Moving to Zurich: Everything You Need to Know and Do

Moving to Zurich: The Ultimate Guide

Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, has long been a popular choice for people settling in the heart of Europe. Renowned for its financial sector, Zurich offers an array of professional opportunities for those seeking employment. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring views, the Swiss city is also a haven for the great outdoors.


Knowing how to move to Zurich can involve a lot of planning and foresight, especially for those uninitiated about the Swiss ways. It is important to cover every topic, from visa requirements to understanding the local culture and language.

This guide will provide all these much-needed answers. We will break down every step and what is required when moving to Zurich. Whether you are looking for the best neighborhood to live in Zurich or a simple guide to securing your first mobile sim card, read on to find out all this and more.

Visa requirements to live in Zurich

If you are looking to move to Switzerland for longer than a holiday or even permanently, there are a number of different visas you can look into. Knowing which one is best for you will come down to a number of criteria and your employment situation. Swiss visas include the Switzerland Work Visa, the Switzerland Student Visa, the Switzerland Family Reunion Visa, and the Switzerland Retirement Visa. 


Let’s take a closer look at each visa and find out which is the right one for you when moving to Zurich.


  • Switzerland Work Visa: The Switzerland Work Visa is for immigrants moving to Zurich and Switzerland who are moving to take up a job in the country. To be successfully granted the Switzerland Work Visa, you will need to have already signed an employment contract with a Swiss employer.
  • Switzerland Student Visa: The Switzerland Student Visa is for foreigners who have been admitted to a Swiss educational institution such as a university. Before you can qualify for this visa however, you must already be accepted and enrolled in a Swiss educational course. 
  • Switzerland Family Reunion Visa: The Switzerland Family Reunion visa is designed for those who are moving to the country to join family members who already legally reside in Switzerland. A family member will usually cover a parent or spouse.
  • Switzerland Retirement Visa: The final visa offered by Switzerland is the Swiss Retirement Visa. This is a visa designed for people who are moving to Switzerland as a retiree. To qualify for the Swiss Retirement Visa, you must present financial evidence that you have the funds to support yourself when living in Switzerland.
Visa requirements for Zurich

2. Mandatory things to do after moving to Zurich

Once you have moved to Zurich, there are a number of things you will need to do to secure your place as a resident in the city and country. The first of these is to register with your local canton to receive your residency permit. You can do this with your local cantonal immigration and labor market authority. Switzerland is broken down into twenty-six cantons, with Zurich being one. 


Another must-do after moving to Zurich is to take out medical insurance. In Switzerland, it is mandatory to have at least a basic health insurance plan. While you are applying for your residency permit, the authorities will require you to provide assurances that you will take out a medical insurance plan within three months of being in the country.


If you plan to drive while living in Switzerland, it is important that you exchange your current driving license for a Swiss one as soon as possible. ost EU/EEA and UK driving licenses can be used in Switzerland for up to a year – but it’s efficient to make the transition early.


The final thing to do once you are settled in Zurich is to set up a Swiss bank account. This will enable you to pay for your mandatory health insurance, receive your salary, and pay your taxes. You can either enter the local bank branch or set up your account online. You will need proof of your Swiss residency and at least two forms of identification, such as your driving license and passport.

Best places to live in Zurich

As one of Switzerland’s largest and most successfully bustling cities, there is a huge range of neighborhoods in which to call home. Whether you want to be in the center of the bustling city, the hip up-and-coming neighborhood, an outdoor paradise, or a blend of it all, Zurich has a neighborhood for everyone. 


Here’s a closer look at the best places to live in Zurich.

Neighborhoods to live in Zurich

- Niederdorf

Arguably the most famous neighborhood in all of Zurich, Niederdorf lies along the eastern banks of the Limmat River, taking up part of Zurich’s Old Town. The neighborhood is a ball of energy and charm. With cobbled streets and historic architecture, Niederdorf provides visitors and locals with a sense of Zurich’s long history and culture. 


While living in Zurich’s most famed neighborhood, you will be close to iconic landmarks such as the two vast churches known as Grossmünster and Predigerkirche. You will also be a stone’s throw from the famous art gallery and museum Kunsthaus.


The only perceived downside to Niederdorf is its popularity with tourists. This means the neighborhood is almost never quiet, and the high prices reflect its holiday destination status.

- Lindenhof

Making up the western banks of the River Limmat and Zurich’s Old Town is the neighborhood of Lindenhof. Although very alike in some ways to Niederdorf, Lindenhof is far larger, spacious, and not as overcrowded with tourists as its neighborhood brother. 


Popular with expats, Lindenhof has a well-entrenched non-Swiss population, making it an ideal place to set up your new home – especially if you wish to meet like-minded new settlers in Zurich. Lindenhof is home to must-see sights such as raumünster church, Zurich Observatory, and the iconic Bahnhofstrasse – a shopping street to rival any across the globe. 


For a little greenery and an escape from the inner city, head to Lindenhof’s namesake city park. This is an ideal place to get a little fresh air and step out of the busy Zurich streets.

