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Moving to Switzerland from the UK

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Home to Lindt chocolate, shimmering lakes, and the stunning Swiss Alps, Switzerland is renowned for being an attractive destination for expats. What makes the country so desirable? It’s safe, clean, and its residents enjoy a long life expectancy.

Over the years, it has been a popular choice for celebrities, including Phil Collins, Shania Twain, and Tina Turner.

The standard of living is high, and its economy is stable, with low unemployment. Salaries are among the highest in the world, and working conditions are good. While the cost of living can be expensive, it remains one of the most sought-after destinations in the world for expats.

There’s plenty to consider before relocating to Switzerland from the UK. To help, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide. Have a read-through, and you’ll be on your way!

Table of Contents

Switzerland residence permit

Switzerland has a large foreign population and has traditionally been welcoming to migrants. However, this could be changing as the Swiss government comes under increasing pressure to limit migration and impose stricter conditions on residency permits.

For citizens of the EU/EFTA, travelling to Switzerland is unrestricted, but a visa is required to stay. Since the UK is no longer part of the EU, British nationals are classified as non-EU/EFTA.

Fortunately, post-Brexit, a withdrawal agreement was struck with the EU that allows British citizens to stay in Switzerland for up to 90 days without a visa. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but is part of EFTA, so the same rule applies.

If you wish to obtain Swiss residency, you must contact the local cantonal migration office in the area where you plan to live. Swiss cantons are subject to the same laws, but certain cantons may have their specific requirements for residence and work permits.

Brexit has made relocating to new countries incredibly difficult for many British people, and Switzerland is no exception.

If you’re interested in moving to another country on the continent, such as Spain, our guide on moving to Spain after Brexit should provide you with further information.

Types of Swiss residence permit

There are various kinds of Swiss residence permits designed to suit different needs. The L permit is valid for one year and cannot be renewed. The B permit is also valid for one year but can be renewed.

The C permit is classified as a permanent residence and is available to UK citizens after 10 years of living in Switzerland. Additionally, permits exist for relatives, asylum-seekers and cross-border workers.

Having a C permit and a decade of continuous residence allows UK citizens to apply for Swiss citizenship. This grants them the right to vote and binds them to other Swiss rules, such as military service for young men.

moving to Switzerland from the UK
There are various kinds of Swiss residence permits designed to suit different needs.

Should I buy Or Rent a Property in Switzerland?

Property prices are expensive, and there’s a lengthy buying process and stringent restrictions for foreign buyers. As a result, many expats opt to rent property in Switzerland, but buying is still an option.

If you hold a Swiss C residence permit, you can buy property in Switzerland as a UK citizen. This permit grants the same rights as Swiss citizens so that you can purchase an investment property, holiday home, commercial premises or permanent residence.

It is also possible to buy property in Switzerland with a Swiss B residence permit, although you won’t have all the rights of a C permit and can only purchase a property to live in.

Obtaining a Swiss mortgage is usually involved when buying property in Switzerland. A Swiss bank will assess the value of the property before offering you a loan. Generally, a 20% deposit is needed to secure the mortgage.

House prices in Switzerland are high, but transaction fees are relatively low. Buyers can expect to pay between 0.25-3.55% of the property’s cost in transaction costs. These costs include a real estate transfer tax, registration, and notary fee.

Living in Switzerland

Switzerland has four national languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh – and a diverse population. The Swiss are known for their inclusivity and neutrality, so it’s best to avoid ostentatious displays of wealth.

When greeting locals, make sure to use the appropriate language – salü, hoi, grüetzi, or ciao.

The work culture in Switzerland is quite formal. Until you’re told otherwise, it’s best to maintain a professional attitude in the workplace.

The boundaries between work and personal life tend to be quite clear. Swiss workers usually address each other by their surnames.

Tax in Switzerland

As a non-resident of Switzerland, you will only be subject to Swiss withholding tax on certain income originating in the country. This includes dividends from Swiss companies and particular interest income from Swiss sources.

Other forms of income, such as rental income from property situated in Switzerland or business profits from business activities conducted there, may be subject to taxation depending on the extent of your involvement and whether you are running them through a Swiss entity.

Tax is levied at the cantonal level in Switzerland, with 26 different cantons having their own individual tax rules. Thus, income tax can range from 0% to close to 30%, depending on the canton you live in.

Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged at 8%, except in the case of food and children’s clothing.

Swiss healthcare system
If you are living or working in Switzerland for more than three months, you must get health insurance from a Swiss health insurance company.

The Swiss healthcare system

The Swiss healthcare system is renowned as one of the best in the world.  It’s also known for being expensive. This cost is usually covered through compulsory health insurance.

If you are living or working in Switzerland for more than three months, you must get health insurance from a Swiss health insurance company. This can be done either through private insurance companies or through the state-run ‘Grundversicherung’ option.

