Moving to Zurich – Living in Zurich

Due to its high quality of life, Zurich is always classified as one of the best cities in the world for living and as a city with the highest quality of life.

Located in the heart of German-speaking Switzerland, this beautiful city with its lovable heritage with its 420,000 inhabitants is the largest in the country, although it is not the capital (this is Bern). Zurich is the economic centre of Switzerland and is considered a cosmopolitan city. Well-known large international companies in the financial services sector, such as the banks UBS and Credit Suisse, as well as insurance companies such as Swiss Re, Swiss Life or Zurich Insurance Group, have their headquarters here. The financial services industry contributes around 50% of the tax revenues of the City of Zurich.

Zurich attracts many foreigners (32% of the population) and international communities are easy to find here. Many international schools in Zurich and the surrounding area as well as internationally oriented churches such as the International Protestant Church of Zurich or the Eglise Reformée zurichois bear witness to this. Zurich is recognized as an international city.

A family arriving in Zurich will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of life that the city offers. Security, trust and punctuality are the key words here. Don't be surprised if you see children from the age of 5 on the street who go to school alone; buy the flowers in the nearby field by leaving a few coins in the designated cash register without checking this; make an appointment for the maintenance of your car at 09h47. Don't be surprised by an announcement at the station that your train is unfortunately three minutes late and you are being asked to understand.

On the school side…

There are many international schools in the region, most of which are English-speaking.  The children start late with school (from 4 years, start with two years kindergarten), have only 5 weeks off in the summer, follow a slight rhythm during the week (in the first year kindergarten only in the morning, from the second year kindergarten also partly in the afternoon), what accelerates and leads to early orientation at the age of 12. Nevertheless, families who choose to move to Zurich (or To Switzerland in general) are not so rare, and they rely on learning the language (even two with German and Swiss German), an increased adaptability, an undeniable openness, not to mention free school!

On the accommodation side…

Surely your choice will depend on where your children go to school, if you have one. About 90% of the available real estate listings can be found on, which collects all real estate advertisements. You will find rental and purchase properties there. Perhaps if you have a large family, you will sigh when you see how few large houses are available; the Swiss have few children… And what is rare is expensive!

The cost of living in Zurich

Zurich's reputation for expensive housing is well established and that is true! Yes, your salary will probably be higher than in your home country, but you will be faced with other expenses and an increase in the cost of traditional spending. Make sure you know what you're getting in salary, expenses or grants before you go!  The same applies to the accommodation, which is an important item in your budget. You have to finance a very high proportion of public (compulsory) health insurance. Although you receive excellent medical care, you are provided with minimal or no refund for dental or optical treatments, perhaps unfamiliar to you. On the other hand, you will not be disappointed by the quality of everything you are offered. In short, be ware, you can quickly get frustrated when you see all the opportunities that life in Zurich has to offer and you don't have access to them. Also note the fluctuations in the Swiss franc against the euro, which can change things!


The written language here is German, but it should not be forgotten that the mother tongue of Zurich's Swiss German or Swiss Language is the language of the Swiss Language. Zurich German. This is the language spoken during the two years of kindergarten in the local system and the language you hear on the street …

Professional life

There are many criteria that must be taken into account when deciding on a position in Zurich. Nothing is insurmountable, but the combination of several factors can make it difficult. Do you speak the language of the country? Although you can work without speaking Swiss German or German, as many international companies are present on the market and English is used, this will reduce the number of jobs you can do. Do you have children? What kind of schooling do you have? Small children and/or children in the Swiss system will further restrict your choice because your children go to school late and day care is extremely expensive. Nevertheless, the market is quite dynamic and the protection of workers is not very high, so the recruitment is easier!

Shopping for daily needs

Go to Migros or Coop, the two supermarket chains that have a quasi-monopoly in this area! In addition to the long-standing discounter Denner, the two German discounters Aldi and Lidl have also established themselves in Switzerland. In Zurich, pay particular attention to the often very short sales times for fresh products and the usually very low meat prices – but only per 100g.

On the apparel side you will find a mix of expensive brands and Swiss fashion that is rather casual and you may not like. Nevertheless, you can easily find the big international chains.

The rules

I must also warn you straight away that you must abide by some rules that you cannot ignore and which are proof of your good integration. Waste separation, to name but one. Strict picking up of dog faeces by the dog owner is another. But the cleanliness of the city has its price.

Sport, culture and leisure

The Swiss are enthusiastic athletes, especially for the purpose of maintaining better health. If sport is your thing, you will be happy! The geographical location of Zurich makes it easy to go to the mountains, whether for hiking in summer or skiing in winter. In the course of a day, or even half a day, you will have something beautiful to pamper your eyes with. The city of Zurich is located at the end and on the shore of the lake of the same name. On the shores of this lake and the Limmat, which flows through the city, are the Badis or public baths for which Zurich is famous. Numerous outdoor pools are integrated into extensive and well-equipped facilities, making it a popular leisure offer for children and adults.

You will also find forest areas with running routes in all corners of the city and also within the city you will encounter joggers again and again.

The city borders on one side on the Üetliberg, a popular excursion destination for the people of Zurich, and on the other hand on the large Züriberg forest, two green lungs of the city, which can be reached in no time. In the heart of the Züriberg is the renowned Zurich Zoo, which invites you to take wonderful walks in summer and winter.

And if you tickle the idea of grilling, nothing could be easier: wherever you go, there are enough fireplaces; Firewood can be found in the forest; only the bratwurst (sausages) have to be brought with you!

From a cultural point of view, the city offers everything to quench your thirst: opera, museums, theatres, galleries… of the highest quality. An important disadvantage, as you may have guessed, is the cost of these trips, which alone limit their frequency. The most important and renowned houses in Zurich are the Opera House for Opera, the Kunsthaus Zürich for Museums and the Schauspielhaus für Theater.

Public transport

They will no doubt appreciate the punctuality of public transport, their cleanliness, the safety they enjoy and the certainty that they will never strike!

If you have the clichés of Switzerland in mind, Zurich offers you the opportunity to check them: watches, chocolate, Swiss knives; and also the "postcard" landscapes not to be forgotten, but also this rigour, which sometimes makes you shudder…

Moving to Zurich – Living in Zurich: Copyright 2020 by

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