Switzerland's expat tribes: Where do you fit in?

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Switzerland's expat tribes: Where do you fit in?
File photo: Depositphotos"

Taxpat, trailing spouse or mountain bum: where you do fit in Switzerland's expat landscape?


The love refugee 

You have been lucky (or unlucky) enough to fall in love with a foreigner and now you are in Switzerland armed with a residence permit. You already know that the Swiss kiss three times when they meet (starting with the right cheek of course). You also know how to host the perfect fondue evening and you've even got the recycling schedule down pat

Catchphrase: "The Swiss are great..once you get to know them." 

How did we end up here? File photo: Depositphotos

The taxpat 

You're here because it's the best place to park some money without people asking too many questions, even though everyone says it isn't like the 'good old days'. It's also nice being in a country where pretty much everyone is rich: it just makes things so much easier. 

Catchphrase: "Do we still have money in the Cayman Islands darling?" 

Read also: 43 habits you pick up living in Switzerland

The trailing spouse 

You are happy enough in Switzerland but something doesn't feel quite right. You've thought of getting a part-time job but there isn't much out there and the whole business of tackling the foreign job market sometimes seems like more effort than it's worth. And if you've got kids, that takes up all your time anyway.

You drop them off and a couple of hours later you have to pick them up again

Catchphrase: "Do you know any good yoga classes?" 

Being a trailing spouse is not always easy. File photo: Depositphotos



The celebrity expat 

There's a bit of crossover with taxpats (see above) on this one. But while both groups like Switzerland because it is discreet, it's the lack of celebrity culture that appeals to these expats.

After all, Switzerland is a country where one of the biggest names in the world can go unrecognised – as Oprah Winfrey learned the hard way

Catchphrase: "Hollywood is just so fake these days." 

Tina Turner is a long-term Zurich resident. Photo: AFP

The author-in-exile 

Following in the footsteps of James Joyce (who is buried in Zurich), Vladimir Nabokov and Herman Hesse, you have either gone into self-imposed exile in Switzerland or have been forced to take refuge here because of civil unrest back home (preferably in a country that no longer exists or that no one has ever heard of).  

Catchphrase: "Is there a foreign language bookshop near here?" 


The corporate expat 

This is 2018 so it must be Zurich. You've already done stints in Hong Kong and London, and Zurich (or Geneva or Zug) is the next stop on the corporate ladder. You like Switzerland well enough but wonder why you still can't seem to save enough money despite your generous salary. 

Catchphrase: "Sure, I've tried learning the language but everyone just speaks English anyway." 

The ski teacher/mountain bum 

Switzerland is a no-brainer. There's skiing in winter, hiking in summer and climbing whenever – not to mention the canyoning, paragliding and mountain biking. 

You're not happy unless you've got a car full of snowboarding equipment and a tent hanging out to dry on the balcony of your chalet.

Catchphrase: "Where did I put those carabiners?" 

You are never too old to be a bum. File photo: Depositphotos

The researcher 

Attracted by the spirit of innovation and the sheer quality of scientific talent (both home-grown and international) in Switzerland, you are taking a path forged by no less a luminary than Albert Einstein. You've got a plum job working on the Cern proton smasher or as a visiting fellow at Zurich's ETH and you are in no hurry to move on. 

Catchphrase: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." 

Albert Einstein held Swiss citizenship. Photo: ACME/AFP

The NGO expat 

Being in Geneva is a necessary evil for you. You are being paid a pittance by Swiss standards, but it means you get to work for an organisation that makes a real difference in the world.  

Catchphrase: "Do Easyjet even fly to Bosnia?" 

The techpat 

You spend half the week in London and half the week in that place in central Switzerland you can't remember the name of. Everything is always half an hour behind schedule, the servers are constantly on the point of crashing and you can't understand why people's eyes keep glazing over when you mention Blockchain. 

Catchphrase: "Why is the WiFi so slow here?" 

Read also: 14 mistakes foreigners make on moving to Switzerland


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