Whether you have just arrived, or have been in Zurich for more than 10 years, we’ve created a handy A-Z Guide to help inspire you to live the life you always wanted in this picture postcard city.
A. Ask your landlord the “house rules”. Many places have what others might consider “strange” rules such as No Laundry on Sundays and No Vacuum at Lunchtime.
B. Buy an SBB pass. Trains, Trams & Busses are the way to go in Zurich and there’s different options based on where you live and when & how often you travel (such as the after 9am pass). They also often run special offers for discounted day trips and combination train / experience deals.
C. Check for budget deals. Looking beyond the CHF 25 personal sized pizza…deals do exist! Zürirollt are free bikes to rent, museums have free Open Door Days and shops have HUGE sales in January and July. Zurich has super clean drinking water with fountains all over the city – you may ask for Zuri Wasser in restaurants to avoid paying for bottled water.
F. Find your babies, toddlers & kids activities too. We love Music Together, Dance Fuzion, Intersoccer, and the many Mommy & Me classes. For weekend adventures, be inspired by the blog, MomsTotsZurich.
G. Go to events where you can meet other newcomers. We host fun ladies nights as do groups like Internations, the American Women’s Club of Zurich, Swedish Womens Club and Zurich International Womens Club.
H. Have the right insurance. Health insurance is obligatory and despite it’s pristine reputation, break-ins do happen in Zurich and you don’t want to forget things like babysitter & housekeeper insurance. We personally use Erik Binggelli who will meet with you in person to decide what’s best for you.
I. Indulge in Swiss Chocolate. Grab a friend and spend a day exploring the Chocolate Shops in Zurich. We created a self-guided Chocolate Shops in Zurich tour and list of our list of favorite Hot Chocolate Cafes.
J. Just follow the rules. Zurich has a lot of rules, some of which you may find silly, but if you follow them, life is easy and they’re the reason everything is so clean & pristine here so join the “follow the rules” club and enjoy the high quality life.
K. Keep Emergancy Numbers handy. Learn the local numbers and store as a contact in your phone or paste on the refrigerator. Police 117; Fire 118;
L. Learn High German or Swiss German. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, but it’s sooooooo useful and if you commit your first few months to focusing and studying, you’ll be glad you did! If babysitting is your excuse, check out Wordculture as they offer language lessons with childcare.
M. Make sure you buy an Autobahn sticker and don’t (or try not to!) speed. Every car must have an annual sticker to drive on the highway which can be purchased in cash at the Post Office or local petrol stations. Speed cameras are everywhere, fines are high and if you get too many, licenses are suspended so be cautious of speed limits.
O. Open a grocery card account. Migro and COOP both have “frequent flyer” programs with perks and rewards for point collecting.
P. Put yourself out there. Give your phone number to everyone you meet (and like), invite someone over for a fondue dinner at your home and don’t be scared to introduce yourself to others. Living outside your comfort zone can be scary yet so rewarding!
Q. Quit complaining of change and enjoy it. Homesickness and loneliness are ok and normal, but don’t dwell in them. Get out there and discover the city!
S. Second Hand Shopping is Cool. Being a transient city, you can often find practically new items for cheap. The Website English Forum and Facebook groups like Pre-Loved and 2nd Hand in Zurich are uber popular. Moms will love the quarterly “Kinder Borse” (2nd hand markets for kids hosted regularly in each Geimeinde) and there’s a “Brocki” on practically every corner.
T. Taxes and Pension Plans are obligatory. Find helpful tax support that is efficient in expat / international taxes. We personally use Robert Meili M.A. UZH
U. Understand the recycling / rubbish rules. You must buy the official garbage bags (e.g., Zuri Sac) at your local grocery store, kiosk or post office. Recycling varies based on your Kanton / Kreis, but is strictly enforced and regulated.
V. Visit different neighborhoods before renting. Each Kreis has different pros and cons…some are on hills, some have loads of restaurants in walking distance, some have impossible to park streets. They are really different from the people who live in the neighborhood to the amenities they offer. Take your time before rushing into a place.
W. Wait for Spring. If you move and just don’t feel at home, we promise the warm weather is amazing! The Zurich Lake is a playground of activities with lake front badi’s; stand up paddle boarding; boat rides, lakeside cafes and more.
X. “Xplore”. Take a tram without having a destination in mind…take it as far as it goes in both directions and hop off when something looks interesting. Trust us, we’ve done it and it’s fun for both adults and kids!
Y. Yelp if you’re a dog lover. Dogs are ridiculously well behaved in Zurich. Registration and payment at your local Gemeinde is obligatory and if under a certain age so is attending a dog training class. They are welcome almost everywhere, but be sure to buy them a ½ fare SBB pass and if they aren’t allowed somewhere (e.g., grocery store and post office), look for the small, low hook outside the location to put them.
Z. Zone in on Zurich lifestyle & embrace it. Outdoor activities & nature play a big role in life here – find one that interests you and enjoy a new hobby. Try cycling, mountain walking, stand-up paddle boarding or paragliding. We hope you enjoy Zurich as much as we do!