Is Geneva the worst place to live in Switzerland?

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Is Geneva the worst place to live in Switzerland?
File photo: Cristian Bortes

Geneva has more burglaries, air and noise pollution, crowded apartments and road accidents than other Swiss cities, according to a new study monitoring the quality of life in Switzerland.


The City Statistics (Urban Audit) study, published by the Swiss Statistics Office (BFS) this week, assessed eight major Swiss cities on 24 aspects relating to quality of life, including income, work, accommodation, safety, health and the environment.

And Geneva did not fare too well.

The city at the end of Lac Léman has the fewest number of people living in individual houses, as opposed to apartment blocks, and the largest number of homes comprising more than one person per room, found the study.

“Houses often offer a larger living area per person and a garden,” it said.

“Having enough room in a residence is important to preserve private life and to create a comfortable living environment. Overpopulation can lead to health problems or create problems for children at school.”

Geneva also has the most night-time traffic noise, with more than 60 percent of the population having their sleep disturbed, far more than the second noisiest city, Basel, where just over 40 percent were affected.  

The city also has the highest number of burglaries and road accidents per capita, and the joint highest air pollution (with Lugano) found the study.

Geneva has the second highest rate of unemployment after Lausanne, another city that didn’t come out too well from the study.

As many Lausanne residents will recognize, the city has the least amount of available apartments, leading to increased rents and difficulties for people looking to move home, said the study.

“A limited amount of available homes can push people to choose a more expensive residence, to move to a different area or to the suburbs, increasing the journey time to work and putting a strain on household budgets”.

Lausanne also had the second highest rate of burglaries, after Geneva, and the most assaults.

However, both cities had some good points, found the study. 

Despite Geneva’s supposed poor quality of life, it seems you might just live longer there. The city has the fewest number of under 65s dying from heart or lung-related conditions, according to the study.

Lugano, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, has the highest rate, followed by Basel in second place.

What's more, Lausanne and Geneva both figured in the bottom half of the table when it comes to suicide rate – highest in Bern – a “subjective” indicator of quality of life, said the study.

The report found Lausanne to have the second best work-life balance after Zurich, with Bern coming last.

Zurich also has the longest commuting times to work and highest transport costs, with Lausanne having the cheapest.

“Besides classic economic factors such as taxation, quality of life can play an important role in urban development policy because it’s what attracts people and businesses and what generates the necessary capital for developing the city,” said the report’s authors.

The data for the study was taken from various statistics covering the period 2010-2015.

Globally, Switzerland regularly features highly in quality of life surveys, with both Geneva and Zurich making the top ten of the Mercer survey earlier this year.


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