Home Living in Switzerland Cultural Integration The expat community in Zurich
Last update on August 31, 2020
Mark Lazell Written by Mark Lazell

The expat community in Zurich enjoys some of the world’s best living standards, with great international schools, good job prospects, a healthy environment, and some of the most stunning scenery on the planet.

Pristine Switzerland’s largest city is synonymous with financial services, insurance, and a great quality of life. Zurich has all the entertainment and cultural amenities that a global metropolis can offer. And not just that: the gorgeous great outdoors literally on the doorstep.

This guide offers a treasure trove of local tips for expat parents living in and around Zurich.

International social clubs in Zurich

In one of the world’s richest countries, it’s appropriate that there should be a wealth of things to do; Zurich and its surroundings are certainly no exception. But even the most extrovert expat explorers need handy introductions sometimes.

There are many social clubs catering to various expat interest groups. Whether you’re into sports, arts, or learning German, your downtime will be well spent.

The American Club of Zurich helps Americans and Canadians adjust to the area, while the Asian Ladies Club of Switzerland in nearby Urdorf says it is “dedicated to promoting a better awareness and understanding of other cultures”. Antipodean cousins can access the New Zealand Association of Switzerland. In a similar vein, the Indian Association Zurich caters to the local Indian community. The Zurich International Women’s Association has members from more than 65 nationalities.

Restaurant terrraces in Zurich

If members’ clubs don’t sound appealing, you can join a meetup. Zurich International Club, for example, has regular social events for expats and Swiss nationals. If sports and fitness are more your bag, then find a willing partner or team to hook up with.

There are also stacks of meetups for families, an excellent way for expat parents – and their children – to make new friends in Zurich.

International schools in Zurich also organize extra-curricular activities for students and their families. From cultural outings to the great outdoors, expat families in Zurich and the wider Canton have access to a wide range of social activities. It’s a very inclusive place to live.

Online outreach in the Zurich area

While you dash headlong into new social circles, you’ll doubtless be courting the online community for the gossip on that great Indian restaurant you’ve heard about, or that amazing hairstylist you so desperately need.

There’s a wealth of information out there. Expats in Zurich and Zurich Expats are both very active Facebook groups, as is the Worldwide People in Zurich group, an online community that also organizes parties, dinners, hikes, and wine tasting.

For a more local perspective, Glocals.com has the lowdown, and claims to offer the classiest socializing in the city.

Who you gonna call? Facebook Mamas

A great resource for the parents of the expat community in Zurich is the Zurich Silver Coast Parents Facebook group. It has more than 2,000 members, along with other local Facebook parenting groups in your new home town.

These “Mama” groups, found in cities all over the world, are geared towards expats with children and are a gold mine of information. Members are all expat-parents, and many have already vanquished the same hurdles you may be facing now. They will helpfully dispense advice on everything from childcare and babysitting to understanding more about Swiss parenting styles. These communities are also a sure-fire way to make friends or find playmates for your little ones, with social events, play-dates or even themed-parties.

Business and pleasure, Swiss-style

For an expat living in Zurich, the boundaries between work and leisure can be pretty blurred, so you may want to broaden your networks beyond colleagues and your immediate social circle.

There are lots of English language, business-focused groups in Zurich for people to network, do business or develop their careers.

The Professional Women’s Group of Zurich is a great international career support network. The Swiss American Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, focuses on bilateral investment and trade; it’s an excellent way to pick up contacts.

The Zurich Professional and Business Networks meetup has more than 800 members and bills itself as a fast-track networking opportunity.

A taste of home away from home

Once you’ve had your fill of fondue and are chock-full of chocolate, thoughts may turn to home cooking. Fortunately, members of the expat community in Zurich and the area are never far from a specialist grocery store. These stores range from inexpensive to high end, and nearly all do home delivery, so satisfying your cravings is never a problem.

Try New Asia Market on Feldstrasse for great Asian veggies for a stir fry or Thai curry. Nishi’s Japan Store on Schaffhauserstrasse is perfect for udon and miso paste. You’ll also find South American, Eastern European, and Turkish and Greek stores in the city, while Americans in need of Betty Crocker Brownie Mix, Twinkies or collard greens need look no further than American Food Avenue.

Embrace the Zurich diversity

Zurich draws people from around the world, and there’s a buzzing expat student scene.

International schools have families, children, and staff of dozens of origins. It’s a perfect embodiment of the Zurich region’s rich cultural diversity.

Families arriving in Zurich and surrounding areas should have little trouble finding their bearings, with many opting to live in Zurich but also Lucerne Zug and Canton Schwyz, she adds.

There is a large community of English speakers as well as English-as-a-second language speakers. Zurich has a diverse landscape that is just perfect for family-friendly extra-curricular activities.