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Moving to Zurich


    Well known as Switzerland’s business and economic capital, Zurich is a major centre of international finance, attracting many expats each year. More than 380,500 people currently live in the city proper, with a further 1.9 million residing in the metropolitan area. If you’re seeking plentiful career opportunities, endless recreational activities and beautiful Swiss landscapes, Zurich is the city for you.

    If you’re considering a move to Zurich, you will most likely be interested in what is offered there. We’ve put together the ultimate international relocation guide to provide you with everything you need to know about moving to Zurich, Switzerland. And if your big move is looming, make sure you look into other ways we can support your relocation, like with International Money Transfers.


    Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, and sits among hills at the northern end of the lake that bears its name. With breathtaking sites of the glistening peaks of the Alps and crystal clear lakes, Zurich offers idyllic Swiss views that attract expats and tourists alike. 

    Zurich falls under the Central European Summer Time zone, which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In terms of climate, Zurich lies in the temperate climate zone, with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm, with hot days reaching temperatures of over 30°C, and winters are cold, with temperatures occasionally falling negative. The particularly cold winters make perfect weather to engage in winter sports, such as skiing, which is particularly popular.

    Aerial view of Limmat river and famous Zurich churches

    Can I Move to Zurich for Work?

    You can move to Zurich for work but you must apply for a work permit when moving to the country. This is known as an Arbeitsbewilligung and should be applied for with your visa. Regardless of the length of your stay, you must apply for a work permit if you plan on doing any work or paid projects while living in Zurich.

    Public Transportation

    Being such a large city, Zurich offers a highly efficient and reliable public transportation service. As such, public transport is widely used by tourists and residents. The dense network and frequent services connect every point in the city, and passengers can get brilliant glimpses of the city’s surroundings. 

    All transportation companies in Zurich Transport Association, and therefore one ticket can be used to access all forms of transport on the city network. 

     Zurich Airport is located northeast of the city in Kloten. The airport has its own underground railway station, and is directly connected to many of the major cities in Switzerland. Zurich Airport is served by over 60 passenger airlines from across the globe. It has won numerous awards, including its 10th consecutive “World Travel Award” in 2013.

    Planes preparing for take off at Terminal A of Zurich Airport

    Driving in Zurich

    Driving in Zurich is similar to driving in many other European countries, with frequent traffic jams expected. Despite this, the overall conditions of Swiss roads are excellent, with the country currently boasting the lowest number of accidents in Europe. 

    When driving in Zurich, there are a number of rules to be aware of. In Zurich you will be driving on the right side of the road and overtaking on the left. Overtaking on the right is not permitted regardless of how slow the driver is in front. Note, you will also need to use your headlights during the day as well as at night. 

    When driving in Zurich, the following motorists have the right of way on Swiss roads:

    • Cars from the right on a secondary road
    • Public transportation
    • Fire engines, police and ambulances
    • Uphill traffic

    The Expatriate Community

    The expat community in Zurich enjoys a great standard of living. Alongside being a city synonymous with finances, services and insurance, Zurich offers all of the entertainment and cultural amenities for expats and residents alike.

    Sometimes even the most extroverted expats need a simple introduction, and luckily there are a wide range of international social clubs to join. There are a number of clubs that cater to various interests. So whether you’re into sports, arts or entertainment, there are plentiful opportunities to meet new people. There are also some great online sites and forums for expats moving overseas. Here are some of our favourites:

     Zurich welcomes expats with welcome arms, and has recently been named the second best city in the country for newcomers. Life in Zurich is very fast-paced, and the people work a lot. Therefore, finding time for social activities can be hard. Networking as much as possible and putting yourself forward into the community will definitely help.

    Aerial view over roofs and towers of Old Town of Zurich

    Housing in Zurich

    If you’re moving to Zurich, there are a number of things to know beforehand about locating suitable housing. Zurich is a family friendly city with a wide range of options available for expats. While there are no specific areas of the city specifically for families, a large portion of internationals tend to settle near the main two schools which sit on either side of Lake Zurich:

    • Kusnacht and Zumikon on the right side (Gold Coast)
    • Kilchberg and Thawil on the left side (Silver Coast)

    Desirable areas close to the city centre are popular with singles, and only offer small apartments. These areas include Enge, Wiedikon, Witikon, Funtern, Hottingen and Riesbach. Seefeld is also very popular, though expensive. 

    Further along the eastern lakeshore are Zollikon, Kusnact and Erlenback. These areas are generally more expensive, as a result of getting more sun throughout the year. Bear in mind however that if you wish to live on Lake Zurich, you will likely be relying on housing allowance.

    Schooling in Zurich

    Zurich has a well-educated population, and there are a wide range of top class schools in the city to choose from. State-funded schools are free of charge, and usually teach lesions in Swiss German. There are also a plethora of international schools available in the area, however. Regardless of the school expat children attend, they are guaranteed to receive a high quality education. 

    In Zurich, compulsory education generally starts around the age of 4. Children who are 4 years old by July 31st enter kindergarten at the beginning of the next school year. From here onwards, the compulsory education period is 11 years.

    International Schools in Zurich

    International schools in Zurich are disciplined and efficient. As the largest city in Switzerland, Zurich offers the best choice of international schools, many of which are situated along the scenic banks of Lake Zurich. Selecting the right international school for your child will depend on a number of individual requirements and needs. We would always suggest arranging a visit to a selection of international schools and to discuss any queries you have with each school before making a final decision. Here are some of the top international schools in Zurich:

    Do you have any further questions about moving to Zurich or wish to get a quote? Make sure to get in touch with a member of the team to get a free quote using our online form system.

    Interested in information on another country? Take a look at our other International Relocation guides.

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