Expats in Switzerland: 16 Books about SwitzerlandSwitzerland has long been a favorite destination for expatriates, consistently ranking among the best countries for quality of life. The country’s cleanliness, low crime rate, overall healthy lifestyle and great public transportation crop up again and again on expat discussion boards as perks of living here. While the cost of living is relatively high and there are nit-picking rules — garbage sorting and laundry room use, for example — that some might find restrictive, the consensus seems to be Switzerland is worth it. As Chantal Panozzo writes in the WSJ Expat blog, “It’s hard not to love a country where the law requires that every employee receive a minimum of four weeks of vacation a year.” We’ve gathered 16 of the very best resources available on the internet for expats in Switzerland, whether you’re planning to relocate soon or are already here. Whatever stage you’re at in your Swiss expatriate experience, you’ll want to bookmark at least some of the sites listed below.
The Best Must-Reads For Living Switzerland as an Expat
ExpaticaAn expat resource site for several countries, Expatica has particularly helpful guides for settling in Switzerland. There is even a guide to setting up electricity, telephone, television and internet services in your Swiss home — that one can be found here. Under the Finance tab, there’s the expat’s guide to Swiss taxes, and under Country Facts, there’s a “35 Facts about Switzerland” article that explains the abbreviation CH (it stands for “Confoederatio Helvetica”).
Expat ArrivalsPromising “local info for global expats,” Expat Arrivals has country and city guides that cover the globe with information gleaned from established expatriates who serve as local experts. The advice given to those doing business in Switzerland, for example, is that “interactions are characterised by directness and restraint, especially with the German Swiss — so expats will have to stay focused and control their emotions. A lot of emphasis is placed on appearance, preparedness and punctuality.”
The LocalThis English-language news network includes expat forums, a noticeboard and dating site for foreign professionals. There are also articles that help specific groups of expats. Taxes in Switzerland: the easy way is one such article, based on an interview with US expats David and Carrie McKeegan, who started Greenback Expat Tax Services, a tax company that serves Americans living abroad.
Transitions AbroadFirst-person reports from expatriates in Switzerland make interesting reading at Transitions Abroad, especially if you’re thinking of following a similar path. Mary Ware’s account of interning at the United Nations in Geneva, for example, gives readers an idea of what to expect during an internship. She includes a few helpful tips, as well, including the importance of getting details regarding time off and what “conversational fluency” really means.
Expat FocusMore expertise on all things Swiss comes your way from Expat Focus, where you’re invited to join an English-language Facebook group of 167 members. Articles range from finance tips (the canton in which you live can affect your income tax bracket) to more general things you should know before you go: “Loud noises are frowned upon by most of the locals.” This can mean no flushing the toilet after 22:00 and no cell phone use on designated areas on trains.
Expat ExchangeBetsy Burlingame, the founder of Expat Exchange, a site that’s helped expats settle in abroad since 1997, has some thought-provoking information in her article 10 Tips for Living in Switzerland. “EU-citizens have a much easier time in Switzerland,” she writes, and quotes an expatriate who explains: “If you are not an EU-citizen, keep in mind that quotas apply for work/stay permits. There is a maximum to the number of work permits per year that are issued to non-EU-citizens. Moreover, your Swiss employee has to prove that he has made ample effort to find someone from Switzerland or the EU for the job before he can hire you.”
Xpat XchangeThis is a true resource site for expats in Switzerland, with a directory of services, shops and clubs, and a community section with blogs and articles. If you’re looking for a dentist in Zurich, for instance, you’ll find updated listings and reviews from other expats. There are entries under some headings called “Useful Tips.” Under “Animals and Pets,” for example, tips include:
- Dogs are welcome in most restaurants.
- Dogs over 6 months old must be licensed.
- Cats do not need a license.
- Dogs can use public transportation, and if they are big enough must pay half the fare (you can pay for them if they are unable).