Got an eye on moving to Switzerland from the UK? Check out our guide for the ins and outs of residence permits, buying property and some crucial pros and cons.
Switzerland and expats go hand in hand. Its glorious landscape, impeccably clean air and high quality of life are all big winners in the expat world.
There’s plenty to think about before making the move, so read through our guide for moving to Switzerland from the UK.
Switzerland residence permit
Switzerland has a huge foreign population. Migration has never been much of an issue for foreigners, but that could be about to change. In recent years, pressure has been mounting on the Swiss government to limit migration and introduce tougher conditions on residence permits.
Currently, anyone from the EU/EFTA can travel freely to Switzerland but will need a visa to stay. As the UK is no longer part of the EU, British citizens fall under the non-EU/EFTA category.
Fortunately for UK nationals, the withdrawal agreement made with the EU after Brexit means Brits can stay in Switzerland for 90 days without a visa. Although Switzerland is not in the EU, it is part of the EFTA group, so the same rule applies.
To apply for Swiss residency, you’ll need to contact the local cantonal migration office for where you intend to live. Switzerland’s cantons operate under the same law but may have their own requirements for residence and work permits.
Brexit has made moving to a new country difficult for many Brits and this applies to more than just Switzerland. If you’re interested in moving to somewhere else on the continent, such as Spain, you can find out more with our guide on moving to Spain after Brexit.
Types of Swiss residence permit
There are different types of Swiss residence permits, tailored to different needs. The L permit is short-term, valid for one year and cannot be renewed. The B permit is temporary, also valid for one year but can be renewed.
The C permit is considered permanent residence and is available to UK citizens after 10 continuous years of living in Switzerland. Other permits exist for relatives, asylum-seekers and cross-border workers.
With a C permit and 10 years of continuous residence, UK citizens can apply for Swiss citizenship. Citizenship grants you the right to vote but also ties you into other Swiss rules, such as military service for young men.
Buying property in Switzerland
Homeowners in Switzerland are rare. Compared to other countries in Europe and the rest of the world, Switzerland ranks among the lowest for homeownership.
There are a few reasons why this might be the case, including high house prices, a long buying process and tough restrictions for foreign buyers. Therefore, many expats choose to rent property in Switzerland but buying is still possible.
You can buy property in Switzerland as a UK citizen if you hold a Swiss C residence permit. The C permit grants you the same rights as Swiss citizens. This means you can buy investment properties, holiday homes, commercial premises, and a permanent residence. It is also possible to buy property in Switzerland with a Swiss B residence permit. You won’t have all the rights of a C permit but can purchase a property to live in.
Buying property in Switzerland usually involves getting a Swiss mortgage. A Swiss bank will assess the value of the property before offering you a mortgage. Typically, a 20% deposit is required to get a Swiss mortgage.
House prices in Switzerland are high but transaction fees are relatively low. Buyers can expect to pay around 0.25-3.55% of the property cost in transaction costs. These costs typically include a real estate transfer tax, registration fee and notary fee.
Living in Switzerland
If you didn’t know already, Switzerland has no single national language – it has four. They are German, French, Italian and Romansh (in that order of most spoken). As a result, Switzerland is full of different people and cultures.
Swiss people tend to be very inclusive and neutral in all aspects of society. They usually frown upon lavish spending and ‘show-off’ behaviour. Politeness is paramount, so ensure you practice your salü, hoi, grüetzi, or ciao (hello) depending on where you live.
Work and business life in Switzerland is generally a formal experience. In many industries, you treat your work environment as formal until told otherwise. As well as being formal, Swiss workers tend to enjoy a clear separation between work and personal life. Working relationships are polite and friendly but professional – your boss will rarely contact you out of working hours, for example. It’s also not uncommon to refer to your colleagues by their surnames.
Living in Switzerland pros and cons
Like every country, Switzerland has its pros and cons. Some aspects of Swiss life may be cons for some and pros for others, so it’s up to you to determine what excites you about Switzerland and what puts you off. To give you a bit of a helping hand, here are a few pros and cons of living in Switzerland.
Switzerland is one of Europe’s most naturally beautiful countries. Its varied landscape is perfect for nature lovers, especially those who love a bit of activity. You can ski and hike across Switzerland’s stunning slice of the Alps. You can also find Mother Nature at her best in the Swiss Central Plateau, woodlands, and wetlands.
Supreme quality of life
Swiss citizens famously enjoy an impressive quality of life. The country often ranks highly on the OECD Better Life Index, scoring well for jobs and earnings, health status, environmental quality, education and skills, and work-life balance.
Around 80% of the population is employed with many employees on a good salary. Swiss nationals also have a high life expectancy, averaging 84 years of age.
The cheese and chocolate are famous for a reason. Swiss food is fresh, seasonal and delicious. You’ll find over 450 kinds of cheese, 200 variations of bread and pastries and more creamy chocolate than you’d dare to imagine.
Living isn’t cheap
Living in Switzerland is going to be expensive. It has one of the highest costs of living in the world and is roughly 75% more expensive than the UK. A family of four is estimated to draw up monthly expenses of Fr.5,374 (£4,206) without rent. For a single person, it’s Fr.1,459 (£1,142) per month without rent.
Formal and reserved culture
We’ve already touched on the formality of the Swiss workplace, and this can be applied to the culture in general. Swiss culture is very organised and punctual. While this is can be appreciated, expats from more relaxed and outgoing countries may find it a bit of a culture shock.
It can also be tricky to meet genuine Swiss people. One of the reasons for this is Swiss nationals tend to stick to close friendship groups and can be slow to form close relationships with new people. This leads to large expat communities that run the risk of becoming withdrawn from Swiss natives.
Send money to Switzerland from the UK
If you’re interested in moving to Switzerland from the UK, you’ll need to sort out your money. Whether you’re buying property, moving a pension or simply transferring money between international accounts, we can help.
At Privalgo, our mission is to save you time and money with your exchange. Our currency specialists can help you find solutions for moving your money at a time that suits you, while our market-leading rates ensure you’re getting the best value.
Request a free quote from a Privalgo Currency Specialist and see what we can do for you.
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