How To Move To Zurich, Tips For Expats
As the world’s financial and scientific center, Zürich is full of expats. How do they manage the feeling of being lost in a new city? We had a talk with Arjanna van der Plas, who recently left the exciting atmosphere of San Francisco for a life in Zürich.
We asked her to compare the different ways of living and share some tips with expats who have plans to move to Switzerland.
“Zürich is our second expat destination. Originally coming from the Netherlands, my husband and I spent 4 years in San Francisco. This tech-center was amazing when it was just the two of us. We loved the city, the outdoors and the job opportunities. My husband worked for Google and me for UC Berkeley, besides running my own coaching business. Today we have two children of 2.5 years and 3.5 months, so we started to look for a more relaxed place. We wanted to move closer to our parents and still have the access to nature. When my husband’s employer offered a relocation to Zurich, we jumped on the opportunity right away!
Photo: Francisco Guijarro
What do you like in Switzerland?
As a kid I spent summers in Switzerland, hiking with my parents and sister, and I still deeply enjoy the outdoors here. We also love child-friendly atmosphere in Zürich and its amazing public transportation. It is so easy to travel around here! And Zürich is very clean compared to San Francisco. Furthermore we love the social equality here. We really struggled with the intense homelessness in San Francisco – I am still working on a blog and a book about the people that live tough lives on the streets of such a rich city.
What is difficult in Zurich?
From my experience the first night in a new city is always difficult. You have no routines, no friends, not really a clue where you are. It feels a little lost – and luckily I was prepared for that from our experience in San Francisco. Other than that, I feel the transition has been pretty smooth so far. But hey, it’s only been two weeks, so according to the expat lifecycle we’re still in the honeymoon phase.
When you’re moving as a couple or as a family, it’s super important to make sure that everyone feels at home in the new country. If you can, take the first week (or two) off to get everything organized and do some fun trips to get to know your new place.
Also, start investing in your social and professional network right away. I went to a fun ‘how to do business in Switzerland’ workshop in my first week, and went to the amazing Zurich Zoo with a local family the day after. It’s so important to surround yourself with good people, especially if you’re far away from home.
And lastly: work with a coach.
That’s kind of obvious for me to say, since I am a coach myself. But in times of transition it is super helpful to have someone who helps you set goals for your new life, and work on getting the right mindset, as moving is known to be one of the most stressful life events.