Living in Zurich

Getting Around Zurich

Apart from walking or cycling, getting around in the city center is most accessible by tram and bus. Daily services operate from 5:30 to midnight and run every 6 minutes at peak hours. For an additional fare, special night buses bring you home late on Friday and Saturday nights. Don’t worry if you are confused at first by the complicated Zurich area ticketing concept. The canton of Zurich is divided into different “zones,” and the price of your ticket depends on how many zones you cross to reach your final destination. The Tourist Information Desk in the Main Station is an excellent place to ask questions regarding the city and getting around in general. They will provide you with a map and give advice. Do not hesitate to ask the locals or your program manager if you do not understand how the ticket machine works. Most Swiss speak at least some basic English and are helpful. When looking for directions in general, use Google maps or the SBB or ZVV app.

Monthly or Annual Network Pass

If you will be commuting within the city of Zurich (zone 110), it is a good idea to buy a “ZVV Network Pass” for 2 zones (zone 110 counts double!). You can specify the starting date and buy the pass for 30 or 365 days. With a valid pass, you have unlimited use of all trams, buses, trains and even boats within the city at any time.

By Train— Half-Fare Card

Would you like to travel around Switzerland during your stay? Then you should consider buying a half-fare card (“HalbtaxAbo”). This card enables you to buy all your train tickets at half price (this does not apply to season tickets). You also enjoy discounts on many boat and bus routes, funicular railways and cable cars, and on local transport in many cities.


People living in Switzerland for more than 3 months are required to have health insurance for basic medical treatment in case of illness or an accident. However, procedures vary depending on where you come from: 

Health Insurance for EU Citizens

Holders of a European Health Insurance Card and privately insured non-EU citizens whose insurer is recognized by the Swiss authorities (which is very rare) can apply for an exemption from the Swiss health insurance obligation. 

Health Insurance for Non-EU Citizens

A few days after you have applied for your residence permit, the local health authority will ask you by letter to submit a form indicating which insurance company you have chosen. With premiums ranging from ca. CHF 200 to CHF 400 per month or even more, health insurance is extremely expensive in Switzerland. What may seem strange to foreigners is the fact that all health insurers provide exactly the same benefits under their obligatory insurance plans, but are free to define their prices. You can compare prices under: 

Private Liability Insurance

We strongly recommend that you take out a personal liability insurance policy to cover any claims brought against you for damage or injury you may cause to other persons, material goods, or property. It also covers damage to rented apartments and student rooms. Such insurance is available from around CHF 100 per year for maximum coverage of CHF 5 million. Likewise recommendable is a comprehensive household policy covering theft/burglary, laptops, bicycles, etc. Insurance premiums from the leading providers in Switzerland may be compared on: 

Post Offices

Most post offices are open from 7:30–18:00 Monday to Friday and from 9:00–12:00 on Saturday. In addition to mail services, post offices offer banking, telephone, and fax services. Zurich’s main post office is located near the central station, with special opening hours in the evenings and on weekends.

Receiving and Sending Post

To receive your post, you need to have an address and your name must appear in your apartment’s mailbox. It’s very simple: no name, no post! If you are staying in someone else’s apartment and only that person’s name is on the mailbox you will need to use a “c/o” address. The post is delivered once a day from Monday to Saturday. There are two postal categories for sending things within Switzerland: “A-post” (delivery the following day) and “B-post” (delivery within 3–4 working days). Postal costs depend on size and weight, but for a standard C5 letter of up to 100 grams, the current rates are CHF 1.00 (A-post) and CHF 0.85 (B-post).

Mobile Phone Subscriptions

A recommendation is to have a prepaid account: just go to any provider (see list below), buy a SIM card (with or without a phone), and load your account with a certain amount.  You only need to bring along your ID card or passport. When your credit starts to run out simply reload your account at an ATM machine or buy a prepaid card at a kiosk or supermarket. Prepaid accounts are often cheaper than mobile subscriptions. 

Please note that you will have to show your residence permit when requesting for a fixed-mobile subscription! You should also check in advance exactly how and when you may withdraw from the contract. Usually, this is only possible once a year! Some of the most common providers and their main shops in the city center are:

Migros City (m-electronics shop, 3rd floor)

Löwenstrasse 31–35, 8001 Zürich