Moving to Switzerland can certainly be a culture shock for many expats. Maybe you don’t speak the language, you’re driven to distraction trying to get your head around the unfamiliar bureaucracy, or you simply can’t get used to the idea of only doing your washing on one specified day…
But once you’ve got over hurdles like these, living in Switzerland can bring unexpected pleasures and open you up to new experiences.
With foreigners comprising around 25 percent of the population and anti-immigration sentiment on the rise over the last few years, Switzerland doesn’t always have an easy relationship with its Ausländer/étrangers (even those who were born here).
But on Cupid’s favourite day of the year, we want to celebrate the things our readers – many of whom are foreigners – love about living here.
There's an old-fashioned honesty
“I love that this country can still depend on the honesty system,” says reader Raquel Luzi Steiner. “One can cut flowers, leave their money in a little tin box and no one is stealing the flowers or the tin box full of money. The grocery stores leave plants outside at night and they're still there in the morning. Even companies will send you an invoice and not require payment up front. It's truly amazing!!!”
It's stunningly beautiful
The Lavaux vineyards. Photo: Max Schmid/Swiss Tourism
Every inch of Switzerland is picturesque and breathtaking,” says reader Jennah Brown. “And don't forget the wine!”
“I've fallen in love with Switzerland's varied landscapes, from the wild mountains in the Swiss National Park to the dreamy ocean-esque outlook from Lavaux across Lake Geneva,” says The Local contributor Emily Mawson.
“The outdoorsy culture really suits me, and I love going for daily walks in the countryside which, also a big benefit of living here, happens to be almost on the doorstep of the city. Switzerland's landscape, coupled with its friendly locals, work-life balance and organization make it a dream of a country for me,” she adds.
Reader Ujjaini Roy agrees that it's “clean, efficient and a safe place for kids & families.”
“What I really love is the public transport, that you can get just about anywhere on it and that everything connects,” feels The Local contributor Morven McLean.
“Even living in a village, I don’t have to have a car, and if I do need a car there’s always [car share scheme] Mobility. With a GA/AG I can just hop on the train and go to Ticino for a day if I feel like it. And in the summer there’s nothing better than a boat trip on one of the many lovely lakes.”
Reader Rosemary Hill agrees, telling us she loves “the superb public transport system that will take me anywhere quickly and efficiently and which means I've never needed to drive (which I hate).”
She doesn't stop there, adding: “The wonderful network of well-kept hiking paths. The glory of the Alps. The numerous summer music festivals, the thermal baths, the people, the courtesy and (on the whole) respect for the law and for others … I could go on … and on!”
It's paradise for petrol heads
Photo: Ross Bennie
“I love driving in the mountains,” says reader Ross Bennie. “Challenging corners, dizzying drops, breathtaking views, smooth roads. You don’t have to drive an open-top sports car, but it helps.”
Life is pretty chilled
“I love the pace of life … everything seems to function in a somewhat slower pace giving people time to breathe and enjoy life, but although slower they are very efficient,” says reader Zarko Sar.
“Also the people, those that I met so far… Swiss are lovely,” he adds.
There's a lot packed into one small country
Beautiful Ticino. Photo: Roland Gerth/Swiss Tourism
Switzerland's compact nature has inspired Zurich-based contributor and blogger Claire Doble to a mission this year.
“I'm planning to visit all 26 Cantons of Switzerland in 2017. I love that the country is small enough, and diverse enough that this project is not only possible, but thoroughly enjoyable!”
What do you love about Switzerland? Tell us in the comments below.