- Aussersihl

Sprawling out from the city center is the northwestern neighborhood of Aussersihl. Although Zurich can really be called edgy or hipster, Aussersihl is trying hard to change that. For those who love great nightlife and hipster daytime activities, such as local second-hand book stalls and independent eateries, Aussersihl is the place to be.


At the very epicenter of Aussersihl is the famous Langstrasse – once a seedy part of the city, the street is now home to a very cosmopolitan shopping district and an eclectic mix of restaurants and bars.


Aussersihl offers the chance to still live within the city center without the extravagant prices and tourist footfall of Zurch’s Old Town. It’s also great for those looking for something a little more alternative to typical Zurich city life that many expect in Switzerland’s biggest city.

- Enge

On the northwestern shores of Lake Zurich, the neighborhood known as Enge is the epitome of Swiss life for many. For a pure and blissful escape from the inner city, Enge offers residents plenty of green species, woods, open fields, and the undeniable beauty of Lake Zurich. 


The surrounding landscapes of Enge make it hugely popular for those who love outdoor recreation. Whether this is a simple walk through the endless greenery, swimming in the lake, or a cycle around the many cycling routes along Lake Zurich.


Those moving to Zurich with young families will find Enge a haven of a neighborhood. With open spaces, fresh air, and a range of great schools, any family would be happy to set up a home here. 


With such a fine reputation, it is no surprise that Enge is a very popular place to settle in the city. This popularity and fierce composition for housing have made Enge one of the more expensive places to live in Zurich – though the extra Swiss Francs are a welcome trade-off for the great quality of life in Enge.

- Zurich Nord

As the name suggests, Zurich Nord is one of Zurich’s most northerly neighborhoods and one of the most overall residential. If you are looking for a quintessential suburban Zurich neighborhood, Zurich Nord is the location for you. When living in Zurich Nord, you are far away enough from the busy city life to really appreciate the quieter life in Zurich. Zurich Nord is ideal for families who are focused on living suburban life, working, and raising their families.


As Zurich Nord lies on the very northern edges of the city, the ultra-high-end rental prices that are often found in inner Zurich fall considerably. As this is the case, Zurich Nord is one of the more affordable places to live in Zurich. Zurich Nord is home to many open green spaces and is very close to Zurich’s international airport – a great added bonus if your work requires you to travel across or out of Switzerland.

- Seefeld

Last but not least on our list of best neighborhoods in which to live in Zurich is the neighborhood of Seefeld. Located on the northeastern shores of Lake Zurich, Seefeld is one of the city’s plushest and priciest neighborhoods in which to settle. Highly sought-after, this narrow strip of a district is another haven for the great outdoors. Swimming, cycling, and walking through the endless greenery become daily rituals.


Renowned for its laid-back residential atmosphere, Seefeld will become a home away from home for those moving to Zurich. The perfect balance of fresh air, lakeside views, and modern luxuries such as an outdoor cinema and spacious homes all make Seefeld one of the best neighborhoods to live in in Zurich.

Average rent in Zurich

The cost of rent in Zurich can be seen as some of the highest in all of Europe. This being said, the cost of rent will differ depending on the type of housing and the area of the city in which you live. Highly central and popular neighborhoods such as Enge, Seefeld, and Niederdorf will have far more costly rent than those on the outskirts of the city 


As the average rent varies from district to district and neighborhood to neighborhood, averages can change drastically. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 2,056 Swiss Francs. The same property outside the city center will set you back around 1,540 Swiss Francs.


The average rent for a three-bedroom apartment in the city center is 3,799 Swiss Franc. A three-bedroom apartment outside the city center will be around an average of 2,740 Swiss Francs.

Renting in Zurich: Average rent

How to find accommodation in Zurich

Knowing how to move to Zurich involves understanding the accommodation process and finding a suitable home in which to live. In days gone by, this would have involved research on the ground, with a general back and forth between estate agents working in Zurich. Thankfully, this process has become far more streamlined in the past few years, and accommodation in Zurich can be found easily online.


Homelike provides an easy-to-use property search engine that allows you to find the perfect apartment to rent in Zurich. By narrowing down your criteria on Homelike, you can carry out a Zurich property search on the basis of things such as rental prices, number of rooms, amenities, and even by moving-in dates. We offer a great selection of short term rentals in Zurich if you need a temporary place to stay while you look for a permanent placw.


This streamlined process allows you to find the ideal Zurich apartment, complete with everything you need before you make the move.

Languages spoken in Zurich

Switzerland as a whole is a nation made up of four spoken languages, German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Which language you will hear largely depends on the area of the country you are in. Swiss German is spoken by nearly 63% of the population, and is this what you will hear daily when moving to Zurich.

Swiss German differs from standard German, especially in the pronunciation of certain words. Although you will find many English speakers in Zurich, it is a good idea to make an attempt at learning the local language. Not only will this make your move to Zurich a far more rewarding one, but it will also adhere you to the local population.

If you plan on traveling outside of Zurich and into the wider reaches of Switzerland, you will encounter different languages spoken in diff regions. Naturally, as you head westward towards west Switzerland and the border with France, you will find the majority of the population speaks French. As you move southeastward however, you will encounter a majority of Italian speakers.