It’s important to note that having your healthcare covered by your employer does not count as health insurance.  You must still either pay into a private policy or take out state-run cover.

Essential info for Switzerland



Official languages:

Swiss German, French, Italian, and Romansch

Capital city:



Swiss Franc (CHF)

International dialling code:


Emergency numbers:

Police 117

Ambulance 144

Fire 118

General emergency 112





Internet TLD:


Drives on the:



Not obligatory as there is a service charge of 10-15% added to restaurant bills, as well as at other establishments. However, if you feel the service you have received is exemplary, then it is purely a matter of personal choice whether you leave a tip or not.

Unusual fact:

In Switzerland everything is closed on a Sunday.

Property information

Due to the low mortgage interest rates, now is an ideal time to purchase property in Switzerland. It can be expensive to get on the property ladder here. Houses and apartments come at a high cost, and the price tag may be too hefty for some.

Property owners in Switzerland are in the minority, with two-thirds of the population living in rented accommodation.

Buying property in Switzerland

Buying a property in major cities and towns is more expensive than in less populated areas, with prices varying greatly from region to region.

You can pay less than 3,000 CHF per m² in more remote and lesser-known areas, whereas in more desirable ones, the price can exceed 12,000 CHF per m². The average price per square metre in Zurich is 11,500 CHF; in Geneva, it is 11,000 CHF.

Luxury properties are widely available, and apartments tend to be modern, usually featuring balconies, communal parking and playgrounds. They are usually listed by the number of rooms, not including bathrooms or kitchens.

If you want to purchase a property, you need to put down a minimum deposit of 20% in order to qualify for a mortgage.

Cost of moving to Switzerland

Switzerland, being landlocked, does not have an allocated port for sending your items like other coastal countries. But you can still deliver your belongings to Switzerland by combining different transport methods.

Switzerland living costs
Salaries in Switzerland may be high, but the cost of living is too.

Living costs

Salaries in Switzerland may be high, but the cost of living is too. According to a survey of 207 cities worldwide, Zurich, Geneva, and Bern placed in the top ten of the most expensive places to live.


A meal for two in a restaurant usually costs around 100 CHF. In Geneva and Zurich, it would usually be around 120 CHF, and in Bern and Lausanne, it would be around 70 CHF.

When it comes to grocery shopping, the costs can vary between cantons. To give you an example, a small shopping list consisting of milk, bread, eggs, potatoes, cheese and apples would typically cost between 30 and 40 CHF. Zurich is on the higher end of this range, while Lausanne is on the lower end.


Renting out property in Switzerland can be expensive, with one-bedroom apartments in the city centre costing between 1,000 and 2,000 CHF a month. Three-bedroom apartments usually range from 2,000 to 4,000 CHF a month.

Of the major cities, Geneva and Zurich are the most expensive cities, while Basel and Bern are more reasonably priced. Lausanne is somewhere in between, with an average rent for a three-bedroom apartment of 3,000 CHF.


Travelling in Switzerland can be expensive. Taxis charge about 18 CHF per 3km, while public transport is slightly cheaper at 3 CHF for a one-way ticket. On average, petrol costs 1.40 CHF per litre.

Living in Switzerland pros and cons
Swiss citizens have a high rate of employment and a good salary, as well as a long life expectancy.

Living in Switzerland pros and cons

Living in Switzerland has its perks, and it also has its downsides. It’s up to you to decide which aspects of Swiss life you find attractive and which ones you don’t. To give you some insight, here’s a list of the pros and cons of living in Switzerland.


  • Beautiful Nature – Switzerland is a stunning country, especially for nature lovers. You can find plenty of activities to do in the Swiss Alps, as well as in the Central Plateau, woodlands, and wetlands.
  • High Quality of Life – The Swiss enjoy a high quality of life, according to the OECD Better Life Index. Swiss citizens have a high rate of employment and a good salary, as well as a long life expectancy.
  • Delicious Food – Switzerland is known for its cheese and chocolate, but there are many other delicious options. You can find over 450 types of cheese, 200 variations of bread and pastries, and more chocolate than you can imagine.


  • Expensive Living – Switzerland has one of the highest costs of living in the world. The monthly expenses for a family of four, without rent, is estimated at Fr.5,374 (£4,206). For a single person, it’s Fr.1,459 (£1,142) per month without rent.
  • Formal Culture – Swiss culture is formal and organized. This can be a culture shock for those who come from more relaxed countries. It can also be difficult to form close relationships with Swiss natives, so expats may find themselves in a withdrawn community.

Looking To Sell a Property?

If you’re trying to sell a property before moving to Switzerland, Property Saviour are the experts.

Here is why sellers trust us:

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.

Sell with certainty & speed

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