Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Switzerland vs Silicon Valley for Software Developers (swissdevjobs.ch)
238 points by Varqu 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 330 comments



Bullshit alert They start with: "Maybe it is because of the outrageous rents eating over 30% of the salary and houses you cannot afford unless you joined Facebook or Google at the right time? " Regarding the SV.

Then, this is what they (proudly) say about Switzerland: 1) "In Zurich, you can rent a whole flat (50+ square meters) for something between 2500-4000 CHF " 2) "In Switzerland a Software Developer can easily earn over 100,000 CHF (1 CHF is around 1 USD) "

So, that means that we can calculate your rent there to be between 30% to 48%. But I guess, just because it is in Switzerland, it should not be outrageous?


I can chime in here, as I am very familiar with Zurich. While there are no extreme high compensations like for the top echelon SD in the SV top companies, the median, truly achievable wage is easy in excess of 120k annually. The housing prices are much lower than around SV, and most importantly, you do not have to live in the city, the public transport system network is very efficient, it is not essential to own a car.

Those are the good parts, however, not all things are good. Everything else is very expensive. Going out to an average restaurant will cost 100 CHF for a dinner for 2. There was a study saying a household with one kid will require 8k CHF a month if you plan to have a holiday and a car. You will have to pay for mandatory insurance etc. Then again, 8k is not that much if both partners work.

Do not forget that the tax rate is very attractive and often there is a so called 13th salary at the end of the year, usually a full month salary. This is not based on KPI's this has been a tradition for a long time. Also, 5 weeks of paid holidays, the US do not know that concept yet. If you add these two to your salary, the numbers suddenly look much better.

In summary, you can have a very good life and put money aside in Zurich if you commute to work by public transport(or small scooter), do not live in the most expensive apartment you can find and so long you do not eat out twice every day, you will be very well off.

Zurich is one of the most beautiful and entertaining cities in the world. The weather is horrible compared to California, but you'll have plenty of money and paid time off work to holiday in sunny and warm destinations. The nearest being southern Switzerland, once you're through the alps, you are in a different climate zone. A 2 hours commute.

And let's not forget the social system. If you earn 10k CHF a month and lose your employment, you are entitled to collect something like 7k gross a month for 1.5 years while looking for the next job.

I hope this gives some perspective, that said, with such a salary, if it's possible to work remotely, I'd chose neither SV nor Zurich.


It seems like based on what you said that Switzerland may offer wages that are closer to US pay scales while still offering "European" benefits like PTO/healthcare/safety net?


I am from the US but lived and worked in both Austria and Switzerland for years. There are a lot of contrasts between Europe and SV, the social benefits certainly help offset the extremely high wages of SV. Quality of life is certainly much better in Vienna and Zurich than SF/SV, but the opportunities in certain fields are limited.

that said... if i could get a job paying 80% of what i make now, in either city. i would move back and take it in a heartbeat, considering it was something remotely interesting.


10 years ago, the rule was rent should not be more than 1/4 of your gross salary. The rule just gets adjusted, we're currently at 1/3. Same thing goes down with health care costs. People are squeezed for it, because they have no choice. Meanwhile wages are stagnating and can't keep up with the rising cost of living.


Why should wages go up to match outrageous expenses? People are being squeezed, but your pay is roughly correlated with the value of your labour.

I hear this all the time in Vancouver - people blaming this squeeze on stagnant wages - as if the labour market could ever pay people enough to keep pace with supply-constrained, monopolistic markets. The rent is too damn high. And we know why, but ... somehow we just want to throw more money in the fire? You can pay people however much you want, but without addressing the market dysfunctions all of those higher wages will wind up in the hands of landlords and health insurance companies.


> but your pay is roughly correlated with the value of your labour.

It is not. The value fire-fighters, teachers or nurses provide is much higher than, say, an enterprise developer, yet in most places the other earns more.


Some of those people do make a pretty good salary in California though. For example in Oakland, the Fire Department Captain makes $472k/year. https://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/2018/oakland/


How many positions for Oakland Dept Fire Captain are there? I’m in the market.


Even regular police officers on that page earn 350K! damn am in the wrong industry.


Police jobs have some risks but there are a few engineering jobs there which are not too bad. And the guaranteed pension is the icing on top.


It's marginal utility, not labour value or labour usefulness that determines wage price. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_value


What's the marginal value of hiring another fire-fighter? I suspect it's a lot lower than the marginal value of hiring another enterprise developer, since firefighting is already fairly well staffed and since hiring professionals cuts into volunteering firefighting organisations.

The same seems like it's true of teachers and nurses. They're seen as a cost centre to be reduced rather than a scarce resource to be fought over.


Your premise is not unquestionable. On what is your value claim based?


Firefighters can make bank.. overtime and all that. Teachers are underpaid and nurses are probably too but they too can do well working overtime etc...


There is something seriously wrong the with the idea that its ok to underpay these very important jobs because they can eek out a living wage by working every hour of their waking life, sacrificing mental and physical health to do so.


Firefighters and teachers are normally overtime exempt salary.

And it's not really fair to nurses to say "you only get a fair wage if you're putting in 60-80 hours". It's also not fair to their patients, as care quality drops pretty hard when you over work nurses and doctors.


Firefighters get both salary and overtime. So do cops. Benefit of having a union.


Depends heavily on the district.


> but your pay is roughly correlated with the value of your labour.

If that was true businesses wouldn't show profit (or would show low profit margins consistently) because the value of the workers labour would have been been paid back to them.

Plus that whole thing about these billion/trillion dollar SV tech companies engaging in massive wage fixing.

You're paid the absolute minimum amount of money the company thinks they can get away with.


>but your pay is roughly correlated with the value of your labour.

It should be but employee efficiency and revenue per employee has increased (in fact more than doubled on average in the last 20 years), but salary has roughly stayed the same.


I wonder if a group of disgruntled engineers could up and buy a large piece of land somewhere and start a town with better ground rules that would avoid the NIMBY/rent seeking traps. Would need to limit property ownership in a major way somehow.


I'm convinced that housing cooperatives are going to become more mainstream for exactly this reason. I know other millennials who would do a co-op in a heartbeat The biggest hurdles are setting up the legal terms and the fact that financing is much harder than for single family homes (no FHA loans).


10 years ago it was absolutely 1/3.


Yep, so now the US government is providing the following helpful formula 33% of salary goes to taxes; 33% to housing and 33% to student loans. You better be good at budget because everything else must be covered by that 1%


> In Zurich, you can rent a whole flat (50+ square meters) for something between 2500-4000 CHF > In Switzerland a Software Developer can easily earn over 100,000 CHF (1 CHF is around 1 USD)

So... A little bit cheaper apartment combined with a salary that is half or third (from what I read, I don't live there) of what you can get in Bay Area. WTF is this article trying to say?

Edit: And of course, not to even mention that living in $8000 apartment on $200 000 salary is much better than living in $4000 apartment on $100 000 salary.


50 sq m is 500 sq ft, which is considered very small in most of the US and on the small end even in NYC. It's just slightly larger than a mobile home.


That's interesting. It is considered a very decent size for a single person or even a couple where I live (Croatia).

But then again, I grew up in a family of five in a 45 square meter apartment.


Looking at places around me (Atlanta, Ga, USA), the second I filter down to < 750 sqft for any 1 bedroom apartment or condo on redfin.com I am left with about 5% of the search results. The average size seems to be about 900 sqft. Before buying a house most places I rented were also around that size, and my house 2200 sqft (204 sq m) with 3 bedrooms.


