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Andrey Vasilyev

Living in Switzerland, from Russia

"I was able to connect with other expats in Zurich who enjoy cycling as much as I do and organize weekly rides."

Elin Gustavson

Living in Switzerland, from Sweden

"At the first InterNations event that I attended, I met my wonderful partner. We now live together in a flat next to the Limmat."

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Family, Children, and Education in Switzerland

Switzerland is a popular expat destination with good career opportunities, generous salaries, and a great quality of living. What’s expat life in Switzerland like for families with children, though? Is it difficult to relocate there with your pets? Or to get married in Switzerland? Our guide has the answers.

At first, the Swiss education system might seem confusing to newly arrived expats: actually, there isn’t one system, but 26 of them. As in so many other respects, the various cantons have considerable political autonomy. Therefore, each canton organizes the local education system a little differently, though all of them have to follow certain standards set by the Swiss federal government. What public schools across Switzerland have in common, regardless of their exact location, is an excellent reputation for high-quality education. However, the language barrier could still pose potential problems for expat children. The language of instruction is usually the official language of the respective canton — French, German, or Italian. Expat families with a different native language might prefer to send their kids to one of Switzerland’s many international schools. The latter are, however, private institutions that often charge high tuition fees.

From Crèches to Graduates: Early Childhood Education and Universities in Switzerland

Just like the education system in general, Swiss universities also maintain a great academic reputation both within the country and abroad. Not only do they have a venerable tradition that goes back all the way to the late Middle Ages, but universities in Switzerland — especially the two federal institutes of technology — have kept with the times in terms of cutting-edge research. The ETH Zurich, for example, is associated with 21 Nobel laureates: the most famous probably being a former professor of theoretical physics, Albert Einstein. Unlike in Einstein’s day and age though, plenty of Swiss universities and private business schools now offer degree courses in English to international students. While college and university students are well cared for, it might be more difficult for expats with young children. Again, the standards for childcare in Switzerland are just as outstanding — but full-time day care for preschool kids, particularly those aged below three, is much sought after. It can therefore be rather expensive, which makes it hard for some working parents to balance the demands of their career and the needs of their family.

Wedding Planning and Pets Imports: How to Cut through the Red Tape

Though younger expats coming to live, work, or study in Switzerland might not be thinking about starting a family yet, they might want to get married in Switzerland — the Alps certainly make for a very picturesque and romantic backdrop! However, it’s just as important to take all the legal aspects of a civil wedding ceremony into account. And if you should get married to a Swiss national, this can help you obtain Swiss citizenship much faster than usual. Last but not least, for many expats, pets are equally important members of their family. If you are planning to bring along your four-legged or feathered friends, there are some specific regulations and restrictions to consider, especially with regard to vaccinations against such common diseases as rabies or distemper. The InterNations guide to Switzerland provides this essential information.

InterNations Expat Magazine