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Location Independent - Where Would You Go?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
About the only positive thing to come out of Covid is my employer has gone permanently work-from-home for my group, I just need broadband.

I would like to spend next Winter in the Alps with a budget of around 8,000 Euro per month for a couple. My wife isn’t a keen skier, once a week on cruisers is good for her, she’d rather shop and go to the spa. I’m OK driving an hour or so a few times a week to a resort with advanced runs.

Where would you stay? I was thinking January Grenoble/Brides-Les-Bains, February Innsbruck, March Charmonix?

Thanks for the advice!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Well on 8k a month you can pretty much follow the snow and stay in pretty lux hotels everywhere so you don't really need to plan much.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@comesatime, welcome to snowHeads snowHead

Someone might be along soon to express concern about whether it’s fair to drag your wife on a winter tour of the Alps when she’s not a keen skier. I prefer to assume she’s more than capable of standing up for herself and there’s a lot more to the Alps than skiing.

If you both enjoy the company of people in a diverse group, keen on winter sports and all things mountain, you should consider some of the snowHeads bashes. That could take care of mid December (Tignes/Val D’Isere). Late January into early February (Dolomites). Mid April (Val Thorens). That could easily fill 5 or 6 weeks of your trip with a feast of memories.

All are based on comfortable accommodation. They’re in top class ski areas. They’re affordable within your budget and good value. They give the best chance of decent snow early and late season.

That leaves a few weeks for meandering on your own, or joining others you meet along the way. There are other bashes too, with an emphasis on off piste. More information under Snow Events in the forum.

There are a few places I’d aim to include in your odyssey.
January- Bourg St Maurice and Brides les Bains, for all Tarentaise areas.
Chamonix-Megeve-St Gervais area.
February - Salzburg, Innsbruck, both.
March - Switzerland...not sure of best bases for non-skiing activities.
April - maybe Cervinia-Zermatt or head back to Tarentaise for best late snow.

Your biggest challenge might be getting consistently good wi fi. C’est la vie.

Happy planning!
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I’d double check with your employer they are OK with you being in the EU. There are tax complications (for you and the whole co.) if you have people working outside the UK etc. Just double check, I’ve had staff stuck overseas and it’s making a bit of a headache.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Plus of course if you are a British citizen you can only spend 90 day within a rolling 180-day period within the EU/Schengen for tourism purposes, not for work purposes. Essentially if you are working in the EU but for a British employer you need to be fully registered as a resident and paying tax in that EU country (and post-Brexit this would be subject to a successful application for a work permit).
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If you based yourself near Innsbruck, you could travel far & wide. Even throwing in a few long weekends for the dolomites.

If you are a British Passport holder, then you need to check the new rules.
Also, check with your employer first if you are allowed to work from overseas & take any company equipement with you!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@comesatime, on your budget would think Lausanne / Innsbruck would be big upgrades on Brides etc if you really want to live in a town. Personally I’d stay higher if you can. Often the valleys are in fog while the resorts bask in the sunshine.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I'd echo Lausanne as an attractive university city and it's probably where I'd elect to stay if I was on a long break with my wife. Bear in mind it's also connected by ferry to other places around and across the lake, plus has a major rail connection. However, it could become a bit tedious trekking out to the mountains regularly. There are two alternatives: a smaller but more central (for the mountains) town like Martigny or Sion, or up in the mountains themselves i.e. Verbier.

See other threads for calculating the sort of discount you'd expect to get for a long-term rental. This would tend to favour a mountain location because rentals are almost non-existent in the low seasons of spring and (to a lesser extent) autumn. So an apartment/chalet owner can only really be guaranteed the main school holiday weeks and a few weeks in the high summer. Beyond those, it's always a bit uncertain. So they'll get, say, 8-10 weeks at full whack guaranteed, so if you're offering an up-front payment, it has to be at least 8-10 @full weekly rental prices then a judgement about the rest.

However, the first big issue, as mentioned, is going to be the Schengen 90-days-in-a-rolling-180-days residence limit. To stay for longer, you're going to have to do a lot of admin in terms of obtaining the appropriate residence permit and/or visa. The second issue is your and your employers tax liability, which is a bit harder to determine. If you have a tax accountant then ask them.

The third issue will be insurance - most travel policies have limits aligned with the Schengen rules. Moreover, they are usually only for holidays, not work or hybrid work/holiday trips. So you'd need a different sort of long-stay working health cover rather than the usual travel policy. If you are taking a car as well (which I imagine you'll need to) then the same applies in terms of a ceiling on duration and exclusion of work-based trips.

