Capital City: Vaduz
Official language: German
Commonly spoken languages: German, Alemannic
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Exchange rate to pound: 0.80:1 (30.08.2021)
Liechtenstein is a charming small principality situated in the Alps, just in the heart of Europe. It is surrounded by two neighbouring countries – Switzerland and Austria. Among the various benefits, the country has to offer, are beautiful nature, a high standard of living and high-quality education. Though the living expenses can be quite high, the wages offered there are among the highest in Europe. With an economy that has been blossoming in recent years, Liechtenstein can easily be considered a very attractive living destination.
Where to live in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein provides very good living conditions for expats. In fact, a third of the population are foreign nationals. Most of them are coming from neighbouring countries. With the positive trends, the country has been showing in recent years, it is no surprise that you would also want to move there.
Liechtenstein has a total of 11 municipalities and communities. Even though the official spoken language is German, many of the communities have their own distinct dialect. The capital is Vaduz, however, the largest municipality is Schaan and it is seen as the industrial centre. That is where most of the population is concentrated. On the other hand, if you a looking for a quieter place, where you will feel close to nature, look no further than Planken. It is the smallest municipality, one of the oldest and most traditional places in the country. There are no shops or frequent bus service, but the breathtaking landscape and the peaceful atmosphere make it 100% worth it.
How to become a resident of Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is not a member of the European Union, thus not many things have changed for the UK nationals since the end of the Brexit transmission. However, if you have decided on moving to the small principality, you must pass through some bureaucratic formalities first. This usually is the weary part of the whole moving abroad process, but don’t worry as Liechtenstein is keeping bureaucracy to a minimum.
Liechtenstein is a member of the Schengen Area and the European Economic Area and as of 1 January, 2021 UK citizens can travel up to 90-days within the Schengen Area in a 180-day period without needing a visa. Still, you must register at your local office of resident services. If your plants are to stay there for more than three months, however, you must apply for a residence permit with the local authority. There are two types of residence permits that one can acquire and they are:
- temporary residence permit (valid for 5 years)
- permanent residence visa (can be acquired after 5 years residency in Liechtenstein)
Those can be obtained through work, business, education, or marriage. After 30 years of living in the Principality, you can apply for Liechtenstein naturalisation but you need to renounce your original citizenship.
In addition, the set of documents you will need when moving to Liechtenstein includes:
- Passport (with a minimum validity period of 6 months)
- Police certificate (issued by your local police)
- Copy of employment contract (for workers)
- Information about the company to be opened (for business openers)
- University acceptance letter (for students)
- Marriage certificate (for foreign spouses of Liechtenstein citizens)
Working in Liechtenstein
Although being one of the smallest countries in Europe, the Principality is also one the countries offering the highest wages on the old continent with citizens earning an average of £66,500 annually. Moreover, there is a 0% poverty rate and an unemployment rate of 1.9%. However, more than half of the jobs in Liechtenstein are executed by foreign workers, residing in Switzerland, Austria or southern Germany because the country has more job positions than it has inhabitants. This is because domestic labour cannot keep up with the rapid economic growth Liechtenstein is experiencing.
As the Principality leads a restrictive policy about living in the country, many employees are required to reside in neighbouring areas and travel to work to the Principality on a daily basis. Therefore, keep in mind that even if you are working for a Liechtenstein company, this does not directly allow you to live in the principality. If you are travelling for work and you will need to stay in the principality for up to 90-days, you might not need a visa or work permit. However, for any longer periods, you will need to apply for a work permit. Such work permits can be issued from the Migration and Passport Office and the application needs to be submitted at least 14 days before planning on starting the work.
About 76% of the country’s land is agricultural but only 1% are farmers. Most of the residents are working in business or industry-related positions. Moreover, opening a business in Liechtenstein can be quite simple and there are several financial benefits offered to investors.
Transportation in Liechtenstein
As Liechtenstein is a very small country it is quite easy to get around. The Principality uses the LIEmobil Bus public transport system. There are three zones and the timetables can be seen on the stops. A single bus ticket can start from CHF 3 (£2,40), while a daily bus pass starts from CHF 5 (£4). There are also double-deckers buses like we are used to seeing in the UK, as well as specialised buses for the narrowed Alpine routes. Moreover, for the convenience of commuters, there is a railway with starting points the train stations in Buchs (Switzerland) and Feldkirch (Austria). However, many residents still prefer the comfort of driving their own car. The traffic can be busy on the main routes but that is mainly at rush hours. Liechtenstein does not have an airport—the closest one is in Zürich. The development of a tram line is also being planned by the Principality. Bike lines are common and a bicycle can be convenient but for the flat western side of the country.
Driving your own car in Liechtenstein
If you are moving to Liechtenstein for up to 3 months (90-days period) you can drive your car with your driving licence with no problem. If you will be permanently moving to the Principality, you will have 12 months to exchange your UK driving permit for a Liechtenstein one. Make sure you also take your logbook (V5C) and your insurance certificate when bringing your own vehicle abroad. As Liechtenstein is an Alpine country you will need to be prepared for the conditions there. Equip yourself with winter tyres and snow chains. Also keep in mind that radar detectors are prohibited there and the limit for alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.08%.
Education in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein has an excellent education system built to develop highly qualified workers and is based upon well-paid teachers, smaller class sizes, and less homework but more versatile extracurricular activities. Education starts at the age of four with kindergarten and the kids stay there for two years. Primary school begins at the age of six. The next stage is a secondary school and students can choose from three types, based on their interests and performance: low-level Oberschule, Realschule and Gymnasium. It is followed by Upper secondary school. There are only four universities but the Principality is working in close partnership with its neighbouring countries to secure free education there. Liechtenstein also offers excellent vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities.
Being a student in Liechtenstein
To study in Liechtenstein for more than 90-days you will need a student visa. While tuition fees depend on the university and the program of study, a single academic year shouldn’t cost you more than £4,000. Moreover, university hostels are quite common and inexpensive. The University of Liechtenstein is a very international university and teaches programmes in Architecture, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship, IT and Business Process Management, Banking and Financial Management. A degree earned in Liechtenstein receives global recognition.
Healthcare in Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein has only one hospital located in the capital Vaduz providing basic services to residents. For more specialised care, people must travel to nearby hospitals in Switzerland or Austria. In addition, the Principality is not a member of the World Health Organization. However, the country’s health system is considered well-developed. Health insurance is mandatory for people living and working in Liechtenstein over the age of 16 and it is provided by private insurers, employers or the government. Even with insurance, healthcare is not entirely free. You will be required to cover part of the costs.
From breathtaking Alpine sceneries, growing economy, high-quality education and high standard of living, Liechtenstein has a lot to offer to its residents. If you have decided on moving to this enchanting small country, this can doubtlessly be seen as a great choice. Of course, you will need to pass through some bureaucracy first but if you need any help, you can always reach for professional advice.