Are you a single expat living in Switzerland? You’re not alone.
International cities such as Geneva and Zurich are positively brimming with other single foreigners looking for love.
Geneva-based expat, psychologist and communications expert Lesley Lawson-Botez is no stranger to the phenomenon. In her case, she finally met Mr Right in her 40s.
And now she’s collecting stories similar to her own for a book about first-time marriage for the over-40s.
"It is very difficult arriving in a country that’s not yours," says Lawson-Botez. “Obviously, expats are no longer in their country of origin, so usually they don’t have their family and old friends on hand to introduce them to people.”
“They also tend to work extremely hard and don’t have the time to look for a prospective partner.”
But there’s no need to panic.
With Lawson-Botez’s help, we’ve put together a list of ten ways to find love in a cold Swiss climate.
1. Learn the language(s)
Photo: Photo: How I See Life/Flickr
"This may seem like an obvious point, but if you really want to meet locals then you’ve got to speak the language,” says Lawson-Botez.
So depending on which canton you live in, it's time to book your German, French or Italian evening class.
2. Join a club
Photo: Carl Court/AFP
“Joining a sports club is also a really good way to meet people,” says Lawson-Botez.
“Look at what’s going on locally in your commune.” However, she warns, if you join a golf club you’re likely just to meet other expats. “A tennis club might be a better bet,” she suggests.
3. Burn the midnight oil
Photo: Jeremy Jenum/Flick
“A number of couples I’ve spoken to have met through doing evening classes.” Lawson-Botez recommends investigating dance classes or the courses on offer at your local university.
“Go to something you’ll enjoy and that will enrich you. That way, if you don’t meet someone, it’s not the end of the world.”
4. Break bread
“I had a male friend who was also single, and the two of us would throw dinner parties. He’d invite men I didn’t know and I’d invite women he didn’t know, which was a great way to meet people.”
Many churches also offer coffee mornings which are also good places to meet people, she adds.
5. Date other expats
“Geneva is a special case as there are actually more foreigners there than people from Geneva itself; even the Swiss people tend to be from other cantons. In fact, there are areas in Geneva where you’ll only hear English,” says Lawson-Botez.
“One good way to meet other foreigners is to join expat clubs and associations or professional networking groups.”
6. Tap work colleagues
While it may not be the best idea to get involved with your fellow colleagues, Lawson-Botez recommends taking advantage of their social networks.
“One woman I spoke to told a co-worker that she was feeling lonely, and the next day he showed up with the email address of a good friend of his — and suggested she get in touch,” she says. “They are now a couple.”
7. Go digital
Photo: Don Hankins/Flickr
"This method is becoming increasingly popular with people in their 40s and 50s,” says Lawson-Botez.
“I knew one woman who used online dating for a few years with no success then changed her profile and what she was looking for and met him immediately.”
Photo: Mount Rainier NPS/Flickr
“Whether it’s cultural events or social work, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities in Switzerland. It’s also a great way to use your languages, and English is very much in demand.”
9. Think outside the box
"From the research I’ve done, one thing that’s struck me is that most people meet their partner by doing something different,” says Lawson-Botez.
“In my case, I met my husband on a trip in the desert which is something I would never normally consider doing.”
10. Friends first
Photo: Jakob Montrasio/Flickr
“With so many dating websites around, there’s a danger of putting too much emphasis on finding a partner. Friends are just as important,” says Lawson-Botez.
“Sometimes I come across people who’ve met someone online and liked them – but because they know they wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives with that person, they never see him or her again. This is a tremendous shame as there could be a friendship there."