- This post What don’t they tell you about moving to Zürich was originally in our LinkedIn group in 2016.
- A vibrant discussion when the group was a closed one i.e. content not visible to others and this is not all of the comments made.
- A few members were smart enough to have copies of their posts or a data archive download. To you – thank you very much.
- The full archive was removed by LinkedIn in 2018. All today are anonymised
What don’t they tell you about moving to Zürich
I come from India, where the perception of living abroad is about earning a lot of money and having an easy life. Having lived in Switzerland for about four years now, too many overestimate expectations.
On contract? You are a tourist, yeah, you are on your own. You have freedom and have no one to judge you. Too many leave a mess behind and make other problems for us who stay.
Living in Zürich, it can come with a cost. If you have never been on your own before, moving here can be intimidating. After the honeymoon period is over and the excitement wears off the loneliness can leave you questioning why you moved. It’s not Bollywood/ Hollywood, the movies excel showing the grandeur of the Swiss mountains. That life belongs to the top 2–5% of the population.
I went back home and felt outcasted, from food to etiquettes a lot of things have changed for me. It is not complete and times I hate the loneliness, I am remote and I have missed out on a lot of happy and sad times with my family.
I moved from Spain, the more time I spend here the more I realise there’s nothing really awful about living abroad. It is much safer as a woman, as an employee (labour regulations are actually followed) and my sexuality is accepted. There’s nothing wrong, except it is not Spain, winter here is hard. I did not expect to have my holidays booked for sunshine needs after only 3 years. You read about the drab November, living through it…yuk.
When I moved to Zürich I was still quite young, moved and am back. I am not so young anymore. I lived outside St Gallen and in East Switzerland the Swiss are racist. It made me come back to get a job in the Zürich canton. Not being a local was a real stigma. I am a rich high paid engineer and really skilled too, I am helping build the business, but near St Gallen, the belief was this skilled engineer is trash because he is not white… so sad but so true…
Why did I come to Switzerland? It was cheaper to come and study… I studied first in Germany, it was almost free to study in Germany and that is what I did. I could not study in USA which I loved so much…it costs too much. I am glad and happy to be in Zürich, if I moved, it would be to another large town like Geneva.
Cost of living: I was comfortable living in Ticino, the cost of childcare was alarming when I moved. I appreciate my “Heimatort” near Lugano so much now. We took many things for granted but needed jobs my wife and I. We know we can have a weekend trip to parents and family anytime.It is one advantage of Zürich.
I am dark-skinned from sub-Sahara Africa, and my answer is aimed at anyone thinking of bringing their partner here. People ask where are you from? no-one has time to listen about African geography. the shade of black is important, forget who is Somalian, Bantu etc. because you just become “non-white nor Asian.” Illiterate as a default position: By default, people assume you are illiterate, especially if you meet them outside of a professional setup. No-one thinks of me as their doctor. I will not tell you how many times I have been asked “where did you learn German? Wow, you speak French too! I didn’t know you have teachers for languages.”
Your African CV is worthless. No-one trusts your experience and my wife is the reason why I live here. The look of “undocumented immigrant” marrying for papers is everywhere, not so much in Zürich. Will I stay here? No, we have to think of our children and their education. There is more racial tolerance in Geneva. I am lucky, I know, I had a good school teacher who taught me French!
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. It will shock you what you are suddenly living without. Some are crazy random but others will make it feel like basic life is terrible. BUT when the super normal is non-existent, you suddenly find it is available in random places, it just takes time and then you have benefits you never dreamed of like a afternoon shopping trip to France and dinner!
Loneliness – This is the one I wish I would’ve been warned about. It’s inevitable when you go to a new place. You will definitely have moments where you feel completely alone.
Administrative/ paperwork – it is improving but have a permit issue or being out of work when a permit renews and your stress is at heart attack level 8. It can be very annoying. Unemployed in Zürich for 6 months was not a happy time.
Many locals prefer to hire local, or rent their flat to local. Because they can communicate to each other better. It can be hard to look for a new flat. Since you are alone, when you encounter difficulties, you may not have close friends and family to help. The game of finding a new apartment is not what you read, when you go through it,you really learn things no-one tells you about moving to Zürich
I am not Swiss German, a Swiss Italian and there are times because I cannot speak it well even as a Swiss person. I am treated as second class. Some fundamental rights and polite behaviour gets trampled, sometimes abused. They are not as arrogant when they visit in Locarno and need my language skills. As soon as we are back in the office all is forgotten.
What don’t they tell you about moving to Zürich? Food my chosen topic.
- The quality and price is not fantastic, it is a “global city” for restaurants, places to eat. Yet sometimes you think it is a TV dinner from the freezer.
- Fake reviews on Yelp mean you learn the power of personal requests ( Swiss local or residents preferred) not the Internet for restaurants.
- Salt – It comes from the Jura and some people think they need to cook or eat spadefuls of it. I still have trouble sometimes with pasta meals cooked for me. It is like brine with pasta.
- Food pricing – keep cool, accept it, Lidl becomes a good friend, Greek or Spain week is great.
- Street food – Street parade and other events – every year the same – just like dinner for one
- Yell or complain, it makes no difference.
The cold treatment happens to everyone. Zürich locals are not sunshine, prepare for winter. They need time to thaw, about the same as a glacier.
The Swiss are as obsessed as the British about the weather. Our office in Zürich should be a TV weather station. I am one of four non-Swiss or British people. I never expected this to drive me crazy when I moved to Zürich. Choose your colleagues carefully.
There is no such thing as “cheap” healthcare in Switzerland, I got ill and found a lot of my income went to pay for medical bills. When I moved to Zürich I used Comparis but if you have a bad accident the policy is so important.
No-one tells you about the issues or gives cost examples like:
- break 2 legs cost =
- break an arm and pin a shoulder costs =
- rehabilitate after a motorcycle crash costs =
- other pills and bills =
- an ambulance costs =
I was thinking too much of the new job when I got here, not having an accident on a mountain pass.
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Tags: 5 minute read live like a local zurich