Living in Switzerland For Members

Four types of foreigners you might meet in Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Four types of foreigners you might meet in Switzerland
What are the best places to live in Switzerland?(Photo by Nadine Marfurt on Unsplash)

There are approximately 2.24 million foreigners living in Switzerland right now, making up roughly 26 percent of the population. Here's a look at some of the people that you're likely to meet.


Certainly, a good number of arrivals from abroad — especially those living here a long time — are well integrated and possibly even have become naturalised (in which case they are, at least from the statistical point of view, Swiss, rather than foreigners).

But among the new arrivals, there are some types that you might recognise.

Type 1: Complainers

This is a person who most likely moved to Switzerland because of external circumstances, not because they nurtured a love of all things Swiss.

For instance, expatriates who are sent to work in Switzerland by their companies or those married to a Swiss citizen and moving here to be with their spouses.


How would you recognise such a person?

They will invariably compare life in Switzerland with life in their countries of origin, emphasising what is much worse here and much better back home.

They will likely complain about the cost of living (an easy enough target), the obligation to take up health insurance, shops closing early, paid trash bags, not being able to mow their lawn on Sunday, small ovens in Swiss homes, inability to make friends in Switzerland (which is not surprising, given their negative attitude), and a myriad of other inconveniences.

Of course, everything in their own country is much cheaper and better, and they can’t wait to leave Switzerland and move back.

Type 2: They love everything

This group is the exact opposite of the complainers: they wear the proverbial rose-coloured glasses and are positive and cheerful about everything.

Possibly these people have always dreamed of living in Switzerland and are so happy to be here, they neglect to be more objective about all the pros and cons.

Early shop closings don’t bother them because they see it as a way to ensure a good work-life balance. Health insurance mandate gives equal access to excellent medical care to all residents. No-noise Sundays allow people to have a day to rest and relax. Taxed garbage bags are good for the environment. And the stoves in Swiss kitchens are just the right size — after all, you only make a Thanksgiving turkey once a year.

They even have an explanation for the high cost of living: high salaries and the purchasing power they proffer compensate for high prices.

READ MORE: Do wages in Switzerland make up for the high cost of living?

Type 3: They don’t speak the language(s)

You may think that this is a typical feature of group 1, and it could be, but other foreigners are guilty of this as well.

We don’t mean to point accusing fingers at any linguistic group, but observational analysis indicates that most of these people are English speakers.

Possibly because they believe that English is one of Switzerland’s official languages (it isn’t) or that it should be (it won’t), many don’t even make an effort to learn German, French, or Italian, just expecting everyone to understand and answer in English.

They could be living in Switzerland for many years and never become fluent (or even semi-fluent) in the language of their region.

READ MORE: Reader question: What does being ‘successfully integrated’ in Switzerland mean?


Type 3 : The moderates

This group of foreigners, probably the largest among the four, consists of people who have a more measured and balanced view of Switzerland.

They recognise the flaws and benefits the country offers, appreciating the positive — quality of life, beautiful nature, good public transportation, an strong pro-worker employment laws, to name just a few perks — and put up with the negative aspects, such as the high cost of living, and whatever else they don’t like about Switzerland.

More often than not, they make an attempt to learn the language and fit it, and make the best out of living in this country — chocolate and cheese notwithstanding.

READ MORE: Eleven pros and cons of living in Switzerland
Can you think of any other types of foreigners in Switzerland? If so, please email us your ideas at [email protected].


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