Switzerland with its 26 cantons, its love for safety and cleanliness, and its low taxes, attracts countless expatriates each year.
The quality of life is exceptionally high in this small country by the Alps, which can be attributed to the cultural diversity, the multilingualism, and the stunning scenery. Many foreigners are only living in Switzerland for a limited period of time, however, as they work on an assignment with one of the countless international companies.
Learning Swiss customs and etiquette
Indeed, Switzerland is among main expat destinations worldwide. In 2012, about 23 percent of the overall population had a foreign passport. And about 86 percent of all expats generally hail from other European countries, with the majority of them being of Italian heritage.
One of the biggest challenges for newly arrived expats is often to make new friends and fully settle in Switzerland. The first step for expats to get in touch with locals while living in another country is to learn about the social customs and etiquette.
Swiss people value honesty and tolerance, and they take great pride in their neutral position within international politics. Above all, people are generally neat and organized. They really value punctuality, and if you want to make a good impression, you should ensure to always be on time. Finally, Swiss people value their privacy and personal space. So any questions concerning a person’s income are perceived just as rude as getting too close to a person.
Ways to connect with people
Switzerland has tons of activities to do throughout the year. As mentioned, it has an amazing landscape and depending on the season, it is just as easy to hit the slopes as it is to go for a trek up one of Switzerland’s many gorgeous mountains.
If you are more of the extreme sports type, you can see Switzerland from above while skydiving in Interlaken. Many expats do not realize it, but activity groups and clubs are a great way to meet people when living abroad. The same still applies to Switzerland as it has tons of hiking clubs as well as ski clubs, which are great for people who want to explore their new surroundings and meet the local Swiss.
With such a high number of expats in the country, another great way for meeting people are social groups. As expats in Switzerland come and go, it is understandable that your neighbors want a little proof that you actually want to be there. Be aware that you cannot expect to become part of their circle of friends right away.
If you wish to get out of the expat bubble, it takes a lot of dedication on your part: Try to get involved in the community by volunteering at an event, joining a band or the gym, or by attending your kids’ school outings. The hard work is partly why a lot of expatriates turn to their expat community for support and for extending their network. There, they not only get the chance to meet people but also to find support with administrative tasks and expat-related questions.
Furthermore, you might use an expat network to find people who want to explore Switzerland's sights and seasonal celebrations together with you.
Many such communities also offer exclusive events, making it easy to get in touch with other foreigners from all around the world, as well as locals.