Practical Information about Living in Switzerland

Empa welcomes you to Switzerland! Our goal is to help you gain the maximum benefit from your stay at Empa. We have compiled a selection of weblinks that may help you to answer your questions with regard to daily life in Switzerland. Use the links to learn more about living here – in Dübendorf, St. Gallen or Thun. We wish you a wonderful time at Empa and hope you take advantage of everything your time abroad has to offer.

Cultural Shock! (PDF-File, 47 KB)
Expensive?! About living costs in Switzerland
What you have to know about languages at Empa (PDF-File, 117 KB)


1 Practical information about living and working in Switzerland
Practical information and hints for researchers working and living in Switzerland (general facts about Switzerland, work and residence permits, travelling to and in Switzerland, accommodations, directories, social security system, insurances, taxes) This portal contains practical information concerning professional and daily life, as well as information on job and funding opportunities. The EURAXESS Centres help researchers and their family to plan and organize their move to a foreign country, providing assistance in all matters related to mobility. All services of the EURAXESS Network are free of charge.

Federal Office for Migration
•Switzerland Tourism (mySwitzerland / Map.Geo / Tourenguide)
•Public transport Canton Zurich (ZVV)
•Public transport Canton St. Gallen (Ostwind)
•Public transport around Thun
Swiss Railways

Driving in Switzerland on a foreign licence

•Swiss Internet comparison service. On, consumers can as well compare rates and services of insurances, banks, telecom providers, property, cars and consumer electronics
Phone book
Office for economy and labour
German language resources
 •German conjugation tables
Employment and Income
Currency converter

•Top-range department stores

•Mid-range department stores
Coop City
Migros City


•Discount stores

•Furniture stores
Diga Möbel
Möbel Märki
Ligne Roset

•Do it yourself stores  
Migros Do it yourself

•German and English books - Orell Füssli The Bookshop
•French books – Librairie Payot
•Spanish books – Librería el Condór
•Italian books – Libreria italiana / Libromania


2 Accommodation
Empa's guest house
For international guests employed by Empa for a limited time, Empa offers accommodation in its guest apartments at Seidenstrasse in Dübendorf. These apartments are located within walking distance from the campus. They are built in „Minergie“ standard (standard for low energy consumption buildings), ready-furnished and equipped, with a modern, comfortable living atmosphere. All in all, 40 apartments of different size offer a total of 116 rooms. Moreover, the guest house is close to public transport. A tram connects the stop at Seidenstrasse directly to the Zurich Airport, and from the railway station Stettbach in close proximity, the trains of the “S-Bahn” lines take you to downtown Zurich in only a few minutes. At the same time, the guest house is surrounded by nature and borders on a recreation area inviting for a walk or a break. Further information see here.

Finding accomodation
Alle Immobilien

Flat-sharing communities in Switzerland
Zimmer in Zurich
Wohnen ETH


3 Mandatory health insurance in Switzerland
In accordance with the Federal Act on Health Insurance every person domiciled in Switzerland must take out health insurance with a recognized Swiss Health insurance company within three months of taking residence in Switzerland. 

The cost of emergency services (ambulance travel) varies from canton to canton.
The obligatory health insurance only covers ambulance transport if it is necessary for medical reasons and the patient's state of health does not allow it to be transported by private or public transport. The obligatory health insurance covers a maximum of 50%, but not more than CHF 500.00 per calendar year. This amount is subject to a self-payment and a franchise.