My understanding is that in Switzerland, it's the local Canton that grants a Residence Permit. With this, you can then get the appropriate visa. For Verbier, this would be the Valais Canton authority (don't confuse this with the Valais tourism site). I know that the Cantonal Residence Permit rules also say you must have appropriate health cover, of the right sort, for any sort of longer stay. Perhaps @BobInCH can point you to the relevant cantonal pages, as I assume he must have got a residence permit and visa?


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Tue 19-01-21 14:03; edited 2 times in total
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I think practically the employer will have the say which really dictates your plans unless you choose to work on the don't ask don't tell principle and have only to explain the sudden irrational bonging of the villages bells or the emergency siren in the middle of a video call (and/or apparently very different weather).

If you are expecting to keep normalish UK working hours it all sounds to me quite a high price to pay for what is not that that much more incremental skiing over say taking a few weeks holiday. One wildcard might be if you do expect to keep near UK hours is to time shift yourself to a zone where you can work most of a UK shift by starting in the middle of the night then getting out skiing. US east cost is easisest but Mountain or Pacific would allow you to work almost a full day then hit the powder. Your wife might not be happy with you being a bed seeking zombie by 7pm however.
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@comesatime,
Firstly check with your employer as to if you can do this, and if so in which countries.
Secondly, if you can do it, what days of the week & UK hours of the day would your employer expect you to be online?
Thirdly, if you move around don't be too surprised if you internet connection varies from place to place. From what I've heard from people who have worked down the internet in Tignes it's all about the strength, speed, and above all reliability of the connection that makes it possible/a pain in the a**e.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Make sure your employer's insurance covers you working from home in the mountains/abroad.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
The other thing i found when i did it (for 10 weeks) was it was WORSE being there as I was super busy watching a mega snow day and by the time I was free it was too late ! I ended up touring early AM being online by 9 as usual (well, later than usual) which I suppose was one upside. I did manage a couple of days a week of lunch laps but it was quite forced. Weekends, esp Sats were the bonus. On balance I'd do it again if I did half the hours !
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
On a practical note, it helps if your emplyer has a Internet Phone system where there's a virtual handset on the laptop and you have a headset/mic - that way, you can take/make calls without the obvious foreign ring tone. I found I was easily able to participate in conference calls this way- latency wasn't a problem (but then we do have a wired broadband link in our apartment). On the assumption that COVID restrictions are over, then you will need to be up-front about the travel situation, if any part of your work might involve face-to-face sessions in person. You really don't want to be admitting to a foreign base when the first of these comes up and you are asked to be there the next day. It's all very well assuming you can work 100% remotely, but that's not the same as an employer endorsing it.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I'd consider the Aosta valley, staying in Aosta. Also Chur
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
The OP here, thanks so much for all of the great replies!

I should had mentioned that I am American living in California so wintering in Europe is more attractive than the Rockies because I can work from just before dinner until midnight as long as I have solid broadband. A European wintering in Japan would have the same relative time zone set-up.

Just as an aside, lots of employers in San Francisco are shifting folks to permanent work from home so office space vacancies have surged past financial crisis heights with little relief in sight. However, residential property in “Zoom Towns” is on fire.

Insurance/taxes are good points I hadn’t considered. The realities on the ground have moved a lot faster than regulations so I imagine there will be a lot of things that need to be sorted over time, the UK folks undergoing Brexit probably know the feeling..
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@comesatime, I hope the work won’t get in the way of enjoying the mountains too much!

I think there are a couple of fundamentals about what you generally prefer to do about accommodation and transport. Or more specifically, what you’d prefer to do on this trip.

Knowing those would help people on here offer more constructive advice, if you felt you wanted that.

So, for example, on accommodation. Renting apartments in a static base for say 2-4 weeks at a time? Staying in hotels or similar, maybe moving on more frequently? A mixture of both? Something completely different (eg some people do this sort of thing in a camper van)?

Then on travel and transport. What personal transport do you plan to have? One rental vehicle in each static base? Two vehicles sometimes, if you and your wife expect to do different activities in different locations? Happy or prefer to use local public transport ? OK to pay some fairly high private cab fares for shorter journeys?

Finally for now, what about preferences for the longer journeys between countries? OK to use trains or coaches? By air where practicable? Drive?

Hope that helps. Happy planning!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@comesatime,

In that case, to work legally you would need a work permit.
Or you could just do the 90 days tourist visa & hope nobody reports you for working.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@comesatime, Where ever you go make sure you make the distinction between EU Schengen countries and EU non-Schengen countries. The 90 day rule only applies to Schengen countries so you can not spend a full season in a France & Austria mix, but you can add extra time in places like Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania, plus the state of Andorra. Spending some time in Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania & Andorra means you can spend more than 90 days skiing/working in Europe generally (distinct for EU and Schengen) and squeeze out a full 4+ month season.