It's decent here in Uruguay (South America) too.


Yeah this article is interesting. Cost of housing is basically being described as as high as the Bay Area, but the salaries sound quite a bit lower. Junior devs in SF are making maybe $110-130k, vs 60-90 that the article claims in switzerland. Senior devs are making maybe $180-220k, plus more in stock options/RSUs (which despite the negative reaction to them here on HN, actually do often turn into real money at least at unicorns or public companies) vs $120k+ mentioned in the article.

More generally I've been wondering about this and can't figure it out, why are software engineer salaries in Europe are so much lower than the US? From what I can tell, Switzerland is just about the highest you'll see in Europe, and is still lower than the biggest US tech hubs. In other big metropolitan areas (Paris, London, etc.), the cost of living is at least a bit lower, but they're still major cities and not that cheap. And there salaries for engineers are even lower. As another concrete data point I was looking through the gitlab location adjustments for remote workers that they have released publicly[0], and the floor for anywhere in the US, meaning even the most inexpensive, remote parts in the country, is 63.3% of the baseline SF salary. Any mid-tier city will be higher than that, like 75% of the SF salaries. But Paris only pays 56.5% of the SF baseline. Why is that?

[0] https://gitlab.com/gitlab-com/www-gitlab-com/blob/master/dat...


>can't figure it out, why are software engineer salaries in Europe are so much lower than the US?

Because in the EU there are no visa restrictions for importing foreign workers like in the US.

EU companies can secure working visas to almost anyone outside the EU in a couple of months so instead of raising salaries to attract local talent they know it's a much better deal to pay a recruiter and wait to find an outsider desperate for a job or a sucker who doesn't know the market/living costs.

Do you think SV salaries would be as high as they are if the US would have unrestricted immigration and give working visas to anyone who fit the job description?


"plus more in stock options/RSUs (which despite the negative reaction to them here on HN, actually do often turn into real money at least at unicorns or public companies)"

I find that (the negative reaction to them here on HN) hilarious when it comes to RSUs of a publicly traded company such as Google and Facebook. They are absolutely unequivocally every bit as real as your salaries. Maybe it's just that people outside SV don't really understand the difference between options and RSUs. Before I came to SV I had never even heard of RSUs.


A hypothesis I've not tested: salaries are adjusted for risk. European countries have strong labour protections so hiring parties must take on hires at high risk if they don't perform (can't fire them easily). Initial evidence for hypothesis: contractors and freelancers working locally in these countries still have high incomes.


In all honesty, skills could be another factor. Although we have many extremely competent people, the general job market in France for example doesn’t require very advanced technical skills. I compare to Sydney where, with 4 years experience in France and with credentials, I wasn’t up to the game. Sydney people, for example, are extremely skilled.

So we must not throw away the skills factor, the ability of employees to build an extremely successful company, their motivations, their awareness of new business practices, although it is very difficult to measure it. Perhaps France is ahead (after all, a lot of Linux is European, along with DailyMotion and others), perhaps it is not (...after all, DailyMotion only got the second seat and is now dwarfed by Youtube).


That must be it, the best salary offer I got in Austria was about 4000 euros a month.

My brother in law moved to Silicon Valley because he had a very low salary ceiling in Vienna.


I can't speak for GitLab specifically, nor for the whole of Europe. I'm from the UK and living in Toronto (which seems vaguely comparable to SV in terms of income/cost of living). I generally keep a pretty close eye on the UK market and I can tell you that salaries for a senior developer job in the UK will compare, when accounting for the cost of living, to about a 75% pay cut against what I earn now. That's not to say there aren't outliers in the UK where you could earn a comparable standard of living. I'm taking the median/high income range for a senior developer in both places.


Don't look at salaries, look at day rates.

UK salaries are a joke, but you can make good money contracting and consulting.


With day rates you then have to start looking at VAT requirements though for inside and outside IR35 and given I haven't lived in the UK for 20 years, I'm not familiar with all the nuances this adds. I'd definitely need someone to coach me through that before I could speak with any authority on the subject.


Yeah you need to get an accountant (£100+ per month), insurance (£300-£500 per year) and be aware of the IR35 rules, which are all due to change in the next few months anyway, and who knows what happens with the whole Brexit thing.

It's definitely a more complicated way of working than being salaried, but it's rewarding, both monetarily and in the ability to set your own vacation allowances, take big gaps between contracts if you want to/can afford to etc etc.


> In other big metropolitan areas (Paris, London, etc.), the cost of living is at least a bit lower, but they're still major cities and not that cheap. And there salaries for engineers are even lower.

If you want decent pay in London you go contract, not perm, and head for the finance sector. You can make the equivalent of $150k-280k depending on how good you are at landing contracts and selling yourself.

AFAICT the situation is similar in western Europe (I get feelers out sometimes at lower but comparable rates for contract work in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Belgium).

Perm workers here are being ripped off IMHO, massively. But then the technical standard of the average perm worker at the average mid sized company in the UK is terrible too. It's a vicious feedback cycle of low pay, low respect for the profession and poor results. Perm work in mainland Europe is paid peanuts AFAICT, which is probably why so many find their way to London.

Some of this difference is down to costs and rights associated with work in the EU, which are just missing in the US. And part of the reason contracting is so lucrative is that we effectively opt-out of those.


May I ask where did you find good rates in Austria?


I've never followed up on any of these because I'm not currently interested in leaving the UK. But a quick search of my inbox shows Graz is where most of the work is, and the latest rate I can find in any of the emails is €70 per hour.

If I were to take on this work through my Ltd company it would translate to a salary equivalent of around £101,000 or $130,000 US. What you actually get out of it probably depends on your exact tax situation I guess!

Most of the work in Austria that comes my way seems to be embedded systems or kernel work, though one or two are Java related.


Damn, I live in Graz and work in the embedded field and never get any contracting offers in my inbox.

Would you mind sharing some, maybe in private?


I've put my email address in my profile info, temporarily. Ping me and I'll happily forward you a few of the more recent ones.


Pinged successful. Thanks! :)


They also have a chart of "How Switzerland tax measures up internationally" which lists the corp tax rates for each country, which have nothing to do with personal income tax.


Also, a lot of the "pros" of living in Switzerland are basically the same as in the US. In any other low-key metropolis (Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Des Moines, whatever) a software developer with 5 years of experience can earn $130k and buy houses for $250k - $350k. If you're single, you can get luxury 1 BD apartments for $1500 in happening parts of town.

Plus, in the enterprise world it's very easy to find 40/hr wk (or in practice, sometimes less!) jobs.

Not all of them have the natural beauty of Switzerland, but if you want that, you can find that too.

My next move might be working for Amazon in Nashville after I put in a few good years at my current gig. That seems like it could be a nice place to live.


Sorry, but Austin is not low COL. you’re way off the mark with those numbers for anything near Austin central and it’s going up exceedingly fast.


I was in total agreement with this and for fun I did a Zillow search and there are in fact a good many condos that are asking <=$350K. Some of them are even large enough to turn around in too. I have to say I'm a little surprised. None of them are awesome but I've seen many a worse place in The Lower Haight.


Zip codes 78701-78704 are the most relevant. $350k will buy you a house that is falling apart from the 1920s in most cases. It is not “cheap” here by the national standard. Just comparatively to the coasts.


78704 is still the best zip code in the country though


In fairness to the person you are responding to[1], the numbers were probably true 5 years ago, sort of true 3 years ago and only seem completely off in the last 2 years.

