Visit Switzerland but don’t tire your welcome – Expat Guide to Switzerland


More and more countries in Europe are rolling out the red carpet for “digital nomads”. Switzerland is not one of them.

Earlier this month, Malta joined Portugal, Croatia, Estonia and others in the competition for remote workers with the launch of its “Nomadic Residence Permit”. The eligibility rules are clear, stipulating that applicants must prove that they are working remotely for a company abroad, or that they are self-employed, providing services to clients abroad.

This group of individuals represents a profitable economic niche for the small Mediterranean island state. “We estimate that a digital nomad spends around € 30,000 per year in our country,” said Alex Muscat, Parliamentary Secretary for Citizenship, quoted in The Times of Malta.

Based on the higher cost of living in Switzerland, a remote worker here should open their wallet even wider than in Malta. But the fans of Switzerland are ready to do it.

In my bulletin on sustainable travel last month I wrote how the tourism industry wants travelers to stay longer in one place to reduce their carbon footprint, now that much of Europe, including Switzerland, opens again. But, in Switzerland in any case, there are limits to the length of this stay.

Colin from the UK told me that his annual visits to Mürren ski resort could be shorter than he would like.

Due to Brexit, Colin’s nomadic lifestyle (he says he spends his summers in France and his winters in Switzerland) is curtailed by the 90/180 day stay rule for the European Schengen group of countries which includes Switzerland. Non-EU citizens can travel to the zone visa-free for a period of 90 days, out of any period of 180 days. A permit, or visa, for nomads would get around that.

“We would contribute to the Swiss economy with the rental of apartments, the ski pass and normal living expenses. Indeed, without our visit the apartment would have been empty for long periods. With a [long-stay] visa, the Swiss authorities would know more precisely who is in the country and where they are.

Such a permit exists for Switzerland. Anyone wishing to stay for more than three months can apply for a “type D” visa, deposited with the nearest Swiss embassy or consular service. However, this is only the beginning of the process of reducing bureaucracy.

While “other” is an option to request a longer stay (as opposed to a job, family reunification, studies, etc.), the reasons that can be listed are “not exhaustive,” one told me. spokesperson for the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

If ‘self-employed’ is given as a ground – acceptable in countries like Malta, an additional application should be made to the migration office of the canton in which the applicant wishes to stay, as it is the cantons, not the federal government, that issue residence permits.

As a pensioner, it can be asked whether the applicant can prove that he has close ties to the country, that he has lived in Switzerland before, that he has spent a longer holiday there or that there are relatives. . They must also give assurances that they will not look for work, either at home or abroad.

Financial resources

In summary, there is no harmonized national benchmark that candidates must meet, although you will certainly have to prove that you have sufficient financial means not to be a burden for the State (around 100 CHF per day of liquidity).

The SEM spokesperson said that there are currently no plans to relax the provisions for type D visas.

But let’s say you are skilled and willing to try to cut down on paperwork; where should you take root temporarily?

Ask ten people and you’ll get ten different answers. But if you want to know where a nomad’s budget may be stretched the most in such an expensive country, I recommend you read Credit Suisse’s latest report on the most affordable places to live in Swiss.

We released a summary of last month’s report from the bank. It rates communities based on local tax rates, health insurance, child care, and travel and housing costs. It is the latter that provides nomads with a good starting point in their search for temporary accommodation. While housing costs are based on property and mortgage payments, they are also a good indicator of rents.

Assuming you want to spend time in the mountains rather than a more urban setting in the plains (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this!), It’s worth noting the big gaps between well-known resorts and villages in the regions. neighbors.

Accommodation and running costs

For example, accommodation and running costs (electricity, heating, etc.) are more than twice as high in the Upper Engadine (seaside towns of St Moritz, Pontresina) than in the idyllic village of Poschiavo, a few minutes away by train towards the south-east.

There is a similar difference between the trendy trio of Flims, Laax and Falera and the laid back villages of Elm and Braunwald in the canton of Glarus a little further north. Scott Haas from Massachusetts has made Braunwald his home and tells me the area will soon be a richer attraction with the opening of an Alpine Museum later this year.

In the Bernese Alps, Matten and Wilderswil, both neighbors of Interlaken, are surprisingly affordable, much cheaper than Mürren (note Colin) and a great deal compared to the nearby resort of Grindelwald.

If you prefer to be surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Alps, Les Haudères in the Val d’Hérens would be a better choice financially than Verbier or Zermatt. The Val d’Hérens is the north-south parallel valley to the Val de Bagnes (Verbier) to the west and to the Mattertal (Zermatt) to the east.

Véronique Kanal from Switzerland Tourism shared this advice off the beaten track. “Les Haudères is a village close to the Dent Blanche – less known than the Matterhorn – but magical all the same”.

You may have to do some magic to get a long stay visa, but 90 days is more than enough time to familiarize yourself with any of these places – the rest of Europe will just have to wait!

If you have a question about living in the Swiss Alps, contact us: [email protected]


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