Working a ski season in Switzerland
Do you need a visa: If you are an EU citizen you only need a valid passport or
Identity Card to work in a Swiss ski resort. A valid contract of employment will
give you the right to live and work in the country.
Do you have to learn another language: Switzerland is sandwiched between France, Austria, Germany and Italy, and depending upon which part of the country you are in, the language will change accordingly. The majority speak German, with French the next most common in terms of numbers. English is widely spoken, or at least understood, and you will certainly get by with English and some understanding of basic German and or French.
So you want to work in Switzerland
Can't say we blame you. Switzerland and skiing go together like toast and jam. Looking at a terrain map of the country you cannot fail to notice that half of the territory is a giant snow paradise, any sensible country would build lots of world class ski resorts, and this is precisely what Switzerland has done.
Switzerland has an average income that leaves France, Italy and Germany in the shade, so expect excellent facilities at many resorts as no expense is spared to create some first class resorts that really compliment the excellent snowfall enjoyed in the Swiss Alps year after year. Switzerland really does have some of the best resorts and snow conditions in Europe and working a season here is an experience you won't want to miss. The mountains are huge with plenty over four thousand meters, the glaciers are huge offering year round skiing in some resorts, and the manicured towns and villages make living in Switzerland feel like living on a movie set.
When the snow is falling, the country sometimes feels like one giant ski resort. The locals usually spend their weekends on the smaller and quieter slopes, while the tourists make the most of the mega resorts like Verbier, Zermatt and Crans-Montana. If you don't get the choice on where you want to work then it really doesn't matter; it's all good. Lifts, funiculars, buses and train are all super efficient and link most resorts to their neighbours.
So what is it like to live and work in a Swiss ski resort?
The company you work for may include accommodation as part of the employment package. If they do not, make sure you do some good research into the cost of living as you may find your wage does not go as far as it would in the UK. While it is perfectly possible to live and work in Switzerland on a ski season salary, especially outside the cities of Geneva and Zurich, prices do tend to be quite high, so be prepared. Fortunately, companies are well aware of this and so the wages they offer can be relatively generous to compensate for the cost of living.
With resorts at higher altitudes than many others in Europe, and being in glacier territory at the heart of the Alps, you may find you get a longer season, which means more money and more skiing time.
Final tip, remember to take Golden Syrup and Marmite with you - Switzerland may be a dream destination to live and work, but they don't get everything right.