Living in Switzerland

You've secured your job, the visa is in place, you're moving to what? It is time to book your removals firm, find a place to live and start to grapple with Switzerland's four languages, not to mention the rules and regulations.

Many people move to Switzerland for work, and others for the lifestyle or the surroundings it offers. If you're moving to Switzerland, you'll need to prepare a lot of things to be ready for the move. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has also provided a guide for living in Switzerland, which can help you to navigate your rights and responsibilities as a Swiss resident.

Mountains. Cheese. Chocolate. Cuckoo Clocks?

When you hear the name Switzerland, most likely you think of at least one of these things: mountains, cheese, chocolate and cuckoo clocks.

You'd be right to think of mountains; the Alps are some of the most stunning in the world. 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.

Cheese, too, is a Swiss staple and you'll find various Swiss cheeses, such as Emmentaler, on tables across the world. Chocolate may be Switzerland's best loved export, and they do it well. But cuckoo clocks aren't Swiss! They originate from a few miles north of the Swiss border, in Germany's Black Forest. But you'll still see them sold in the tourist shops of Zurich, as people have come to associate cuckoo clocks with Switzerland.

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Gruetzi! Bonjour! Buongiorno! Allegra!

For a small country, Switzerland is incredibly diverse both in its landscape and in its people, traditions and languages. There are four official languages in Switzerland - German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romansh, and they are spoken in different areas of the country.

For example in Geneva, the cantonal language is French, in Zurich it is German, in Lugano it is Italian. Rhaeto-Romansh is spoken by less than 1% of the country's residents. While German is an official language, only written German will look like what you might have learned in school - spoken German is very different and the dialects will vary from town to town.

Winters can be cold, especially the mountainous regions, but Switzerland is generally a pleasant, safe, and politically stable place to live, making 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.

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Official moving dates and logistics

There are two official moving dates in Switzerland - end of March, end of September and in some cases, a third date at the end of June. You can, of course, move at a time other than those specified, but if you're leaving rented accommodation then you'll need to find a new tenant to take your place.

There is no moving on a Sunday in Switzerland, as it would violate the rules regarding quiet.

Frequently, stair cases are too small to accommodate furniture, and outside removals lifts are used where the items are passed through a window and onto the lift.

If you're moving into - or out of - the country, customs documents must be prepared for your entry or exit.

Don't forget to register with the migration office of your new town or city within 14 days of your move - even if you're just moving to a new flat. All residents of Switzerland must be registered at their address, regardless of citizenship or visas. 

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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.

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Interesting festivals in Switzerland

Burning of the Böögg (Sechseläuten), Zurich

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

Wagons of fire parade (Chienbäse) 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.

Carnival in Basel (Fasnacht)

At precisely 4am 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.

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Britannia Bradshaw can help your move go smoothly. Contact us for a free, no obligation quote, or by calling 0161 877 5555 (Manchester) or 0121 504 0966 (Birmingham & Coventry) and speak with one of our removals specialists.

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In the current times you might prefer that we don't visit your house in person to carry out a survey. This is fully understandable and we can just as easily undertake the survey by video call, using whatever method you're comfortable with, usually FaceTime or WhatsApp.

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