13 things I wish I’d known before moving to Switzerland

Heidiland in Switzerland

Moving to Switzerland is not like moving to Heidiland.

Because no amount of book research or Newly Swissed articles can help you get ready for the real Switzerland. Sure, most newly arrived figured out ahead of time that basic health insurance is compulsory and that there are strict rules to using the shared laundromat in your apartment complex.

But for every obvious thing, there are a dozen unwritten words of widsom that you will only figure out months later - or never at all. I have asked our writers about the things they wish they had known before moving to Switzerland:


"Church bells ring all through the night. Choose the location of your rental flat wisely." (Dimitri)


"It is expected that you include family photos, CV’s and a cover letter with your application for a rental apartment." (Dimitri)


"Tenants have to install their own light fixtures. Bring some flashlights when you move in." (Mamiko)

Light Fixtures in Swiss Apartment

"You need two PhD's to understand how to recycle." (James)

Recycling Drop in Switzerland

"Switzerland has many rules and regulations. It is a true challenge not to accidentally break one." (Wesley)



"You can hire retirees to do housework on rentarentner.ch, and it's OK." (Dimitri)


"There are actually taxes to pay." (James)


"Buy Reka checks if given a chance. It's basically like getting a discount on money which can be used for trains, restaurants, etc." (Dimitri)


"Losing the bread in the cheese fondue is no good. You'll see why." (Mamiko)

Swiss Cheese Fondue

"I wish I’d known how headache-inducingly expensive aspirin and other over-the-counter medications, vitamins and health supplements are in Switzerland. There seems to be a law that pills must be individually bubble-wrapped, which of course increases the cost of production, which, when marked up for a healthy profit, causes chronic wallet atrophy. And sickening pharmaceutical prices aren’t limited to pills. In Switzerland you can only buy hydrogen peroxide at a pharmacy; a tiny 50-ml bottle costs around (don’t faint) CHF 10. I just returned from a trip to the U.S. where I bought a 16-oz (473-ml) bottle (available in supermarkets) for the equivalent of about CHF 1.50. That hurts." (Bill)


In Search of Swissness at TEDx

"The Swiss love to hold on to their languages at any cost. To get to know and appreciate Switzerland in its entirety, knowing one of the languages is key." (Rajan)


"Swiss German is actually NOTHING like German." (James, Wesley)


"Summer takes from three days up to a week." (Wesley)

Summer in Switzerland

(Thanks to Bill, James, Mamiko, Rajan and Wesley for their wise inputs.)

Follow me

Dimitri Burkhard

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Newly Swissed GmbH
As the founder, editor and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of the Swiss Travelwriters Club.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
Follow me
7 replies
  1. Brigitte Howard
    Brigitte Howard says:

    well. i dont realy agree with everything…especially medication..and pills bought in Pharmacies…I can buy a good nose spray in the pharmacie without having to need a perscription …I CANT DO THAT IN THE US,,nosesprays you get without are just not working as well..as well I pay about 7000 SFR for a hip replacement in Switzerland..no my insurance pays and i have to pay 10% ..her it is depending on what hospital and insurance you have 20-40000 $ and then i dont realy know ow much I end up paying out of pocket as with the network system its impossible for insured ppl to know..I rather pay 10 Sfr for a bottle peroxide .
    yes recicling is a little more complicated as in other places…just take a little effort and couple times doing it…depends what country you came from…lol…

  2. Brigitte Howard
    Brigitte Howard says:

    Dimitri I never had to incl. family picts and CV with a application for a rental..Guess it depends very much wher you rent and who is renting out..I think this is rather extrem and none of theyr bussines..there is a office Mieterverband that you can make inquiries about your rights..you may have to be a member ..Not sure…but if you go to your lokal Gemeindeverwaltung you get all the infos you need where to turn to

  3. Dawnli
    Dawnli says:

    Learning to speak a language that is not written was especially difficult for me. I took many German courses and
    then no one wanted to speak German! I was constantly being told to speak English because my Swiss friends didn’t want to hear my awful German accent. Extremely frustrating!

  4. Cammy
    Cammy says:

    While rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are expensive, it’s a small “price” when you consider how amazing the health care is in Switzerland.

  5. cattly
    cattly says:

    I had to buy some children’s algifor in France when I was there with my kids. It was 1/5th to 1/10th the price. My mouth dropped open and the pharmacist thought there was something wrong. He said something about submitting the 2€ bill to my insurance and I explained no, no, it was just that it cost 15 CHF at home. Then his mouth dropped open.

  6. Frank Betté
    Frank Betté says:

    Once you “settle down” in a rented apartment, you will receive a letter from the commune in approximately one month informing you that you would be taxed for having a radio and tv set because they are assuming one month of having moved in, has given you enough time to have bought a radio and a tv set…go figure out…!!!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] there are many laws and regulations in Switzerland when it comes to keeping a dog, so I understand that this would be stressful for newcomers. For […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *