Switzerland is safe, efficient and clean, with an outstanding transport infrastructure.
The high living standard in Switzerland is reflected in the high cost of living.
The three regions of Switzerland differ greatly in terms of culture and mindset, not just in terms of spoken language.
You’ve decided to move to Switzerland. It’s time to get down to business.
In the following weeks you will need to coordinate your move, find accommodation in Switzerland, decide what type of schooling best suits your kids, get your pets ready for the move and in general, feel a combination of worry and excitement about what’s coming next.
To keep you focused, we have gathered the highlights.
Here are the most important things to concentrate on within the next weeks as you take concrete steps to move to Switzerland:
1. Choose the right moving company
Selecting a moving provider is quite straightforward, here are our tips to help you decide:
Ask for at least 3 moving quotes and carefully analyze them. Negotiate! See if any of them has the option of placing some items in storage and at what cost.
To identify quality international movers, make sure they are a member of the International Movers Association FIDI, which provides the only worldwide recognized quality standard in the industry. All FIDI moving companies are independently audited by Ernst & Young.
If you have the budget, go for full-service moves.
2. Find accommodation
Finding a home to rent in Switzerland is tough and we cannot stress this enough.
Start your search early, at least 6 months before you move, use all resources available (real estate websites, Facebook groups, your network, etc.) and be quick about it.
Know that you will have to visit the houses in person and apply in the local Swiss language of the canton.
Consider temporary accommodation if you are unable to find a house to rent before you arrive.
Pro tip: Hire a home-finding consultant to find you a home if you cannot visit the properties in person or do not know the local language.
3. Set up telecoms
For telecoms set up (mobile phone, internet, TV) you will need to show proof of residence. Even for pre-paid mobile SIM cards, you will be asked to present your rental contract.
Be aware that there is a mandatory radio/ TV tax collected once a year by a company called Serafe. Serafe will automatically send every household an invoice CHF 365, using data from the cantonal and municipal registers of residents.
4. Decide on your mobility/ transport needs
Public transport is impeccable and covers most of Switzerland, so you can easily move around exclusively in the clean and reliable public transport network. Also, the total costs of owning a car may equal that of a GA (General Abo).
That being said, many places are difficult or time-consuming to reach by public transport.
Locals tend to combine public transport with biking for instance, yet using a car is still quite popular in Switzerland.
If you do decide to import your car there are opportunities for significant financial savings if you plan 6 months in advance or more.
However, be sure to weigh the costs of importation and potential necessary modifications to comply with Swiss specifications and pollution / CO2 requirements. These factors can be costly for cars designed for non-European markets. Also bear in mind that in case of repair or accident, obtaining replacement parts for foreign vehicles may also create delays and extra costs.
5. Visa & Registration
Visiting Switzerland as a tourist is authorized for up to 90 days without registration. It is forbidden to work during this period.
Working in Switzerland for more than 8 calendar days per year also requires a work permit.
To work in Switzerland, all non-Swiss generally require some form of immigration authorization - usually a work permit, or a combined work and residence permit. Additionally, all newcomers need to register at their local town hall (commune/ Gemeinde) within 8 days of entering Switzerland and prior to their first working day.
Non-EU/EFTA citizens who require a single-entry work/residence visa will need to officially enter Switzerland before expiration of their visa
Non-EU/EFTA citizens will need to make a multiple entry request should they need to travel internationally before the final permit is issued
Know that you will also need to de-register from the local commune/ Gemeinde when you leave your address or when you leave Switzerland all together.
6. Set up a Swiss bank account
You must be registered as a resident in Switzerland before being able to open an account, and Swiss anti-money-laundering laws require verification of the source of income and confirmation of the identity of the applicant.
Quality online banking and advisory services in English are only available with a small number of major banks.
7. Moving with pets
Regulations and customs requirements for bringing pets into Switzerland are strict and change frequently, depending on the animal and country of origin.
Quarantine may be required.
Find out more here.
8. If you have kids, assess education options
Childcare is expensive, even prohibitively so, which means two parents working 100% is a rare occurrence in Switzerland.
In terms of options, these are numerous: public kindergarten and schools are of high quality and there are also numerous private schools available.
Explore here more about education options or hire an education consultant.
9. Get mandatory insurance
When living in Switzerland, it is compulsory by law to be covered by a Swiss health insurance policy. A basic healthcare policy covers the majority of the basic medical costs resulting from an illness. Depending on your health situation or individual needs, additional options may be required.
Within 3 months of your arrival in Switzerland, the authorities will ask you to provide proof that you have health insurance coverage. Health insurance is normally obtained from a private insurance company.
Personal insurance is also required when renting accommodation.
10. Well, there might be more than 10 things you need to do, but let’s keep it simple...
Get mentally ready and adjust your social expectations. Swiss people are introverts, so don’t expect big hugs and smiles as you move here. Breathe in, take it slow and read this excellent article on how to settle in.
Get a power adapter, as Swiss 3-pronged plugs are quite special. You can still use the standard European 2-pronged plug even without a power adapter, but not much else.
Once you move, you will have to quickly become an expert on recycling. Garbage bags costing CHF 1/ piece can be found at your local supermarket (make sure you buy the designated garbage bag color for your commune, otherwise your garbage will not be picked up and you will receive a serious fine).
You're all set with the basics!