So you’re planning (or have already made) the move from Switzerland to London, and even though the two countries are only around 700 miles apart (and easily commutable via plane), there are lots of differences between the two.
…And it’s that very reason that makes moving to London such an exciting experience.
With that in mind, here are 8 essential tips for those relocating from Switzerland to London that will help your move go as smoothly as possible.
1. Understand how to stay in touch with home
We’re not simply talking about phone calls and emails… No, what is important for most expats is keeping solid links with their home country.
Swiss Info is a great place to understand how you can still carry out such tasks as voting at home, and be part of the many discussions that expats have while enjoying their new home country.
Of course, the above-mentioned phone calls back home are also an important issue.
If you’re moving to London on a permanent or semi-permanent basis, then speak to your chosen telephone provider in the UK (such as BT, EE, Sky, etc.) about Switzerland becoming a preferred destination (and therefore subject to preferential calling rates).
2. Learn the ‘rules’ of the underground
Odd as it might seem, there is definitely an etiquette involved in using London’s underground train system – known as “The Tube.”
Run by Transport for London, most Londoners have a love-hate relationship with this national institution.
The Tube covers pretty much every part of London. It’s the most cost-effective method and quickest way of getting around the city – and if you’re moving to London, you’re going to become familiar with it pretty fast!
Having a little bit of inside knowledge before you venture to this subterranean level will give you a massive advantage.
- This is the most important of all: when using the escalators, if you’re standing still, be sure to stand on the right. Blocking the left hand side of the moving staircase so stressed commuters can’t get past you is the one thing guaranteed to see you fall victim to other Londoners disapproving looks and loud “tuts” of annoyance.
- When waiting for a train, always let passengers off first – and that’s even more crucial in rush hour when everyone is fighting for their little bit of personal space.
- The carriages at the front nearly always have fewer people in them. During peak periods, this can be the difference between managing to get on a train or not. If you get the chance, move right down the platform to the end so you can get on the first one or two carriages.
3. Get clued up with the might of the Internet
Thanks to the ease of communication via the Internet, this is a great place to get information about your soon to be new home.
Internations is a good first stop to hook up with those from your homeland. Here you can ask questions about your move from those who’ve already made it.
The website also organises many events where you can actually meet up with your online friends once you’ve arrived.
On a similar theme, Meet Up has a London Swiss Expat group of over 360 Swiss nationals living in the city. The group welcomes new members and organises trips and various events throughout the year.
4. Get the best rates on currency conversion
Getting the best rate when you convert your Swiss Francs to Pounds is vitally important. We all want to get the most for our money.
Forget the banks and move to one of the exchange agencies that specialise in doing just this. Companies such as ACE-FX and HiFx allow you to do this seamlessly, securely, and with some of the best financial rates that beat the banks.
5. Know your embassy
The Embassy of Switzerland in the United Kingdom is the official house of Switzerland in London. Here you can find all the information you need about emigration, about numbers of Swiss nationals living here and what they do.
They also provide official information and advice on many London and UK related topics.
6. Discover employment opportunities
Your multi-language abilities provide you with some unique employment opportunities in London. Various employment websites advertise jobs specifically aimed at candidates with these skills. They include:
7. Connect with people from home
The City Swiss Club has been an institution for Swiss nationals since 1856. It forms an important part of the network for the Swiss community in the city, and is a great place to make friends and discuss various business affairs.
The club organises regular events each month, including musical concerts, general meet ups, and special occasions such as dinner dances and cruises on the River Thames.
8. Find the best accommodation
One of the most important things when making the move to London is to find a real home away from home. It can feel a bit overwhelming when beginning the housing search in your new country, but thankfully the Internet has made this far less challenging.
There are some great websites where you can both find out information about rental and purchase prices of property, as well as discovering more about the various areas of London that you might choose to live in.
Whether you’re looking to purchase a property, rent, share, or simply rent a room in a house, looking online for information means that you can start your search even before you leave for London.
And if you’re not quite sure exactly where in London you want to live, then you can find short-term accommodation for a month or so, giving you a base from which to search out that perfect property.
The following websites provide daily updated accommodation options, as well as the contact details you need to arrange appointments to view properties.
In addition, the location specific Gum Tree is a place that private vendors and landlords advertise their properties.