Top ten barriers for expats in Zurich (and how to overcome them)
Who better to ask than an experienced expat and a local native about the highs and lows of life in the Switzerland's biggest city? Sandra Martin and Maria Teresa Arcacia are founders of @ YOUR SERVICE, a company specializing in expertise for expat living.
Having moved from Spain to Switzerland 16 years ago, Maria Teresa enjoys sharing the lessons she has learnt over the years with those new to town. Born in Zurich to Italian parents, Sandra knows all too well what it's like to be a bit of an outsider in Swiss society.
The two joined forces to launch @ YOUR SERVICE, a company that enables expats and foreign professionals to enjoy life in Zurich by tailoring a range of services to the needs of clients in terms of language and cultural needs.
1. Finding time
You're an expat here but you're certainly not alone. Zurich is an attractive city for multinational companies to set up headquarters and bring employees from all over the world. Although you may not be a rarity, finding spare time in the bustle of working life can be. "The free time that you have could be better spent than having to arrange house cleaning or gardening," Sandra says. "That's where we can help by organising everyday services that people need at home. In that way expats can use their free time to be with their family and discover what Zurich has to offer."
2. Experiencing the city
Aside from the job opportunities, there are so many positives about living in Zurich. "It’s a big world and small world in one," Sandra adds. "Cosmopolitan with the advantage of still being small and safe." This beautiful green city, set with the backdrop of the stunning Lake Zurich and great skiing on its doorstep, should be explored. That’s why @ YOUR SERVICE organises events tailored to your needs in every detail, from local experiences to parties and dinners.
3. Making acquaintance
Zurich's residents are notoriously reserved. "It can be difficult to make contact and friends with Swiss people," Sandra says. "The people are not very open but they are happy for others to take the first step. "If you want something, you need to take time to persuade and explain and if you're from the outside that can be difficult."
4. Which language?
Aside from the variations of German (Standard, Swiss and Zurich) there's Swiss French and Italian to contend with. Between them, Sandra and Maria Teresa speak five languages fluently (Spanish, English, German, French and Italian) so conversing is made easy. "We find our language skills opens the doors in finding the right service providers for our clients," Maria Teresa says. "Swiss German is generally used for day-to-day living and official information can only usually be found in German, French and Italian."
5. Local knowledge
"If you don’t have local knowledge, you can miss out," adds Maria Teresa. "We have spent time building up both a personal and professional network and know what’s going on in the city." That goes for everything from arranging grocery shopping and laundry services to advising on the pick of local events to attend. The @ YOUR SERVICE philosophy is all about offering the services you need to ensure you can enjoy your free time without having to worry about a thing.
6. Tackling the tax return
Zurich is well known for it’s attractive, low tax rates but tackling the tax system can be a headache when it comes to filling in your annual tax return. "It's relatively simple compared to other countries but you still need time and an understanding of the Swiss tax regulations," says Maria Teresa. "And making a mistake could prove costly." @ YOUR SERVICE works with professional tax advisors, providing a confidential service to ensure your tax return is completed in compliance with local tax regulations.
7. Family matters
Expats and foreign professionals in Zurich often move with their families in tow - for very good reason. "The standard of education is very attractive," Sandra says. But where do you go if you’re looking for a Spanish-speaking nanny? "With our multicultural background we have a better understanding of what clients require and where to find the solution," Sandra says. "We can tailor our services to the need of the customer in terms of both language and cultural needs."
8. Where to find…?
You might think the task of finding a handyman is a simple case of Do It Yourself. "There are things to consider such as whether they are certified and will carry out the job properly," says Maria Teresa. Remember time you spend looking for a service shouldn’t be more than the time you spend doing it yourself.
9. Friendly advice
Where can you turn when you need advice that’s concise and convenient? With an ambition to provide an efficient service for busy expats, friendly advice is on hand, online. Grown from an ambition to help other expats get the most from their move to Zurich, @ YOUR SERVICE and offers meetings in person or via Skype to discuss your needs in the home or with your family. What’s more you can shop online for household, tax and event services.
10. The right service
It's hard to know what is value for money in a city that provides high quality of life at a high cost. For example, you need caterers for a special party and you don’t want to be overcharged. "We know what you should expect to pay and the quality you should expect at what price," Sandra adds. "With our help you can be sure you are getting what you should for the money you are paying."
Article sponsored by @ YOUR SERVICE
This content was paid for by an advertiser and produced by The Local's Creative Studio.
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