Living in Zurich
«Zurich - World Class. Swiss Made»
With a population of over 400,000, Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. While Berne is the political capital, Zurich is considered the business capital: formerly an industrial town, its focus has shifted to commerce.
With schools at all levels, theatres, concert halls, museums, art galleries, libraries and bookshops, Zurich is also a centre of cultural importance.
Its location by Lake Zurich, surrounded by hills and within easy reach of the Alps and other places of interest, makes Zurich one of the most pleasant cities in the world in which to live.
Zurich has excellent air, rail and road connections. EuroCity and InterCity trains from all directions stop at the Central Station (Hauptbahnhof). Within the metropolitan area there is a combined network of public transportation (called Verkehrsverbund) that comprises a rapid suburban railway (the S-Bahn), trams, buses and boats.
Citizens of the European Union do not need to do anything before their arrival. Citizens of other countries participating in a bilateral exchange programme will be assisted by the Student Exchange Office in obtaining their residence permit. The relevant details will be included with your letter of acceptance.
The Immigration Office of the Canton Zurich requires all foreigners to have CHF 1,750.- per month at their disposal for the entire duration of their stay in Switzerland.
Neither ETH Zurich nor any of the universities in Zurich owns or lets any student accommodation. Housing for students is offered by various institutions connected with, but independent of, ETH Zurich.
However, ETH Zurich has a number of rooms available at these different institutions for exchange students. With your ETH acceptance letter you will also receive information on registering for accommodation. We are unfortunately not in a position to answer e-mail inquiries regarding accommodation. Visiting students are obliged to find accommodation on their own!
Since the number of rooms available for exchange students is limited, it is important to start looking for accommodation early and to explore every possible source. The Housing Office of the University of Zurich/ETH Zurich provides further search alternatives on their website.
Please be careful: There are also dubious accommodation offers. Never make a payment in advance without prior inspection (the only exception is with WOKO contracts).
The conditions for renting a room/studio or an apartment in Zurich vary widely. There are rooms/studios available with/without cooking facilities; it is also possible to share a house or flat; some prices may/may not include cleaning and laundry, bed linen and meals. Rental prices for single rooms range from CHF 450.- to about CHF 850.- per month.
Information about living expences in Zurich can be found in the document Study and Living Costs (PDF, 160 KB).
- General ETH fees: none for exchange students
- Study materials (books, chemicals, ...): CHF 50.- to CHF 100.-, depending on the field of study
- Excursions: up to approx. CHF 50.-
- Room rent: CHF 450.- to CHF 850.- (or more)
- Food (if using ETH facilities): approx. CHF 500.-
- ZVV Public transport (buses, trams and trains within the city of Zurich): approx. CHF 61.- to 90.- (depending on age)
- Health insurance: between CHF 100.- and CHF 200.- (does not apply to European Health Insurance Card holders, see tab Health insurance)
Total: ca CHF 1,400.- per month
Individual expenses such as clothes, leisure, travel, telephone calls etc. are not included.
Please note that this scholarship list does not exhaust possibilities and merely lists scholarships presently known to us.
Please also make enquiries at your home university including foundations in your home country and the state, if scholarship opportunities are available for studying at other universities abroad.
Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship
Switzerland supports with the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship, foreign doctoral and postdoctoral students who want to visit Switzerland for research purposes.
Scholarships for Switzerland
On the Euraxess website you can find a good summary of different scholarship opportunities for incoming doctoral students and researchers, who want to study or do research in Switzerland.
The Heyning-Roelli-Foundation supports talented but financially weak students from abroad who want to study for one or two exchange semesters within an exchange agreement at a Swiss university.
Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation ZKS
The Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation (ZKS) offers financial support, among other things, for students in the field of engineering and environmental sciences, e.g. there is a 'Master Thesis Grant', 'Doctoral Exchange Grant' or 'Summer school Grant'. Please refer to the website of the foundation and read the information on the conditions and application process carefully before handing in your application to the foundation.
Swiss law requires all persons residing for more than three months in Switzerland to be covered by adequate health insurance.
Students attending a mobility programme may be exempt - under certain circumstances. There is a special procedure for students from EU and EFTA countries. Please pay attention to the pdf document Exemption from Health Insurance (PDF, 42 KB).
Here you find a lot of valuable information and the presentation of the health insurance event how you find a Swiss health insurance or how you may be exempted.
Health insurance plan for students:
between CHF 100.- – 200.-*
*Basic health insurance under the Swiss Health Insurance Law might cost up to CHF 400.- per month.
Although a special health insurance plan for students at a monthly rate between CHF 100 and CHF 200.– is currently available and recognized by the authorities, there is no guarantee that this will be the case in the future. Students are therefore encouraged to budget carefully and to take into account any unforeseeable changes regarding monthly health insurance payment.
Insurance information (PDF, 42 KB) supplied by the ETH Academic Services.
Studying abroad may mean a dive into the unknown: you meet new people, learn a new language, encounter a new academic system and deal with cultural differences. This can certainly be fun and is a valuable part of your study abroad experience, yet dealing with so much change can also be challenging at times. This guide (PDF, 201 KB) helps you prevent, recognize and cope with ‘culture shock’.
Zurich as well as Switzerland as a whole have a very good and reliable public transport system. Detailed information on getting around can be found in the Handbook for International Students.
- Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (Swiss Railways (SBB))
- Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB): Find the best travelcard
- Zürcher Verkehrsverbund ZVV (public transport in the Canton of Zurich)
- Verkehrsbetriebe der Stadt Zürich VBZ (public transport in the city of Zurich)
- Zürichsee Schifffahrt (boat transport services on lake Zurich)
- ETH Zurich’s two main sites in Zurich, Zentrum and Hönggerberg, are connected by a shuttle bus (free of charge for students and employees).
- Further information can be found on the website Living in Zurich.
All exchange and visiting students are welcome to participate in the ESN Student Network. ESN is a non-profit student network that organises cultural and social events, informs and supports exchange and visiting students, and offers further services such as the tandem language exchange and the mentoring programme.
Many practical information about Switzerland and Zurich as well as tips for the exchange can be found in the ESN Guide for Exchange Students.
ESN introduced the mentoring system to improve contact between local students and exchange and visiting students, and to help you during your stay in Zurich. A mentor is a local student who helps you upon arrival, shows you around Zurich, answers your questions and supports you in case of trouble.
All exchange and visiting students can participate. If you are interested in having a mentor, please contact ESN: ESN Mentoring Program