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Guide to living in Switzerland

Living in Switzerland

Switzerland has always been a popular European destination, especially for the lovers of mountainous landscapes and winter sports, as well as for those conducting business or looking for employment - especially in the financial and business sectors. However, as Switzerland is not part of the EU, moving to the country is not as straightforward as moving to Germany, for example.

For those looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, Switzerland may not be the most attractive destination; it is a very rules-oriented society.

Switzerland is a landlocked country located in Western Europe, divided between the mountains of the Alps and the Central Plateau, bordered by Germany, France, and Italy, among other countries. Switzerland has a history of political neutrality, and is not part of the European Union, although it has treaties with the EU. It is one of the most prosperous countries in the world, is ranked as the most innovative country in Europe, and has a highly competitive economy. The strong economy ensures a high standard of living and Zurich and Geneva are both ranked very high for quality of life. This also means a very low crime rate and a lack of widespread social problems.

While winters can be cold, especially the mountainous regions, and the society is said to be less open to expats and immigrants than some other countries, Switzerland is generally a safe and politically stable place to live, which makes it an ideal destination for many. The diversity of stunning landscapes and climates are perfect not only for the lovers of skiing, but also for those who enjoy hiking, and want to see some beautiful sceneries. Whether you enjoy the nature and rural areas or prefer modern cities, Switzerland can be a perfect location.

Interesting facts about Switzerland

  • Switzerland has four official languages, German, French, Italian and Romansh
  • 20% of the population of 7.5 million are foreigners
  • Switzerland has the second highest life expectancy in Europe
  • The headquarters of many European and international organisations are located in Geneva, such as the United Nations, World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization
  • The Swiss are famous for their watchmaking, and are leaders in luxury watches, with brands such as Rolex or Rado
  • Cuckoo clocks are not Swiss, but come from the Black Forest of Germany
  • Swiss German is a spoken language only; the written language is High German

Tips for moving to and living in Switzerland

If you want to work and settle down in Switzerland permanently, you will need some form of work and residence permit. An agreement between the EU and Switzerland facilitates the entry, residence and employment of EU citizens in Switzerland. Non-EU citizens are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain a work and residence permit.

The unemployment rate is low in Switzerland and the job market is rather flexible. While you might find it harder to find a job as an expat, there are a range of opportunities, especially in the financial and other specialised sectors.

If you are moving to Switzerland with your children, you will also have to consider education options. Switzerland has a number of international schools, or you can also choose a local school, however this will also depend on where you are moving in Switzerland and the predominant language in that area.

Medical care is generally excellent, and all residents are required to purchase basic health insurance.

Living costs in Switzerland are higher than in the UK, and it is usually considered an expensive country. However these additional costs are normally offset by high salaries.

You might want to read our blog posts about living in Switzerland, giving a small flavour of Swiss life for expats.

How can we help with your move to Switzerland?

Britannia Bradshaw can help your move to Switzerland run smoothly - we are Swiss experts. Contact us for a free, no obligation quote or call 0161 877 5555 (Manchester) 0121 504 0966 (Birmingham) and speak with an international specialist.

Interesting festivals in Switzerland

Burning of the Böögg, Zurich
The Zurich tradition of Sechseläuten

The Zurich tradition of Sechseläuten, where the Böögg (an effigy of a snowman) is burned until the fireworks in his head explode to predict the summer weather

28 April 2014, Zurich

Wagons of fire parade near Basel

The Basel tradition of Fasnacht (Carnival) kicks off the night before just outside of the city in the town of Liestal with the Chienbäse. Wagons and bundles of fire are paraded through the town and its medieval gates to chase away winter.

9 March 2014

Carnival in Basel - Fasnacht

At precisely 4 am in Basel, Fasnacht begins with the Morgestraich - all lights in the city are shut off and a parade of candlelit lanterns begins. Festivities continue each day of Fasnacht, with events for everyone including the children.

10 - 12 March 2014

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