Moving from the USA to Switzerland can have many challenges for US expats. From national languages, to understanding new financial systems, and cultural customs, it can be a lot to take in during your first month in the country.
Fortunately, Switzerland is a beautiful country, full of many interesting customs, and a safe place where you can raise a family.
Many Americans will venture over expecting to see Swiss cheese, chocolate, and watches in every shop, but the truth is that Switzerland is so much more than these stereotypical images.
Switzerland offers some of the best wages in Europe. So any attractive job offer will have an American packing up their family immediately. Switzerland has a diverse working environment and there are many multi-national companies based here ranging from small tech companies to global Fortune 500 consumer goods companies. Having two parents work in Switzerland means that a great home can be leased, and the kids kept busy with activities from skiing to snowboarding. Due to higher wages in this country, there is an active economy, and companies remain competitive with other countries.
As an American who may only know English and Spanish, you’ll want to start learning another language as soon as possible. Many different languages are spoken in this country, including German, Romansh, French, and Italian.
The Swiss take their cultural traditions seriously. Ancient folk customs are alive and well, and special costumes are worn only on special occasions. People will spend time carefully handcrafting a new costume for a child, which will be passed down from generation to generation. There are still remnants of their pagan past, evident in many seasonal celebrations.
The Swiss people may seem standoffish and uptight at first. If you joked about drugs or sex over the water cooler, you may have discovered that they were not amused or interested in small talk. However, get together in a bar after a few pints, and their tongues will start to loosen up. They enjoy socializing as much as anyone.
If you work from an office, you may have noticed the artwork on the walls. Switzerland has a thriving arts scene, and art features in many aspect of people’s life. Artwork may be in outdoor installations or on the sides of buildings for people to enjoy. There are over 980 museums in Switzerland, which can be quite bewildering for an American, trying to narrow down their artistic interests to only a weekend visit. If your business is active in the arts, you’ll discover that the government lends their support through a public foundation. Also, many museums offer free entry on the last Sunday of the month.
One of the greater surprises for an American is the affordable health care system in Switzerland. Health care is affordable, and costs are kept down. Insurance may only be a certain percentage of a person’s income. Health care providers are world class, and hospitals have the latest technology.
An American expat may find the diversity in Switzerland a bit overwhelming at first, but making the effort to learn the languages and customs will soon have you fitting in.
Patrick Evans is a US, Certified Public Account and is in the business of helping fellow US Tax Payers living in Switzerland with their tax compliance. He has gone through all the ropes of moving to Switzerland. If you need any advice on US Taxes or living in Switzerland just get in touch!