"Switzerland is a very pretty country and its proximity to lots of other European countries is a huge benefit. We often drive to Germany for the weekend and in winter, there are lots of wonderful ski resorts within 1.5 hrs drive. It is a country with a lot of rules, especially regarding recycling and no noise on Sundays. Also no shops open on Sundays still catches me off guard for Monday lunches," said one expat in Switzerland. Another expat described Zug by saying, "Zug is a wonderful place to live, right on the edge of the alps, with a large English speaking community." Here are 5 tips for living in Zug:
Meeting People in Zug
"Even if you are not a "club" person join the Zug international Women's Club or the Men's Club. You don't have to join in everything but you will meet a lot of different people - our relocation agent got us membership which was great. Hang out at the park in Cham on nice days (park is called Villette) - loads of expat mums down there and easy to meet others especially if you have little children," recommended one expat in Zug. Another expat added, "a great English-speaking community is the International Mums and Kids Club, which has playgroups for Mums & Kids nearly every morning of the week in Baar. Different age-groups have different days of the week assigned to them."
"Overall I'd say, take it slowly, be polite and not too pushy and you'll soon be invited into the neighbour's gardens for drinks. To be invited into one of their homes takes a bit longer though! Also, make sure YOU introduce yourself to your new neighbours - don't wait for them to come to you. This was a tip from our relo lady and it really helped," suggested another expats.
Finding a Home in Zug
"Look at areas outside Zug as well as in it. The tax differences can be off-set by the housing prices. Our HR department didn't tell us this and at first we panicked when we saw the Zug prices! We picked a place outside of Zug because there we could get a lovely house witha garden and in Zug the only places in our price range were to small. We live in a house. It has 3 bedrooms and a garden. In the neighbourhood there are a mix of families - Swiss and expats. Our children are small and we wanted them to mix with local children and learn the language early if posisble because we don't know how long we will stay here - it might be for a long time," said one expat in Zug.
"Beside the rental costs for living you need to consider the tax level. In the end, the sum of rent and taxes is more or less the same. In towns where the taxes are lower, there are often higher rents. Zurich is an exception: Zurich has high taxes and high rents and other prices also much higher starting from coffee price in a coffee shop, hairdresser etc. Prices in supermarkets are the same thought," explained another expat.
Dining Out in Zug
"At the top end of the "treat yourself" scale the Gasthaus Rathauskeller (the Town Hall Cellar) is hard to beat. Located in the heart of the Old Town of Zug and housed in a building which in itself is worth a trip to, the wood panelled dining room only serves to enhance the imaginatively created and exquisitely presented gourmet dishes all of which are served only on Versace tableware! Downstairs the Bistro is a little less formal but the ever-changing menu is certain to have your taste-buds jumping for joy! Feel like trying some traditional Swiss dishes in a traditional setting but have guests who want something more international? Then Das Schiff (the Ship) also in the Old Town of Zug, would be the perfect place to go. Fancy a quick bite on a Friday night? "Le Bar du Boeuf" (The Oxen Bar) of the Hotel Ochsen has seen many a homesick expat down a steak sandwich and cheer up! Reasonably priced, almost always busy and just the place to chase away any lingering doubts that moving to Zug was the right thing to do," advised Nicole Auf der Maur in her article, Dining Out in Zug, Switzerland
International Schools in Zug
International School of Central Switzerland (ISOCS) is located in Cham and offers the IB Primary and Middle Years programs. They are in the process of adding the IB Diploma Program for high school students. One parent with children at ISOCS said, "we have also sent our 7 year old son to ISOCS last year and have been very happy about it from the beginning. What differentiates ISOCS I think is really the individual attention each child gets, which is extremely important when you are in a new environment. It took him only a couple of weeks to adjust and after that there was considerable improvement in his adaptation. The teachers are very knowledgable, sincerely trying to help and overall atmosphere is family like."
International School of Zug and Lucern (ISZL) offers programs for students from pre-school through grade 12. They have the IB program through all years and the American AP program in high school. They have three different campuses in Zug, Lucern and on the outskirts of Baar.
Institut Montana is located on the Zugerberg mountain, which is 15 minutes from Zug. It is comprised of several schools, including a bilingual primary school and an International High School (grades 7-12) that has an IB Diploma program and an American High School diploma.
Four-Forest Bilingual International School of Zug and Lucern offers bilingual education for students from pre-school to Grade 6 with campuses in Zug and Lucern. They focus on individual student needs and mainly focuses the Swiss curriculum from the local Cantons of Zug and Lucern, but incorporate some aspects of the British curriculum.
Pre-Schools and Kindergarten in Zug
One expat explained, "children in Switzerland start school at seven but kindergarten is available before then (Get the book Living and Working in Switzerland by David Hampshire. It's the expat bible for this country and will give you most of the answers.)" Another expat said, "Baar and Hünenberg (close to Cham) both have English-speaking preschools for 2-6 year-olds. Stepping Stones (www.steppingstones.ch) and the Montessori Kindergarten (www.montessorizug.ch) are in Baar; The Bee Hive is in Hünenberg (Beehive Pre-School, part of Four-Forest Bilingual School). All three are no more than a 15-minute drive apart (eg even if you live in Baar you can easily get to the Bee Hive and vice versa). Official Kindergarten doesn't start until age 5 in Canton Zug unless your children were born in Jan or Feb, in which case they will start Kindergarten when they're 4 1/2. The language of instruction is Swiss German. Aside from the two preschools, which offer English Kindergartens, the International School in Baar offers preschool, Kindergarten and Elementary schooling in English ([email protected]). Both Cham and Baar also offer Swiss German playgroups for 3-5 year-olds, which are traditionally only one or two half-days a week.