So what has happened since we moved to Switzerland at the end of July? We’ve been rather busy for our first 3 months expat experience in Switzerland. Here we want to highlight the formalities when it comes to 3 months living in Switzerland and the topics such as work, housing, banking, health insurance and life in general.
Since our interesting Swiss customs experience between Germany and Switzerland, and settling in from sorting everything out (health insurance, city registration, residence permit etc), we are finally at the stage that (nearly!) everything is complete. Below I’ve shared more in detail about the final steps and how long it actually took us to sort things out, for those who may be going through the similar process.
As like our other expat related posts, this is based on our 100% experience of moving from the Netherlands to Switzerland, while being EU citizens.
PS: All photos shared here are taken during our last 3 months in Ticino too!
Regarding work in Switzerland, everything has been going great for our expat experience in Switzerland. I have been able to work without any issues with my old team from the Netherlands, so not much actually changed except for being located in Switzerland instead of the Netherlands. Since covid we were already doing most work related things from home, so this also helped keep it easy since I just work from home from another country now.
I am however now looking for a new job locally or one that I can do from home. This is simply because I cannot stay working for the same Dutch team since this is ultimately a Netherlands based role supporting Netherlands colleagues only. So if you have any tips for a HR position in Switzerland, let me know!
Getting my residence permit definitely took a lot longer than expected. I had of course applied for this way back at the beginning of July before I had even left the Netherlands. There were a few mishaps along the process, such as my application needing original signatures instead of the digital signatures that was used. So this delayed the permit by a few weeks.
Once they had the application form with original signatures, I received a permit appointment for 2 weeks later. I expected this appointment to be in Bellinzona, where I also sent my application for the permit. However the small corridor like office for this was actually in Lugano. The appointment was easy, which I had only this week. They simply check your passport and confirm the dates of employment and entry into Switzerland. They also took my photo and signature for the official residence card and it will be sent to me within 1 week.
I indeed get this within 1 week in the post. So that worked out well in the end!
TIP: When we moved house from Locarno to Lugano (see ‘Housing’ paragraph below), It’s required to also inform the immigration office of course of this change. You can use the online form to complete the change of address, but you still have to print, sign and send this via the post to Bellinzona. You have to make sure to send your actual permit to the office too, as they need the original card to make the changes. It took about 2 weeks for me to get this card back in the post. This seems to be all part of the expat experience in Switzerland for the usual residence permit process!
This was the easiest expat experience in Switzerland thing that I actually had set up while in my very first week of Switzerland expat experience in Switzerland. I had received a few quotas via comparis.ch and after choosing the right one for me, it was all sorted within a week. The only thing I had to confirm to them was the city registration, which I already had proof of when I registered with the Locarno city hall.
So my health insurance was all arranged via email and I received confirmation letters and info via an online portal of the health insurance I choose, so I can log into now easily. I get all my post digitally through the online portal too.
Our Kitty Szila
Regarding our cat, since leaving the Netherlands she settled into the airbnb brilliantly. It took her only a few days to really adjust to the new home (which was much bigger than our NL home). We made sure to update her chip with the correct address of our Locarno airbnb location for the first 2 months, and then when we moved to Lugano we did the same. So she’s been correctly registered at each place, just incase she would get lost.
She sure is enjoying Swiss life with our expat experience in Switzerland!
As mentioned in our Moving To Switzerland post, we were for 2 months at an airbnb in Locarno (which worked out brilliantly with lovely hosts!). So for our 3rd month in Switzerland, we decided to move to a short/long term stay location in Lugano. This gives us more time to live in a place where we can register at, as well as give us more time to find a place of our own that we like and want to rent more long term. What is great about the location is that they have furnished apartments, which you can extend on a monthly basis, so its very flexible to extend while still looking for somewhere more permanent.
TIP: When moving house, you have to make sure to deregister from one city hall and then register at the new city hall location. Even within the same canton! So I have to deregister from Locarno and then register in Lugano. This was pretty easy to do as i just had to show my face with a few documents to confirm (rental contract/passport etc).
We will make a separate post about how the finding-a-permanent-home in Ticino situation has gone once we get to that stage. But for now we will be enjoying winter in Lugano from our temporary apartment.
So getting a bank account has actually been rather difficult in the first 2 months. Most, if not all Swiss banks would not allow you to open an account without an actual residence permit. Except for N26, but I did not want this personally. After at least 1.5 months, I received a piece of paper from the Bellinzona immigration office confirming that my permit would be granted. However this piece of paper was also not enough to open the account at the bank of my choice, so I actually had to wait until I had the actual card. And since my permit was delayed due to the digital signature issue at the start, it took a longer process to get the permit.
So from the end of July until the beginning of September, my company was able to process my Swiss salary to my original Dutch bank account luckily. Then from mid September onwards, my bank account was finally processed and opened as soon as I received my residence card in the post.
TIP: I ended up opening the bank account with PostFinance via their app. I had to update my Google settings to show I was based in Switzerland and not the Netherlands anymore, which then let me download their app. With the app you can open an account very easily with a few questions you need to complete.
Then you can set up a virtual call with one of their customer service team via the app and share your passport and residence card via the call – efficient! After this call, I had my account set up within 2 days online and the card was sent to me within 7 days.
Life In General
Last but not least is about life in Switzerland in general, and wow what fun we have had. Since being based in Locarno and then Lugano, as well as moving during summer, it has been amazing. Not only have we explored many local waterfalls and swimming spots, we have spent weekends hiking local mountains, dining in local cafes, drinking way too many aperol spritz by the lake side and soaking in all the sunshine that Ticino has to offer.
Some spots we have fallen in love within Ticino with include; Ascona (with the most prettiest lake restaurants in the canton!), Lavertezzo (think crystal clear waters!) and of course we enjoy the city of Lugano and walking along the pretty promenade as much as possible, even in the rain!
Thank you for reading out expat experience in Switzerland post. We hope you found it interesting and helpful!