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Interview with Tracey K - an British expat in Switzerland

Updated 23 Feb 2010

Tracey Keenan moved from England to Switzerland 10 years ago when her banker husband was relocated for work. She has since, started up her company providing expats who are about to relocate to Switzerland or have recently moved there with all the critical information and essential tips needed to help them settle in Switzerland as quickly as possible.

For more information read the Expat Arrivals Switzerland country guide or read about more expat experiences in Switzerland.

About Tracey

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Birmingham, England.

Q: Where are you living now?

A: Zurich.

Q: How long you have you lived here?

A: 10 years.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/children?

A: With my husband.

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?

A: My husband started a new job in Zurich.

About Switzerland

Q: What do you enjoy most about your host city, how’s the quality of life in Switzerland?

A: The quality of life for a family is fantastic.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?

A: Swiss German is difficult to master, although I am a linguist!

Q: Is Switzerland safe?

A: Extremely, that is one of the quality of life factors.

About living in Switzerland

Q: Which are the best places/suburbs to live in the city as an expat?

A: For non-families I would recommend Seefeld which is close to the lake and the shops. For families I would recommend towns along the gold coast such as Küsnacht or Zollikon and the silver coast such as Kilchberg.

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Switzerland?

A: Very high. When you move into a rented apartment or house it will be spotless and the interior walls will most likely have been repainted.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Switzerland compared to the UK? What is cheap or expensive in particular?

A: It is expensive to live in Zurich but expat salaries are good and incomes taxes are low. Public transport is very efficient and reasonably priced. Red meat, alcohol, cigarettes are expensive.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?

A: When I first arrived here, I mixed only with English-speaking expats. As soon as my children started school and joining sports clubs, I made Swiss friends.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?

A: I went out looking for new friends and there were plenty of opportunities for me to do that.

About working in Switzerland

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?

A: My husband’s company provided the work permit.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?

A: Less socialising after work. Longer office hours with an earlier start and earlier lunch breaks.

Family and children in Switzerland

Q: What are the schools in Zurich like, any particular suggestions?

A: Lots of international school offerings. Local Swiss school starts later than in the UK and has less pressure for the first few years. Local Swiss school is not a full-day with children coming home for lunch and only having a few afternoons at school. There is never school on Wednesday afternoons – so this can be tricky for working mothers.

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Zurich?

A: It is private - there is no national health service so you are responsible for paying your own premiums. the healthcare is excellent though.

– Interviewed February 2010

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