Life in Switzerland

Life in Switzerland (and guide on moving to Switzerland).

Swiss cities consistently rank among the best in the world to live. From beautiful architecture to safe streets and scenic nature, Switzerland shines with optimism and energy.

We’ve put together a list of Switzerland’s most remarkable qualities, a suggestion on the best region to live in and a simple guide on how to move to Switzerland.

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What living on a summer’s day in the Basel Area could look like.

You start the day off with a coffee and a light breakfast in one of the many cafes at the Rhine river in Basel. Then you take a stroll along the river and maybe even a quick swim to cool off. You hop on your bike, ride it across the border to Germany and start exploring the cute city center of Lörrach. You decide to stroll around the farmer’s market where you buy strawberries from a local farmer and pick up some bread.

After you are done with your shopping, you ride your bike over the border to Saint-Louis, France. You enjoy a traditionally French apéro with some charcuterie, cheese and wine.

This is Basel

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Maybe you are more excited for the outdoors? Good for you – grab your backpack, pick a train and explore the countryside. Follow one of the exceptionally well signaled hiking routes in the cantons of Basel-Landschaft and Jura that lead to wonderful castles and lovely spots to enjoy your picnic.

You go back to Basel for a nightcap, soaking up the vibrant nightlife before you head back home and go to bed.

Sounds like a dream, right? For people in the Basel Area, it’s a regular Saturday.

Statistics and studies on quality of life in Switzerland and around the world.

Anecdotes are nice. But what about hard evidence?

There are several studies and polls we can show to figure out what countries provide the best life, now and in the future.
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Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index

Numbeo is a crowd-sourced global database. To this date, 629,448 contributors have added information about the quality of life in their country to create the Quality of Life Index.

In Numbeo’s Quality of Life Index, Switzerland ranks #1.
Life in Switzerland index icon
OECD Better Life Index

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) produces independent analysis and statistics with most data coming from official sources such as the National Accounts, United Nations Statistics or National Statistics Offices.

OECD’s most popular statistic is the Better Life Index.

The OECD’s Better Life Index shows that Switzerland excels in dimensions like jobs and education but also in health, environmental quality, safety and life satisfaction.
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Where-to-be-born index

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s where-to-be-born index attempts to measure which country will provide the best life in the years ahead. It links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective factors of quality of life across countries and estimates the quality of life in the future.

The latest index, created in 2013, attempts to measure the quality of life for 2030.

In the Economist’s Where-to-be-born index, Switzerland ranks #1.

Find out what the Basel Area has to offer.

Is Switzerland a good place to live?

Boasting high ranks on various independent indices is a strong feat. But deriving valuable insights beyond comparing one country to another is impossible from those data points alone.

Instead of diving deep into the numbers, we put the benefits of living in Switzerland into words.

Everything is well-organized and on time.

The Swiss are notorious for always being on time. If you make dinner plans with a Swiss person, you can be sure they’ll show up on the minute and even the most secluded locations have punctual public transportation.

Traveling to and from Switzerland is easy.

Switzerland is at the heart of Europe, bordering five countries: Italy, France, Germany, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein. It’s well connected with highways, seven airports and even waterways that allow you to travel to other countries by boat.

This makes traveling and exploring Europe very easy. Many Swiss people enjoy beach vacations in the summer in France or Italy, go shopping in Germany and take a skiing trip to Tirol, Austria.

Top-notch educational system.

Switzerland boasts a high-quality education system, with practice-based basic education, outstanding public education, international schools, and world-class universities.

The Swiss education system relies almost entirely on public funds, making schools and universities inexpensive and easily accessible. Swiss universities like ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne rank among the top 10 universities worldwide in several indices.

Jobs pay well.

According to the most recent official statistics, the Swiss earn a gross monthly wage of CHF 6,538 (EUR 6,250, USD 7,070, GBP 5,230).

And although there is no official minimum wage, almost every company pays a decent living wage for skilled or unskilled employees.

If you want to know how much you’d earn working in Switzerland, use the national wage calculator.

Switzerland wage calculator.

The political system makes for stability and safety.

Switzerland established its neutrality over 200 years ago in the Treaty of Paris in 1815. Since then, it hasn’t participated in any armed or political conflicts between other countries.

The stability of the country is also due to a political system in which seven members of the biggest parties form the government.

It’s a direct democracy.

Direct democracy is a substantial part of Switzerland’s culture and identity. Because of it, voters don’t have to choose representatives but can vote on initiatives themselves and directly impact their municipality, canton or even the whole country.

Also, any Swiss citizen can launch a nationwide initiative if they collect at least 100,000 signatures in 18 months.

Basel is a beautiful city. It provides great infrastructure and a rich academic landscape

Raj Prakash GCo-founder and CEO of Zifo RnD Solutions

It’s very safe.

You can be alone on the streets around the clock without having to fear becoming a victim of a crime. You can walk home after a fun night out or go for a midnight stroll when you can’t sleep. Children go to school unaccompanied and usually on foot and by bike.

According to the Global Peace Index, with an average of 5.4 violent crimes committed per 1,000 inhabitants, Switzerland is the 7th safest county in the world.

Taxes are fairly low.

The amount of taxes you pay in Switzerland depends on many factors like your income, marital status, various deductions, religion and even the municipality you live in.

The average net tax for a single worker in Switzerland was 17.1% in 2020.

Find out how much you’d pay in taxes in Switzerland with Tagesanzeiger’s interactive tax comparison.

Tagesanzeiger tax comparison.

The Swiss healthcare system is among the best.

