What is expat life like in Zürich?
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to move to and live in Zürich? Or are you planning to spend some time in this cute Swiss city and are you looking for tips to make the most out of your extended stay in Zürich?
In this Ask an Expat series I interview people living all over the world but outside of their home country. I try to help paint an honest picture of the ups and downs of life abroad, share tips for anyone thinking about moving abroad and information about what to see and do in the city, town or country the expat lives in.
Expat life in Zürich, Switzerland
Location: Zürich, Switzerland
Home town: Dundee, Scotland
“I’ve known since I was a teenager that I wanted to live abroad, so studying languages at university to open the gateway to the world seemed like a natural step. Like most language degrees, mine involved a year abroad. I spent five months in Paris fulfilling my dream of studying at the Sorbonne and then five months in Zürich studying at the ZHAW. I fell in love with Zürich very quickly and soon found myself making tracks to move back after my degree was finished.”
“My grandparents visited Switzerland a lot so I was curious to discover the country for myself. When I found out that Zürich was an option for my year abroad, it was a no-brainer.”
What do you like about Zurich?
“The thing I like best about Zürich is that there is a lot more to the city than meets the eye. There are so many bars and cafés hidden in parts of Zürich that you wouldn’t necessarily think to visit – it’s so much fun to go off the beaten track a bit!”
What do you dislike about Zurich?
“That’s a tough one. I suppose it would be that there is building work going on ALL THE TIME in one part of the city or another. In a way this is good because I know I’ll benefit from it in the future… but for now it’s just noise and disruptions to trains!”
What is your favorite thing to do in Zurich?
“Walk around. As I mentioned above, there are so many hidden spots in the city and I love walking around with nowhere in particular in mind to see where I end up. It’s really helped me develop a map of Zürich in my brain!”
What is your favorite place to hang out (restaurant, bar, etc) in Zurich?
“Without a doubt, Babu’s. The atmosphere alone makes this place worth a visit, but it would probably be rude to not have a brownie and some homemade lemonade while you’re there…”
What is the expat community like in Zurich?
“Being home to so many international firms, Zürich has a massive expat community. If you don’t meet people through work, try Internations or Meetup to find some expat groups in Zürich.”
Any tips for moving to / living in Zurich?
“To be honest, it’s a very easy place to live – day-to-day life runs very smoothly. As for making the big move, it depends on your nationality. But wherever you’re from, one thing is certain; you need to be prepared for paperwork!”
Any resources you found useful during the process of moving to and/or building a new life in Zurich?
“Stadt-zuerich.ch is the official website of the Zürich ‘Gemeinde’ (council) which can help with legal matters.
Thelocal.ch: as the name would suggest, this is a local news/info channel with contributions from both locals and experts.”
Is there something you just have to see or do when you are in Zurich?
“For me, no trip to Zürich would be complete without a visit to the lake. Most bigger cities in Switzerland sit on a lake and it’s a lovely part of the city to just walk around, have a coffee with friends or even just take five minutes to yourself.”
Kirsty, who lives in Zürich, is an adventurous linguist who drinks more caffeine than any human probably should, is a big believer in making the most of wherever you are in the world and a self-confessed shopaholic.
On her blog LittleLadyGoesGlobal she shares a mix of stories about traveling around Switzerland and about life in general.
About Zürich, Switzerland
Zurich is one of Switzerland’s most idyllic cities, surrounded by spectacular nature and the nearby Alps. Zurich is known for being clean and efficient and has been rated several times as the city with the highest living standard in the world. More than once, its inhabitants were also listed as the happiest people in the world.
Although Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland by land area and population, it only has a population of around 390,000 in the city proper and 1.2 million in the agglomeration area. It is the financial center of Switzerland and houses the stock exchange and the headquarters of a large number of national and international companies. Zürich is also home of FIFA’s headquarters and Google’s world-wide second largest development center. The city has an increasingly cosmopolitan population (every third inhabitant is a foreigner).
Because Zurich is the central node of the Swiss-wide train network and also runs the biggest and busiest international airport in the country, it generally is the first place tourists visit. And because of the city’s close distance to tourist resorts in the Swiss Alps and its mountainous scenery, it is often referred to as the “portal to the Alps”.
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