My family and I are currently living in the French part of Switzerland and looking for a move in the new year. My husband has been invited to interview for a job in Mougins near Cannes and I am trying to establish if this is suitable move for us.
We have integrated in Switzerland - kids in local public schools fully bilingual, I speak french and husband’s job is in a Swiss institution which is 70% in french. We have friends here who are mainly but not solely international. The Swiss can be reserved when it comes to making friends but we do have friends not just connected to the ex pat circuit.
The reason for leaving Switzerland is for a new adventure - put bluntly we are bored! It is beautiful here but after 5 years we have done all that is realistically and financially accessible to us. We also would like our kids in an international school so that we have more options to move again in the future so now is a good point to make that transition.
I am concerned that moving to the south of France may give us more of what we already have here and not the adventure we are craving. We are kind of over the fact that everything here closes at lunchtime / on sundays and that options for eating out are either limited or out of budget.
My question is what would you say life is typically like for a middle income family in the area? Here we have to think twice about going out for dinner once a month because of the cost of the meal plus babysitter! We have one holiday a year and nothing fancy. The first couple of years in Switzerland we tried to make the most of what we had close access to but eventually a change of scene is needed.
If anyone has lived in Switzerland and can compare that would be amazing!
Any tips or pointers VERY much appreciated.
We had English gite guests from Geneva and they generally said Switzerland was three times as expensive as here, the Clunysois of south Burgundy.
Yes its expensive but the wages match.
I mean more what is day to day life like…is its a ‘laid back’ life style or is there lots going on?
we have zero choice when it comes to shopping etc for example.
Impossible question really.
The Alpes Maritimes is a department that has an average population density much higher than the french swiss cantons, and so you can have everything from tranquil villages to lively towns.
I live in the French Jura, so even less choice, although we can eat out for a modest cost as long as you’re happy to eat trout in vin jaune…
However I personally would not want to live in that region for a couple of reasons. First climate, I would find the summer months unbearable so check the weather statistics and the mistral and see if you are ok with it. Then there are things like tourism pressures that skew places hugely in season, plus the predominance of bling. Great area to visit, and very beautiful, but much research needed to find the right spot to live in.
We live in a town here. Lausanne as a ‘city’ has more going on but not dramatically more than we have here. We are looking all over the world so the weather doesn’t put me off as we are considering the Far and Middle East too!
Lively town sounds good. Although where we are is considered a lively town and we are dying of bordom…
I think I need to visit - although like here it’s not a true picture is it. My 60 something parents can’t believe we want to leave Switzerland…that’s because you only come for a week and you’re 60 something!
I wonder whether I’m misinterpreting your “boring” as meaning a lack of accessible activities, when actually you mean something else? What does a not boring life mean to you I wonder. As sometimes it not what the place offers, but how you approach it. Yes Switzerland is on the surface a very staid and well regulated place, but we have Swiss friends who are open and not staid at all and we have had lively times visiting.
The other thing that strikes me is that if you want your kids in an international school that is going to make it more difficult to integrate into the life of the place you live in. Not impossible, but it is likely to mean that your starting circle of connections will be ex-pats.
However, you do need to visit!
I’m trying to ignore the ageist comment because I’m not sure what you are expected to give up in your ‘60s. In my experience of living in England, Germany and France is life is what you make it and that very often has very little to do with your location. As you have pointed out France is cheaper than Switzerland but if by moving there your income reduces cheap might not mean affordable.
Maybe I need to explain more When we arrived people said ‘there is always something going on’. Initially I think we really found that to be true. Local festivals, the christmas markets, the caves ouverts, the jazz festival, the cows descending, our first ski season and so on. I think perhaps this being the 5th cycle through we are finding that quite a few these things are no longer super appealing - when youve had your raclette on a paper plate in the same pace for the 4th year running the chalet seems less quaint. I think perhaps I feel the routine more acutely as its almost impossible for me to work here. We chose the public school system which we dont regret but it is restricting because the kids are home for lunch everyday and they hammer the second income tax wise.
To David. I dont expect to give up anything in my 60s. My parents however, have lived a varied, well travelled life up until their 60s and they are very happily retired. Pottering about, doing the same things (I dont think the ‘cycles’ would become ‘boring’ as fast to them at this stage in their lives for example) enjoying the nature and good weather. This place facilitates that style of living very well.
I would like to be able to find different (affordable) cuisines as well as more (affordable) options on groceries and so on. Here unless you are blessed to be very wealthy (which we are not - we are lower income by Swiss standards, as is the case (relatively speaking) all over the world in teaching) then options are limited here on lots of things. Our family would certainly be earning A LOT less but costs would be lower - the rent on our 3 bed flat is the equivalent of 2600euros a month before bills. I guess we need to establish salary and cost of living before getting into things deeper.
We have had an offer to visit a friend who lives in the area so that will be an offer we will take up.
We have really enjoyed our time here. We have made the most of what we have. I think on reflection its just run it’s course. Maybe if we’d had more money and therefore more options it might’ve lasted longer!
Thanks for taking time to reply. It’s very helpful in the process of reflecting to have this food for thought stuff.
Just wondering if you did move in the end. I lived in Mougins for a few years and after relocating up to the 78 region for about 9 years are moving back to Mougins in October.