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Detailed Expat Guide to Moving to Switzerland From the US

Europe has many countries that Americans consider worth relocating to. Inside the European Union, and outside it, there are several nations with wonderful opportunities. But mountainous views, uncomparable high quality of life, and excellent salaries – these are all the reasons for moving to Switzerland. And besides all of that, the Alpine nation offers even more.

If you’ve decided to move to Switzerland from the USA, and call it your home, you’ll be happy to know you are not the only one. There are many expat communities here because around two million people out of 8.5 million residents are of foreign nationality. If you’re wondering how to immigrate to Switzerland, you should know that the requirements for moving abroad to the Swiss Confederation aren’t simple. But, since it’s one of the best places to live in Europe, it’s well worth the effort.

If You Plan On Moving to Switzerland, You’ll Need to Obtain a Visa

Is Switzerland easy to move to? The easiest way for an American to enter is to travel and stay up to 90 days without any visas needed. But anyone that wishes to make a living here will need to obtain all the necessary documents to travel abroad. If you are interested in long-stay visas, called the national or D-visas, you should visit or contact an embassy or consulate for the state you are a resident of.

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Moving to Switzerland From the Us Requires Some Preparations

If you are wondering can US citizens move to Switzerland, the short answer would be yes. But there are specific steps you need to take to move overseas and start to live abroad in this Alpine nation. Besides sticking to the Corona pandemic safety measures, the first step toward entering the nation’s borders is to submit an application for a long-stay visa. As soon as you arrive after your international travel, you should register at the cantonal immigration and labor market authorities.

Get Acquainted With the Different Types of Visa

Let us elaborate on how to move to Switzerland and which documents to obtain. Before you contact an overseas moving company and invest in overseas shipping service, you should figure out the type of visa needed on your relocating abroad checklist:

  • The Swiss Family Reunification Visas are approved to foreigners, Americans included, who want to relocate and join their family member that is a resident. Relocating to another country for love or to reunite with a relative can get you a temporary or permanent one, depending on your situation.
  • The Work Visa is provided to those Americans that got a job in Europe and will be working in the Swiss Confederation.
  • The Swiss Study Visa is approved for an expat who wishes to learn a language abroad or enroll in one of the universities in this country.

So, can foreigners move to Switzerland? These are the conditions under which you may come to live overseas for some time in what is considered one of the best European countries to live in.

The Swiss Residence Permit and Citizenship Requirements

Although you probably haven’t decided yet whether you’ll pay for the packing service or leave your things in storage units, it’s good to arm yourself with knowledge about the residence permits. You have up to 14 days after entering the borders to register at the cantonal immigration office to receive the permit L. It is provided for short-term residence and valid for a year. Keep in mind that these types of permits can be renewed only once. The other option is to receive a B permit, which is provided for initial or temporary residence. While it’s also valid for a year, this type of document can be renewed once a year.

This is one of the best countries to live in, and you may be interested in permanent residence status. One of the initial things required is that you need to be a resident for five consecutive years, although the requirements will probably be ten years. After this period, you may be eligible to apply for residence status. For those who want to apply for citizenship, the requirements are ten years of continuous residence.

Can I Move to Switzerland Without Knowing the Language?

Up to 45% of residents of this nation speak English, so you won’t have much trouble with breaking the language barrier. But blending in will take more than that, and the best way to do it is by learning the official language when you live in another country. Surprisingly, this nation has four national languages – German, French, Italian, and Romansh. While German, Italian and French have equal status as official languages, Romansh is used because of residents who speak it. Native speakers of German are the most populous, up to 63% of the population, followed by 23% of French-speaking citizens. Make sure you obtain tips for learning a new language if you don’t speak any of the official languages in this nation.

You Won’t Know a Nation Without Knowing Its Most Prominent Cities

Being a federal republic, the Swiss Confederation is divided into 26 cantons, and Bern is its capital. While most travelers come here because of sightseeing and world-class resorts, many forget how the urban areas are also stunning. You can take your pick, whether you like the cosmopolitan vibe or the breathtaking outdoors.

The Capital City Bern Is the Political Center

Bern offers many benefits to people who want to call it home and to those that simply plan to come and visit. From swimming in the Aare River to taking a stroll beside many medieval buildings in the Old Town, this place has many ways to stun you. Some of you may not know, but Bern was home to Albert Einstein for many years. You can visit a small museum located inside of the apartment where this great scientist was living.

Zurich Is the Center of Economic Life

Besides being the largest city in the nation, Zurich is also known as one of Europe’s most important industrial and financial centers. But apart from that, it’s a place well worth visiting. It has a tradition of a liberal way of thinking and a vibrant intellectual atmosphere, and because of it, you may consider the Swiss Confederation one of the friendliest countries in the world. Above all, it’s a beautiful and stunning place for visitors, with many attractions such as museums or an old district with rows of medieval and Renaissance buildings. Here, Lake Zurich is at your disposal for taking a walk, sunbathing, or swimming.

