Insider tips that will make your new life much easier.In this ultimate expats guide you will receive many valuable tips that will definitely make you happy when you start your new life in Switzerland. by Marc Gottwald
Insider tips that simplify life in SwitzerlandMoving to a new country is a big step. It feels like there are thousands of questions and often you are simply overwhelmed for no reason. Do you know this feeling too? Then you are like many of our expat customers who come to Switzerland with us to get to know the country better. questions upon questions. There are some sites that mostly answer the same questions. For many questions, however, the answers are missing or you can only find them with time-consuming searches. A good link that takes up the questions that are often answered on the web is this one. Here you will find everything, among other things, about job hunting and training. In this report, however, I will go into the ultimate insider tips that can make life in Switzerland much easier for you.
Shopping: Shopping tips and how to get Amazon to Switzerland.
Shopping in neighboring countries: return VAT differenceMany Swiss love to travel to neighboring countries to shop. In Basel in particular, it’s easy because the tram even crosses the border and you don’t even have to buy an extra ticket with the U-Abo. The Swiss also go shopping in Germany or France from time to time. The reason: groceries and cosmetics are much cheaper than in Switzerland and there are other products, which brings variety. Since the value-added tax in Germany is significantly higher at 19% than in Switzerland (7.6%), you can ask for an “export certificate” when paying at the checkout. There you write down your name and home address and stamp the export certificate at customs on the same day. Unfortunately, stamping later is invalid, which means it is only worthwhile if you return to Switzerland on the same day. It is very worthwhile for larger purchases, but the duty-free import amount is CHF 300 per person. For a family of four, this is 1200 CHF. Further restrictions, such as alcohol, can be found here. If exceeded, duty must be paid.
Exchange sites and trade among private individualsAre you looking for houses, land, concert tickets, used furniture or clothes? You can find everything on these exchanges. They are exchanges where private individuals put their items in. Items often have to be picked up locally. When buying a house or renting an apartment, please beware of scammers. NEVER transfer any money before viewing. Here are some of the platforms Tutti.ch anibis.ch ricardo.ch (Swiss auction platform similar to Ebay)
Discover your city with 2 for 1 vouchers?Restaurants, bars, clubs and also various activities such as wellness, theatre, cinema can be discovered 2 for 1 with the percentage book www.prozentbuch.ch. A great way to get to know a city, especially for expats. Book of vouchers are available for the cities of Basel, Bern, Lucerne and Zurich and are valid in one city from November to October. A new edition will then appear. There are also some similar concepts in other smaller towns. It’s a good idea to go to a local bookstore and ask.
Travel to events, hotels or public transport with big discounts?Bank Raiffeisen really has a lot to offer its members. If you have a memberplus account, you will receive many discount vouchers and will also find a very attractive offer online with discounts on public transport, hotels, ski day tickets, concerts and museums. Since the site is only available in German, French and Italian, if you are interested, the direct number would be: +41 844 724 333
Public transport: SBB Half-Fare travelcard, supersaver tickets and municipal day ticketsPublic transport in Switzerland is unique. To get from the city to a remote mountain area, everything can be done by train, bus, boat and cable car. It is not a lie to claim that Switzerland even has the best transport network in the world, because the state heavily subsidizes certain unprofitable routes. But that has its price. The tickets are expensive. To save money, we recommend the SBB (Swiss Federal Railways) half-fare card, which offers half-price travel on all routes (apart from a few mountain cable cars). The price is 185 CHF/year. If you drive 4 times Zurich-Bern and back, you have equalized the amount again. You can buy this at the counter at a larger train station. If you don’t use public transport in Switzerland as often, the day pass is particularly worthwhile. There is a municipal day ticket, where the day ticket can be purchased from the respective municipality for CHF 40. Reservations can and usually have to be made online on the municipal website. It’s worth booking early, but you commit to buying. If the day ticket in your municipality or city is already gone for the desired date, it can also be bought at short notice from other municipalities. This page gives you an overview. Do you want to be a little more flexible? The SBB has savings day tickets on their website. The prices vary, depending on the availability of the tickets, between CHF 29 and 59 for one day with a Half-Fare travelcard in 2nd class or twice as much without a Half-Fare travelcard. The SBB also offers supersaver tickets, some of which are massively cheaper. It is advisable to book early here. The saver ticket is only available online and can only be used for the selected time, unless the train is late. However, delays are generally exceptions, because the Swiss transport system is very punctual. Coop also runs campaigns every year where the day ticket is available for just CHF 49 for a certain period of time. The day ticket is then limited to a certain period of time. There is a GA travelcard for frequent travelers. From an annual amount of around CHF 3850 per year you can use almost the entire transport network in Switzerland, which works out at around CHF 10.5 per day.
