Jan 17, 2022

Spain to Switzerland: An Engineer’s Guide to Relocating in a Pandemic

Blanca Fernandez Salamanca
Backend Engineer

Blanca Fernandez Salamanca is an associate backend engineer on the Fintech team at GetYourGuide. She makes sure suppliers and partners are paid their share and ensures accurate accounting and compliance. In this article, she describes her relocation process from Spain to Switzerland. She dives into potential concerns, what relocating with GetYourGuide is like, the benefits of relocating, and provides a checklist to navigate the bureaucratic aspect of relocation to Switzerland.


I decided to relocate to Switzerland after visiting and experiencing the country with friends and my partner. I loved the land of mountains and bikes from very early on, and this love has only grown since.

Although Switzerland is quite a contrast to Spain, my home country, where we believe afternoons start at 5 pm and go shopping on Sundays, there are more similarities than you might think. People are incredibly welcoming, internationally-minded, and enjoy socializing just as much as we do! Albeit in a quieter fashion.

GetYourGuide was initially founded in Switzerland and one of the company’s offices is in Zurich, and I’m part of the brave community that commutes instead of living in Zurich. I’m currently living in Basel, about an hour train ride away, since this is the first city I ever got to know in Switzerland.

I already had friends and family in Basel, so it felt right to move here, where I’d have a stronger support system. Moving to a new country was made easier by having some familiar faces on the other side. However, after exploring Zurich and seeing what a beautiful city it is, I might change my mind.

Finding a flat, food, and figuring out the commute

My first week in Switzerland was a whirlwind of new experiences — from the various languages people speak, the amazing landscapes and towns, to the standard Swiss prices (don’t worry, it stops being a shock after a while, especially once you get your first salary). My main missions were simple: get a flat, some food, and figure out how to get to work.

The first was reasonably simple. I’d found a temporary flat to rent before arriving in the country, so the first day was easy and I knew where to go. The second step was even simpler and more enjoyable, as the standard Swiss supermarkets contain very tasty and high-quality food products. Finally, getting to work also turned out to be easier than expected.

The amazing transport system in Switzerland allows you to travel anywhere efficiently and on time. Did you know you can get a single transport card, called the GA, that allows you to travel anywhere, including on trams, boats, trains, even some cable cars deep into the mountains? It’s a great chance to see the whole country and save some money along the way.

Onboarding at GetYourGuide

Starting my job on the great Fintech team (we’re hiring by the way) was a rewarding and challenging experience. Like any time you change jobs, or so I’m told because this is my first, there are many new things to learn about the company.

In my case, this involved understanding the accounting system, our databases and infrastructure, the tools and technologies I would be working with, as well as my role within the company. I was shown GetYourGuide’s strategy and numbers from the get-go, allowing me to have perspective on the reasoning behind the decisions being made, as well as the future plans.

My favorite part of the onboarding experience was having a very nice and comprehensive onboarding buddy (hi Ruben!) and a supportive team that let me know at every step that they were here for any questions or concerns.

I asked all sorts of questions, from technical ones like “How do I use Mock objects in Java?” to life advice, “How do you make your commute better?” and the most important, “Can you show me how to make coffee drawings with the coffee machine?”

Another aspect of the onboarding process that I really enjoyed and didn’t expect, was the quick yet calm transition into getting work done. From the first day, there were a couple of tasks assigned to me, even though at first I wasn’t well-versed in the codebase.

However, there was little pressure to get them done in a specific time frame. Instead, they served as a way for me to familiarize myself with the code I’d be working with in the future, with lots and lots of support from the Backend part of the Fintech team.

My code was in production within the first couple of weeks, making me feel very accomplished and a useful contributor to the team. It was awesome! My work now, three months later, is similar — I write code that has a direct impact on the system, with as much support as needed from my team members.

Moving abroad during the pandemic

I think it’s important to address the elephant in the room. In these uncertain times (hello pandemic) traveling has become harder than before, and we’re all more aware of where we, and our loved ones, are.

I’ve found Switzerland to be a haven. I have always felt confident in the safety and clarity of Switzerland’s regulations, which also gives me a lot of peace of mind. Traveling to and from Switzerland is very easy through the use of passenger locator forms and vaccination certificates.

We have a comfortable hybrid approach to working in the office and at home, where everyone is encouraged to find a balance that works for them.

Many people joined GetYourGuide during these uncertain times, and through team chats and collaboration, we’ve all gotten lots of chances to develop working relationships, even when working from home.

We are constantly updated on the pandemic situation and what this means for the company by senior leadership, including information that lets me know what to expect for our Future of Work at all times.

Sorting Swiss bureaucracy

Having described the emotional process of relocating to Switzerland, I think it’s also very helpful for me to tell you about the bureaucratic moving steps. First of all, don’t worry about this part — GetYourGuide will help you in the relocation process, and facilitate lots of information so you know where to go for everything.

There are also many useful articles online about moving to Switzerland that I found interesting. To put the most important parts together, I came up with a basic checklist of relocation musts that I wish I had known before I moved.

This isn’t legal or tax advice and based on my own personal experience. I suggest that you speak with a legal or tax representative for professional advice.

Get a phone

Depending on your origin country, you might have phone packages that allow you to have data in Switzerland.

As you’ll likely need a reference number for various steps of the relocation process, I recommend getting a Swiss phone number as early as possible. It also helps feel more at home when you can use your phone wherever you are.

Get an official address

When you’ve found a place to stay, there’s a very important thing you must do in order to facilitate your relocation. You need to have your name on your postbox!

This is very important — if your name isn’t on your post box, chances are you won’t get lots of important mail.

Register with your local canton

Read more about the different cantons here. Wherever you move, you’ll have to register with your local immigration office, likely in person.

I recommend going as soon as possible. When you go, you’ll need a copy of your contract, passport, and proof of address among other things.

Get a bank account

In order to open a bank account in Switzerland, you’ll need some documentation. This includes identification, a copy of your work contract, and most importantly, a confirmation of your registration in the local canton.

Get health insurance

Switzerland regulations require all citizens to have private health insurance. Newcomers have up to three months to sign up. I'd recommend checking out comparison sites to understand the prices and benefits.

Moving to Switzerland is a big decision, but I’m so glad I made it, and I’m becoming more confident in my decision every day. Swiss culture is welcoming and international, the food is amazing (please try all the cheeses), and the landscapes are spectacular.

Within GetYourGuide, the international and friendly atmosphere makes you feel at home and part of the team very quickly. I’ve only been here for three months and can’t wait for more!

Interested in a career at GetYourGuide? Check out our Careers Page.

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