Expats in Zurich are right in the middle of one of the largest economic centers in Europe, and the world. Here are a few tips from expats about how to manage expat life in Zurich.
Finding Housing In Zurich
Some expats choose to live outside of Zurich. "Moving to this area offers a great lifestyle plus easy access to city (Zurich). This is a small, peaceful village -- with a lake. Has basic ammenities eg. post office, Migros, Newsagent, Fab Doctors Clinic, kindergarten, school. Nearest major shopping centre is Volketsville or Uster. (10-15 mins either side of G/see). Public transport [is] excellent. Accommodation is limited and [it's] best to try early in [the] year and mid-year as these are the main times for change of leasing."
Another expat wrote that finding housing was "very difficult with a zero vacancy rate, our decision was dictated by what was available." In terms of costs, the expat added that "[costs] were much higher but salary made up for the difference. It was a 3 - 1 difference."
Speaking German in Zurich
Swiss Standard German is the official language of Zurich. However, it is important for expats to know that there are different dialects of German in Switzerland that are quite different. Swiss German is not the same as High German - yes, it gets confusing. The good news is that many people in Zurich are bilingual (at least) and English-speaking expats find it relatively easy to get by.
Zurich is Tolerant... and Not Tolerant?
Expats occasionally comment on the multicultural aspects of the city of Zurich. One expat reported that "the city of Zurich is multicultural and tolerant but many of the Swiss are not; ... a recent poll showed the Swiss have the highest negative opinion of America; anti-Semitism is high and the Albanians are the latest to be despised; sexism, especially in the business world, is much higher than in America."
Banking and Insurance Rule Zurich
One expat, commenting about jobs in Zurich, wrote that "banking and insurance jobs abound; teaching English is possible but not that profitable; women have a tough time finding jobs (better to have one before you come); children in the public schools come home for lunch every day making it impossible for mom to work (private schools run over 20,000CHF); most jobs require knowledge of high German." Zurich's economy is widely regarded as the center of Switzerland's overall economy.
Long-Term Expats Viewed More Favorably Than Short-Term Expats
From time-to-time expats report that Swiss nationals have more interest in making friends with expats on long-term assignments than those on short-term assignments. One expat reported that "it is hard, very hard to make friends with the Swiss. When they hear you are just a few years here... well you will see their back."