Moving to Switzerland with children

The heady high-life of Switzerland consistently tops the expat polls in the annual expats quality of life surveys, and in fact it was named as the number one place in the world for expats to settle in last year’s HSBC Expat Explorer Survey. This universal appeal is thanks to factors such as its excellent work-life balance, high quality healthcare and superb natural landscapes, and the opportunity to introduce your children to such breath-taking vistas as snow-capped mountains, glittering lakes and rolling, forest-clad hills is one of the great attractions to expats with families in tow.
Of course, it can’t be all fun and games – the consideration of education has to take precedence when moving with children of school-age. But here again, Switzerland comes out on top, boasting a reputable public schooling system and exceptional boarding and international schools. However, it is worth bearing in mind that this type of education can come with a high price-tag.
Schools in Switzerland
Many expats in Switzerland choose to send their children to public school. Attendance is free and the compulsory school stages are: primary for six years and secondary I for three years. Many expats also choose to send their children to kindergarten from age 4 as well as secondary II.
Depending on region, classes may be offered in English but most schools instead offer intensive language classes to help pupils adapt. As a result, younger ages may find this option the most rewarding and easy to adjust to.
For a gentler adaptation process, consider one of the private schools in Switzerland. The fees may be high but they offer not only the Swiss curriculum but those of other nationalities as well as the International Baccalaureate. Private schools in Switzerland are renowned for their cutting edge facilities, small class sizes and personalised programmes. The boarding schools in particular have extremely strong reputations at an international level.
Although you can expect high class education at the public and private schools, many expats choose to send their children to one of the international schools. This is especially true of those who are only planning on short-term stays in the country, enabling their children to continue the education of their home country in their language of choice. These schools are relegated to the larger cities and competition can be fierce – apply early and ensure you have a Plan B. It is also worth negotiating a school allowance into your expat package, as education fees can total around 35,000 CHF annually.
Things to do with children in Switzerland
When it comes to activities in the Great Outdoors, it would be easier to name the things you can’t do in Switzerland. A walk in the mountains is considered to be the national Sunday past-time and with over 60,000km of hiking paths and 9,000km of biking trails to choose from, you can spend every Sunday soaking up the scenery.
The lakes are ideal for swimming, sailing or hiring a canoe or pedalo whilst the countryside makes for wonderful weekends of horse-riding and camping. Access to the beautiful Alps means there is plenty of opportunity for skiing and tobogganing and, come winter, ice-skating upon the beautiful lakes is a delight.
Water parks are also popular in Switzerland for family days out and there are myriad parks, farms and zoos to visit too. Plus, children are bound to enjoy sampling local culinary specialities such as Swiss chocolate and fondue.
If you are considering moving to Switzerland from London, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.
Information correct at time of publication.