Living and working in Valais
The decision to settle down in a new place has extensive implications and needs to be well thought out. The big city and the countryside each offer different advantages. Valais lets you combine the two: urban centres can be reached quickly thanks to reliable transport connections, while nature and recreation are right on your doorstep. On this page you will find practical information to make starting your new life in Valais easier. This is a place where you can concentrate on life in peace: welcome to the sunny side!
Valais in a nutshell
Work and recreation are closely intertwined in this canton in the south-west of Switzerland. And unlike urban centres such as Zurich or Geneva, Valais stands out with its low cost of living. The excellent public transport connections with the rest of Switzerland and Europe guarantee fast and wide-ranging mobility. City or countryside? Valais is both a hub and a retreat – dynamic and relaxing at the same time.
Although you don’t have to worry about culture shock, a little preliminary information about the character of the Valais’s residents couldn’t hurt. Besides the local Swiss-German dialect, “Walliserdeutsch”, the people of Upper Valais are defined by their down-to-earth attitude, conviviality, kindness and strength of character. Traditions and customs including cow fighting and the colourful carnival are still alive and well here. A lively arts and culture scene offers exhibitions, events and performances on stages of all sizes to round out the cultural offer.
Valais lives from its landscape and its expertise in making the most of it. The variety of natural resources and the unspoilt natural landscape are also essential assets for tourism, one of the most important contributors to the economy. A strong energy industry uses the huge water reserves in the mountains for environmentally-friendly electricity generation. Valais is home to large, internationally-active companies such as the Lonza pharma and chemical group in Visp and DSM in Lalden, Synthes (medical technology) in Raron and the Bosch works (powertools) in St. Niklaus, as well as numerous SMEs operating within a wide variety of sectors including commerce, industry, construction andagriculture.
Good to know!
New land, new customs. In Valais, there are some particularities and features that one should be aware of in everyday life. “Good to know” suggestions can be found here and are sorted by category.
To live or work in Switzerland for more than three months, a permit is required. There are short-stay permits (L permit, up to one year), residence permits (B permit, limited stay), settlement permits (C permit, unlimited stay) and cross-border commuter permits (G permit).
People who move to Valais usually rent a flat. Newspapers and the Internet provide valuable services in the search for suitable rental properties. For example, some larger municipalities display available properties in a “housing market” on their websites. Smaller municipalities may be able to provide verbal information about vacant flats.
All Swiss residents must take out their own basic health insurance plan. New arrivals in Switzerland have three months to take out a policy. If you fall ill during this time, the costs are covered retroactively. Basic health insurance is offered by numerous private health insurance providers.
Money & taxes
In Switzerland, your salary is usually transferred into your bank account. For private individuals, there are various offerings available from the numerous banks and Swiss Post. Fees, interest and benefits vary, which is why it is worth comparing them in advance. It is usually free to open an account.
Anyone who moves to Switzerland and already has a driving licence from another country must have it converted into a Swiss driving licence within 12 months. The canton is the responsible authority. In Valais, the application must be submitted to the Cantonal Office for Road Traffic and Shipping.
Social insurance is financed by the inhabitants of Switzerland and are usually compulsory. Contributions are deducted directly from the employee’s salary. In general, the deductions amount to around 12–18% of the gross income. Employers, the self-employed and those not currently in work also make financial contributions.
The conditions for obtaining a work permit depend on your country of origin. EU citizens benefit from bilateral agreements that enable them to enter Switzerland and change their employer or place of residence. All foreign nationals must have a residence and work permit before starting work. You can apply for this at the residents’ registration office (Einwohnerkontrolle) of your municipality.
Money & taxes
Taxes are levied at three levels: municipal, cantonal and federal. A distinction is made between direct and indirect taxes. Direct taxes are relatively low by international standards, although social insurance contributions are not collected through the tax system, but through other channels. Your primary residence is used as the place of reference for direct taxes.
Money & taxes
Liability insurance is not compulsory. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that you take out personal liability insurance. This is because you are liable for any damage caused intentionally or unintentionally, or if persons, animals or property for which you are responsible cause damage to third parties.
In Valais, shops are free to organise their own opening hours as long as they comply with the specified closing times. Many shops are open until 6.30pm on weekdays and until 5pm on Saturdays. Shops in petrol stations, railway stations or in large tourist resorts (seasonal), which are normally open seven days a week and usually open earlier and close later.
In principle, if you move to Switzerland, you can take your household effects, collections, pets and car with you duty-free. Any items you bring must have been in use for six months before the move, and you must continue to use them afterwards. Many removal companies also take care of customs clearance.
Employees who work more than eight hours a week are automatically insured by their employer against accidents in their work and leisure time. Employees who work less than this are not insured against accidents in their leisure time and must take out their own accident insurance.
The ABC of municipalities
It’s beautiful everywhere in Valais. The ABC of municipalities will help you find the place with the perfect living conditions for you. It contains portraits that provide an initial overview of the 63 municipalities in German-speaking Valais, divided into districts.