[1] I find the term OP to be ambivalent. Like is it the original poster of the whole thread or the original poster you are responding to?


You are correct -- I haven't checked on Austin in quite a while.

However, my point is you don't have to choose between an expensive, top US tech hub and leaving the states entirely if you want a more chill, laid back, and less expensive lifestyle.

There are like 50 other cities in the US that offer all the amenities of a big city, with chill jobs and without the sky-high COL.


You obviously never lived in Switzerland. Can't explain all the US-CH differences in few words, but some benefits: better healthcare, better social system, much much safer, actually working public school system, great clean nature on your doorstep, I can be in 2 minutes of drive in beautiful France and 1 hour drive in Italy and rest of Europe is just around the corner. Very health and sport-oriented mentality. Super strong middle class which creates much healthier long term society. Much better (and healthier!) food, population that has most voting power in the world and actually votes sanely. You can have all the guns you can have in US too :) And so on and on and on...

Oh, and your tax dollars don't support wars making the world a significantly worse place with all the rest of evil attached, if you care about such things.


> Oh, and your tax dollars don't support wars making the world a significantly worse place with all the rest of evil attached, if you care about such things.

I'm not trying to sound defensive here, but in a global world there has to be a superpower or two playing the role of a superpower. And if you like Western democratic ideals, it's a good thing that they're aligned with those.

The whole world is living in the relatively peaceful and prosperous structure of alliances that were established after WWII, and I personally wouldn't want to see those disappear. Maybe if you live in China, Russia, Brazil, or the Middle East, or you have a different value system than I do, you might disagree.


As an American who lived in Switzerland for a couple of years, I agree with all these points. If I could have, I would have stayed there.

Edit add: On the other hand, at least when I was there, the wages weren't comparable to US wages for similar work and management attitudes about software developers tended to border on considering them glorified typists.


Not sure why you are getting downvoted. But Switzerland is a stunning country, with snow capped mountains and lush green hills everywhere. And unbelievable public transit and train system. I don't think anywhere in the US is comparable. Even in Colorado and Sierras you have to drive down treacherous roads with mad traffic. In Switzerland, you just relax in a train as it takes you to 12K feet elevation


I don’t agree or disagree with any specific points.

I just think it’s funny you are 1:1 comparing a country twice the size of, with the same population of New Jersey, with its single city over 250k... to the entirety of the United States.


> In any other low-key metropolis (Dallas [...]) a software developer with 5 years of experience can earn $130k

My 15 YOE ass left Dallas three years ago partly because I couldn't break $100k there. Where are these jobs?

That said, I bought my house in 2008 for $175k.


> In any other low-key metropolis (Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Des Moines, whatever)

I'd wager the typical city in Switzerland is much more liveable (i.e. not being trapped in a car as you commute to and from suburbs or just get around the horribly laid out car-centric city) than those places.


In some of those cities, sure, but if you want walkable city center you can find that, too, and just choose to live there.

Living in the suburbs is a choice and certainly not the only option in most cities. If you want to live near a real downtown, it's still way, way, cheaper than living some globally-recognized urban center. Maybe not quite as cool, but way more laid back.


Note that this rent buys you less than 20 minute of commute every day and life near nature while still being able to reach a modern city center in short order.


Just about everywhere in the S.F. Bay Area (a.k.a. Silicon Valley) is near big expanses of undeveloped nature and parks. Commute times are frequently more on the scale of 1 hour.


I'm in Vienna and its pretty normal here to rent for 40-50% of your salary. otherwise you'd move to the far outskirts of the city.


Ah yes, this is exactly why I'm not in Vienna. Software developers are curiously underpaid in Austria. I got offered a better salary even in Brno (Brünn), which is a much cheaper place.

A pity, Vienna is a beautiful city and consistently ranks among the best places to live.


I mean its pretty strange in Austria, In smaller cities "Graz, Linz" where rent could be as low as 50% lower than Vienna, you'd get pretty much the same salary.


Depends on your field. You can make insane money as an overpriced contractor in Vienna financial sector that you'd never dream about in Graz.


I often hear about how Vienna is a public housing paradise. (ie, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/vienna-affordable-housing-par..., https://www.huduser.gov/portal/pdredge/pdr_edge_featd_articl...)

Is it the market-rate units that cost 40-50% of your salary?


Yes public housing is great In Austria in general, you'd just need to fulfill some requirements to be eligible for it, one of which you need to be a resident of the city for 7+ years.


Here in Germany it's also like 50-60+% of income for housing (1 room apartment) if u start out as dev


Personally, I'd rather avoid both SV and CH and just live in Texas.

$1/sq. ft. ($10.76/m²) is still the norm in Dallas, and it's not too hard to find cheaper. You would pay less money for a decent-size house in the suburbs of Dallas than the cheapest 1-bedroom apartment in SV or Zurich.


Are you seriously considering an extremely boring and bland US metropolis to living in country that is the middle of Alps ?


Austin is also still amazingly well priced compared to the salaries you can pull there, especially against SF or Zurich.


I don't think I could stand Texas. I don't like heat and I hate having to deal with commuting.

Also I abhor the politics of the state and region, in general.


Same. I'll stay in Texas with my $75k 3-bedroom house and no state taxes.


Just to add a few data points: in my area it’s normal to pay less than 3k CHF for more than 100sq. m. (Buildings are 3 years old). 10 minutes to the city center of Zurich.

Unless you want to live exactly in the center of Zurich, I have never seen such expensive apartments as mentioned in the article.


> that means that we can calculate your rent there to be between 30% to 48%. But I guess, just because it is in Switzerland, it should not be outrageous?

The article assumes that you would share the flat with others. Sharing with 2 others would mean effective rent is 800-1300 CHF.


3 people in 50m flat doesn't sound amazing.


Also you don't necessarily have to live in Zürich city... Outside the city or in other parts of Switzerland you can find a decent flat for ~1500 CHF.


People don't realize that a commute in Switzerland is not a terrible or necessarily lengthy event, so living outside the city center is a reasonable choice.

A commute in California or New York or London can be a real drag.


...with the cleanest, most on-time, and pleasant public transit you can imagine


So move to Switzerland and have a lower quality of life?


Edit: I was wrong. I'm comparing monthly cost and yearly income.

I think your math is wrong. 4,000 CHF / 100,000 CHF = 4%


I'm gonna go on a limb and say the 2500-4000 CHF was per month which would be 30,000-48,000 per year :)


I'm pretty sure the 4000 CHF is monthly :)


Oops. My bad.


4000 * 12 months = 48000 CHF


I'm an American expat in Switzerland working as an independent software developer and startup founder. I can agree with a lot of the points listed in the article, but they apply universally to almost all jobs (not just to software developers).

I would raise a few points it doesn't mention:

- Negatively, it is much harder to find meetups close to you that apply to you. Unless you're based in Zürich (the tech hub of the region), expect any meetups to be irregular and if you don't go to the next one, it might be the last one.

- Positively, I work from home. I have four providers I could get 1Gbps symmetrical, unmetered, business-class FTTH for less than 100,- CHF / month. It's hard to go wrong with that.

- Positively, the outdoor culture in much of the country really helps you get out of your chair and outdoors. The natural beauty doesn't hurt. :-)

Happy to answer any more questions if you have them—or I'm more than happy to connect if you're also in Switzerland!


> Positively, I work from home. I have four providers I could get 1Gbps symmetrical, unmetered, business-class FTTH for less than 100,- CHF / month. It's hard to go wrong with that.

