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FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Under the tagline ‘money isn’t everything’, a southern German newspaper recently caused a stir by publishing ‘five reasons you shouldn’t move to Switzerland’ for work. What are the five points - and are they accurate?

Is moving to Switzerland for work worth it? Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash
(Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash)

With one in four Swiss residents foreign, the country clearly has some pulling power. Most of this is based around Switzerland’s strong job market, which has high salaries in a variety of sectors. 

Switzerland boasts some of the highest salaries of anywhere in the world. 

Those in management positions or in sought after professions such as IT and medicine can earn considerable amounts, while other professions which may not be as traditionally high paid like teachers and cleaners also benefit from comparatively high wages. 

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland?

However, not everything is rosy for foreigners who come to Switzerland to work. 

In mid-July, German newspaper Südkurier ran a report targeted at Germans who may want to work in Switzerland – along with those who have already done so. 

Under the title “Because money isn’t everything: Five reasons not to work in Switzerland”, the newspaper – which is headquartered just over the German border in Konstanz – lays out five reasons why moving to Switzerland for work isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. 

The article has caused a mild stir in Switzerland, with Swiss tabloid Blick pointing out that some of the claims were inaccurate

While any such list is by its very nature subjective, we’ve listed the five claims and had a go at debunking them (or at least explaining them in more depth). 

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments. 

1: Too much overtime and too few holidays

It’s important to mention that everything is coming from a German perspective, with the paper comparing things in Switzerland to those in Germany. 

While that may not make too much of a difference for some, it will for others – particularly when it comes to the question of overtime and holidays. 

Verdict: The downsides of Zurich you should be aware of before moving

In Switzerland, workers are entitled to a statutory minimum of four weeks off per year. 

While this might seem excellent compared to other countries such as the United States, it is one week fewer than their German counterparts. 

The Südkurier also complained about overtime in Switzerland, where workers are expected to work far over their usual 40-hour work weeks. 

There does seem to be some truth to this – Germans and German employers tend to push for a stronger adherence to the 40-hour week than some Swiss businesses – but this will also depend dramatically on the company. 

Under Swiss law, those who do work overtime however will be entitled to either a 25 percent loading on that time, or to bank those hours for additional leave in future, so be sure to research the specifics of overtime in your work contract. 

Health insurance is far too expensive – particularly for deductibles 

Another major gripe was the way in which Switzerland’s healthcare system operates and how much it costs. 

While the high cost of Swiss health insurance is no secret, what got the German newspaper particularly upset was the way Switzerland handles its deductibles. 

Most German health insurance plans have no deductibles, whereas in Switzerland this can be thousands of francs depending on your plan. 

The Südkurier however implied that the lowest deductible is CHF2,000, which is patently untrue.

READ MORE: How much does health insurance cost in Switzerland?

The level of a deductible will be up to each insured person. 

The minimum deductible in Switzerland is 300 Swiss francs (around €260). The maximum amount is 2,500 francs. The higher your deductible (in other words, the more you pay out of your own pocket) the lower your monthly premium is.

Childcare is also too pricey

Another sticking point was Switzerland’s high childcare costs, which made it prohibitive for families with two working parents. 

On this point, it is hard to argue. 

The high costs of childcare are a frequent complaint of many a parent in Switzerland. 

While this of course varies dramatically from canton to canton, the average cost of a day of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130. 

The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent. 

For ways to save – and a number of alternative childcare options – check out the following link. 

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

…and in fact everything is just far too expensive

OK, we knew this one was coming. 

Besides chocolate, cheese and banks full of other people’s money, Switzerland is perhaps best known for being expensive. 

The country is especially pricey when it comes to food, beverages, hotels, housing, restaurants, clothing, and health insurance – or pretty much everything you need. 

Keep in mind however that while Switzerland is expensive for its residents, for people coming from abroad, high costs here are the ultimate culture shock.

If you work in Switzerland, you will earn significantly higher wages than most other countries – which somewhat offsets the cost of living. 

Also, many of the best things about Switzerland are actually free – from clean air and high levels of safety to the wonderful scenery and the amazing network of public footpaths that allow you to explore the county at a walking pace.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Learning Swiss German is essential but useless elsewhere 

On the final point, the Südkurier went all in on Swiss German, saying the language was necessary to navigate some parts of Swiss society but that it was completely useless elsewhere.

“It’s a language that won’t help you anywhere else in the world. You can’t use it to communicate in East Asia or South America, and it often doesn’t even help you in other parts of Switzerland” the author wrote. 

While it is true that Swiss German is unlikely to be too helpful anywhere else in the world, the topic of Swiss German versus High German is particularly controversial, especially among Germans who have moved to Switzerland. 

The Local have been told by our German readers that the Swiss will often switch to English rather than speak High German, due to a combination of not being able to and simply not wanting to. 

