Zurich, Switzerland Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich, Switzerland 05/10/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Lived in 3 other countries before coming to Zurich.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Nowadays, it is in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and it takes a 1-hour flight or a night train to get there from Zurich.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

6 months, in 2008.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Studied at the ETH Zurich.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Apartments, mostly. City centre is prohibitively expensive, but public transport is, well, Swiss-efficient.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available, but its probably cheaper to shop across the border. Germany is only 40 km away, so many people go there for groceries and many services.

View All Answers


3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Everything is available, for an exorbitant price.

View All Answers


4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None that I know of.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Broadly available and accepted.

View All Answers


2. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

At least a bit of German would be quite helpful. The Zurich variant of Swiss-German is exceptionally difficult to understand, so abandon all hopes to learn German while you're here.

View All Answers


3. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lots of cobblestones and steep streets. Public transport and buildings are probably fine.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, they're fine. Best public transport in the world, no doubt.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A supercar, so that you don't stand out in the crowd. Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, that sort of thing.

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Buisness, smart casual-plus at work. Public dress-code is not strict, but a tad more formal and classy than in other European countries. Think of German love of rules married to French/Italian fashion sense.

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Avalanches in the mountains.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Excellent medical care is available, but can be expensive. Finding a dentist in Germany is a smart move.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Excellent.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Winters are moist, and can be snowy. Summers are warm, with regular short thunderstorms in the evenings.

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. Over 30% of the population is non-Swiss.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Hiking is huge here. For the Swiss, any mountain that does not involve technical climbing is considered hiking, so that includes summits like the Dom (at 4545 m, the 5th highest mountain in Switzerland). Zurich has a lively clubbing scene.

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It's a fine city for everyone but rather expensive. The price-quality ratio is superb, that is, you get value for money here.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

I guess. Haven't heard of any major issues.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The Swiss are not racist. That would imply they discriminate people. They don't discriminate except between Swiss (=good) and not Swiss (=mwah).

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Participated in the SOLA running race around Zurich. Cycled around Lake Zurich. Partied with the Dutch fans during Euro 2008. Climbed several mountains. Actually learned a few things at the ETHZ, too.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The Uetliberg rising above Zurich is a wonderful place to watch the sunrise, and then hike along the ridge. The botanical gardens, both the old and the new ones, are lovely spots. The many museums of the Zurich University are quite interesting http://www.uzh.ch/en/outreach/museums.
http://www.spottedbylocals.com/zurich has plenty of other useful tips.

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Chocolate, cheese, kirch (cherry schnapps) mountain summits (guided ascends), Swiss army knives, watches.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Switzerland is the most beautiful country in Europe, perhaps even the whole world. Period.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

NO!

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

YES!

View All Answers


2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sense of humor. The Swiss don't get it.

View All Answers


3. But don't forget your:

Alpine skills. And your money. All of it.

View All Answers


4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

The Visit (Der Besuch der alten Dame), Durcheinandertal, both by Friedrich Duerrenmatt.

View All Answers


Zurich, Switzerland 08/27/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

London, New York, and Bermuda.

View All Answers


2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Its about 6 hours away from the East coast.

View All Answers


3. How long have you lived here?

I lived there for four years from 2007-2011.

View All Answers


4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

My dad's job.

View All Answers


Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Its expensive to live there so if you aren't super rich you might have to live in an apartment. It's not that big of a city so comment times are really not long.

View All Answers


2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

About one "Migros" for town, I'd say. Pretty expensive.

View All Answers


3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing.

View All Answers


4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Same as in the U.S. But moderately more expensive.

View All Answers


5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not really any actually.

View All Answers


Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

View All Answers


2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

View All Answers


3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but pretty expensive and usually only in Swiss German for classes!

View All Answers


4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

View All Answers


5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

View All Answers


6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Pretty much everyone here speaks English (or to a certain extent.) So don't kill yourself learning German. Plus, this city is tricky to learn High German because the locals speak Swiss German and if you try to talk to them they will speak back to you in Swiss German!

View All Answers


7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Probably not.

View All Answers


Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Probably as safe as you can get. But again, expensive.

View All Answers


2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

View All Answers


2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

View All Answers


Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

View All Answers


Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

If you're an EU citizen. If not, it would be difficult.

View All Answers


2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not a lot if you don't speak the language.

View All Answers


3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No, its extremely safe there.

View All Answers


2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

No, excellent.

View All Answers


3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Air quality is probably one of the best in the world.

View All Answers


4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Pretty seasonal but not too extreme.

View All Answers


Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

ICS and ZIS are the two best international schools in Zurich from what I've heard. I don't know about the current competition to get into these schools but when I was there we had to wait two years to get into ICS! So if you know you're moving there I would definitely call one of them ASAP and see what the situation is.

View All Answers


2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

The local schools are terrible for special-needs kids. They won't really respect the fact that you have a learning disability and they will just "nail you down". But the international schools tend to be great with them.

View All Answers


3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, but most are in German/Swiss German/French or something like that. There are a few that are bilingual in English and German but I haven't heard of any that are purely English.

View All Answers


4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Probably but again if you don't look into ones affiliated with the international schools, they're probably only going to be in Swiss German!

View All Answers


Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE, expats spend a lot of time here usually.

View All Answers


2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

View All Answers


3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Families and singles, yes. But I think it would be hard for a foreign single to live there.

View All Answers


4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes.

View All Answers


5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Its an aggressively xenophobic country. Lots of traditional Swiss people want to get rid of all foreigners and make the country purely Swiss. I have heard of a Sri Lankan community that is prejudiced against. It's a negative atmosphere for foreigners but if you "look Swiss," you will be fine as long as people don't know that you're a foreigner.

View All Answers


6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Learning new languages (Switzerland is the land of languages, most people here speak at least 2-3 languages!), independence and living in a natural life.

View All Answers


7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Planet walk, Grossmunster...

View All Answers


8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Watches, backpacks etc.

View All Answers


9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Its a beautiful country, public transportation is very easy to use and children get a LOT of independence here.

View All Answers


10. Can you save money?

Absolutely no way.

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

The whole language situation. (Swiss German vs. High German)

View All Answers


2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Probably not to live but I'd love to visit especially since I haven't been back in 3 years!

View All Answers


3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Noise.

View All Answers


4. But don't forget your:

Travel gear.

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

View All Answers


6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

View All Answers


7. Do you have any other comments?

A great base to travel around Europe for sure. But you might feel lonely at times with the language barrier if it applies to you. If your kids speak English and not any German/Swiss German and you're not going to live there forever, I would really try to make it a last resort to send your kids to a Swiss school.

View All Answers


Five stars on Amazon! Don't miss Talesmag's first book of essays, on cross-cultural food experiences from Mexico to Mongolia (plus recipes!)

Read More