Snowfall on Lake Zurich, Switzerland
Snowfall on Lake Zurich, Switzerland
Snowfall on Lake Zurich, Switzerland

Living in Switzerland

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Dec 02, 2021

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees talk about what it is really like living in Switzerland. They offer advice about meeting people, cost of living, finding a home and more.

William Russell Expat Health Insurance

What do I need to know about living in Switzerland?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Switzerland, they said:

"You should have a particular reason for moving to Neuchatel, such as an interest in high-tech work, and not just chose it because of its lovely lake-side location, for example. It is a specialized place and you should be prepared for that before deciding upon Neuchatel as a place to live," remarked another expat who made the move to Neuchatel.

"Don't bother bringing anything unless you are totally convinced that you won't be able to get it in Geneva. If you can think of something that fits that catagory I would love to know what it was as I haven't found anything (a long while ago we couldn't find "crunchy" peanut butter but forget that problem, it's here) lacking here. Go to the library and check out a couple of books on Switzerland. The locals will be amazed when you are able to demonstrate any knowledge about history, especially theirs. North Americans have been judged, and rightfully so, deficient in an appreciation of history and the role it plays in Europe generally. You will have to read the books, by the way," explained one expat living in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Try to find someone to help you who is not part of the company. We got a recommenation for a relocation company from a friend (Le concierge) and they did everything for us when we couldn't be in Zug. House hunting was a nightmare (too many people, too few houses) and the agents went to look at them for us and sent pictures, maps, floorplans etc by mail. This was a fantastic help and they defintely got our profile right! We went to look at 3 places (with the whole family!!) and were very lucky we got one. I don't think we could have done this without help - and very fast action from the agents (Nikki and Renata). Also - go with an open mind! We read a few books before we went but found Siwss people much warmer and friendlier than the books suggested. We got some good tips from Renata (she's Swiss) about how to meet the neighbours etc and I tihnk this helped a lot. Try not to keep thinking how things are "back home" - it helped us more to focus on where you are now. We had Swedish TV via satellite which was good at the start for the children but we didn't need to brng so much Swedish food! Get out and about - we've seem more of Switz than some Swiss and it is a lovely place," said another expat in Zug.

"Watch out for the landlords. Protect yourself as the business people appear, but are not, honest. They have little ethics. The city is central to everything and getting around is easy. If you like culture, this city has a lot to offer. The food is terrible. It is very expensive to live there. There are no provisions for working women. Men are very chauvinistic. I made a number of friends and do like the Swiss, but watch out for the ethical guidelines as they are not like ours," added another expat who made the move to Basel.

"Life is very insular in Geneva, a social life does not immediately await you, you absolutely have to make the effort to join things to fit in and meet people as socialising with work colleagues is not overly common as in England," explained one expat living in Geneva, Switzerland.

"Pack your bags and get on over here!!! Seriously - make sure you get a good agent to help you before you start - the help we got before we came was invaluable and she is still helping us on and off now when we have questions (Nicky at Le Concierge); talk to your kids a lot in advance so they are in on the adventure from the start and try to get them to understand that things will be different and their favorite peanut butter may not be available (tip: Gourmet Garage in Z├╝rich can be a lifesaver!); be prepared to spend a lot of energy at the beginning making new friends and getting involved - after a while you'll find one or two good friends and the effort will be worth it; above all keep an open mind, be patient with yourselves and the experience and don't worry if you have homesick days," mentioned another in Zug.

Expats in Switzerland may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, whose plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Allianz's flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. Get a Quote

Expats in Switzerland may get a free expat health insurance quote from our partner Allianz Care, a leader in international insurance for expatriates. Allianz's plans ensure that you have access to quality healthcare whenever you need it. Their flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget..

How do I meet people in Switzerland?

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder of Expat Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Some of Betsy's more popular articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Italy, 12 Things to Know Before Moving to The Dominican Republic and the Living in Panama Guide. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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Allianz Care Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for health insurance from our partner, Allianz Care.
Get a Quote

Living in Switzerland GuideLiving in Switzerland Guide

Expats in Switzerland advise newcomers to join a few expat clubs, learn German (or French / Italian), enjoy the outdoors and travel Europe.

Switzerland Forum Switzerland Forum
Meet other expats and talk about living in Switzerland.

Cost of Living in SwitzerlandCost of Living in Switzerland

Expats offer insight into the cost of living in Switzerland.

Moving to SwitzerlandMoving to Switzerland Guide

Switzerland is a country rich with tradition, natural beauty and one of the most stable economies in the world. It is, however, also extremely expensive and expats often report difficult settling into the culture.

Real Estate in SwitzerlandReal Estate in Switzerland

Real estate listings in popular cities and towns in Switzerland.

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Contribute to Switzerland Network Contribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Switzerland.

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