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Have you wondered about the pros and cons of living in Switzerland? Switzerland is a great place to live with its charming scenery, storybook villages, excellent ski resorts, hiking trails, and chocolate.
Making the big move to Switzerland is an important decision, which is why it is important to consider the pros and cons of living in Switzerland.
I will provide you with everything you need to know before deciding to live in Switzerland.
If you’re an expat looking to relocate to Switzerland, I can help you make your decision easier as I have experienced it firsthand while living in Switzerland in 2018.
Without further ado, let’s go over all the advantages and disadvantages of living in Switzerland.
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1. Pro: High quality of life
Switzerland performs very well when comparing many aspects to other countries in the Better Life Index.
Switzerland performs well when it comes to safety, health, and life satisfaction just to name a few. Life expectancy in Switzerland is above average at 84 years old.
When you add these up, you can expect a better work-life balance, plenty of outdoor opportunities, higher standards in education, a healthier lifestyle, and a great healthcare system.
This means that you can expect to have a better lifestyle and less stress while relocating there.
2. Con: Cost of living
When looking at the most expensive cities to live in worldwide, it is not surprising to have two Switzerland cities in the top ten.
A significant downside to living in Switzerland is that everything is expensive. Housing options have high prices. Food and entertainment add up quickly, especially in bigger cities.
If you compare the cost of living for a single person in Canada versus Switzerland, you’ll notice a gap.
Transportation costs are similar to Canada.
You’ll have to keep the cost of living in mind when looking to relocate. The cost of living is higher but salaries are as well. Do the math and it might still make sense for you to relocate there.
3. Pro: Low crime rates
Another pro to living in Switzerland is the low crime rate. This is caused by the political stability, neutrality, and happiness of living in the country.
Each year, Switzerland is high on the Global Peace Index. Switzerland came in 11th place for 2022.
Switzerland is a safe country to live and travel to, don’t be surprised if you see young children walking around without their parents. This is normal as the children are independent.
Being in a safe country as an expat can be reassuring. You won’t have to look over your shoulder all the time.
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4. Con: Reserved and rigid culture
The Swiss culture can be a culture shock as it is the opposite of what we are used to.
They are also rigid and have many rules you will need to adjust to. There is a rule for everything. For example, Sundays are shut-down days but it also is the case for hanging your laundry and cutting your grass.
Switzerland is slow to make changes to its culture. They have traditional views as well. Some of their rules could also be viewed as somewhat racist to foreigners. Some people say that communal laundry rooms in their housing building have washers dedicated to Swiss citizens and some for foreigners.
It might take longer to make some friends with the local people. They will eventually warm up to you and you might have a great community to hang out with.
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5. Pro: Happiness index
Switzerland comes in fourth based on the last three years. The average life evaluation is at 7.512.
There are many factors that contribute to the citizen’s happiness such as feeling supported by their country, their income, life expectancy, trust in their government, and freedom.
People are happy to live where they are which is a great reason for living in Switzerland and making it your new home.
Moving abroad can be daring but knowing that you are going to a country where people feel happy to be there might just make the transition easier for you.
6. Con: Sunday shutdown
Sundays are considered rest days in Switzerland. Pretty much everything is closed. The work-life balance is important to Swiss citizens.
Sunday shutdowns are not only a rest day but also a day to spend with families.
You might still find some retailers open such as small convenience shops at gas and train stations. Some bakeries, coffee shops, and restaurants can be open in the morning.
Since it is considered a rest day, you should also avoid any loud noises that could be disruptive to the people around you.
When knowing beforehand that Sundays, mostly everything is closed off, you can easily go around and plan your life around it. You might need a bit of getting used to it in the beginning though.
7. Pro: Climate is moderate
One benefit of living in Switzerland is that you will have a moderate climate. Which means there is no excessive heat or cold weather.
Carry extra layers with you because the temperature will vary depending on your altitude.