I pay 79.99 USD a month for Verizon Fios 1 gbps in nyc. That is before a $200.00 credit. Fios is FTTH. That’s a good 20-25% discount to what you pay in Switzerland.

Plus I heard from several colleagues and friends who are people of color that they faced more racism in Switzerland (and a few European countries) than in the US. I know this is subjective and everyone’s experience is different. But you can’t ignore the fact that the CEO’s of two of the largest tech companies in the US are Indians. I don’t know of any large European companies that are being run by people of color. Maybe they are but I just don’t know.


I know a Swiss expat living in America who moved here for that exact reason. His wife is Cuban, and they said they felt more at home and accepted in the US after a few months than they did after 10 years of living in Switzerland. They both loved Switzerland, but they cited the insular culture as the primary reason for leaving. His wife just couldn't handle it anymore.


> the insular culture

Anecdotally, this is the reason most people struggle as expats in CH.


Do / can expats just hang out with each other?


Yes, out of necessity I gather. Seemingly typical of most foreign countries with strong expat presence, but Swiss are notoriously insular.


The CEO of Credit Suisse is a black man from the Ivory Coast.

Not to say that racism doesn't exist in Switzerland but equally you don't see policemen shooting unarmed black people in their houses either.


That's likely attributed more to gun culture than a lack of racism


What is Swiss gun culture like? I know they have one of the highest ownership rates in the world. I was on vacation there a few months ago and was surprised to learn that the government lets you keep your service weapon at the completion of the mandatory military service. Does mandating military service for men make a big impact on gun culture there?


High gun ownership in Switzerland.


> That’s a good 20-25% discount to what you pay in Switzerland.

I actually pay 60,- CHF, plus a bit extra for a static IP + IPv6. I was saying I have that option for four providers all under 100. :)

> Plus I heard from several colleagues and friends who are people of color that they faced more racism in Switzerland

I can't speak directly to this, since I am not a PoC. What I have observed is the racism that exists appears to be of a different type than is typical in the US. It is more an aversion to outsiders than against a particular class of people. But again, I can't really speak to it since I'm not in the position to be on the receiving end of it. (Everyone thinks I'm Swiss until I open my mouth.)


That's what obviously the article doesn't mention.

Money is not all, and I know plenty of white people too who could not handle the "arrogant Swiss people", that they had to leave the country.

You can't generalize, I agree, however when you hear more times the same complains from completely different people, you start to wonder if there is not a bit of truth in it, though. I didn't want to add negativity to the post, I just really dislike this sort of articles trying to convince people to do something they might regret.



Anecdotal: a friend (filipina) was married to a Dentist in Switzerland. She was generally assumed to be a prostitute or mail order bride.

Needless to say she's struggled to integrate and make friends and the country has forever tainted their experience for the worst.


Meanwhile I pay $80/month for 12Mbs cable from Comcast in Silicon Valley. My only other option is DSL. I'm not going to be moving to Switzerland any time soon, but the internet situation in the US is spotty and inconsistent at best.


20€/month for 1Gbps in France. In big cities only - in smaller cities you might get 200Mbps.


not to turn this into a 1-up session, but 100CHF is an overestimate.

i pay 49.99/mo for 10Gbps symmetric https://fiber.salt.ch/en


Last I checked, Salt is much more shaky with speeds and some of the bandwidth may be shared. With the EWZ municipal fiber in Zurich (served by one of the private companies like the GP mentioned) I get the speeds I pay for all the time. I've heard worse things about Salt, but I won't complain about a better option so I'd be happy to be proven wrong.


Germans face racism in Switzerland


Deutsche Bank used to have an Indian CEO

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anshu_Jain

Most European CEOs/presidents just aren't as well known as the US behemoths.


The CEO of one of the three largest companies in Switzerland is of Indian origin (born in the US to Indian parents, I think).


> - Negatively, it is much harder to find meetups close to you that apply to you. Unless you're based in Zürich (the tech hub of the region), expect any meetups to be irregular and if you don't go to the next one, it might be the last one.

In my experience there is a lot of meetup in Lausanne and Geneva. However it is a different kind of tech hub mostly focus on deep tech, where Zurich/zug focus mostly on Fintech/Blockchain.


Ah—that's quite possible. I'm close to St. Gallen, so either of those cities are 3-4 hours by train for me (so a bit out of the range I'd normally travel for a meetup).


How was the process of obtaining a work visa / citizenship?


It's probably easier applying to a company in the EU, if you google "EU blue card program", for IT jobs, if you have a university degree and a job offer from a company, you'll get a residency permit (what you're calling a work visa).

If you really want to move to Switzerland, be a taxpayer for 7 years in Germany, learn German, stay out of trouble and unemployment, and you can apply to be a German citizen. After that, moving to Switzerland is easy: show the authorities your job contract with a Swiss company, they're obliged to give you a residency permit (at least that's the arrangement they have with the EU at the moment)


It took me about 10 minutes at the local city hall. However, my wife is Swiss, so I'm very much an exception.

If you don't have a familial connection, you need to find a job, and the company will need to prove they couldn't find a local Swiss resident/citizen that could have done the same job, so it's a bit harder to get in than Germany or other areas of the EU.

Edit: I'm on a multi-year residency visa. I'll need to renew once more before I'm eligible for citizenship (after ~5 years).


No, they need to prove that they can't find a Swiss/EU/EEA citizen (not necessarily a resident, just an applicant) that could do the same job. EU/EEA citizens are on par with Swiss citizens in every sector except for possibly civil service, at least for now, though referendums repeatedly seem to pass that would limit this freedom for both sides.


Make sure you are knowledgeable about raclette.

https://www.thelocal.ch/20180604/brit-denied-swiss-citizensh...


I've heard similar stories, but all of the regulation surrounding citizenship is not so homogeneous between towns, cantons, etc.

So some cantons might only require a basic understanding while others grill you like this. It'll be a few years before I discover how it is in St. Gallen. :)


Based on the commune/canton residency restrictions in St. Gallen for naturalizing, I can't imagine they'd love to see people completing the process. :/


1. How easy/difficult to get Switzerland citizenship if you live and work there?

2. How popular is English language is in Switzerland IT companies?


I can comment on 2 as a swiss developer: It depends. While it might not be the prevalent spoken language, all small companies and startups i worked at so far had code comments, commit messages and issue tracker stories in english. The larger, more estabilished companies had most text in german. But everybody is willing to switch to spoken english in my experience.


This guide answers a lot of questions: https://swissdevjobs.ch/blog/how-to-find-job-as-software-dev...

Long story short: it's super easy if you are from the EU. If not, it is quite hard.


Not easy at all if you don't have any connection. Applying by simply sending a CV won't work at all. It's a different story once you're in then finding a job is pretty easy. I have several friends that have tried and the ones who made it moved first to the Switzerland subsidiary of the company they were already working for. Other had relatives in Switzerland and didn't had any reply to their applications when staying in their birth country. After moving to their relatives in Switzerland they found a job within one month.


AS an American I am sure its almost impossible. On a positive note I do speak German already.


It is a lot easier than the other way around ;)

We managed to hire Americans (and Russians, Chinese, Indians, ...) all right at my previous job. Not every employer is willing or able though, so it definitely limits your options.


1. (See above answer as well.) It's definitely difficult if you don't have a familial connections. Once you get in, though, it's pretty easy to stay and if you stay for 10+ years, you can get citizenship fairly easily.

