June 29, 2016 - Comments Off on Milburn Lewis – Making the Move Blog. Part III – Zurich, CH
Milburn Lewis is a recruitment business that conducts cross border searchers for our clients, the Big 4 and other international accountancy firms. Most of the professionals we work with are not just considering a career move, but also relocation.
Today, we continue our exploration of Switzerland by traveling to the financial epicentre of Zurich.
Welcome to Zurich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, with a population of over 380,000, and the capital city of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the north western tip of Lake Zürich. It is known as one of the world’s key financial centres.
The canton of Zurich is the largest (by population) of Switzerland’s 26 cantons. When ranked by area, however, Zurich is 7th out of 26th. The city of Zurich is spread across 87.88 km2, which means that you could fit nine Zurich’s into New York City.
The official language of Zurich is Swiss Standard German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect. However, given Zurich’s international importance and high level of foreign residents, one can also expect to hear standard German, English, Italian, and French. This can be helpful for those who wish to make a move to Zurich but are still developing their German language skills.
Like in Geneva, there is a healthy immigrant community in Zurich, with 31% of the city’s population made up of “non-Swiss residents”. This is directly linked to Zurich’s position as a global financial centre, being home to Credit Suisse and UBS, as well as a host of other financial institutions. We find that because of this, Zurich is an extremely attractive location to many working within the Big 4.
The weather in Zurich is similar to the rest of Switzerland – moderate. The hottest month is July with an average temperature of 19 degrees. Not surprisingly, the coldest month is January with an average temperature of 0 degrees. Zurich is, on average, slightly colder than Geneva given its North-eastern location.
Living and Working in Zurich
In 2016, Zurich was placed 2nd in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey. That’s ahead of any city you happen to be living in now – unless you currently reside in Vienna.
Working in Zurich gives professionals the opportunity to work in an international banking capital and a major European commercial centre. The city is known for its high professional standards and excellent networking prospects. Professionals who we’ve helped move to Big 4 firms in Zurich have highlighted that long-term career opportunities can arise from even a relatively short stint in the city.
Zurich is renowned for the importance it puts on ensuring privacy and a high quality of life for its citizens and residents. With excellent public transport and its relatively small size, Zurich offers minimal commutes.
Given Zurich’s cosmopolitan nature, there are also ample opportunities to socialise, network, and relax outside of the working environment. Zurich is home to a myriad of bars, restaurants, and clubs. It also has a great deal to offer those who love museums, art and music, zoos, and beautiful scenery.
Practicalities: Right to Work
The right to work in Zurich is controlled at a Federal level. Since 1998, Switzerland has a dual priority system for the issuance of work permits. This means priority is given to workers from EU member states and a more restrictive admission policy is operated for non-EU citizens.
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but since 2002, a bilateral agreement between the two entities has made entry it easier for EU nationals, as well as citizens from Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. This was extended in 2013, which gave EU citizens full freedom of movement. EU citizens are free to travel to Switzerland, and to live and work there.
If EU citizens are engaged in employment that lasts longer than three months, however, they are required to obtain a residence permit and register with the communal authorities in the place they reside before taking up work. This will almost certainly be the case for professionals seeking employment within one of the Big 4 firms.
Citizens from countries outside of the EU are referred to as “third-country nationals” and the restrictions on their right to live and work are more stringent. If a professional is offered employment in Switzerland, the prospective employer must submit an application to the cantonal immigration or labour market authorities.
The following requirements apply to employment of third-country nationals:
- Persons are admitted when it is in the general economic interest.
- Authorisation is only granted if established quotas have not been used up.
- Third-country nationals may only be hired if no one with equivalent qualifications can be found in Switzerland or in an EU/EFTA member state.
- Only managers, specialists and other qualified workers will be admitted. “Qualified workers” are primarily the holders of higher education qualifications (i.e. from a university or university of applied sciences) who also have specific technical expertise and several years of professional experience. Integration criteria will also be taken into account when issuing residence permits: ability to adjust to a new occupational and social environment, language skills and age.
- Salary and working conditions must also be equivalent to those that apply to Swiss inhabitants.
The Practicalities: Cost of Living in Zurich
The cost of living in Zurich is high. Aside from accommodation, transport, food, and education, you will be required to pay various taxes, license fees, and insurances premiums. But, we at Milburn Lewis strongly believe that this shouldn’t dissuade you from making a move to Zurich.
These costs are more than mitigated by the exceptionally high salaries, high purchasing power, and superb quality of life offered in Zurich. The Big 4 firms in Zurich, and across Switzerland, recognise the costs involved in making a move and award packages accordingly.
When considering accommodation, it is important to realise that most people – including the locals – rent in Zurich. It is a competitive market, which means relatively high rent costs. Like in most European cities, however, the further you move out of the city centre, the cheaper rent becomes. Choosing the area in which to live is an extremely important decision. Taxes in Switzerland differ according to location, and urban centres with have their own specific rates. City areas with wealthy residents and commercial zones often have lower tax rates.
Expats living in Zurich should also get into the habit of recycling. The council tax residents per garbage bag, so it is possible to save a considerable amount by separating their rubbish into plastic, glass, and aluminium and disposing of these at free recycling sites located around the city.
Another outgoing will be healthcare. Under Swiss law, it is compulsory to acquire private healthcare and you will be required to get covered within three months of your arrival. Premiums can cost anything from about 250CHF to more than 500 CHF a month.
Like we’ve already said, however, the cost of living is high in Zurich but so is the quality of life, salaries, and opportunities for career advancement.
Concluding Remarks: Zurich
Zurich is a city that offers Big 4 professionals the opportunity to advance their career, whilst simultaneously achieving an exceptional standard of living. If you’re committed to a move to Zurich, or simply curious to know more about our clients and the roles available, email firstname.lastname@example.org.