The big news early on in 2010 is that Switzerland is fast becoming THE destination for well-to-do Brit expats, especially with the ominous cloud of the April UK tax increase looming. Well accessible from pretty much anywhere in the world, the nation of Switzerland is a stable, open-minded and welcoming place. Its lavish and picturesque surroundings make it the perfect place for the expat who enjoys the finer things in life.
However, there are always two sides to any story and whilst there are lots of good reasons to move to Switzerland there may also be a few reasons why it may not be the right destination for you. Before you make any big life-changing decisions you must always have a good long think and evaluate the pros and cons of such a decision.
Let’s take a look at both the good and bad points of Switzerland.
If you find that the company you work for is relocating completely to Switzerland then you will be able to make the transition quite easily. However if you are not in possession of a job or solid job offer then you will find it a little more difficult. Remember, Switzerland is not part of the EU so you will have to gain a work permit and visa, unless of course you have a staggering amount of money in your bank account.
The finance market in Switzerland is strong at the moment, even with the global money crisis still in effect, also with the aforementioned tax issues that are tying the hands of some of London’s financial heavyweights, some of these companies have moved or are moving their base of operations to Zurich and Geneva. This should ensure plenty of finance jobs in years to come.
Tax levels in Switzerland are much lower than the UK, which is one of the main reasons wealthy individuals the likes of Celine Dion, Roger Moore and Tina Turner have at one point made Switzerland their home. Tax isn’t the only reason to move to Switzerland though. As an actual place Switzerland can often be breathtaking; shimmering lakes and monumental mountains surround the nation, the many villages have a quaint and warm feel that is hard to find elsewhere. There is a wealth of restaurants and shops, for entertainment one can ski their way to happiness. The crime rate in Switzerland is very, very low and the education standards are high so if you are travelling with children you know they will be in safe hands.
With more and more Brits moving to Switzerland so the culture shock of relocating will be low. There are many British-themed establishments such as pubs and bars, and also shops that import goods from the UK. The standard of living is also very high, as mentioned there is very little crime or anti-social behaviour, the country is very clean and the infrastructure is managed well at all times, as an example the train system is impeccably managed and always runs directly on time.
For all its good points there are of course negatives. You may come across some rules and laws that will seem slightly odd. There may also be regulations with regards to noise levels, which will affect you if you plan on hosting parties or entertaining guests, particularly on Sundays.
Switzerland can also be quite an expensive place to live, especially thanks to the property market. Also, you will most likely find that your employment will be in either Geneva or Zurich, which of course limits where exactly you will be able to live. There is a also a language barrier to think about, Swiss German and Swiss French are the two main languages here so it will help you greatly if you can speak one or the other, although the vast majority also speak English.
A quick note on the weather- Switzerland’s climate is more seasonal than the UK, expect significantly colder winters and hotter summers.
Of course words can only tell you so much so if you are thinking about moving to Switzerland then perhaps it would be a good idea to go on a scouting mission first. Take a trip and explore the country, aside from all the geographical beauty see if the actual surroundings have to offer whatever it is that you want from life. If you know anyone who has moved previously then get a little advice, or maybe scour the many expat forums where you will be able to find advice based on the personal experiences of others.
Take a look at Expat & Offshore’s in-depth guide to Living and Working in Switzerland, and for more general information see the Expat Living section.