2. It is mixed. I've had local interviews in (high) German but they were comfortable enough to switch to English if needed. Most jobs list proficiency in English + German as a requirement.


Citizenship is relatively hard: you have to be a resident for 12+ years to start the process. A lot of people never bother - a long term residency permit ("C") is almost as good, but you don't vote and do not have military duties.

Everybody speaks English; I know a number of people in Zürich who never bothered to learn German, as there is a large expat community and everything is multi-lingual.


> I know a number of people in Zürich who never bothered to learn German

I think Zürich is just a typical large city exception (similar to Berlin or Amsterdam). I think German (or French or Italian) is pretty necessary outside of Zürich/Geneva.


If you have children and want citizenship for them, one of the parents must be Swiss.

As for language, I took an intensive French class at the University of Geneva when I worked there. At the end of the class everyone in it, students from all over the world, spoke better English. We studied French but socialized in English.


It's 10+ years for citizenship as of a few years ago. Also, I doubt the military duties will apply to the vast majority of people that move there as adults and then start the process of residency and naturalization.


> 1. How easy/difficult to get Switzerland citizenship if you live and work there?

I know someone who was born there, raised there, currently lives there (after a while in North America) and does not having citizenship or want to go through the hassle.

From what she says it's a massive pain in the ass.


"How easy/difficult to get Switzerland citizenship if you live and work there"

"From what she says it's a massive pain in the ass."

This statement is true, but geting citizenship is not required to stay in Switzerland basicly vor ever as long as u have work


She has an EU passport for her and her kid (husband is american though).


I'm in Zurich, moved recently from South Africa - also in the startup space, currently working remotely, also from home.

Would love to grab a coffee sometime if you're keen - your website in your profile doesn't resolve - does the email work?


Just fixed up the domain, thanks for reminding me. :)

Yes the email works: hello <at> lukeseelenbinder <dot> com. Let's definitely meet up! I'm in St. Gallen, so not far at all.


How was the process of moving from the US to Switzerland? I'm a senior engineer, and I'm open to moving there to work, but I don't have the slightest idea of how I would go about finding places to interview or find a job. How did you find yours? Are there recruiters to bring in out-of-country talent? I feel like that would be a massive hurdle, considering you would need a visa. Any advice on finding a job?

Edit: I'm an idiot, that's a job site. Some of the question still stands, how was the process of finding a job out of the country and getting a visa?


I'm an American living and working in Zurich for Google. Frankly - without Google handling every part of the process for me it would have been extremely difficult to get the visa.

The best route you have into a job here as an American (or other non-schengen area resident) is to find a company already doing business here, get hired, and then transfer here.

But once here... it is very nice


I actually moved because of family (wife) vs because of a job, so I brought my job with me.

The few interviews I've had have been through friends knowing friends, but there's a good number of job sites dedicated to Switzerland.

Getting a visa as a third-country citizen (i.e., not EU or CH) is difficult and you need to find the right company that's willing to jump through the hoops for you. Definitely doable if your skillset is right, but it's going to be unique for each situation. A more viable option may be by using an EU country as a springboard (get EU residency, which, in my understanding, can improve your chances of getting a visa in CH).


Have you found there to be a significant language barrier when moving to Switzerland? I know Europeans generally know English, but is there an expectation that you speak German or another local language?


I'm Swiss but we have a lot of people from different places working here. Many Swiss people are totally fine with English, and since we speak Swiss german, nobody expect you speak it anyway.

That said, in our case, working for Banks, you do still connect to the 'old school' Swiss buissness who are a little less English driven then the Tech sector. That has caused some issues for us, but not all that significant.


Not OP, but I have so e experience particularly in Zurich. English is widely spoken by a majority of the people you'll be working with, but some sort of basic German can go a very long way. Compared to other cities like Paris or Strasbourg (other tech-ish cities), Zurich is far more English friendly, perhaps only second to Amsterdam.


It’s a bit harder in French Switzerland, particularly Lausanne, some of the people don’t speak English or simply don’t want to. Still not that bad, however.

The police l, if you have to interact with them, might treat you more roughly if you don’t speak the local language.


I spoke enough German to make the transition to Swiss German okay. It's definitely a barrier and I'm still working through it. Most people can and do speak English if they think their English is smoother than your German / Swiss German.

Outside of major, cosmopolitan cities (pretty much Zürich and Geneva), I'd say there is an expectation to speak the local language. Anything official I've done has been in German.


What are the ways to get a visa? You've said you married a Swiss woman, and that work visas are only available to non-EU people when companies couldn't find a Swiss (or EU) person to do the job. I suppose there's also some kind of "millionaire visa". Is that it? How hard are each of these categories of visa to get?


Why an expat. Is it something with the work permit. How does one transition from expat to immigrant ?


Technically, yes. I use the term "expat" to denote that I'm not a Swiss citizen yet; the definition is pretty broad and can include immigrants: https://www.wordnik.com/words/expat.


All expats by definition are immigrants, not all immigrants are expats. Normally refers to high qualified high earning individuals while in most places most immigrants are low skilled low wage and only a small group would be reasonably called expats.


If you google expat vs immigrant it's contentious.. https://www.thelocal.de/20140617/are-you-an-expat-or-immigra...


What type of visa do you have and how did you qualify for it? Was it difficult to get?


Answered here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21258550.

I'm very much an exception to the norm. I would have looked at Germany first if I were unmarried.


I'm based in Zurich, also happy to connect.


Let's! My email is in my profile.


Are there 95-100% remote jobs?


I've been working in Switzerland for 6 months, from what I've seen it is very common to find jobs with 1 day a week working from home but very unusual to find 100% remote jobs


From what I've seen, it's less common than the US but they do exist.


Usually blockchain-based stuff around Zug.


After reading this article, here is my advice to a developer in the Bay Area

1. Definitely don't move to Switzerland. Your cost of living will be very similar, you will have to work more than 40 hours a week, and your salary will go down.

2. Move literally anywhere else in the USA. I live in Boulder, Colorado and its awesome. Mountains and trails out my door with a great city scene as well. People snob at Boulder because its getting expensive, but you can still rent a 1 bedroom for 1300, and get a room in a house for $800. Google, Twitter and Uber are here if you want FAANG level compensation, as well as a bunch of other small companies.

3. Or better yet, get a remote job and move to somewhere even cheaper. I work remotely and it was really hard not to move to Bend, Oregon. I could have bought a nice house there for what I paid for my small townhome in Boulder. The only reason I didn't do it is because I am a fanatic rock climber and the climbing around Boulder is better.

One thing I have found about working remotely is that its pretty easy to work 35 hours a week and produce the same output as a full time, in office employee. Less distractions and in-office chitchat, and more working time. In practice this means that you can wake up at 7:30, make a coffee, be online at 8am, and then be free by 3pm. The Swiss 9 to 6 is a hard sell with this lifestyle.


>One thing I have found about working remotely is that its pretty easy to work 35 hours a week and produce the same output as a full time, in office employee. Less distractions and in-office chitchat, and more working time. In practice this means that you can wake up at 7:30, make a coffee, be online at 8am, and then be free by 3pm

This is highly individual. My company lets me work remote whenever and as much as I want. I still spend the vast majority of my time in the office because I'm far less productive when working from home.


I've been working remotely for twelve years now and I think that today I wouldn't be able to write a single line of code in a crowded space with other people.


Me neither, which is why I refuse to work for a company with that kind of work environment. So far, my personal experience is office>cubicle>home. If I ever do find myself unfortunate enough to be forced to take an open office job, I expect it will rank below working from home.


