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Living in Switzerland is a dream that many people have. Located in the heart of Europe, the country offers high standard of life. Its various lingual and cultural regions make it even richer in outstanding experiences.

Moving to Switzerland is related to a lot of particularities, and it is recommended you make yourself familiar with the country’s regulations. This guide will give you some insight by providing you the opportunity of a virtual acquaintance with Switzerland’s reality.

What languages are spoken in Switzerland?

The country owes its lingual richness to its location in Europe. The fusion of several cultures gives Switzerland its unique colour. It has four national languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh.

German is the most widely spread. It’s spoken in the northern and central parts of the country, and the Swiss dialect is strongly embedded. Literary German is used mainly in media, education and politics.

If you’re familiar with French and Italian, you could as easily find a home in Switzerland. In the western cantons, French is the language that would open doors for you. Italian is the most spoken in the cantons located south of the Alps. In the mountain’s lowlands, you would stumble upon the Romansh. Although it is not widely spoken, it is accepted as Switzerland’s native language. It’s the official language in the canton of Graubünden (also known as the canton of Grisons).

If you speak none of the national languages, English would be your starting point. It’s generally accepted and spoken by a large part of the population. You would be able to go by with it in the beginning, but spare some time to learn the main language of the canton you have chosen to move to.

Find a place to live in Switzerland

Before you apply for accommodation, choose a region that would satisfy your needs. Think about cantons with affordable property prices and lower taxes. Many immigrants set their eyes on rural regions for their first home, due to good conditions there. Big cities offer great opportunities but you need to do a thorough research on whether they would be suitable for you.

Finding a new home in Switzerland requires a proper preparation. As a newcomer to the country, you could stumble upon some difficulties if you don’t speak the local language. Consider finding a certified consultant, who could help you in property negotiations.

Prepare the required documentation beforehand, and load yourself with patience for the next few months. You need to act quickly, and apply for a home you like immediately. Plan your time well, because you would have to personally visit every property you apply for. Think about questions you might like to ask at the view.

Even if you are quick and communicative this might not be enough. Your income, family status, period of staying, nationality, etc., will also be considered. It’s important what kind of work permit you have and which is the area of your working place.

Apply to offers according to your budget. Accept the fact that the first property you rent might not be your dream home. You could temporarily stay in short-term rentals, or in a hotel, until you sign a tenancy agreement.

Find your new job

Switzerland is not part of the EU, but thanks to its close ties with it, it provides good working conditions. For citizens of EU/EFTA member states, entering, living and working in the country is easy and accessible. Depending on the time and type of employment, it is necessary to follow different procedures.

If you intend to have Switzerland as your home for more than 3 months, you need to obtain a residence permit by applying to the relevant cantonal municipality. The period of validity is determined by the duration of your employment. The residence permit is valid in the whole country.

Read in detail the requirements of Switzerland if you are a citizen of the UK or a third country. People who are free to start working are graduates and recognized specialists with several years of professional experience. Your future employer is obliged to provide you with the same working conditions and remuneration as those of Swiss citizens. They must be able to prove that you would be working in the interest of Switzerland's economy. It is necessary that they justify that they chose you as a staff member because they couldn’t find a suitable employee from Switzerland or from an EU/EFTA member state.

A work permit for the UK and third-country citizens is required even for short-term and self-employment. It does not give the right to enter and live in Switzerland. A separate application is required for staying in the country. Make yourself well familiar with the conditions for obtaining a visa, and whether you would need it.

Most companies build their policy around the principle of giving preference to Swiss citizens. This is an incentive for foreigners to put in more effort and perform better in the workplace.

The average salary in the country is 10,300 Swiss francs (approximately 9,880 euros). Remuneration varies according to professional experience and the chosen field. In Switzerland, there is no nationally established minimum wage. Despite the lack of a minimum wage threshold, the country is one of the most developed and competitive economic powers in the world.

Hard work is inherent in the nation. The working week is about 45 hours long, but it varies throughout sectors. In emergencies or voluntary work on Sundays, hours could reach up to 50. If you are a healthcare professional or in the hotel business, be prepared to have a slightly longer working day.

River, buildings and mountain view

Switzerland and children

The Swiss educational system provides high-level training with compulsory education till the age of 15. There are public and private schools, as well as bilingual and international schools. The variety of options helps you find the right place for your child.

Swiss education is distinguished by its methods of assessing students. Achievement groups are well received and encourage children to learn from any situation and discover their interests from an early age.