Car sharing, bicycles and e-scootersYou really don’t need a car in Switzerland. Especially not if you live in a big city or a suburb of a city. The connections and accessibility are just too good. Many Swiss now do without the car and only use public transport. Car sharing such as Mobility is also very popular. Mobility is a cooperative in which, after paying an annual fee, a car can be reserved for very cheap fees. These are often found at train stations and in city car parks. Everything is done online. The Swiss who live in the cities mainly use bicycles, because it is often faster to reach your destination by bicycle than by public transport or by car. If you own a bike in the city, you have to be careful. There are gangs of thieves from neighboring countries who sometimes collect hundreds of bicycles by truck. So my tip: buy a very good lock and if possible don’t leave the bike outside. E-scooters are also becoming increasingly popular. Swiss cities are literally flooded with e-scooters and bikes that can be rented. Since the providers, which are mostly startups, change as quickly as they appear, it is not worth describing the brands here. If necessary, simply download the app of the respective provider (brand is always written in large letters), upload a small amount with your credit card (since the companies usually disappear quickly, I really recommend a small amount) and then start driving.
Get to know Switzerland as a complete package without any effortThere are various ways of getting to know a country. Thanks to the great feedback and demand from our customers, we have designed a trip especially for expats in Switzerland. In two, three or four days you will get to know Switzerland and its different cultures in an exclusive private tour. You will discover some well-known and many unknown places and breathtaking landscapes, as usual with a lot of background knowledge. On request, there is even a daily language course insert with the most important words and phrases to simplify your daily communication. If you are interested, write to us without obligation at email@example.com.
The must-have APPs in SwitzerlandEvery country has its must-have apps. You will find the following apps on almost every Swiss mobile phone, which I can also strongly recommend: SBB: The app of the Swiss Federal Railways. Here you can find every connection that takes you from A to B and also see if a train or bus is late. You can also conveniently buy tickets online here and have access to supersaver tickets (if available). Meteo: The app from the state weather service Meteo Schweiz is a very helpful app when it comes to planning excursions, walks or hikes. Dangers such as thunderstorms, avalanches or storms are also displayed. 20 minutes: The 20 minutes app is simple, uncomplicated and free. Here you always get the headlines of what’s happening in Switzerland. However, the news is often very superficial. The Neue Züricher Zeitung is recommended for in-depth news, but it costs money. The site is readable in German, French and Italian. Too good to go: Sustainability is a big topic in Switzerland. More and more startups are springing up that want to make it easier for society to lead a more sustainable life. As a graduate environmental scientist with a focus on sustainability management, I know that you either want to live more sustainably out of the right conviction or because it is financially attractive (companies also work in exactly the same way). The too good to go app focuses on the latter. At a spot price, leftover food can be picked up in restaurants and takeaways in the usual quality shortly before the end of the day. A super great concept of an app that is increasingly on the road to success. Twint is a super cool tool if you want to transfer money from smartphone to smartphone or if you want to pay cashless at the checkout. In Switzerland, many people use this app.
Swiss food cultureHere we do not go into fondue, raclette and chocolate, but rather into the special eating habits. In Swiss companies, it is often the norm to go to lunch as a whole team or at least with a few work colleagues. You also have the Znüni and Zvieri together, a small snack at around 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Morning snacks and lunch in particular are very well taken care of, often up to the higher management levels (at least they try). Because here you have time for the interpersonal and to exchange ideas. On the weekends the rhythm is usually a little different and confused, but at work it has a familiar tradition.
Fine Dining (Gault-Millau), meal times, reservations and tipsFine dining is very popular in Switzerland. Lucky for us that we have so many good restaurants. The best restaurants are each awarded Gault Millau points. We are proud that the restaurant of our partner hotel “Les Trois Rois Basel” was voted the best restaurant in Switzerland 2019 with 19 out of 20 Gault Millau points. The best restaurants in Switzerland according to Gault-Millau can be found under this link. Gault Millau restaurants with a high number of points sometimes have to be reserved a few months in advance. Otherwise, a reservation is recommended, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. Then the Swiss often go out for dinner. Reserving a few days in advance is sufficient in most restaurants. Important: If you are prevented from attending for any reason, be sure to cancel beforehand. The Swiss usually eat out between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the latest. From 8.30 p.m. you can usually find a place on a Friday and Saturday evening. After eating, the Swiss often go out for a drink or to the cinema. By the way, tipping is not mandatory in Switzerland, but it is almost expected. It is therefore advisable to give a tip of around 10% for good service.
Vegetarian/Vegan FoodIn Switzerland, a very large number of people are vegetarians. This cult has grown over the years. Vegan, i.e. only plant-based, is also becoming more and more popular. With Hiltl (in Zurich), Switzerland has the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe. However, the traditional family business has already expanded to other cities with the new “Tibits” chain. These are located in Basel, Bern, Lucerne, St.Gallen, Winterthur and also in Zurich.
Leitungswasser ist trinkbar
Wer kennt es schon nicht aus dem Ausland? Im Supermarkt kauft man sich Bündel voll mit Wasser. In der Schweiz ist dies überflüssig. Dank den vielen Quellen und Seen sind wir das Wasserschloss von Europa. Noch besser: Auch die Wasserqualität ist hervorragend. Aus praktisch jedem Brunnen in der Schweiz kann getrunken werden, ausser es steht angeschrieben «Kein Trinkwasser». Dementsprechend sind die vielen Plastikflaschen in der Schweiz zum Glück überflüssig und es kann mit dem Verzicht auch etwas gutes für die Umwelt getan werden.