Boulder only has a handful of companies and a very high cost of living. I don't think it is a wise choice for all. At the end of the day, if you are making bank in FAANG, there is nowhere in the world remotely comparable. Everything else is a massive compromise


I used to live in Switzerland, so maybe we can mention some of the downsides.

It's racist. Really racist. If you're white, no one's going to hassle you to see your papers. If you're not, keep them with you. Expect to meet hostility in shops and markets and get quoted different prices than white people. Those 25% immigrants the article mentions? Mostly European, and many of those aren't immigrants. They were born and raised in Switzerland, but are still considered immigrants.

It's rigid. I'm not sure I want my children going to school in a system where using the wrong color pen is penalized comparably to getting the answer wrong.


If you're single or a couple dating, love tech, move to SV. Don't deprive yourself of that experience.

Hire a professional relocator to find your apartment. That's what we did. Company paid for it.

Every third person you will meet is an engineer, generally working on something cool. Everyone has ideas as to how you can do things "better" - from tech to processes to politics.

You can attend all sorts of product launch parties, meetups, company socializers. So many that it's impossible to go to them all.

You can meet many of the founders and engineers that you read from on HN. Either they live in SF/Bay Area or end up visiting. Just tweet at them and ask.

I've never regretted those years.

The financial line gets much blurrier when we started having a family, along with the SF school system isn't that great.

But for tech culture, it was one of a kind. So. Much. Tech. And I loved every moment of it.


"Every third person you will meet is an engineer, generally working on something cool. Everyone has ideas as to how you can do things "better" - from tech to processes to politics. ... You can attend all sorts of product launch parties, meetups, company socializers. So many that it's impossible to go to them all. ... You can meet many of the founders and engineers that you read from on HN. Either they live in SF/Bay Area or end up visiting. Just tweet at them and ask."

I live in the SFBA for reasons other than tech/career but this has been a huge plus. It's very interesting and exciting to visit the major tech HQs and meet founders and engineers living and working here, etc.

My favorite example of this was last year, 2018, when Twilio Signal was coincident with Litquake. I stayed in the city all week and talked shop with Twilio folks all day and went to talks/lectures about the evils of technology every evening :)


Sure.

Now name any Swiss company that makes software that you heard of before.

I'll wait.

Switzerland is eager to compare itself to Silicon Valley as a center for education and innovation, but I have lived here for 11 years and I can tell you that that comparison is utter horse shit. Why?

Because Switzerland, as a tiny neutral country, most of all lacks ambition. You can't make it as a small company with lots of ideas.

You couldn't pay the salaries for talent - the talent can earn double or triple working in private banking, insurance of big pharma.

Or maybe the talent already moved away since very few companies can afford to even open offices in Switzerland, or if they do, they are sales only. Google, Microsoft and IBM are the biggest exceptions in the Zurich area.


Like half of these are negatives, imo.

1) I've found places in the bay for way less than what they were saying, even without roommates. Its like 2k for a 1br in Lake Merritt, which is 15-20 minute BART to SF.

2) Yes startups that are pre-seed/ pre-series A will have crazy hours, but any big tech co. will be pretty close to 40 hours a week. My team is pretty big about work life balance, and we work at a place infamous for not caring about it. I generally work 9-5, with whatever wfh I want.

3) See point 1. Granted if you want a house, it'll be more/farther out, but apartments can still be had.

4) Money is better in the US. I currently make about 160k USD, which is more than pretty much any European Dev will make.

6) 300 CHF is still 6x what I pay for healthcare per month. I currently pay 46 USD per month for (from what I can tell is excellent) healthcare, vision, and dental.

There are a lot of legitimate criticisms of the bay area (expensive, local politics are fucked, everyone is a tech bro, etc), but some of these are a bit ridiculous and not very indicative. There's a reason why the bay area is a desired place to live, and why I personally am trying to move back there.


> 4) Money is better in the US. I currently make about 160k USD, which is more than pretty much any European Dev will make.

If you're contracting in London at 600 GBP per day (not an unreasonable amount for a senior in demand, it's very possible to get more than than), then assuming 2 weeks of vacation and 1 week of public holidays, you make 147k GBP, which amounts to $185k. You can make even more in Scandinavian countries, but such contracts there are rather rare, while 600 GBP p.d. in London is common.


Thats probably true, but thats someone at the top of the field in of the most expensive places to contract. I am very much not a senior engineer, I started as a new grad about 6 weeks ago.


I wouldn't say that you need to be at top of the field for that - just smart (smarter than you average dev I guess) and have 8-10 years of experience. Although to be true, I don't think people at the top of the field make more than $200k-$300k (assuming the field is in demand), and these are rather uncommon cases - I imagine that is much more rarer than the same money in the US.

On the other hand, pretty great deals can be had in Europe as well - I'm currently sitting in Poland making $160k, with low costs of living and taxes. Would need to probably make twice that much in California for the same lifestyle and yearly savings.


> 6) 300 CHF is still 6x what I pay for healthcare per month. I currently pay 46 USD per month for (from what I can tell is excellent) healthcare, vision, and dental.

You are the exception here, not the rule. 46 USD for Healthcare is pretty rare in the US. It's not uncommon for people to spend 500 USD per month, so 300 CHF would look good to many people.

There is also the potential argument that the Swiss healthcare system is better overall than the US system, but that could be a complete debate in itself.


> 46 USD for Healthcare is pretty rare in the US.

For a software developer (the subject of the post) it is not pretty rare. The median software developer is well over six figures in the US now for salary. Having your healthcare entirely or nearly entirely covered by your employer, is not unusual when you're over $100k.


You also need to compare the amount you have to pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in. 300 CHF probably requires you to pay out of pocket around 2500 CHF before insurance kicks in.


Isn't the 46$ just that part you pay? In other words, isn't your employer paying the rest?

This is just for clarification that we're comparing apples to apples.


Does it matter? Maybe if the employer was paying a lower salary to make up the difference it would, but everyone in this thread seems to agree that US developers get paid more too.


I guess that’s true. Sorry, not to versed in healthcare costs, it’s the first time I had to pick my own plan and/or pay for it.


You’re also, I’m guessing, young with no dependents.

The employee portion of health care costs goes up dramatically as you age (even if you don’t pay for other people); you can’t project from your health care costs in your 20s out to middle age.


At every place I’ve worked in the US my employee share of health insurance does not vary by age, only by plan you select and if you cover dependents.


The founder of Autodesk, John Walker, has written extensively on this topic since moving to Switzerland decades ago.

https://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/pourquoi_la_suisse/


...and then they closed their Swiss offices in 2017 [0].

[0] https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/software-shock_autodesk-to-shut...


He no longer works at Autodesk.


So I'm guessing it's not quite as easy to hire in Switzerland?


> In Zurich, you can rent a whole flat (50+ square meters) for something between 2500-4000 CHF

Is USD 2500 - USD 4000 supposed to be cheap?!


Yeah and that's for a 538 sqft apartment. I don't know the specifics of the San Francisco rental market, but you can easily beat $4k/mo for a studio in desirable parts of Manhattan, so I assume the same is true of SV


$3000 will get you a not bad one bedroom in a old building with rent control in SF, or in a new building in the burbs.


You can do $3k for a 1BR/studio in a new building? I've been seeing >$3,600 in Peninsula currently.


50m^2 is about 534 sqft for comparison. I haven't looked at renting in SF in a long time but 2500-4000 CHF for that seems pretty high.

You don't need to live in the city center though.


