As I am writing this, I am in the middle of a 20-meter square hotel room with my family and 8 bags that represents our dear belongings. No home. No car. No bank account. Starting a new job in 7 hours...in a new city that I have never been before and located in a beautiful country of Switzerland. Who would do something like that? Especially with a family? My answer to you is: 'Why not.'
More than one month later, those were the words I wrote during on first night in Switzerland. The article says it all, 'Reflecting on my move to Switzerland'. I am François from ABDZ and my family moved to live abroad in Switzerland, more specifically in Geneva. I wanted to share some thoughts on my experience ever since the idea started.
How the idea came to be.
Over a year ago, I was working for a senior designer job in my home city. Aside from my colleagues, I didn't like the company I was representing. Mostly because of political reasons, anyone who is working in the industry will understand how, why sometimes politics can be resolute to deal with on a daily basis. I had a beautiful mission but a hard one. I was going to disrupt their entire digital platform in terms of design language, process, tools, experience, and everything. It's fun stuff and undertaking a challenge is always good for your career. It took different twists, again mostly because of politics. It came to the point where I almost wanted to quit my career and start over.
Thankfully, I had a month-long vacation coming up so that was exciting. Family and I took a 5-weeks vacation to explore Japan & Singapore. It was the perfect opportunity to doze off with the loved ones and reflect on everything. Mostly about my career, this is when I created my Osore Lightroom Presets. I think I needed that boost to make stuff again. The week I came back to my home city, I emailed my resignation letter to my manager. And I went on a mission to search for the 'best job' I could ever find and wherever it might be.
'Where' was a big criteria for me, I needed a change. We had a big discussion internally (with the family) and I got confirmation to give it a go. So I went all hard on this one. I wrote an article on what happened next: Life Lesson - My learnings from completing 30+ UX Design Interviews. Make sure to give it a read if interested.
Now that we are living here, we are glad about the decision to live abroad in Switzerland. I will come back to that. A couple of years ago, I visited our beloved founder Fabio Sasso when he was still in the early days of his career at Google. I loved my experience so much and ever since that moment: 'My dream was to one day either work with him and/or in Silicon Valley'. 5-6 years later, I started my search right in the Valley and had several really good interactions with some of the best in the design industry. As I was doing the interviews, my partner and I were also doing research on what would be living in the beautiful state of California and/or in the United States.
We were searching based on what would intend for our 'life situation':
- Renting an apartment
- Daily Commute
- School and Daycare
- Cost of living like groceries for example
- Paying Taxes
- Health Insurance
- Entertainment for kids
There are more but we intentionally created a 'fake budget' based on the real-life situation and see how it will fit our family. Again we were really key to put our kids first in all decisions, I wasn't going to let it happen without really making sure. As we were doing that exercise, I came to the hard realization that maybe living in the United States would not be for me in the end. I was shattered. As hard it has been to apprehend, we decided to repeat that exercise again but elsewhere including Japan, Singapore, Vancouver, Toronto, and Switzerland...
The 'waiting game'
"I got the offer for a job in Switzerland." That was about 6 months ago, half a year waiting for this to happen. Some will say that was fast but for me, it was a long-time. First of all, being a Canadian and living in my home country for my entire life. It wasn't an easy decision since we were going to let go of the fact we won't see our families as often anymore including friends and businesses we started. It was a 'no turning back' decision to take. So we did.
Anyone who has been through that process will tell you that it takes a long time but it will be all worth it. I heard that many many times, as a point when I got to the 'finish line'. Yes, it's worth it. Remember, we have one chance at life, no regrets.
Remember, we have one chance at life, no regrets.
Life culture shock
To come back to 'Why Switzerland', they are many. I will highlight just a few. And I will make a separate article on the overall experience.
- Let's start off with how stunning is 'nature landscape' really is here, within an hour drive from the city, you can be taken on a scenery that is breathtaking and unparalleled.
- As working on the weekdays, the city is definitely slow-paced but it just works. Buses, trams, and trains are almost never late, you can easily plan and get to the destination fast and efficiently. Living in a city with little commute makes a huge difference in your work/life balance.
- The city is putting trust into their citizens to always do the right thing. For example, the buses, trams will never check your ticket admission. There are some control agents that will do patrol but it's been rare so far.
- Being in the center hub to travel in Europe, the fares are way cheaper so it's easy to change scenery, language, culture through a short flight journey.
One con so far
I think my biggest con for now is how early the shops, banks and etc... closes. It's hard sometimes especially when you are in the middle of your workday and simple things you have to accomplish. Like going to the bank? It's a constant battle but you do find ways around them.
A sustainable life
From my experience so far, I like living in Switzerland. The cons are mostly related to how hard is to find things or how early they close but it does make you consume less. Since things are more 'expensive', you are more aware of your needs and you definitely ask yourself the question: Do I really need it?
I also love the fact that we get to educate our kids about 'recycling' because they do things differently here. I think bringing awareness definitely brings a good education for the next generation. Admire what you have today and it's ok to live with less. This is a start for us and will document my experience on ABDZ. I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you have any questions. I will do my best to attend. If you have any feedback, give me a shout on Twitter and if you have any inquiries for us at ABDZ. You find us through ABDZ Facebook.