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Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide

August 18, 2021
The largest city of a wealthy country, a major financial and business hub in Europe and the rest of the world, and an overall beautiful destination. It's no wonder so many people dream of traveling to Zürich. Just the name itself brings about thoughts of luxury, prominence, and prestige. It's a utopia-like metropolis unlike any other, almost as if it's a place of fiction. But Zürich is a real city, one that you can relocate to if you get the chance. Doing so won't be easy but it's not exactly impossible either! At least, not if you rely on this relocation guide.

Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide

What to Know Before Moving to Zürich

Before deciding to relocate to Zürich, here are a few tidbits of info you need to know:
- The city of Zürich is the capital of the canton of the same name.
- Zürich lies in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
- There are four types of visas to let you stay in Zürich: Work, Student, Family, and Retirement.
- Zürich's financial district is the most famous and most important in the world.
- They also speak French, Italian, Romansh, and English in Zürich.

Is Zürich a Good Place to Live?

Definitely! The standards of living in Zürich are high, the crime rates are low, and there are many job opportunities here. Add to that the city's historic beauty and fascinating heritage and you've got a great place for a new hometown.

Overview of Zürich

With 1.443 million people in its population, Zürich is the largest and most populated city in Switzerland. It also serves as the country's major financial hub, making it an economic leader in Europe and the rest of the world. Weather-wise, Zürich gets all the four seasons. With an average temperature of 19.4 °C (67 °F), the city's hottest month is July. On the flip side, with an average temperature of 0°C (32°F), its coldest month is January. As mentioned earlier, the city has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Since it's a global city, English is fairly common here too.

What is Zürich Famous For?

Beyond its many tourist attractions, the world recognizes Zürich as the global center of banking and finance. Many of the leading financial institutions in the world operate here, some even have their headquarters in the city's famous financial district. As such, those moving to Zürich often have dreams and ambitions to climb up the corporate ladder and become big in the finance game.

What to Do in Zürich

It's not necessarily fair to say that Zürich is only about big business and big money. Even if you can only spend a day in Zürich, you'd be surprised at how much you can do in that short while. Among the most common is the explore the city's Old Town quarter, Altstadt, which is a treasure trove of old-world charms. From cobbled streets to Gothic churches, the whole place looks straight out of a fairytale. Lake Zürich is also always a good time. You can go on a cruise do water sports, or simply hang out by the serene waters.

What to See in Zürich

When you go to Zürich, make sure to see these amazing sights:
- Grossmünster Church
- Sechseläutenplatz Square
- Bahnhofstrasse Street
- Lake Zürich
- Lindelof Park
- Uetliberg Mountain
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Visa for Zürich

The first thing you need to get if you plan on moving to Zürich is a visa. If you're coming from a non-EU or EEA country, you're going to need a Schengen Visa just to get to Switzerland. Relocating here, however, requires a long-term Swiss visa. As already mentioned, there are four types you can get: work visa, student visa, family visa, or retirement visa. Each requires a different set of paperwork and both the application and requirements may differ from country to country.

Do You Need a Visa to go to Zürich?

It depends on where you're coming from. Even though Switzerland isn't part of the EU or EEA area, citizens of these member-states can still enter the country without a visa. The ETIAS Visa Waiver Program also allows citizens from selected countries to get to Switzerland without a visa. These territories include the US, the UK, the UAE, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and more. These can only get you so far, though. If you want to relocate to Switzerland, (specifically Zürich) altogether, you'll need to apply for a long-term Swiss visa regardless of where you're coming from.

Zürich Visa Requirements

As already mentioned, the list of requirements for applying for a Swiss visa differs from country to country. That said, there are a few general documents that all Swiss embassies around the world require. They include
- Your filled-up application form
- Your valid passport
- Flight itinerary
- Proof of accommodations
- Proof of funds
- Cover letter
- Travel medical insurance
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Getting Around Zürich

It's pretty easy to get around this Swiss city. Zürich's public transport is efficient enough for everyday use. From the trains and trams to the buses and taxis, you have a myriad of options on how to get to your destination. For a less stressful time navigating commuting here, you ought to get a Zürich Card, the transit pass that lets you access all the modes of public transportation for around 24 to 72 hours. But if you still need to buy a ticket, do note that sell them based on your destination, but rather, the Canton you're in.