Public schools have an official language of teaching corresponding to the canton which they are located in. An additional national language and English are studied in all of them. Students' curricula and vacations vary depending on the canton. If your child is in early childhood, public school would give them the opportunity to learn the language quickly and adapt easily.

In international and private schools, you can choose between different training systems. There, you define the model your children will be studying by. They offer internationally recognized qualifications, and are often chosen by people whose children do not speak the country's national languages.

Religious, Montessori and Waldorf schools are widespread in Switzerland. They concentrate on giving additional knowledge and experiences to students, according to the chosen profile.

Moving to Switzerland with a pet

There are many rules for people who want to move with their pets to Switzerland. The Animal Welfare Act obliges the creation of good conditions and cares for the pet. If violations are found (causing pain, injury, violation of dignity, etc.) you may receive a fine and a ban on owning an animal again.

Get accurately acquainted with the rules for animal import, applied to the country you come from. In Switzerland, dogs, cats and ferrets need to have a microchip, in compliance to ISO 11784/11785 standard, and a rabies vaccination needs to be administered. An international passport must be presented for all pets.

Within 10 days of entering the country with a dog, you would need to visit a veterinary clinic for additional checks and for the pet’s information to be entered in the AMICUS database. You need to register the dog in the municipality of the respective canton, and you will be charged an annual tax for your pet. It varies according to the regulations in the place of residence. Other species are not subject to state tax.

There are provisions restricting the ownership of certain dog breeds, which are prone to aggression. They vary throughout cantons, and getting acquainted with them in advance is highly recommended.

Swiss legislation defines certain species of animals as social. It does not allow you to grow them alone without a friend of the same species. These animals include guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, birds and more. There are additional frames for the ownership of those, which it is recommended you observe.

Driving license in Switzerland

In Switzerland, you can use your personal driving license in the first 12 months after obtaining a residence permit. If it is in a language other than English, French, German or Italian (languages ​​recognized by the Swiss authorities), you must have a relevant translation or international driving license at all times.

After the temporary period of use expires, you would have to replace the document with a Swiss one. This takes up to several weeks, and it is recommended that you do not wait until the last minute. Fines for driving with an invalid document are heavy.

Citizens of EEA member states can exchange their driving licenses for Swiss ones without taking an exam if they do so within 12 months. If they miss the deadline, they are obliged to take a theoretical and practical exam.

People outside the EEA need to take a practical driving exam to replace their license. Citizens of the UK and other third countries must take a theoretical and practical exam to obtain a license.

The exams are conducted in the respective national language of the canton. Some cantons offer the possibility to conduct the exam in English, or to use the services of a professional translator.

If the necessary legal formalities are followed, duty-free import of a car for a period of one year could be easy. If your relocation to Switzerland is long-term, you could import your car duty-free, considering you have used it abroad for at least 6 months. It is mandatory to register it with the traffic service in the canton in which you will be living.

The importance of health insurance

Basic health insurance is compulsory in Switzerland. It must be obtained within the first 3 months of your arrival in the country. The health care system is not based on taxes paid by employers.

Basic insurance is an individual responsibility of every person. State insurance covers up to 90% of medical expenses. It does not cover the first mandatory CHF 300 (approximately EUR 288) annual costs for treatment and hospital stay.

Additional insurance with private companies is common. It provides access to a wider range of treatments and better hospital conditions.

If you have a European Health Insurance Card, you can receive healthcare at a reduced price for the first 3 months. Later on, you must join the Swiss health insurance system, after registering your place of residence.

The UK and third-country nationals do not have access to public health care before applying for a residence permit. Until then, they need to pay monthly health fees and cover the costs for their medical treatment.

Nature and climate

Switzerland offers four seasons to its citizens, but their intensity varies from region to region. If you love snow not only in December, you can head to the Jura Mountains. The Alps will also satisfy your passion for snow sports.

The central part of Switzerland has a milder continental climate. It is the natural connection between the two mountain massifs. In it, regardless of the season, life never stops. Summer is dry and warm. It is the right time to visit various festivals.

Connecting with nature has become a hobby of many people who have chosen Switzerland as their home. Walking in the endless forest areas fills everyone with happiness and positive energy. You might think that spending time in nature is not for you, but you won’t even notice how Switzerland will gradually change your mind.

Moving to Switzerland is easy with Movega Removals

Make Switzerland your new home by trusting professionals with the transfer of your belongings. Movega Removals guarantees you peace of mind, reliability and awareness throughout the relocation process.

Learn more about the services we provide by contacting us.

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