Temperatures range from 18°C (64°F) to 28°C (82°F) in July and August which are the warmest months of the year. Coldest temperatures are expected to be between -2°C (28°F) and 7°C (44°F) during January and February. Temperatures are around 8°C (46°F) and 15°C (59°F) during the other months of the year.
The temperatures are easily manageable.
8. Con: Air pollution
If you look at Switzerland in general, air pollution isn’t that bad. It comes in at 87th position globally. It is almost within the World Health Organization’s target goals.
However, cities like Rotkreuz and Liestal have higher readings.
Most pollution comes from vehicle emissions, which is a worldwide issue. Switzerland has been working on trying to improve its air quality by implementing different measures. For example, they want to prioritize reducing domestic emissions and using energy sources effectively.
9. Pro: The Swiss Alps
A great perk to living in Switzerland is the Alps.
Not only will you have beautiful views of these majestic mountains, but if you are an outdoorsy person you can practice many sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.
Switzerland has many amazing skiing resorts, hiking trails, and different extreme sports you can practice.
If you’re not into those, you can still enjoy it as the scenery is quite impressive.
A fun fact about the Swiss Alps is that they cover about 58% of the country’s territory.
10. Con: Renting can be difficult for foreigners
While looking for a place to stay in Switzerland, there isn’t much land available. Less than 40% of the population owns a home. Most people will rent unfurnished properties.
It is illegal for foreigners to buy a home in Switzerland. You’ll need a residence permit.
To rent, you will need to have a Swiss bank account. But to open a bank account, you need to have proof of a lease. Which makes it more difficult for a foreigner to settle down.
I had a similar issue getting my IRD number in New Zealand. I used Wise.com – a free international bank – so I could expedite the process.
You’ll have to be flexible because there aren’t many properties available. You might have to live in a different city than you had planned.
Prices are pretty high too as there is more demand than what is actually available. It can cost approximately $2,507 USD a month.
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11. Pro: Public transport network
Public transportation across Switzerland is efficient, safe, and on time. But it is pricey.
You can use trains, which cover around 5,200km of tracks. There are also trams available in major cities such as Zurich, Geneva, and Basel.
Buses are frequently used to reach places trains cannot.
Ferries are another great way to get around while wanting to cross lakes and rivers. One of the best ways to see Switzerland is by boat!
Taxis are not considered part of the public transportation system but you could still use them to get around. Taxis are a pricier means of transportation.
There is a great variety of public transportation you can use. This saves you from having to purchase a car. Since the cost of living is high, this is great for you as you’ll still be able to get around quite easily.
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12. Con: Limited jobs
A con of living in Switzerland is that the working market can be difficult for a foreigner to access. Foreigners are welcomed but there is fierce competition to get jobs.
There are a lot of foreigners who wish to live in Switzerland. Being a small country, there aren’t always that many job offers.
If you are a highly skilled worker, don’t let this deter you from applying for a job. Foreign workers who are able to get a job in Switzerland have high management positions and senior-level positions.
If you know English, you’ll be able to work just fine. Knowing German, Italian, French, and Romansh can give you an advantage over other applicants as these are the four main languages in Switzerland.
👩🏻💻 Are you planning to work in Switzerland? Check this job site and find your dream job!
13. Pro: English is widely spoken
Over 60% of the Swiss population speaks German as their main language. There are four cantons that are considered multilingual, Bern, Fribourg, Valais, and Graubünden.
English and Portuguese are the most widely spoken foreign languages. You will be able to get around if you do not speak one of the four main languages.
English is spoken by about 60% of the population and even more so in German cantons. Younger citizens are well-versed in English. You will be able to get by just fine.
While I was living and working there, I didn’t have any issues communicating with anyone.
🗣 Wanna learn how to speak German as you move to Switzerland? This app really works! Check this out!
14. Con: Limited space
Switzerland has about a surface area of 41,285 km2. But it’s not all livable space.
The Alps cover around 58% of the country’s surface area but only 11% of the population lives in those mountainous areas.
Only 7.5% of the land is used as settlement areas such as housing and infrastructure. The rest of the land is either agricultural lands, forests, or lakes.