How to Get Around Zürich

You can take the train, hop on a tram, ride the bus, or hail a taxi off the street. There's also the option of buying/renting a bike and cycling your way through this bustling metropolis. And when all else fails, you can still rely on transportation apps. Fortunately, popular ride-hailing apps like Uber operate in Zürich.

Is Zürich a Walkable City?

Zürich is perfect for walking. With its well-organized layout, beautiful buildings, and dreamy sceneries, a stroll around town is always pleasant. It also saves you money from commuting and serves as a form of exercise. What more could you want?
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Where to Live in Zürich

Where should you settle down in Zürich? Now that's a good question to answer first when you plan on relocating here. Of course, whichever neighborhood of Zürich you end up choosing should depend on your lifestyle. If you're more into the quiet and old-school European life, you're better off moving to Aarau or Rapperswil-Jona. Zürich West, on the other hand, is more for the workaholics who are all about their corporate careers. And if you want a taste of the rural Swiss countryside, look no further than Affoltern! This district is the most relaxed out of all of them in Zürich.

Where to Stay in Zürich

Some of the best places to stay in Zürich include Aussersihl, Lindenhof, Enge, Niederdorf, Seefeld, and Zürich Nord. Not only are these some of the city's central neighborhoods, but they're also popular among tourists and are some of the liveliest areas around.

Where to Live in Zürich with Family

Some of the best neighborhoods in Zürich for families include Zürich Nord, Enge, Lake Zürich, Seefeld, and Lindenhof. These are the more residential parts of the city, almost devoid of tourists.

Where Do Expats Live in Zürich?

You'll find most of the expats in Zürich living in Enge, Lake Zürich, and Seefeld. These districts are relatively peaceful, they have international schools and are largely residential compared to other parts of the city.
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Living Costs in Zürich

Whichever place you choose, there's still one thing for certain: you will spend a lot of money. The living costs in Zürich aren't exactly low, and to make matters worse, the Swiss Franc has more value than both the Euro and the US Dollar. So when you convert your money to the national currency, you'll find that you might need to earn more in live a comfortable life here.

How Much Does it Cost to Live in Zürich?

Typically, a single adult spends about CHF 1,684.90 (€1,797.20)per month without rent. A family of four, on the other hand, spends about CHF 6,138.00 (€6,547.20) per month without rent. When you take rent into account, living in a luxury apartment in Zürich costs about a minimum of CHF 1,200.00 (€1,279.99)to a maximum of CHF 6,000.00 (€6,399.97) per month.

Is Zürich Expensive to Live in?

Yes, it is. The cost of living for just one person is almost as high as the minimum common rental fee here. Add to that the fact that Zürich is a leading financial hub, so the standard of living here is high too. It makes sense that the living costs here would be high too.
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Employment in Zürich

Now, let's talk about employment. To survive in a place like Zürich, you'll need to find a stable job in the city. Fortunately, since Zürich is both a business and financial hub central to Europe and the rest of the world, you might have an easy time finding employment here. It helps that a lot of international multi-corporations have set up shop here as well. As for which sectors may prove to be most fruitful, according to the Swiss job market, the country's top industries include finance, luxury retail, and tourism. Look out for jobs within these fields when you get to Zürich!

Employment Opportunities in Switzerland

Whether you're in Zürich or anywhere else in the country, it's still possible to find a job in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO) listed accountants, doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, and lawyers as the most in-demand jobs in the country. Zürich, in particular, also has many job opportunities for those working in finance. Whether you're a banker or accountant, it won't take you long to land employment here.
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Education in Zürich

If you're moving to Zürich with your kids, you have nothing to worry about. They can live just as normally here as they did in your previous hometown. They can also continue their schooling with no problem at all. Switzerland boasts a top-notch educational system that consistently ranks high among the best in the world. It helps that they teach in different languages, hold public schools in high regard, and are mainly focused on academics.

Is Education Free in Switzerland?

Education is only free in Switzerland if it's a state school. Any other educational institution in Zürich and beyond will require payment of tuition fees.