Zurich itself is crazy expensive. If you're willing to travel by train for 20 minutes (direct, no changes), then prices quickly drop to around 2k for 120 square meters


In many Indian cities it is possible to find decent full appartments for about 150$ per month, not to mention the cheaper food and medical costs, and general costs of living.


In Silly Valley, yes.


4K is about Palo Alto territory.


A maybe minor point: It's more or less impossible to become a Swiss if you aren't already whereas it's kind of possible to become an American. If your company makes it it's entirely possible this can become a problem down the line, for instance regarding your tax status or rights and obligations.

Also, the culture is remarkably different, so if you're expecting something similar to the american college campus-like experience large companies offer over there you're in for a hell of a culture shock.


> A maybe minor point: It's more or less impossible to become a Swiss if you aren't already whereas it's kind of possible to become an American. If your company makes it it's entirely possible this can become a problem down the line, for instance regarding your tax status or rights and obligations.

These days it's significantly easier to get a Swiss passport than a US one for most nations.


>It's more or less impossible to become a Swiss

While Switzerland might not be strictly in the EU it is very much a grey area -- it is in some ways effectively in the EU so -- personally I'm Irish and pretty sure I could live and work in Switzerland tomorrow. I'm just pointing out you don't need to be Swiss to be on a level playing field.

Worth nothing though as well Switzerland is often very hostile to employing US Passports in any financial firms (alot of finanical firms employe devs in SW) (as apposed to Americans they represent) -- laregely because of banking culture and FACTA.


The difference between “kind of possible” and “more or less impossible” is the difference between 5 and 10 years of residence required to apply.


Wow, talk about making me not want to move to Switzerland. Granted, I'm not in the bay area but...

1. Accommodation prices seem about the same where I live.

2. I work 40 hours a week too

3. 20 minute bus ride for me so no "2 hour commute".

4. 120,000 CHF for a senior? I make over 200,000 and I have less than 4 years of experience. That would be a huge pay cut.

5. 35% income taxes + state? This is just blatantly false as effective federal income tax rate doesn't hit 35% until over a million. I for example paid just 22% in federal income taxes including social security and medicare.

6. My biweekly copay is just $50. Granted, I am on a high deductible plan but the deductible is only 1300 with a max out of pocket limit of 2600 a year and I have a health savings account which allows me to save/invest 100% tax free income for health care spending.


Switzerland is a complex system: instead of 1 high rate tax, you pay many low taxes. So cheating is not worth it individually (too risky/complex for a small saving). But the sum is crazy.

Exemple of taxes/mandatory ccharges a developper will pay: network tax, photocopy tax, radio tax, VAT, AHV/IV, garbage elimination tax, city tax, state tax, federal tax, healthcare (in some countries it is included in your "federal/state" tax), etc.

I just got my "final tax decision"... Switzerland is a fiscal inferno if your income comes from work (vs capital gain)...

Usually, I work 6 month per year for taxes. My grand parents were working 1 to 1.5 month in the 60s-70s to pay their taxes also as "independant".

Plus with all the crazy fix and variable costs, it is not competitive as an independant or small company.

Today, as a "personne morale" (corporation) only complex fiscally optimized structures can get a low tax rate (or as a "physical person" if you are ultra rich (3 comma club) not professionally active in the country you can negotiate a very low rate).

PS: also, can we definitively kill the ridiculous myth/reputation of Swiss data protection? (In case of criminal investigation, in many cantons (equivalent to states) a police investigator does not even need a judge warrant to have access to the data)


> Usually, I work 6 month per year for taxes.

Having worked as freelance in switzerland, that sound weird and make me thing : "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"


Each situation is different and depends on an infinity of parameters (for exemple do not forget that a married couple pays more taxes than two individuals).

Income city+state+federal (30%), VAT (7,6%), AHV (11%) + all the rest I have lost count of.

For exemple, I pay 2,7% for PCI (Family allowance tax).

I have a very good revenue by Swiss standard. Everything from work, nothing from capital gain.

- I work in Romandie where personal tax a waaaay higher than in Swiss Germany and I am not in the best city...

- I do not count 2nd pilier as it is a "capitalisation" system and not "redistribution" (AHV). But are also mandatory insurances. Also, the revenue you will get at retirement is shrinking (due to life expectancy and negative rates) and is forecasted to even decrease in the future.

- Do not forget that Federal tax is not linear...

PS: Fun fact. Almost all successful French tennis players have lived in Switzerland a few years because they could negociate their taxes. Roger Federer or Wawrinka who have done a lot for a positive image of Switzerland had to pay full rate...

PS2: Company tax system is under total renovation now (because of pressure from Europe). I can imaging that personal tax will follow in the coming decades.


> for exemple do not forget that a married couple pays more taxes than two individuals

Not necessarily, it depends on details like the canton and the income of each person.


This issue may be fixed in the future, but unfortunately still a reality. https://www.efd.admin.ch/efd/de/home/themen/steuern/steuern-...


Please note that the labour market is regulated in Switzerland and that, depending on where you come from (especially outside EU), it may be difficult or impossible to obtain a work permit.


In other words, if you're American, it can be next to impossible to get a work visa.


Is that different from Silicon Valley?


You may be thinking of H1-B work visas. Those are capped but nationally rather than for Silicon Valley.


Zurich’s strength is also that it’s centrally located in Europe, within 1-2 hours of France, Germany, and Italy and close to mountains for skiing. There are also some serious negatives ignored in the article. First, weather is a lot worse than in California. It’s wet and cold. Second, they speak Swiss German, which means all administrative forms are in that language. Most people will speak English, at least in a business setting but it’s not as easy as in London or even Amsterdam. If you have kids they will grow up speaking German. Another negative is the price of food and restaurants and the lack of food diversity.


> Second, they speak Swiss German, which means all administrative forms are in that language.

All government forms are in (High/Schrift) German, French, and Italian.

> lack of food diversity.

This is certainly true.


The tax section is incredibly misleading. For Ireland, the 12.5% tax rate is corporation tax, not for individuals. The effective income tax rate in Ireland for dev level salaries is 40%+, after a point your marginal tax rate becomes 52%.

Quickly looking into it, all the tax rates look like the corporation tax. The graph is blatantly wrong across the board.


Moving their in 20 days. (software engineer from London).

In my opinion there is less opportunities there (In Switzerland) higher starting salary, then people get stuck in the middle 120-140, and can't shift past. (for the reasons mentioned below). Because managers don't want to pay developers more than themselves.

HOWEVER, that same problem exists in London, but is typically solved by developers going day-rate contract. That way management can justify and still get experience.

Because the market is smaller in Switzerland it does not make it so easy for a day-rate contractor market to exist..

So, my point is, if Switzerland is better than London for developers on a global level. Its only marginal. But compared to other salaries, Doctors, Dentists Lawyers, Engineers etc. Developers in London are well paid (treated as technical roles similar to those mentioned) Whereas in Switzerland developers are paid half++ of those jobs.


I have seen some day rate contracts in Zurich at astronomical rates, if you don't mind working for a Big Bank. One of them even offered expensed flights, hotel accommodation and a (substantial) per diem!

J2EE isn't the bleeding edge but it can keep the lights on.


Cons: no Sun and the salaries seem to be capped at CHF 120-140K. Has that old school European mindset that managers and MBAs should be paid more than individual contributors, engineers.


That mindset is definitely not exclusive to Europe, almost every country on the planet thinks managers and MBA's should be paid more than individual contributors. It's only a very recent trend in the US that it started to change.


