Moving to Zurich from the UK

Zurich

Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 2 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 5 out of 5

  • Property affordability 3 out of 5

  • Climate 5 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Moving from the UK to Zurich can be a great opportunity to boost your career, learn new languages and be exposed to new cultural influences but there are a few things that need to be carefully considered before taking off for Switzerland.

Zurich is, again according to Mercer, the sixth most expensive city in the world. Look at your budget carefully – even though you may have been offered a higher wage in Zurich and tax rates are lower than in the UK you may find that the cost of goods, services and accommodation prohibitive.

Tax is levied at state level in Switzerland. The states are known as Cantons and tax rates can vary dramatically between them. You may find it makes much more sense to live in a Canton outside of Zurich within a commutable distance e.g. Schwyz or Zug (about a 40 min and 30 min drive from Zurich respectively).

While learning Swiss German is not essential for living and working in Zurich it does make integrating into Swiss life much easier. If you’re planning to stay long term then taking lessons is advised. Luckily there are plenty of courses on offer.

Renting a property in Switzerland usually involves signing lengthy leases which incur penalties for early termination. If you’re only planning to stay for a year or two it might be worth employing a relocation agent to negotiate your lease for you.

High demand has led to steadily rising property prices in Zurich for at least the last 10 years. The Canton of Zurich levies no property transfer tax.

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Comparing Zurich to London

Like London, Zurich has an oceanic climate with four distinct seasons but is several degrees colder throughout the year. Zurich experiences more precipitation than London (a significant portion of which is due to winter snowfall) but also sees more sunshine on average per year and is less humid.

The overall cost of living in Zurich is comparable with that of London considering the lower tax rates but the actual cost of groceries, consumer goods and meals out are much higher at the till. Rents are marginally lower in Zurich and property is slightly more affordable compared to average incomes.

Residents of Zurich enjoy safer streets, lower commute times, better healthcare and less pollution on average than those of London. Zurich has written into law a target to reduce CO2 emissions to one tonne per person per annum by 2050.

Zurich’s planning laws are fairly stringent which means there are few buildings higher than 40m and a plethora of surviving architectural treasures in the old town.

Zurich plays host to two internationally significant festivals: the Zurich Film Festival which is rapidly growing in importance and the Street Parade – a techno and dance music festival which takes place in August.