Relocating from Singapore to Zurich

Dean Dugas, Head of International Tax at Pro-Tax, interviewed Cajetan, a German national who relocated from KPMG Singapore to EY Zurich as a Transfer Pricing Manager. Cajetan had spent several years in Asia (in both Singapore and Japan) but he and his wife decided to return to Europe. 

Salary to Cost of living – how much do you get for your money? 

Living costs in Switzerland are generally very high, especially apartment rents. Regarding the latter, it will be helpful to strategically search for a suitable but still relatively inexpensive apartment, to avoid unnecessary burdens. However, salaries are typically adapted to the higher living costs.

How's the quality of life?

There are various leisure offerings in the city and high numbers of possible destinations for day trips and easy access to Europe due to the airport. Public safety and healthcare are very good and the environment is generally clean. Overall a high quality of life.

How easy is it to make friends ?

Zurich has many expats and it is easy to meet people, for example, in bars or sports clubs.

Are the local amenities of a good quality? 

There are lots of gyms with a wide price range, depending on the number of additional services. All very clean and safe. Public transport is easily available and reliable.

What's the quality and cost of housing like? 

Housing is generally a challenge in Zurich, due to high demand; investing time in the beginning of your search is advisable.

How's the weather and overall climate? 

The weather is overall relatively cool and rainy. Winters can be quite cold, but the last years have been mild.

How easy is it fitting in regarding Culture / Value / Religion?

The people put value on punctuality. Discussions about religion or politics should be avoided. Keeping a certain distance and respecting people’s privacy will also be helpful to fit in smoothly with Swiss colleagues and neighbours.

Are there any challenges in setting up a bank account, phone, renting a place etc? 

A bank account can only be set up after having a local address, which can be achieved by an aparthotel. Renting a permanent apartment may be a challenge as rooms are in high demand.

Most difficult things to get used to coming from Asia?

Shop opening hours. In Asia, it is no problem to go shopping late in the evening or on the weekends. Shops being closed on Sundays and the unavailability of convenient stores in the night requires some adjustment.

If you are interested in a tax or transfer pricing job in Zurich please peruse our Swiss tax job board.

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