough attention to a particular detail, I would really appreciate it if you would call it out!

Thank you in advance for your help!

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Vevey? Morges?

If you are flexible, check the tax rates per city in order to compare!

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I will add those to our list, thank you Ardius!

I am using this website to compare tax rates: Steuerbelastung im schweizweiten Vergleich

If you have any other suggestion let me know! :slight_smile:

They are not +50K cities but still great and easy to take train to lausanne for Clubs !

Have a look here : ImpĂ´ts : comparez et payez moins
This allow to get a table with all the commune.

Fribourg ? Your future kids might have the possibility to learn both german and french

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Canton Fribourg is cheaper than Vaud for sure, Valais is also ok.

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Thank you @Dr.PI @weirded @Ardius .

I want to make the move ASAP so that we can start adapting to the new location.

Would you recommend any particular city/area in Fribourg/Vaud/Valais?

Thank you!

Valais doesn’t really have cities. The closest decently sized town to your family would be Monthey. There are some activities and there is some cultural life but it’s nowhere close to what you’d find in a “city” like Lausanne. Carnaval is the signature festival of the town. People who grew up in Monthey tend to have a sense of community and stick together later on.

Farther would be Martigny, smaller though with a nice historical background, nice summer evenings on the Place centrale and no trouble getting back home after having spent the day at the infamous “Foire du Valais” one week per year. Your children would thank you for that.

Farther yet is Sion, the capital. Decent enough cultural life, decent amount of activities, nice town design, a decent array of shops, colleges and part of the HES-SO Valais, decent summer scene, decent Carnaval, nice weekly market, decent amount of fairs throughout the year (outside of Covid times, of course).

Only you can know where you want to live. Given your situation, I’d spend a weekend in each of Vevey, Montreux, Lausanne, Fribourg, Sion and maybe Monthey. See if you like the experience then dig deeper into what those who caught your attention really have to offer.

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Well, Lausanne fits to your going out requirements and proximity to the family, but it is far from being cheap both tax and rent-wise.

So Fribourg or its western suburbs Villars-sur-Glâne (have a train station on Fribourg-Romont line) or Marly (good bus connection to Fribourg), or even Matran and Rosé might be an option for you.

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Btw I heard there is a large Portuguese community in Fribourg.

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It probably took me about a year to reach a good conversational level in French, back when I was working on an office. Since 2014 I’ve moved to working full-time remote (English), and there I could definitely see my French speaking skills go down the drain.

By the way, you might want to look at Bulle (second largest city in the Freiburg canton). It doesn’t really fit the size you mentioned (it’s about half of it), but still has pretty decent services for its size.

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Fribourg has lower taxes than Vaud. It’s also a bit further from the Leman which might result in lower rents. Some places in FR are not that far from Montreux, check Attalens for example. It’s quite literally on the border of VD.

The population of Attalens is nowhere near your goal though and you will need a car. Wherever you consider going, try to find people who can give you an honest and experience based (this topic can be a bit of a taboo) opinion on the local school (they are not all equal no matter what people say). In the end that may be the biggest thing affecting your happiness.

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It should be mentioned that public transport connections with Montreux from Fribourg, Bulle, and even Châtel-St-Denis are far from great (you can check yourself on sbb.ch)
The area Attalens-Châtel-St-Denis has become a sort of residential suburb of the Montreux-Lausanne area, with slightly cheaper housing and lower taxes.
However, you’re loosing the advantage of the great train connections along the lake shore and you get a slightly cooler climate (more fog in winter, more northern wind than in Montreux or Lausanne).
I think the Portuguese community is quite large in most of the French speaking part of the country.
I love Wallis, but from your description of your free time, I wouldn’t want to settle too far from Lausanne.

I would also strongly recommend to spend at least a few weekends in these areas and check by yourself.

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Hi Mobius, thank you for your feedback.

I will be fully remote so I would have to take classes/get involved in clubs to improve my french.

I looked at Bulle, seemed quite interesting in terms of location, I have family near it so I will ask for feedback and visit in the upcoming months

Thank you for your feedback @LeStache, from what I am seeing for the public transportation connections, I might have to indeed get a car if I decide to move to some particular city. I guess this is inevitable but I will continue to look.

Regarding local schools, is there an online ranking or a way to check how a good a particular school is?
Or would you reach out to people living in that area for feedback?

Thank you!

Hi @Kirkjubaer, I noticed!

From Bulle with a car, I can be in Montreux in 20 min or 1h30 by train. Not that great.

I got the same feeling when visiting Chatel-St-Denis!

So your suggestion would be to go for somewhere along the lake shore like Montreux, Clarens, Vevey or Lausanne insted of going to Fribourg for example? Thank you for taking public transport into consideration. As we would like to avoid getting a car this is quite useful info.

Fribourg is quite interesting culturally and located on the main railway line between Lausanne and Bern. So a car-free life there should be a no-brainer.
In the case of Bulle or Châtel-St-Denis, going car-free is slightly more complex, in particular if you want to go to Montreux on a regular basis. Another option is to choose Mobility car sharing for those trips to Montreux.

Online rankings don’t exist to my knowledge. Even reaching out to people may not give you the full picture. If you ask, many locals will reply ”they’re all good”. If you think about it logically, that cannot be true due to many factors. Many times an answer like this is due to not having experienced anything else.

What I’ve done myself is:

  • called the principal’s office and said we’re considering moving there and would like to know more
  • they invited us for a chat the next day!
  • prior to that we were lucky to know some people in the area who in turn put us in contact with other parents

Not all schools will give you the time of day like that. If they do, it already tells a lot about their attitude and service level.

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Hey everyone!

After visiting, I have decided to move to Bulle!

Couple of questions:

→ Do you have any recommendations of moving companies?
If they can speak english and/or portuguese it would be a plus but I don’t really expect it.

→ I was reading online that I can only move 4 times in the year to Bulle, end of March, June, September and December. Is this true or can I move on another date if I can get an apartment before those dates?

There is so much new construction in Bulle with apartments offering 2 months+ of free rent (on a 2 year contract) and free caution, and I would like to take advantage of that!

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Never heard of anything like this. Also couldn’t find anything here:
https://www.bulle.ch/prestations/21935

I’d just call them and ask what you have to do if you move to Bulle.

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