While where you live will be crucial on whether you should speak Swiss German or not, learning at least some basics in the local dialect is essential for anyone regardless of where you move to. 

READ MORE: 15 ways to swear like a Swiss German

Are these accurate? Or are they not? Let us know in the comments below. 

Member comments

  1. German: the one and only problem. If CH wishes to compete with Singapore, Dubai, Monaco, New York, London.

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MOVING TO SWITZERLAND

‘Peaceful coexistence’: How one Swiss canton helps foreign citizens integrate

Switzerland is a country with many immigrants, but not necessarily an easy place to integrate. One canton has an integration program that helps immigrants learn about the country and make local friends, as writer Ashley Franzen experienced.

'Peaceful coexistence': How one Swiss canton helps foreign citizens integrate

There are many things to prepare for when making an international move: packing, paperwork, scheduling the move, and more. It can be a lot for anyone to manage, but sometimes the hardest work comes once you’ve actually arrived and are getting settled. So how does one prepare for arriving and integrating into a country where everything is so different and new?

Canton Zug has put together an integration plan that helps families learn about their new surroundings, including an informational evening program where new arrivals can attend sessions and learn about Zug’s political, social, and cultural landscapes, all while socialising and meeting other new residents.

According to the Canton of Zug’s website, “Integration is an active and reciprocal process between the people who come from foreign countries to live here and the indigenous people.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to fast track permanent residency in Switzerland

“The aim of integration is a peaceful coexistence on the basis of common values so that people who come here from foreign countries may have the equal opportunity to take part in Switzerland’s social, cultural and political life.”

Chocolate and new friends: my experience with ‘New in Zug’

I found out about the “New in Zug” program, which offers a series of sessions on different topics, towards the end of the scheduled agenda. Still, I was able to attend a session led by an Immigration Advisory Center (FMZ) consultant and a local police officer who had been working in Zug for nearly 25 years. There were about eight of us in attendance.

This particular course was actually a mixture of the German and English languages, as we all had a basic level of German, but we found out that English was the uniting language otherwise.

We learned about the security of the canton and city and learned about the history of safety in Switzerland, including a portion on traffic laws.

It was a valuable and informative couple of hours and there were light refreshments, including water and chocolates. In addition, I was able to connect with someone who was part of a local international women’s group and gained a bit more information about other ways to integrate.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Are these the ‘best’ places to live in Switzerland?

There are many international groups that are running in places like Zug, Lucerne, and Zurich, but this is a unique opportunity to connect with the local services and locals involved in promoting integration.

My family also participated in a hosting program. Local families volunteer to be paired with recently arrived families – such as mine – in order to help give a new perspective of your new city in ways that a local does, with tips and suggestions to make you feel more at home.

We were paired with a couple that had been in Zug for over ten years. They were similar in age to us and their two kids were within a year or two of our own. We had an initial video meeting to chat and get to know one another a bit before we decided to try and meet up.

View over Lake Zug with the old town of Zug and the Zytturm. By Schulerst – CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikicommons

We met down near Lake Zug and walked through a market/festival set-up along the promenade. It was wintertime and very cold, but the kids were delighted to be with kids their age who spoke some English. There were many activities in which they could partake, including a mini train ride, and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

Having a local family on-hand to call with questions about family services, including daycare or other programs, was an asset to our family. We received recommendations about various things to do as a family, including local destinations that were good for day trips and rainy days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The striking contrasts between Switzerland’s regions

Overall, my experience with the FMZ and their programs was extremely positive. Their office is close to public transportation and a short walk from the lake. While I’ve continued to explore Zug and the surrounding areas on my own, I know that the local government provides access to helpful and unique resources to help develop my relationship with the canton and the country.

As a foreigner living in Switzerland, I already feel a sense of pride with regard to the various cultural and traditional activities and perspectives, such as the quality of food, the work-life balance, and the deeply ingrained social trust. I fully intend to continue integrating with clubs and activities that promote a connection between local and foreign people and promote a closeness to the vast beauty that is now “in my backyard” in Switzerland.

The immigration program

The Immigration Advisory Center (FMZ), or in German, Fachstelle Migration Zug, is a rich resource for people looking to get connected in their new city. The FMZ offers “New in Zug” and various other introductory meeting sessions that introduce residents to things such as local laws, individual rights, and customs of residing in the area.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

They can also help you start German classes and provide answers about life in Zug in 16 different languages. The Center not only offers courses in German and language tests, but they also have classes about Swiss culture and traditions, plus smart ways to meet new people.

The New in Zug Together program is a series of sessions where you can learn about Zug. An FMZ consultant guides the meet-ups and the theme will vary for each session. Possible topics include authorities, work, insurance, health, cultural differences, and more.

There are sessions in both English and German, so as you improve your German, you can branch out and meet people in a German-speaking environment.

Resources:
https://www.fmzug.ch/en/
https://www.zg.ch/english

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