Geneva Is a Multicultural Hotspot

Being home to the UN headquarters, it’s only natural that this city is the most multicultural one in the nation. Science lovers may enjoy visiting CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) and find out about their research on the God particle or pay a visit to Geneva’s observatory. There are many international restaurants here, among the other attractions. Lake Geneva is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe, and besides being crystal clear, it has a water jet called Jet d’Eau that shoots water into the air.

Want to Be Living in This Beautiful Country? Here Are the Top Attractions

It’s hard to compete with this nation when it comes to views because, at times, you will believe that you’re inside a fairytale. We will mention just a few world-class attractions:

  • The Matterhorn is the country’s most iconic peak and also one of the highest Alpine mountains. The dreamy village of Zermatt lies at the foot of it, and it offers horse-drawn carriage rides and classy restaurants and hotels. Driving motorized vehicles in the village area is prohibited to preserve fresh and clean air.
  • The nation has a wonderful summer resort, too. Interlaken lies between Lake Brienz to the east and Lake Thun to the west. Here you can go hiking or kayaking, and visit many restaurants and cafes nestled in the center of the town.
  • Lake Lugano is located on the Swiss-Italian border in Ticino, which is the country’s official Italian-speaking canton. If you thought that this nation couldn’t give you a taste of the Mediterranean, you’re wrong – you’ll find it right here. It can be seen in the local flora, and feel it in the mild climate here.

You can watch a video that encompasses the beauty of Switzerland’s cities down below.

Before Your Immigration to Switzerland, Get Informed on the Quality of Life

One of the interesting facts is that this nation (among the industrialized ones) has one of the top spots for gun ownership per capita. That may bring you under some relocating stress and worry about whether it’s the best place to live abroad with your family. But opposed to the high number of gun owners is the fact that it has one of the lowest crime rates globally. The reason behind a large number of people owning firepower is the mandatory military service, after which conscripts take the piece home.

According to the Global Innovation Index, 2018 was the eighth consecutive year this nation held the top position as the most innovative globally. Also, you need to keep in mind just how small it is, as California is almost ten times bigger. The national currency is the Swiss franc or CHF. This is a nation known for its high cost of living, but also among the highest salaries globally.

Universal Healthcare and Health Insurance Work Hand in Hand

If you’ve managed to find work in the Swiss Confederation, and you’re entering with a Work Visa, you’ve probably compiled a list of relocation questions to ask your employer. One of the crucial questions is whether you’ll be covered with health insurance. Before you move overseas to make a living here, you should know that the healthcare system functions a bit differently than in the rest of Europe. Rather than being insured through taxes, employers, and the government, the country’s universal healthcare is covered by individuals.

As for those relocating across the world, entering the borders, and planning to stay awhile, they should apply for health insurance as soon as they register at the cantonal authority and apply for the residence permit. Keep in mind that although healthcare is universal, all residents are insured through private health insurance companies. They all offer a basic level of health coverage, and it’s mandated by the government. The quality of healthcare is very high, while you can expect to pay at least 300 CHF (320 USD) per month for it.

You Can Get High-Quality Education Here

This nation is one of the greatest places to live abroad when it comes to school systems and education. Since the standards for public and private schools are almost identical, most residents send their children to public schools. However, since the country’s divided into cantons and each has a predominant language, your child may be enrolling in German, French, Italian, or Romansh classes. If you’re looking for a school with the English language, you should enlist the kids into a private school which can cost up to $80,000 annually. Suppose you’re considering relocating with the Swiss Study Visa and enroll in one of the universities. In that case, a good thing to know is that the fees for attending public universities are also low. The expected annual tuition is under 2,000 CHF ($2,200.)

The Weather Is as Charming as the Whole Nation

Since this nation has a part of the Alps within its borders, it’s only natural that an Alpine climate governs it. The higher the altitude, the colder the weather, although it means that these parts are above the lower clouds and fog in the winter and receive a fair amount of sunshine. The rest of the nation has a moderately continental climate, while the canton of Ticino has temperate weather conditions. This may give you an idea about what to pack when relocating abroad, depending on which part you want to call home.

People in This Alpine Nation Rely on Public Transportation

This is, by all means, a beautiful nation, with a lot to see, especially when it comes to nature, and if you want to invest in overseas vehicle shipping, you are going to enjoy each ride. But most residents here rely on public transportation, and rightfully so. It is efficient, punctual and quite enjoyable. You can travel by train, bus, boat, and even cable car, and whichever option you take, it’s an example of how public transportation should function. If it suits you, you can purchase a yearly unlimited travel pass for 3,860 CHF ($4,150.) It’s accepted throughout the nation and is valid for any type of transport.

Is It Worth Moving to Switzerland?

There are few countries that can compete in the natural beauty or quality of life with this Alpine nation. As the relocation day preparation approaches, you might acknowledge that this place may even be among the best places to retire in Europe. No matter how high expectations you have, it will live up to them and won’t disappoint. You will equally enjoy winters and summers, and you are free to pick among the cities with a cosmopolitan vibe or those with outdoorsy delights at the palm of the hand.

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