Employed at Empa in Dübendorf
General information (in German and English) about the mandatory health insurance in Switzerland

Employed at Empa in St. Gallen
•General information about the mandatory health insurance in Switzerland, PDF file, 24 KB
Official overview from the City of St.Gallen (German only, but with links to English pages)

Employed at Empa in Thun
General information (in German and French) about the mandatory health insurance in Switzerland
Price plans of Swiss health insurance companies


4 Cultural communities in Switzerland (mainly Zurich)  

•International - Internations  

•Africa – Afrika Verein Schweiz
•Asia/Tibet – Songtsen House
•Austria – Österreichisch-Schweizerische Kulturgesellschaft Zürich
•Brasil – CEBRAC Centro Brasileiro de Açâo Cultural
•China – Chinese Union of Zurich CUZ
•Czech Republic Czech Republic and Slovakia
•France – Union des Français de l'Etranger
•Germany – Deutscher Club Zürich
•Greece – Greek community Switzerland
•India – Indian associations in Switzerland
•Italy – Comitato degli Italiani all'Estero
•Japan – Swiss Japanese Society
•Latvia – Gesellschaft Schweiz-Lettland
•Mexico – Asociación de mexicanos del canton Berna, Suiza
•Netherlands – Nederlandse Vereniging, TE Zürich
•Poland – Forum of Polish Community in Switzerland
•Romania – Romanian Association
•Russia – Association Switzerland-Russia
•Scandinavia - SKANDAC
•Spain – Ateneo Popular Espanol
•United Kingdom – British Council Switzerland
•USA – American Club of Zurich
•Vietnam – Association Switzerland-Vietnam


5 Religious groups in Switzerland
Christian Churches (reformed, catholic, christ-catholic, free churches) in Switzerland
•Buddhist – Tibet Insitute Rikon
•Hindu – Saiva Thamil Sangam Arulmigu Shivan Kovil (Temple)
•Hindu – Sri Siva Subramaniar Temple
•Jewish –  Jewish Liberal Community - Or Chadasch
•Jewish – Swiss
•Muslim – Islamic Association Ahle Beyt
•Muslim – Islamic Centre Zurich


6 Living in Zurich and Dübendorf
•Information portal of the city of Zurich (City of Zurich / Welcome / Reloaction)
•Information and Advisory Services from the Center for the Promotion of Integration
Map of Dübendorf
Childcare: the "Kinderpavillon" daycare centre in Dübendorf (KIPA) provides daycare for children of Empa employees.
•Department for Motor Vehicles
International Schools
•Sports: a fitness training free of charge takes place in Dübendorf on Wednesdays over lunch time and is open to all Empa and Eawag staff.
•Academic Sports Club of Zurich – ASVZ, application form
City Running
Züri rännt
Gay & Lesbian Sport
Aggarwal Indian Food
Vegan guide Zurich

7 Living in St. Gallen
Tourist information St. Gallen
Living in St. Gallen
Map St. Gallen
•Childcare – 'Chinderhus Fiorino' provides daycare for children of Empa employees  
Cultural events in the region
Language Schools St. Gallen
Doctors in St. Gallen
Hospital St. Gallen
•Department for Motor Vehicle St. Gallen
International schools
•Sports: there is a weekly football training over lunch time for Empa employees on Wednedays and a weekly badminton training on Tuesdays. Both trainings are free of charge.
Sports facilities at the University of St. Gallen


8 Living in Thun
Tourist information Thun
City of Thun
Map Thun
•Childcare - Thun daycare centres for small and school age children can be found at indicated link  
•Website of the integration office of Bern, list of migrant organizations (go to "Verzeichnis")
Language Schools Bern
Doctors in Thun
•Department for Motor Vehicle Thun
International School of Berne
Interkultureller Frauentreff Thun – Cross Cultural Meetings for Women
•Sports: in Thun Empa unfortunately does not provide own sports facilities.
•Sport facilities Thun (thun sport)
•Appartments in Thun


9 Further useful weblinks
English Forum Switzerland – Community portal for English-speaking people in Switzerland
•International Students of ETH
•International Association for the Exchange of Studies for Technical Experience IAESTE

Dual Career Issues at Institutions of the ETH Domain
The ETH Domain is a member of the International Dual Career Network (IDCN). The IDCN is a network of multinational educational institutions and NGOs and its purpose is to enable the job market integration of partners of international employees of its members. Have a look at the short video and learn more about the advantage of being an active member and volunteer within IDCN: As partner of an Empa employee you are welcome to participate in the events and activities organised by IDCN. Contact  or sign up directly with the registration form.