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The Ups and Downs of Expat Life in Switzerland

Moving abroad is an exciting concept and there are so many reasons to consider taking the step to a new life in a new country. Whether you’re moving abroad for a new job, better schooling, to retire or to follow a loved one, living in a different country means experiencing it in a totally different way.

Moving to a new country has both advantages and disadvantages and unlike when you go on holiday and only enjoy the benefits when living in a new country you’ll have to endure both the positives and negatives.

If you’re thinking of or in the process of moving to Switzerland here are some of the ups and downs of Expat life so you know exactly what to expect.

Ups

Let’s start with the positives, Switzerland is medieval cities, stunning lakes and epic ski resorts and legendary chocolate but that’s not all.

Excellent education

When it comes to schooling in Switzerland, expats have numerous options including public, private and international schools. The standard of education is very good especially at public schools and expats are encouraged to send their younger children here.

With the variety of high standard education options around the country, it shouldn’t be difficult for expats to find somewhere that meets their children’s needs and falls within their budget.

Employment opportunities

In 2019, Switzerland’s unemployment rate amounted to around 4.87 percent.

Most expats that go to Switzerland are moving there with work, so they don’t need to worry about finding a job after when they arrive. But unemployment in Switzerland is low, so anyone without a job has plenty of opportunities.

Switzerland is very attractive if you are looking to get ahead in the job market and you could even double or triple your salary. Geneva and Zurich are thought to have the average highest incomes in the world, mostly within finance, banking and insurance.

In addition to this, employers in Switzerland encourage their staff to be productive by discouraging overtime and encouraging employees to use their holiday time.

Very safe

Safety in Switzerland is not a primary concern. The country is calm and has been voted one of the safest countries to live and raise a family in Europe. Violent crime is very rare, however, petty theft and pickpockets are still an issue in popular tourist areas and main cities.

Family friendly

The lifestyle in Switzerland is fantastic for families. The country has an extremely active outdoors culture and there’s an abundance of family-friendly places.

The summer is accompanied by beautiful lakes, biking trails and hiking routes in the mountains and in the winter, expats can take to the slopes and ski.

The country also closes down on Sundays allowing for dedicated family time and with a safe environment, children can be independent and are often seen walking alone, riding bikes or taking the bus with friends.

High-quality healthcare

The country has a high-quality health care system and this is proved by their life expectancy averages of 79 years for men and 84 years for women.

It’s compulsory that expats take out healthcare insurance within three months of relocating, but the expense is worth it for excellent standards, shorter waiting times and a high level of care.

Downs

When there are ups, there are always downs so here are the slight negatives of being an expat in Switzerland.

Housing

Although the general standard of housing in Switzerland is very good, like a lot of other things in Switzerland the housing market can be competitive and expensive. It can take a while to find the perfect property and being successful depends on various factors.

Finding pet-friendly housing and houses with private gardens can be extra challenging and when it comes to apartment complexes sometimes they come with shared laundry facilities and residents may be assigned specific times when they can use them. More often than not strict noise curfews are enforced too.

High-cost of living

Switzerland is famous for being a wildly expensive place to live and visit. Rent is matched with places like London and New York City and even groceries and restaurants are pricey.

Switzerland is home to several of the most expensive cities on the planet and moving there is often a shock to expats and their wallets.

It’ll take a high salary and good budgeting to live a comfortable life in Switzerland, especially if you plan on living in or near a city centre.

Everything’s closed on Sunday

Sunday is truly a day of rest in Switzerland, which is nice but may be a bit of a shock to some expats. Everything and we mean everything, apart from museums and restaurants, is closed on a Sunday, which can be inconvenient if you usually run your weekly errands at the weekend.

If you’re tempted by the prospect of Swiss life you can find out more about the climate, culture, schooling, healthcare and places to visit in our Switzerland Expat Country Guide.

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