Perched on the northwestern edge of the breathtaking Lake Zurich in north-central Switzerland, Zurich is not only the country's largest city, but also infinitely picturesque and highly popular among ambitious expats.
Zurich is home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges, and it is the country’s financial engine, but there’s much more to this beautiful Swiss city than commerce. It's safe, has excellent infrastructure and one of the best public transport systems in the world, and the city consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the world.
Zurich attracts a skilled workforce and is a particularly popular destination for professionals working in the financial services industry. Although money isn't everything, it certainly helps and expats in Zurich earn impressive salaries that are well above the global average.
One of the biggest challenges expats will face, aside from getting there and adapting to the local culture, is finding somewhere to live. There’s a shortage of accommodation in Zurich, so prices and competition for quality rentals are high.
Luckily, the language barrier shouldn’t be much of a problem. English is widely spoken, especially in business circles. That said, Swiss German is the predominant language, and learning at least a few introductory phrases can make a big difference to interactions with locals who are reluctant to engage in English.
There’s plenty to see and do in Zurich. Having long influenced arts and culture, the city pays homage to its history with museums, galleries and theatres. Expats will enjoy strolling along the Limmat River that runs through the city, taking in the sight of boats whisking passengers along and lights glinting off its surface. The medieval Old Town is a rich backdrop for contemporary fashion stores, bookshops, bars, restaurants and clubs.
Overall, Zurich has much to offer expats who can negotiate a good salary to get around its high living costs.
►Read Areas and Suburbs in Zurich to find out about some of the best neighbourhoods to live in
"I enjoy living in Zurich because it has a lot of the benefits of a big city, without the big problems of one. I live in a quiet, leafy-green neighbourhood in Zurich city, but I can hop on a tram and be 'down town' in five minutes for shopping or dining out. While I take full advantage of the safe, clean and punctual public transportation, I can also easily walk to most everything I want to do in Zurich: my children’s school, the shopping mall, the local farmer’s market, the lake, the woods, etc. My children have access to many beautiful and clean parks and playgrounds, filled with potential playmates. The city provides many services specifically targeted to children and families, including lively community centres in most neighbourhoods and a wide variety of sport classes and holiday camps. When we need a change of pace, we can easily escape the city and within an hour or two, be in a quintessential quaint European village or on the top of a world-famous mountain."
For more about American expat Tanya's experiences in Zurich, read our interview with her.
Are you an expat living in Zurich?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Zurich. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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