Relocating your pet to Zurich

When moving to Zurich, it’s not only ourselves we need to consider. Often, a relocation for us and our family includes the animal members of our family too. Relocating your pet to Zurich doesn’t have to be stressful or complicated as long as you adhere to the regulations set by the Swiss government.


First of all, you will need to ensure your pet has been prepared with an ISO 11784 or 11785 pet microchip – this is the only standard pet microchip expected by Swiss immigration. All pets entering Switzerland will also need to provide proof of rabies vaccination before they are allowed to travel to the country. Pets traveling from a high-rabies country will also need to provide an import permit, which should be granted three weeks prior to travel.

Finding pet-friendly accommodation

Having your beloved pet with you when moving to Zurich will mean you will need to find a place that is pet-friendly. In a modern, forward-thinking city such as Zurich, it isn’t too hard to find apartments and homes that are welcoming to our furry friends. Using Homelike’s pet-friendly filter, you can narrow your search down to rental properties that are open to pets.


This way, you can find the perfect apartment in Zurich that not only suits your budget and required space but also the needs of your pets. With Homelike, there are currently over 400 properties in Zurich that welcome pets.

Opening a bank account in Zurich

One of the most important things to organize once you are settled in your new home in Zurich is to open a Swiss bank account. With historical fame for banking and finance, you will be in some of the safest hands when banking in Switzerland. Other than being at least 18 years old, there are not many resections on opening a bank account in Zurich, so the process should be a smooth one, although there are a number of things to consider before you do so: 


Like any other nation, you will need to provide a series of documentation when opening your Swiss bank account. This documentation will prove your identity and source of income – a standard practice for any bank. These documents will include thighs such as your passport, a document verifying your source of income, and a document proving your address while living in Zurich.

Minimum balance


Probably the most unique problem you may encounter is the need for a minimum balance in your Swiss bank account. This doesn’t apply to all bank accounts, yet it is something you should consider before opening an account. A minimum balance depends on the type of account you are opening and can range from zero to seven figures.


Some Swiss bank accounts require you to deposit 10,000 Swiss Francs within a month of opening your account, Other high-end accounts will require an eye-watering amount of millions, and some have no minimum balance requirements. It is, therefore, important to do your research before banking in Switzerland.

Getting a sim card in Zurich

Securing a mobile or cell phone connection will also be top of your list when moving to Zurich, and in today’s modern high-speed world, this is something you will want to solve straight away. For such a relatively small country, Switzerland has a surprisingly large number of cell phone providers, including Aldi Mobile, Lebara, M-Budget Mobile, SAK Digital, Salt, Sunrise, and Swisscom. The most popular of these mobile provers is Swisscom, which has just under a 60% share of the entire market. Following these are providers Sunrise and Salt. 

There are two different types of mobile deals to opt for, a prepaid sim card deal or a cellphone contract. Prepaid sims are generally considered the quickest and cheapest way to get connected in Switzerland. However, as you are potentially moving to Zurich long-term, getting a cellphone contract is generally your best bet.

Before you can take out a mobile phone contract, you will need to present the mobile provider with proof of your work permit or long-term residency. Contracts usually have a 12-month minimum term but will work out far cheaper in the long run when compared to a prepaid sim.   


To secure your sim card or cellphone contract, you have two opinions. First of all, you can enter any of the many mobile provider stalls in the city of Zurich. Alternatively, you can set up your mobile contract online. Online application is a popular choice for new arrivals in Switzerland, as it allows you to translate the Swiss German website into English – something that can be a little tricky when you are in the store.

Setting up utilities in Zurich

Once you are set up comfortably in your new Zurich home, you’ll want to get rolling with utilities such as electricity, internet connection, and heating. Unlike many other neighboring European countries, Switzerland’s utility companies are not so liberalized. This means that, again, unlike numerous nations, you will not have the usual freedoms to choose your own supplier. Instead, you will need to sign up with the local supplier of electricity, water, and gas.


If you are buying your own home in Zurich, you will usually have the utilities already in place. If this is the case, you will simply need to contact your local Zurich canton supplier in the region and ask to be supplied with the resources in your own name. If you are renting a property in Zurich, it is quite possible that your utilities will be included in your rental fee. Nevertheless, you should contact your landlord straight away and find out the current circumstances. You will also  need the previous tenant’s name, so ask your landlord for this ahead of time.

Final thoughts

So, in answering the question of how to move to Zurich, we have seen that although, on the surface, the process appears too complicated and a little stressful, it need not be. The streamlined bureaucratic processes of Switzerland and the mountains of information available mean that as long as you follow these simple steps, moving to Zurich should be a pleasure. In addition, you may also want to consider hiring the services of a smooth moving company  that offers the transport of your personal items and also take care of the customs process for yoo

With an enthusiasm for learning Swiss German, thorough research into rental properties, and completion of mandatory things when you first arrive, you will be feeling like a local Zürcher in no time at all.

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