life in Switzerland

Life in Switzerland



flair link (2) cosmopolitan
pace institution picturesque
UN in no time a stone’s throw away
slope whether be in the thick of things
charm therefore run like clockwork
safe (2) criteria pretty much
posses stability speculation (2)
expat ordered (2) environment (2)
rate disaster in particular
goods stuff (3) relationship
aware internal perfectionism
mug suitable standard of living
crime downside be on your guard
rent sociology push through
absurd consumer horrendous
factor ridiculous get a handle on
lobby point out finance-friendly
thick assembly consultancy
decide attitude counterproductive
prove precisely






Just four-hundred-thousand (400,000) people live in Switzerland’s biggest city, Zurich. It has an international flair, but the pace of life is by no means stressful.

Zurich and Geneva are among the world’s most important international financial centers. Thanks to the UN’s office and other international organizations, Geneva has a cosmopolitan feel.

The Swiss capital, Bern, has the charm of a picturesque, small town. From Geneva, Zurich or Bern, you can reach the Alps in no time; some of the world’s best ski-slopes are a stone’s throw away.

Swiss Resident One: “There’s everything here: in summer you can enjoy the beautiful lake. The shopping is good. You can go off and relax by the lake, or you can go to the city center and be in the thick of things.”

Swiss Resident Two: “Everything runs like clockwork — everything works. I’d say it’s almost perfectionist. I lived in London for a long time, and people there have a very different attitude to life, even if things don’t work.”

Swiss Resident Three: “It’s very quiet, it’s very international. People speak lots of languages. So, I’d say it’s great. Things might have been safer in the past, but it’s still pretty much okay.”

One of the thirty-nine (39) criteria for a high standard of living, according to the Mercer Study is good infrastructure. Switzerland doesn’t just posses excellent public transport systems, its railway network is also one of the best in the world.

And there are international airports too, an important factor for expats.

Slagin Parakatil, Mercer Consultancy: “We look into thirty-nine criteria, very specific ones, like political environment: we look at relationships with other countries. We look at internal stabilities; so therefore for Switzerland, it’s very highly rated.

We look at crime rate. We look at climate, we look at natural disasters. Consumer good, like the availability of fresh fruit, meat, vegetables, all those stuff. This is really available; it’s not an issue for Swiss citizens.”

Photographer Pedro Nunez from Chile has been living in Switzerland for six years, both in Bern and Zurich. He’s very much aware of how different they are from his home city of Santiago.

Pedro Nunuz, Photographer: “Santiago de Chile is home to eight million people. Getting from one place to another, from home to work can take an hour. Here in Zurich you might need ten minutes.

Many people in Santiago have university degrees, but can’t find suitable work. They have poorly paid jobs.

And then there’s the crime rate: in Zurich there is almost no crime — you can walk through the streets without worrying about what will happen to you. No one’s trying to steal your camera or your bag, or to mug you.

In Santiago, you must always be on your guard.”

But the high standard of living in Switzerland isn’t without its downside, as sociologist Jean Ziegler points out.

Jean Ziegler, Sociologist: “The rents in Geneva and Zurich and Bern, for example, are horrendous. In Geneva, in particular, they’re absurd. They’re ridiculously high because of speculation that the very weak government just can’t get a handle on.

And so because of the very finance-friendly laws that the various lobbies have pushed through in the assembly.”

Switzerland may be small, but it’s one of the richest countries in the world. Economics professor, Matthias Binswanger has been researching whether this wealth really makes people happy.

Matthias Binswanger, Economist: “Of course it’s partly something to do with money. In Switzerland things are very ordered and safe. And health care is also very good.

And of course, this all costs money.

But once a certain standard has been reached, then you have to ask in Switzerland for example, whether more order or more safety really do improve the quality of life.

It can be counterproductive precisely in those areas: if there’s too much order, freedom can suffer. Or communal life. There, happiness is no longer linked to income.”

The Mercer Study has proved that Switzerland has a high quality of life. But people have to decide for themselves whether they love the place or not.


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1. Bern, Geneva and Zurich are large, cosmopolitan metropolises, like New York, London and Paris. True or false?

2. What industries or businesses play an important part in these cities’ economies, and that of Switzerland?

3. Do these cities feel polluted, congested, crowded, noisy and stressful?

4. Living in Switzerland is boring. Is this right or wrong?

5. Are there delays? Are the Swiss punctual, disciplined, organized and orderly; or sloppy, careless, messy, disorganized and irresponsible?

6. Switzerland has a high living standard because it is a rich country. Is this entirely correct, mostly correct, in the middle, yes and no, mostly incorrect or entirely wrong?

7. How does Pedro Nunez, the photographer from Chile, compare his country with Switzerland?

8. Are there any downsides or disadvantages to life in Switzerland?

9. The richer or more money a nation has, the happier they are. Yes, no, perhaps, maybe, in the middle, it depends?


A. Describe Switzerland’s reputation. What are some stereotypes of Switzerland?

B. Are you from Switzerland? Do you live in Switzerland? Have you visited Switzerland? Have you met anyone from Switzerland? If not, would you like to visit in Switzerland? Describe the country.

C. My friends and I would like to live in Switzerland. Yes or no?

D. Do you wish your country was like Switzerland? Should Switzerland serve as a role-model for other nations? Should other countries adopt certain features of Switzerland?

E. What will happen in the future?

F. Are there any negative aspects of Switzerland? What changes should the Swiss make?


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