Pros and cons of moving to Zurich

Even though it often comes near the top of quality of life surveys, living in Zurich has its pros and cons. From cultural differences to finding good accommodation to language barriers, expats should be prepared for both the challenges and advantages that come with moving to Switzerland's biggest city.

Accommodation in Zurich

+ PRO: High living standards

Switzerland is well known to have high standards of living, and expats can look forward to state-of-the-art amenities.

- CON: Rental accommodation is difficult to find

Because of the short supply of accommodation in Zurich, expats might have a hard time in finding a suitable space to live. The tenant selection process can also be a hassle, and even if all the requirements are met, the decision to rent out a place ultimately lies with the landlord.

Cost of living in Zurich

+ PRO: High salaries

Most expats transferred from other offices or headhunted can look forward to a good remuneration package that can include various subsidies – for example, an education allowance for expats with children.

- CON: One of the highest costs of living in the world

Switzerland currently has two cities in the top ten list of most expensive cities for expats to live in, and Zurich is one of them. Schools, public transport and health insurance are famously pricey, and the cost of living, in general, is expensive.

Lifestyle and culture in Zurich

+ PRO: Luxury shopping and numerous restaurants

Zurich is well-known as a shopping destination, and Bahnhofstrasse is globally acknowledged as one of the most exclusive and expensive shopping streets in the world. Its cosmopolitan atmosphere provides the setting for many different cuisines from around the world.

+ PRO: Low crime rate

As a historically neutral state, Switzerland prides itself on its low crime rate.

- CON: Shops are closed on Sundays

Except for shops in larger railway stations, most shops are closed on Sundays. While the reason for this lies in Switzerland's Christian roots, it has evolved to a day of rest.  

- CON: Generally conservative locals

The Swiss are known for their love of rules and regulations, and in comparison to other parts of the world, they can be quite pedantic. Expats might be subject to some rules when they rent an apartment – for example, not being allowed to wash their cars on Sundays.

Healthcare in Zurich

+ PRO: Good quality healthcare

The standard of healthcare in Zurich is very high, and most expats will find good service in hospitals and clinics. 

- CON: Mandatory private health insurance

Expats will find that they are obliged to find and pay for their own health insurance, which can be quite costly. 

Transport in Zurich

+ PRO: Efficient public transport

The transport system in Zurich consists of a network of trains, buses and even boats. The infrastructure is outstanding, and travelers can use the integrated ticketing system across the entire network.

- CON: Expensive public transport

Public transport in Switzerland is notoriously expensive, even though there are various discount options available. Many people choose to cycle instead.

Weather in Zurich

+ PRO: Many opportunities for outdoor sports

Zurich is quite pleasant during the summer months, and there is a myriad of activities available for nature-lovers. During winter, skiing is a popular past-time in the Alps.

- CON: Long sub-zero winters

While the cold is ideal for skiing, expats from more tropical climates might have a difficult time adapting to the winter. It is advised to invest in some good-quality winter gear, such as boots, coats, hats and gloves.

Language in Zurich

+ PRO: Most people speak English

While expats might find themselves surrounded by different languages, most Swiss nationals speak English very well. Zurich is a diverse city and popular with expats, and English is the general lingua franca.

- CON: Many important documents and instructions aren't available in English

Expats might need to struggle with immigration documents that are in German or French, or find themselves baffled over grocery and medical products that don't have English labels. 

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Aetna offers award-winning international health insurance plans to more than 55 million members worldwide. Their plans are tailored to meet the individual needs of you and your family while you are away from your home country, living and working abroad. Get peace of mind knowing you and your family will be protected and have access to quality health care wherever you are, where you need it.

* For a limited time, there is a discount of up to 20% on new multi-member policies and up to 10% on single member policies. This offer is valid until 19 June 2020. See website for details.

Get a quote from Aetna International


Cigna Global

With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

Get a quote from Cigna Global