Top tips for British expats moving to Switzerland
With a high-quality of life and good career prospects, Switzerland is often near the top of the list when it comes to expat locations for British workers. With its stunning natural vistas and exceptional infrastructure, this is a country that encourages healthy, balanced living.
There are downsides, mainly high costs, and it can be difficult to settle into the country at first, but there are also plenty of ways to make the move to Switzerland a positive experience.
Here are some of our top tips for British expats moving to Switzerland.
Take some language lessons
Switzerland has four main languages: Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch. While the majority of people will speak English in the main cities, trying to speak a little of the local tongue will help with integration and residents will appreciate the effort. Each of the 26 cantons speaks one or more of these main languages, so check which is the best one to learn, usually German or French.
Be prepared for a culture change
Swiss culture can be very different from a British perspective. It can be hard to make friends and the Swiss can initially seem rude. But the truth is they are just less open and more reserved. But getting to know them can be very rewarding, as they are loyal, reliable and polite. Try joining clubs based around interests to start making friends, as there isn’t so much of an ‘after-work’ drinks culture. There are also thriving expat communities.
Use the public transport system
Get a Travel Pass and explore. The infrastructure is exceptional and it’s much easier than driving around the busy roads. There are some amazing places to visit, including the lakes and the mountains, so make the most of it. Public transport is clean, efficient and extensive, though it isn’t cheap, so look at annual passes to reduce costs.
Things are not as hectic in Switzerland as they are in the UK. Things might happen a little slower, shops close over the weekends and it can take some getting used to when coming from our 24/7 culture.
Be prepared for the price rise
Switzerland isn’t cheap. It’s best not to compare to British prices, and instead just work around a new budget and adapt. Be financially prepared and research in advance what things will cost – but be ready for a shock! Salaries and wage growth are higher too, and the relatively low taxes help to make up the shortfall to some extent. Make sure to negotiate a generous relocation package to help too, if appropriate.
The Swiss lifestyle is very much about being fit and healthy. Make the most of the great outdoors and trying skiing and other winter sports, outdoor swimming in summer, hiking, cycling, running or indoor sports. There are great facilities and it’s also a good way to make friends.
Purchase health insurance
As a resident, this is mandatory, so ensure that the whole family is covered by a relevant package that will cover most health requirements. This gives access to the world-class medical facilities.
Know the rules
Switzerland is known for having strict and sometimes somewhat strange laws, but it doesn’t pay to ignore them, so do some research and know what is expected in advance.
If you’re moving to Switzerland, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.