Living in Zurich

An international reputation, cultural and scenic diversity, a dynamic economy, stability, safety, top transport links and unspoilt natural beauty – these are the reasons why Zürich regular secure leading positions in international city rankings. expandcollapse

New in Zurich

The first few months after you arrive in a new country are crucial when it comes to successful integration. It is important to get the right information about the new place where you are to live and work as soon as possible, and to find out about your rights and also your duties.

Zürich does not expect new arrivals to come to terms with this on their own, and has various consultancy departments which support foreign nationals with many of the issues they may encounter.

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New in Zürich

Finding accomodation

In Zürich, you can live wherever you want – in the city centre, out in the country or on the river or lakeside. The location has become so attractive and popular in recent years that occupancy rates have risen throughout the real estate market. Nevertheless, it is still possible to find reasonably-priced accommodation in central locations. Regardless of where you choose to live, you will enjoy good transport links, particularly for train, tram, bus and boat connections meaning that you can get from your home to your place of work quickly and smoothly.

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Finding accomodation

Entry, registration and residence

Entry
Since Switzerland is part of the Schengen agreement, nationals of EU/EFTA states merely require a valid identity card to enter the country, while nationals of other country require a valid travel document. Nationals of some countries (not EU/EFTA member states) will also require a visa. Schengen visas are accepted for entry into Switzerland. Information about visa requirements can be found on the Federal Office for Migration website.

Residence and permanent residence permits
There are differences between nationals from EU/EFTA member states and those from other countries as far as residence permits are concerned. Certain EU states still currently have special transitional periods and rules. Residence and permanent residence permits are delivered by the Zürich Cantonal Office for Migration. All stays lasting for more than three months require a permit, and whether the holder is entitled to look for employment depends on the type of permit. Foreign nationals who reside in Switzerland receive an identity card for foreign nationals which states what kind of permit the holder has.

Residence without the right to seek employment
Stays of over three months also require a permit even if the person is not in employment (retired, students, job-seekers and others). Permits are delivered by the Zürich Cantonal Office for Migration.

Registration at new place of residence
When you move to the canton of Zürich or if you change your address, you have to register within eight days at the Personal registration office of the City of Zürich or at the Residents' registration office of the municipality where you live. To make moving house easier, there are various professional relocation firms available who can help you with everything from finding accommodation to enrolment in school for your child.

Comparis has handy tips and a checklist for what to do before and after moving house.

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Entry, registration and residence

Schools & employment

Private and international schools
There are around 150 private schools in the canton of Zürich. Five English-speaking schools with an international curriculum, one French and one Japanese-speaking school offer children from internationally-mobile families an excellent education and ensure that they will later be able to integrate smoothly into other international schools and universities.

Vocational training
Most young people complete level I of secondary education and then go on to do an apprenticeship which lasts for two to four years. The basic two-year training course leads to a federal vocational attestation, while the three-to-four year course leads to a federal certificate of competency.

Child-care
The various municipalities in the canton of Zürich are legally obliged to make day-care available for children and young people. The type of care on offer varies from one municipality to another. Zürich is a top-class knowledge location which has high-quality public, international and bilingual schools, world-renowned technical colleges and universities and a wide range of vocational training opportunities.

Public schools
School is compulsory in the canton of Zürich for a period of 11 years. The public school system is divided into kindergarten (2 years), primary school (6 years) and secondary school level l or grammar schools (3 years).

Bilingual high-school diploma
An increasing number of middle schools in the canton offer bilingual high-school diplomas. Around 20 Zürich grammar schools currently allow students to take the high-school diploma in German/English, German/French or German/Italian.

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Schools & employment

Ultimate quality of life

High comfort levels for living and working
Zürich is home to globally-renowned universities, successful research facilities and innovative think-tanks. It also has an attractive taxation climate, high levels of earnings, a qualified workforce, an excellent transport network as well as security and political stability, making it an attractive location for businesses from around the world.

Zürich is not just a good place to work however – it is also a good place to live. In between the city and the Alps on the horizon there is wonderful countryside with recreational areas, woodlands and lakes and rivers with outstanding levels of water quality. Zürich also has a particularly diverse cultural and entertainment offering with countless restaurant, bars, clubs and shopping areas.

Traditionally international
The greater Zürich area is home to two million people. It also has 900,000 jobs, primarily in the City of Zürich which is the capital of the canton. Around 30 per cent of the population come from abroad. The fact that Zürich is at the heart of the continent and represents an interface between European cultural areas is apparent on an everyday basis. Its long tradition of openness and the different languages spoken there all serve to make people moving there from abroad feel at home very quickly.

Stable, liberal and safe
Switzerland has unique political conditions that are both favourable and reliable. Its direct democracy and federalism ensure political stability, while the liberal economic constitution guarantees freedom of trade and competition. Relationships with the EU are regulated by bilateral agreements.

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Ultimate quality of life

Leisure, sport and culture

Varied cultural scene
The Zürich cultural scene has a diversity and a quality that you would rarely find in other international cities. In the city of Zürich alone there are 70 different cultural institutions to choose from, including the Opernhaus opera, the Kunsthaus, the Tonhalle concert hall, the Zürich Ballet, the Schauspielhaus theatre (in German), the Landesmuseum, the Löwenbräu-Kunstareal art centre (in German) and the Museum Rietberg which are all famous beyond the borders of Switzerland. In addition there are countless galleries, cinemas, theatres, music clubs and alternative culture centres.

Nature and water
Lounging on a meadow in the middle of the city? Swimming in lakes where the water is of drinking quality? Floating around on an inflatable in a river? Barbecuing in the woods? These are the very things that make Zürich such a wonderful place to spend your leisure time. There are countless places to go swimming in Zürich's waterways, and on warm summer evenings, some of the lake and riverside bathing areas even turn into bars. There are also plenty of hills and mountains to enjoy, with Zürich's highest peak being the Schnebelhorn, at 1292 metres above sea-level.

Going out
There is still plenty going on in Zürich even after the shops shut, with over 3,500 restaurants, bars, lounges and clubs offering something for every taste. There are also annual festivals including the Streetparade, which is the world's biggest techno event, the Caliente Festival (de) which is Europe's largest Latino culture event, the Theaterspektakel, and the lakeside festivals (Seenachtsfest).

Sport
Whether it is leisure, high-performance or just occasional sport that you are after, there are countless different ways of getting and staying fit in the canton of Zürich, with over 200 different types of sport, 2,500 sports clubs and 1,700 sports venues on offer. Zürich is also home to such international sporting events as the Zürich Weltklasse, the Mercedes CSI, the Zurich Open, the Ironman (de), freestyle.ch and Art on Ice (de). In 2014, the European Athletics Championships will also be held in Zürich.

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Culture