Last edited by Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see? on Wed 20-01-21 8:46; edited 1 time in total
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@comesatime, as a US citizen you are really in the same position as a UK citizen in the EU/Schengen in that you have 90 days within a 180-day rolling period as a tourist without a visa requirement. However, this is not a work permit, it is for tourism purposes only. I'm pretty sure that working remotely does not exempt you from work permit and tax implications.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Having worked in the past for an international company that had offices in many major european capital cities I can tell you that often the biggest problem was the partner not being happy. If your wife doesn't speak the local langauge and there isn't much to do and as you have said she isn't into skiing much, it could well be that your wife gets bored/unhappy very quickly (a few weeks). At the company I worked for they later specifically targeted single workers to fill international jobs as pairs/famillies just wasn't working out as most of them wanted to come back. Even the ones who were avid skiers found they missed too much of the other things they were used to (family, friends, English language, proper bacon butties etc). For this reason I'd favour a town with an expat community rather than a little mountain village in the middle of no where.
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queenie pretty please wrote:
@comesatime, as a US citizen you are really in the same position as a UK citizen in the EU/Schengen in that you have 90 days within a 180-day rolling period as a tourist without a visa requirement. However, this is not a work permit, it is for tourism purposes only. I'm pretty sure that working remotely does not exempt you from work permit and tax implications.


Indeed, the country you're in will want a share of your taxes and dot the US tax you on worldwide income, so if you do it legitimately, could be expensive.

spending a whole season somewhere is a bit different to being able to clock in a few days work whilst holidaying with the family to save using up all your annual leave allowance.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

once a week on cruisers


is not the best description of Chamonix skiing that I have ever heard... worth a visit, not a long stay for her ...
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@comesatime, Just one other small point, do you think you will be fit and able to work a full day in the evenings after a day on the slopes? I find it hard sometimes to stay awake in the evenings late enough to see my son and his family (they too live close to San Francisco) by video conference after a day in the garden. Even when I was much younger a day on the slopes meant an early night.
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@DB,
Quote:

I'd favour a town with an expat community rather than a little mountain village in the middle of no where


Some good points, although the OP in first post did flag up possibles....
Quote:

Grenoble/Brides-Les-Bains, February Innsbruck, March Chamonix?
...none of which I'd describe as little mountain villages in the middle of nowhere.

I don't know of any European alpine towns/larger villages with a US expat community, although I think some attract more transatlantic visitors than others, eg Chamonix, Val D'Isere, St Anton, maybe Zermatt.

In any case, the OPs wife might prefer to become immersed in local culture, meet people from a range of different countries or even just enjoy her own company...we don't know. Perhaps the OP, or even the OPs wife, could comment?
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@PeakyB,
A lot of even the larger/more famous ski towns (St Anton / Cham etc) have a very small population (less than 10K people).
Grenoble (160K?) and Innsbruck (310K?) are larger so more easy to find friends in general and English speaking expats.
I've seen avid ski families come back from Geneva (500K) because the partners got bored. Everyone is different but in the end the skiing and the additional money wasn't enough to replace the other things they had back home.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
@DB, agree, good points for the OP to take on board.

I think the more known about needs and wants of the OP and his wife, the more useful snowHeads knowledge and opinions can be.

With a big trip in prospect, what a great opportunity, there are myriad options and important differences in detail, which can make quite a difference to success.

The other thing we don’t know is how well the OP already knows about Europe and its alpine areas from previous trips.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Mr.Egg wrote:
@comesatime,

In that case, to work legally you would need a work permit.
Or you could just do the 90 days tourist visa & hope nobody reports you for working.

Will you? Given that the work us US based, and the payment is US based, does one still need a permit?

I'd be tempted to base somewhere like Bourg St Maurice, but that's probably just because I quite like the Paradiski area
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@comesatime,@comesatime,
If you get to do a remote work season, just be careful:-
https://www.alexcartoon.com/index.cfm?cartoon_num=7822
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@SnoodlesMcFlude, I agree, Bourg St Maurice would be one good base. Small but has just enough facilities for when not skiing, not too high an altitude and connectivity very good.

If accommodation is within easy walking distance of the Funicular, easy to access Paradiski area without need for car. 40 minute drive to Tignes, for skiing there and Val D’Isere. Similar distance to La Rosiere, with skiing over to La Thuile for a taster of Italy. Maybe 30 minutes drive to St Foy, good for tree skiing and bad visibility days.

I’d consider a bit far to drive to a 3 valleys access point but, with an early start, not out of the question.

Bourg St M also has main line rail station, opening up easy trips to bigger cities and towns, like Lyon and Chambery.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@Kenzie, Laughing
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Worth consideration, Sierre city in Switzerland.