Some say the healthcare system in Switzerland is the best in the world. In the latest survey conducted in eleven countries by the Commonwealth Fund Foundation, 88% of the 2,284 people surveyed in Switzerland rate the overall performance of Switzerland’s health system as good or very good. The hospitals and clinics are clean and well-equipped, the waiting lists are short, patients can choose their doctors and emergency rooms are rarely overwhelmed.

Healthcare is mandatory but still privatized. You’re free to choose one of the many insurance providers and put together a healthcare package that fits you.

Nature in Switzerland is just as beautiful as you imagine it.

You’re now thinking of the towering alps, the blue lakes, and the infinite cow pastures, right? Switzerland is all that.

But are you also thinking about the Mediterranean climate of Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland? The clear, fresh water available at every tap in the country? Or the variety of flora and fauna?

Switzerland is all that, too.

The best place to live in Switzerland: The Basel Area.

All of Switzerland has the above-described qualities. They’re amplified and enhanced by other great unique qualities in some places. 

The Basel Area is the one place that combines all Swiss qualities with its own traits like no other.

Swiss people are sometimes described as cold towards foreigners.This stereotype is not true for the Basel Area. Located between three countries and with a high foreign population, the Basel Area is Switzerland’s “Capital of Culture”. Many cultures and lifestyles melt into a unique ensemble, creating a place of diversity and inclusion.

I’ve found that Basel is very internationally minded and open to newcomers.

Vas NarasimhanCEO of pharmaceutical company Novartis
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Getting bored while living in the Basel Area is almost impossible.

Whether you like fine dining, partying, shopping, hiking, arts or sports, everything is easily accessible. Have breakfast in Switzerland, lunch in Germany and dinner in France to treat your palate. Shop international top-brands and discover local artisans.

Visit one of the 40 museums or numerous art galleries and theaters.

There are many museums in the Basel Area – and they are fantastic: Like the world-renowned Fondation Beyeler, situated in a lush park in Riehen. The museum presents artists from the 19th, 20th and 21st century. On “24 Stops” or Rehberger-Weg, you experience the countryside and 24 waymarkers created by the artist Tobias Rehberger which brings you to the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein.

The Basel Area is famous for arts, culture – and even sports.

If you are interested in arts and culture, make sure to visit:

  • Kunstmuseum Basel – changing art exhibitions in a stunning building in Basel
  • Museum.BL – the exhibitions are always very hands-on, entertaining and educational, ideal with kids to spend a day in Liestal
  • Theater Basel – theatre, opera and ballet in the center of Basel
  • Jurassica – in Porrentruy, you discover the footprints of dinosaurs that strolled around the area millions of years ago

Enjoy botanical gardens, hike through cool valleys in summer, or go bobsledding and skiing in the Alps in winter.

And while we talk about sports

Did you know that the tennis star Roger Federer is a Basel Area native? The Basler Verkehrs-Betriebe even dedicated a tram to their local hero.

Healthcare and education play a big role in your and your family’s well-being. The Basel Area has the highest concentration of doctors and hospital beds in Switzerland and includes world-class clinics like the University Hospital of Basel. You’ll also find a tailor-made education for your family. Your children can be educated in their native language and study at one of more than 42 foreign-speaking schools. They’ll be well prepared for school-leaving exams in their home country, be it the Abitur (diploma), international baccalaureate, or the admission requirements for an American university.

A Bavarian’s life in Switzerland

Hans-Florian Zeilhofer, surgeon, entrepreneur and Bavarian. He has lived and worked in Basel for 18 years. Has founded various startups and initiated many research projects in the high-tech sector. He particularly appreciates the short distances, the proximity to the border and the dynamic ecosystem.

Find all our podcasts here

If you plan on moving to Switzerland, here’s how you do it.

A simple guide on moving to Switzerland.

To move to Switzerland, you have to obtain the correct permit first

There are various permits, divided into two categories: nationals of EU-27/EFTA countries and third-country nationals.

All official permits for living in Switzerland

To apply for a permit, you need to contact the Cantonal immigration and employment market authorities of the canton you want to move to.

But before you do that, make sure you meet all the requirements. Those requirements are based on your working status and nationality.

Moving to Switzerland as an EU/EFTA national.

To stay longer than the permit-free 90 days period, just prove you have adequate accident and health insurance and the financial means to support yourself. If you’re a student, you also have to present your matriculation certificate to prove you’re enrolled at an educational institution.

If you fit the criteria, apply for a permit at the Cantonal immigration and employment market authorities. The permit will be valid for five years and automatically gets extended for another five as long as you meet the criteria. Students’ permits are valid for the duration of their studies.

Moving to Switzerland as a non-EU/EFTA national.

Just as EU/EFTA nationals, you can apply for a permit at the Cantonal immigration and employment market authorities if you can prove you can support yourself financially and have adequate accident and health insurance.

If you’re a student, you also have to present:

  • a personal study plan indicating the goal of their studies.
  • proof of admission to a recognized educational institution (matriculation certificate).
  • curriculum vitae.
  • confirmation that they will leave Switzerland at the end of their studies.

For more information on how to move to Switzerland, visit the official website.

ch.ch: Easy answers about life in Switzerland

Find out what the Basel Area has to offer.

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As the region’s innovation promotion agency, Basel Area Business & Innovation offers consultation and connections to help companies, entrepreneurs, and startups launch and grow innovative ventures. The DayOne Accelerator, as an example, has expanded its offerings and is supporting startups and companies that specialize in the fields of digital health prevention, diagnostics and treatment, no matter where they are located.

Furthermore, we provide introductions and help you build your network, we host events and workshops, and we help you get access to resources from funding to mentoring, accelerator programs, and collaborative workspaces.

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