This can make it difficult for expats to find a home. Since there isn’t much territory for housing, the demand is greater than the actual available space.
15. Pro: Proximity to everything
A positive aspect of living in Switzerland is that you are close to everything.
Having one of the best-developed public transportation systems, it’s quite easy to get around throughout Switzerland as well.
Switzerland has a lot to offer. You can experience different cultures within the country’s borders.
You’re probably looking in moving to Switzerland to work. But if you are like me, you love traveling as well. Being close to everything is a great reason to combine working abroad and seeing the world.
16. Con: Gender pay gaps
A con of living in Switzerland is the gender pay gap. Women’s paychecks are about 18% lower than men’s. It can be noticed even in entry-level jobs.
Switzerland has been working on reducing the gender pay gap.
They have put multiple initiatives in place such as the Switzerland Advancing Gender Equal Pay (SAGE). With this measure, companies are performing regular audits regarding gender pay equality.
Keep that in mind if you are a woman moving to Switzerland. Chances are, you’ll experience this firsthand.
17. Pro: Healthcare
Healthcare in Switzerland is considered one of the best in the world. It is an accessible system.
Private insurance is mandatory for everyone which means it is not financed by employers or taxes. Anyone entering Switzerland will need at least basic health coverage.
Switzerland is known for its expertise in medical advancements and new treatments. When in need of treatment, they are recognized for their high-quality service and patient choice.
If your plan is to stay more than three months in the country, you will need to register with a recognized Swiss health insurance provider.
You won’t have to worry about your health if you live in Switzerland. You know that you will be taken care of if something happens to you.
18. Con: Different education system
Switzerland has one of the best education systems in Europe. Education standards are set up by each canton which makes the system a decentralized one.
From one canton to another, teaching methods, the school year calendar, structure, and curriculum might change.
Starting from secondary school, children are separated according to their academic abilities and interests which is completely different from what we are accustomed to.
Switzerland is also renowned for its international schools which have very high standards. They have many great universities you can attend if you wish to study while living there.
19. Pro: Eco-friendly
Switzerland has been leading the way to sustainability. With their slogan “Swisstainable”, they are leading the way to a better sustainable future.
Swiss citizens are known to consume the most organic products compared globally.
Recycling and waste management are other important factors in their country’s sustainability.
They have a sustainable lifestyle and prioritize using public transportation over personal vehicles.
Now that global warming is on the table, living in a country where you can contribute to making a difference is attractive.
Wrap-Up: Pros and cons of living in Switzerland
Switzerland has something to offer to everyone! You can experience great cities such as Zurich and Geneva. Spend some quality time exploring the outdoors and its dizzying peaks.
It is essential to keep in mind though that it might be a bit difficult in the beginning to adjust to the rigidness of their culture and you might have a learning curve with new languages.
Don’t let that deter you from doing the big move as there are many pros to living there such as a great healthcare system, a high quality of life, and a great transportation network to explore even more!
I believe Switzerland is calling your name to make it your permanent home even if it’s only for a little while.
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Read more about living in Europe:
- Pros and Cons of Living in Italy as an Expat
- Living in Portugal Pros and Cons
- Pros and Cons of Living in France
- What It’s Like Living in Ireland
- Pros and Cons of Living in Germany
- Pros and Cons of Living in Berlin as an Expat
- Best Places to Live in Europe for Expats
- Pros and Cons of Living in the Czech Republic for Expats
- Pros and Cons of Living in Amsterdam
- Living in Prague: The Complete Expat Guide
- Pros and Cons of Living in Turkey
- Pros and Cons of Living in Austria
- Pros and Cons of Living in Sweden
- Pros and Cons of Living in Switzerland
- Pros and Cons of Living in Denmark
- Living in Serbia Pros and Cons
- Living in Portugal Pros and Cons
- Pros and Cons of Living in the UK: Should You Move to England?
- Pros and Cons of Living in Scotland as a Foreigner
- Pros and Cons of Living in Oxford, England from an Expat
- Pros and Cons of Living in Spain
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