Moving an IT specialist to Switzerland: the relocation process, cost of living, useful links

Switzerland is consistently in the top of all country ratings in terms of living standards. For instance, here it is in 7th place, and rating Numbeo puts her in second position. At the same time, the country has a fairly developed IT sphere, there are offices of many large companies, so many engineers come here. In our new article, we’ve collected useful information about what to expect when moving. Go!

Introduction: IT in Switzerland

Business is actively developing in the country – by 8.5 million people every year opens almost 45 thousand new companies, and this figure is growing. It is noteworthy that more new businesses appear in Switzerland annually than, for example, in Austria, where the population is 1.5 million more people.

In addition, Switzerland is one of the European startup hubs. For example, in Zurich there are a sufficient number of incubators, accelerators, meetups and, in general, an extremely developed ecosystem… Back in 2018, Swiss-registered startups venture capitalists from all over the world invested $ 1 billion. The country is the place where biotechnology, fintech, etc. are developing most actively throughout Europe.

The country has a well-developed Internet and everything related to IT. Suffice it to say that with a population of 8.5 million people, the global network enjoy more than 7.3 million inhabitants.

According to FDI Intelligence and TNW Tech, Zurich takes 14th place in the ranking of “technological cities of the future”, ahead of Moscow, Prague and Edinburgh.

Visa and work permit

It is not easy to obtain a work permit in Switzerland, special for people who are not citizens of countries belonging to the European Union or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, EU countries + Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

There are quotas for hiring foreign specialists. At the same time, in order to invite a foreigner to work, the employer must prove that it is not possible to find an employee in the EU and EFTA countries for this position. In particular, among the evidence may be a vacancy posted on local job boards, which has been hanging for a long time, and a list of candidates who did not come up with an indication of the reasons for refusal.

After receiving the offer, in order to enter the country you need to obtain a national visa type D – just an open tourist Schengen visa will not work. The visa will be valid for several months, during which you need to obtain a residence permit – a special ID card with which you can already travel throughout the EU (you will also need to take your passport with you).

Labor market

IT professionals and engineers have many options for where to go to work. Here are some of the major companies in Switzerland:

  • Google,

  • Facebook

  • HP


  • DELL

  • IBM

  • Logitech

This is not to mention a large number of banks and all the same startups.

The Swiss economy is stable, and the country’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world – in March 2020 it made up 4.3%, which is significantly less than 6.4% for the EU as a whole.

Swiss government published on its website a list of key sectors of the economy, including information technology:

  • Agriculture

  • mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and metalworking

  • tourism

  • trade

  • media

  • chemical and pharmaceutical industry

  • watchmaking

  • banks and insurance companies

  • retail

For 2020 in Switzerland open over 78,000 vacancies. Among the sectors where the shortage of personnel is felt most acutely are the spheres of finance, IT and everything related to engineering.

Salaries in Switzerland are at a high level compared to the EU. In 2018, the median gross salary exceeded 6.5 thousand local francs (more than € 6,000). The highest salaries in Zurich are almost 7,000 CHF.

The country does not officially have a concept of the minimum wage, but usually in labor contracts include figures 2,200-4,200 per month for low-skilled workers and 2,800-5,300 for skilled workers.

Speaking more specifically about IT, salaries here are much higher than average. So by data service PayScale Software Engineer in Zurich can count on an annual salary of up to 98,000 CHF before taxes, and a Senior developer even up to 113,000 CHF per year (share more relevant data in the comments, if you have them – we will add to the post edits).

IT companies are quite active in hiring even despite the pandemic – on job sites Google and Facebook one can find various positions from Data Science to ML and Computer Vision.

An important point to consider when relocating to Switzerland is that there are 4 official state languages. Therefore, many local companies want to see in their ranks people who speak not only English – German, Italian or French are in great demand and can be a plus. This, however, does not apply to giants like Google and Facebook, such companies are ready to relocate engineers with knowledge of English.


The tax system in Switzerland is three-tier – there are federal taxes, as well as fees levied at the cantonal and municipal level. At the same time, the total amounts depend on many factors, including the level of income, marital status, the availability of work for the spouse, the number of children, etc.

As a result, the analogue of the Russian personal income tax for a married engineer with a child and a salary of 100 thousand francs per year can be at the level of 5.5%, and a single and childless person with the same income can pay 10%.

It is the complexity of the calculations that leads to the fact that many use special calculators to calculate taxes – both federal and cantonal. Here example such a calculator.

Rent and cost of living

All specialists who have moved to Switzerland unanimously note the difficulties in finding housing. In the local market, demand significantly exceeds supply, and rather strict requirements are applied to tenants.

The minimum package of documents required to conclude a contract:

  • work contract

  • summary

  • written application

The rental price strongly depends on the location of the apartment and the city. For example, an apartment of 3.5 rooms (3 bedrooms and a common hallway-living room) in Zurich is not in the very center will cost from 2000-2200 CHF per month. This amount usually includes utility bills, but electricity is paid separately. To conclude a rental contract, they usually ask for 3 monthly payments – the first and last month plus a deposit.

The vast majority of apartments are rented unfurnished. Moreover, the kitchen is usually fully equipped with everything you need.

Among other compulsory expenses – in Switzerland, all residents are required to have insurance. Newcomers to the country are given three months to search for and issue a policy. If this is not done, then the state will issue the insurance “by force” at a not very favorable rate. At the same time, even if you pay for insurance at the end of the third month, invoices will come from the first month of your stay – after all, you cannot be uninsured in Switzerland. All this can result in significant costs at the start.

Usually, local medical insurance has a deductible – the amount that needs to be spent on medicine, after which the insurance already fully covers the costs. The deductible can be 300/500/1000/1500/2000/2500 CHF for adults and 0/100/200/300/400/500/600 for children. The higher it is, the cheaper the insurance. For example, the cost of insurance for an adult with a CHF 500 deductible could be CHF 400 per month. It is not so easy to understand all this, therefore some insurance companies also offer on their websites calculators for calculation.

In general, Switzerland is much more expensive than Russia. By data site Numbeo, in order to maintain the usual standard of living, which in Moscow you can have with a salary of 200 thousand rubles, in Zurich you will need almost 630 thousand!

Leisure and entertainment

Switzerland is a country with gorgeous nature, and there are many opportunities for recreation here. There are always ski resorts within a couple of hours drive from major cities. For example, Flumserberg – skiing in winter and mountain biking in summer. There are bicycle paths in the forests, and hiking is also very developed in the country.

On the lakes, which are also numerous in the country, you can go boating, yachting, and water sports. Many parks have special barbecue areas.

If you want to go to the sea – 4-6 hours by car, and you are on the Mediterranean coast of Italy.


Compared to Russia, Switzerland is very expensive, overheated real estate market, rather strict migration requirements. At the same time, Switzerland is a beautiful country located in the center of Europe, which opens up wide opportunities for travel, there is gorgeous nature. And what is even more important for IT specialists, everything related to technology is developing at a rapid pace in the country. An engineer will find work here at both a hot start-up and an IT giant like Google and Facebook.

Use the g-mate bot (@g_jobbot) to receive vacancies according to your profile with the possibility of relocation to the USA, Hungary, the Netherlands and dozens of other countries directly in Telegram. Companies can post the first 3 vacancies for free – go link

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