Schools in Zürich

Since there's a good chance that your little ones aren't fluent in any of Switzerland's official languages, you're better off enrolling them in the international schools in Zürich. The Zurich International School, the International School of Central Switzerland, Tandem International Multilingual School, and SIS Swiss International School Männedorf-Zürich are some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country. They may cost a lot but rest assured that every cent you pay is worth it!

Colleges in Zürich

It's worth highlighting the best colleges in Zürich too, especially for your kids' future. When your little ones have grown up and it's time for them to choose a college/university to go to, focus on the likes of the University of Zürich, the University of St. Gallen, the University of Lucerne, and the Zurich University of the Arts. Not only are these some of the finest educational institutions in the country, but they provide safe and diverse environments for the youth.
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Healthcare in Zürich

As far as healthcare is concerned, you ought to fix your residency papers first. Once they're all done and out of the way, getting access to Swiss healthcare would be a breeze. The country operates on a universal system, meaning all residents are granted public health coverage. That alone would be enough to subsidize the rates for your medical costs, which are often astronomical. However, if you went here before becoming a legal resident, all you can do is get private medical insurance in the meantime.

Does Switzerland have Good Healthcare?

Yes, it is. The Swiss healthcare system is often lauded as one of the best in the world. The country boasts an effective universal system, state-of-the-art medical technology, advanced research facilities, and countless prominent healthcare professionals. It also helps that there are many great hospitals in Zürich. The University Hospital Zurich, University Children’s Hospital Zurich, Kantonsspital Winterthur, and Klinik Hirslanden are some of the leading healthcare institutions in the country. You'll be very lucky indeed if you get treated in any of them!
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Safety in Zürich

There's also the question of safety. Will you be safe in Zürich? The answer is yes, you will be! The crime rates in Zürich are low, some of the lowest among the major cities in Europe. Currently, the city boasts a low 17.92% general crime rate. It's considered very low, which is a good sign as to how safe Zürich truly is.

Is Zürich Safe?

Yes, it is! Apart from the city's very low general crime rate, Zürich's rate of increasing crimes is just 55.05%, which is only moderate. Though it's worth keeping your eye on, it's not necessarily a cause for concern.

How Safe is Zürich?

To be more specific, Zürich currently enjoys a very high 86.34% safety rate during the day. This is enough to let you explore the city on your own while the sun is out, even if it's your first time in the city.

Is Zürich Safe at Night?

Yes, it is. Zürich's safety rate only drops to 72.19% at night. It's still considered high but you'd do well to still be aware of your surroundings when you go out at night!
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Flickr.com/ Kecko

Taxes in Zürich

Here's one you're probably not excited to deal with once you’ve relocated to Zürich: taxes! Becoming a new resident of Zürich means you have to, at the very least, know the basics of Switzerland's tax system. For now, what you need to understand is that one's income tax rate is made up of various rates. They include the federal tax (0.77% - 13.2%), the Canton tax (4.00% to 45.32%), the communal tax, and the church tax. Now, when it comes to the Canton, communal, and church taxes, they will depend on where you are in Switzerland. Here in Zürich, the Canton tax rate is 39.76%.

Is Zürich Tax-Free?

No, it is not. People living and working in Zürich still have to pay taxes.

How Much is Income Tax in Zürich?

Zürich follows a proportional income tax system. The more you earn, the higher your income tax rate will be. The overall maximum rate is 11.5%, imposed on those who earn more than CHF 783,200 per year.
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Relocation Tips for Zürich

Let's end this relocation guide with a few important tips:
- Learn Swiss German before you get to Switzerland.
- Set up a local Swiss bank account, even better if you do it before you get to Zürich.
- Join a local Swiss mobile network and get a SIM card for your phone.
- Memorize your everyday route.
- Enroll in a language school in Zürich and learn as many of the official languages as you can.
- Brush up on Swiss social customs to know how to behave properly here.
- Learn proper Swiss business etiquette before finding employment here.
- Get private medical insurance on top of your public health coverage.
- Make friends and build a strong network.
Moving to Zürich: Your Relocation Guide
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Moving to Zürich may be the ultimate dream, but it pays to do it more realistically. This relocation guide lays out all the basics of what you need to know and do as you transition into a new life in this prominent city.

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Zürich, Switzerland
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Zürich, Switzerland
109 $ / night    
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