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)

 

READ
10 things people (wrongly) assume about the Swiss

"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.)

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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.
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