Very well connected with huge choice of differing ski areas to access, Val d'Anniviers, Zermatt and Nendaz (Verbier) for high north facing slopes at season tail. Travel by train and post bus to many ski locations or drive.

Also Crans Montana, Villars, Betmeralp (Aletsch Glacier) etc along the opposite valley flank. The whole region with access to so many ski more villages than I've mentioned, it serves well for a whole season let alone a month.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Forgt to mention - If you haven't already, take a look at the Swiss National Tourist website a mySwitzerland.com for a good overview of all the different regions summer and winter. You can also order paper brochures from them or download the pdf. (tip: you can pan the videos L/R with the mouse)
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
PeakyB wrote:
@SnoodlesMcFlude, I agree, Bourg St Maurice would be one good base.

I’d consider a bit far to drive to a 3 valleys access point but, with an early start, not out of the question.


It usually takes 40 minutes to drive from Bourg to St Martin de Belleville, for access to the 3 Valleys. So you wouldn't need a really early start.

With an 8k monthly budget for accommodation (wow!) you could shave a fair bit off that and put the savings towards season passes for a couple of different ski areas.
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@Bergmeister, yes, Google maps says 50 minutes but that’s better than I remembered. Thought it used to take me over an hour.

Makes BSM an even better base then. Huge amount of great skiing within 1 hour drive. Very Happy
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
PeakyB wrote:
@Bergmeister, yes, Google maps says 50 minutes but that’s better than I remembered. Thought it used to take me over an hour.

Makes BSM an even better base then. Huge amount of great skiing within 1 hour drive. Very Happy


It usually takes 20 mins to drive to Moutiers, then a further 20 mins to drive up the Belleville valley from there. Oh! And a further 4 or 5 minutes to drive through Moutiers centre... I overlooked that bit and based my estimate on the reverse journey, which bypasses Moutiers rolling eyes .
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The OP here again, thank you everyone for all of the great replies, please keep them
coming! But also feel free to hijack the thread if your circumstances are different from mine.

Euro 8k per month for accommodation > I wish! The 8k needs to cover everything, flights, meals, car rental, spa/shopping... it goes really quick!

The Admiral: Married for 30 years so we can survive 3 months of anything. We’ll likely spend 3 months somewhere I choose and 3 months somewhere she chooses. The no go time zones stretch from Turkey to New Zealand because I don’t want to work at 3am.

The rabbit hole > taxes. I think it is OK to work remotely while on a Schengen Tourist Visa as long as you don’t do business in country but I might be wrong.

Innsbruck, Lausanne, Aosta Valley, Bourg St Maurice all sound like good ideas to set up a base with a reliable home office where I can ski on weekends and some weekdays.. Why isn’t Grenoble getting more love?

Thanks again for all of great advice!
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
@comesatime, you should be comfortable on €8k/month for all costs.

Grenoble is a fine city to visit and in an area with some impressive open spaces, scenery and historic sites. As cities go, Lyon is certainly well worth a visit too.

In my opinion, the ski areas that can easily be reached from Grenoble for a day’s skiing are not as extensive or interesting. I think if you particularly wanted to explore the southern French Alps, it’s difficult to find a base that’s big enough to meet your non-skiing needs.

About the best option down there could be to stay in Monetiere Les Bains, for access to ski Serre Chevalier, Alpe D’Huez, Les 2 Alpes, Montgenevre and a few other smaller areas. Also the awesome off piste area of La Grave.

But the town is small and the overall skiing experience doesn’t quite cut it. Nevertheless, I could still happily spend a couple of weeks with a winterised car around there.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Nice thread about a small, often overlooked, village about 20 minutes from Bourg St Maurice.
6 minute video celebrates 30 years of the ‘resort’. Some great off piste and great when higher altitudes have low vis or hostile conditions.

https://snowheads.com/ski-forum/viewtopic.php?p=4719217#4719217
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@ski3's comment about Sierre gives me the chance to post this photo' of the high-altitude vinyards, taken from the co-op car park in the middle of the commercial zone in Sierre.



The actual surroundings on the ground were just standard urban tarmac and utilitarian retail outlets. But it struck me as I waited by the car that the wider environs were pretty stunning.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Thu 21-01-21 12:15; edited 3 times in total
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And here's a video from onboard the commuter ferry, en route from Lausanne to Évian-les-Bains on the other, French side of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva).


http://youtube.com/v/QssLmsGHZEQ

And the same ferry earlier, from the centre of Lausanne. On a less hazy day, the view of the peaks is even more impressive.



Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Thu 21-01-21 9:29; edited 5 times in total
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