... and only in parts of the US.

Historically compensation tends to be tied to age/seniority and hierarchical status, not contribution per se.


This is my experience as well. Even with > 10 years experience, it's hard to find engineering jobs paying > 120k.

> In Zurich, you can rent a whole flat (50+ square meters) for something between 2500-4000 CHF and if you are single and open to living with other people you can find a room in something called Wohngemeinde for as little as 800-1000 CHF.

Good luck if you have a family, it's ~4k for 4.5 rooms (100sqm).

Check the listings on the website, most of them cap out at 10k/month. That is gross, pre-tax. So net is about 8k max.

> Maybe it is because of the crunch work culture that squeezes out everything out of employees and only gives a payout to founders and VCs?

This is no different in Switzerland.


>> In Zurich, [...] you can find a room in something called Wohngemeinde

This was an error in the original article, by the way. The correct word is "Wohngemeinschaft". "Wohngemeinde" means "city/town/village you're residing in".

> Good luck if you have a family, it's ~4k for 4.5 rooms (100sqm).

Well, yes and no. Rents can be quite high for new arrivals. But about 20% of rental apartments in Zürich are owned by non-profit Wohnbaugenossenschaften, where rents are a lot cheaper, rise very modestly, and as long as you're on good standing, you pretty much never get kicked out, but you need to get onto a waiting list for a number of months/years.


I know at least 6 other devs (backend, frontend, mobile) who work in Zurich that don't make it past 110k with 5+ years of experience.


Lots of Sun, but maybe not as much as Southern California.

San Francisco is famously non-sunny (all that cloud).

Salaries are certainly not capped at 140k CHF, I've seen a number of job ads for 180K CHF and that doesn't count stock options which is usually the bulk of compensation at the high end.

Not sure about the MBA vs IC thing though.


Zurich (which is mentioned in the article) sees ~1,500 hours of sunshine a year [1]. That's absolutely horrendous and not "lots of sun" by any measure.

I grew up in a place in France that gets slightly more sun than Zurich. I now live in the Bay Area Peninsula with 3,000+ hours of sunshine a year and the difference is incredible, especially in winter.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_sunshine_dur...


> San Francisco is famously non-sunny (all that cloud).

San Francisco is on a peninsula, so it gets lots of fog. Its weather pattern does not represent the area in general.

San Jose is further inland and very sunny most of the year.

Today SF high will be 66F and San Jose 75F; big difference but in either case its mid-October and still t-shirt weather.


> Salaries are certainly not capped at 140k CHF, I've seen a number of job ads for 180K CHF Are you speaking about CH or USA? Because in CH it pretty much seems to be capped at 140k CHF and below. Unless you are speaking of a very specific role/technology stack.


I was applying for roles recently that were as high as 180K CHF (and that wasn't FAANG).


Can you share some company names? Seems rare


One I applied for recently was dacadoo[0]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dacadoo


> San Francisco is famously non-sunny (all that cloud).

Used to be true, but less and less given climate change


Not only does Switzerland have a Sun, it has the same Sun as California, just on a slightly different schedule.


The cosine function would like to have a word with you...


Just keep in mind the geography. Zürich is roughly as far north as Seattle, while San Francisco is a bit further south than Athens.


Like appearing once every 6 months


At Google Zürich the total comp starts at 160K chf/year for fresh grads and with counteroffers can go much higher.


What would the number be for an Interaction Designer?


They still have the highest salaries in Europe. Anybody moving there from another European country would see those salaries as pretty awesome.

I don't care what managers and MBA-s make until I can make an awesome living. I'm not more special.


Copenhagen has about the same salary ranges as quoted in the article. Taxes are a higher, but healthcare is free and foreigners can get 3years of 25% flat tax rate if you get a tech job (based purely on income, I think). Living costs are lower than Switzerland, I rent 100sqm for about 1900EUR. Good cheese is more readily available in Switzerland though


Also most expensive place to live in europe


I did the math, still worth it by far.


Exactly. I would make double what I make now in the Netherlands.

That being said, everything is 2 to 3 times more expensive there. That might well be worth it given the quality of life you get there.


> Cons: no Sun

That's a pro to me. I'm happiest when it's cool and cloudy, and everything to do with the sun is just brutally oppressive and makes it hard to get anything done.


> that old school European mindset

Not sure in what kind of bubble you live but it's like that everywhere except if you're a tech engineer in a SV tech company.


> no Sun

Only in the winter. :)

The other points hold as far as my experience goes.


Not true, there's a ton of sun in the mountains above the clouds.


Well, yes. I would say most developers can't go to their nearest 2500m peak and work for the day, though. :)


He was trying to make a joke..


The capped salary is a really big deal.


1. How easy/difficult to get Switzerland citizenship if you live and work there?

2. How popular is English language is in Switzerland IT companies?


1. The path to citizenship is pretty long as an adult: https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home/themen/buergerrecht/ein...

But once you tick the boxes it's not particularly hard.

2. Very.


1. If you don't live in a bigger city forget it. You have to pass "inspection" on comunal, city and state level (in that order). And the people in small villages won't say yes unless you are maybe very active in local (drinking) clubs.


my brilliant colleague went to Zurich for a year to work with finance people on math problems. He said that it was not the culture to mix socially, he liked to ride his road bike in the good weather, and basically, he worked the entire year without making any friends or being social. Then he left. It was expensive for him at the time (no details) even as a well-paid young math programmer, so it was not a big financial win. His french is not great, so that was also a problem. He did not recommend the experience.


Can confirm - the local media will reprint the same articles every few months on how expats are moving away because the Swiss are too standoffish.

And that includes Germans. I don't want to lean too heavily on the cliches, but if you come across cold even compared to Germans, surely that's a sign.

Source: German expat, living in Switzerland since 2008.


Can and do the expats just socialize with each other to mitigate the problem?


Yes, they can and do.

This of course leads to a societal enclave where even expats that would like to integrate into Swiss society find it harder and harder to do so.

On the other hand, the more right-wing press and parties use them to point out the perceived lack of willing to integrate into society to further restrict immigration.

I wouldn't describe this as a mitigation, more of an escalation.


I agree with this one on some part. It will depend on the city. For Zurich, I agree with that but for Geneva, where I live, that does not apply. The cultural diversity here is way bigger when comparing to Zurich, the fact that a lot of international organizations (UN, Red Cross) are based here may help with that.


What about formal requirements? The software field in the US is known for not caring a whole lot about people's educational backgrounds as long as they can do the job. Is Switzerland the same or are degrees hard requirements?


Maybe the companies don't care, but apparently the US government does. There's a hard requirement for H-1B, that the applicant hold at least a four-year bachelor’s degree in a relevant field or its equivalent, and will be employed in a position which requires such a degree.


From uscis.gov: ‘Have education, training, or progressively responsible experience in the specialty that is equivalent to the completion of such a degree, and have recognition of expertise in the specialty through progressively responsible positions directly related to the specialty.’

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-worker...


Well that's because the government is the government. They also automatically filter out applications that don't contain certain keywords which results in people turning in several page resumes full of keywords.


> Is Switzerland the same or are degrees hard requirements?

It's mixed. Some companies don't care, some do. In my experience, engineers usually don't care, HR sometimes does. So it's mostly getting past HR by playing bullshit bingo in your CV and list any tech you've ever heard of as 'intermediate' skill level so HR finds something when they Ctrl+F.

Not sure about getting a work permit/visa though, it likely won't help not to have formal education.


Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: