5 tips on how to make friends as an expat in Switzerland

5 tips on how to make friends as an expat in Switzerland

Being an expat can be an incredible adventure, but it does come with its challenges. One of the hardest things new expats encounter is making friends in their new country. To help you out, we've put together some tips on how to make friends as an expat.

1. Meet the neighbours

One of the best ways to make new friends is to meet the people that live the nearest to you. If you’re living in a rented apartment or shared accommodation, it is very likely that you will be sharing some common spaces with other people such as laundry rooms, study rooms, lounges - or perhaps just the hallways! - which can be great places to meet new people. If there is a neighbourhood group or get-together, consider joining those.

Additionally, if you do not have a car or are unable to rely on public transportation, it would be very helpful to know your neighbours. If you’re a little on the shy side, a great way to introduce yourself to the neighbours would be to cook something from where you are from and share it with your neighbours!

2. Use existing family connections

If you are an expat because you have a loved one in that country, make the most of those connections. See if your loved one has friends or people around your age that they would be willing to introduce you to. You can also ask family and friends before leaving your home country if they know anyone in the new country that you are moving to, which can help you meet new people.

3. Be open

Having difficulty finding friends when you move overseas is to be expected, and it is nothing to be ashamed of, so make it obvious to people that you are open to making new connections and friends. Let people “set you up” with people they know, especially if you’re more introverted and have more difficulty initiating introductions.

4. Remember, friendships take time

It’s very unlikely that you meet someone for the first time and immediately become best friends. Like all good things, time and patience are required to make the connections into quality, long-lasting friendships. A good way to do this is to have a set time with a friend if your schedules allow it; maybe meeting for brunch every Sunday or for coffee every Friday midday.

5. Use the internet

The internet can be a great way to make friends as an expat; consider joining a Facebook group for the new country that you will be living in. If you have moved for school or work, you can join those groups as well, and this will help broaden your network of friends. Additionally, if you have a niche hobby or interest, see if they have a local group or club for that. Additionally, being a part of a Swiss social team or a local sports team can help your case if you're applying for Swiss citizenship, as it is evidence of your integration into Swiss society. 

You can post an open invitation to people for a coffee meet-up at a local café, you would be surprised how many people are also looking for new friends. Make sure that you are meeting in open, public spaces and people know where you are.

Eesha Wirk


Eesha Wirk

Eesha studied in the United States, obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Studio Art. She is currently getting her Research Masters in Cognitive Neuropsychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In...

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