REVEALED: Are these the ‘best’ places to live in Switzerland?

German-speaking cities dominate the list in a new quality of life in Switzerland study - here are the best places to live in the Alpine country.

REVEALED: Are these the 'best' places to live in Switzerland?
What are the best places to live in Switzerland?(Photo by Nadine Marfurt on Unsplash)

Zurich, Geneva, Basel are all beautiful cities with plenty of offers for their residents, but which would top the list of the best place to live in Switzerland? Turn out, none of them.

A new quality of life study commissioned by the daily newspaper Handelszeitung looked into several criteria to determine the best places in the country. The Gemeinderatings 2022 evaluated 944 municipalities with more than 2,000 inhabitants to make the ranking.

READ ALSO: Health, prices, and safety: Is Switzerland a good country to retire in?

Among the criteria to determine how attractive each area is, they looked into taxation issues, how safe the cities are, how many jobs are available, the quality of the real estate market (both when buying and renting properties) and the level of support for elderly residents.

Additionally, Handelszeitung looked into matters such as the availability of leisure offers, access to public transportation, and sustainability factors as well.

These are the top ten places to live in Switzerland:

  1. Cham, Canton Zug
  2. Zug, Canton Zug
  3. Risch, Canton Zug
  4. Altendorf, Canton Schwyz
  5. Walchwil, Canton Zug
  6. Meggen, Canton Lucerne
  7. Meilen, Canton Zurich
  8. Hergiswil, Canton Nidwalden
  9. Hünenberg, Canton Zug
  10. Baar, Canton Zug

German-speaking Switzerland dominates the list

The best city, Cham, did exceptionally well in the criteria of taxes (reaching the fifth spot) and real estate (11th in the ranking for this criteria). The neighbouring city of Zug secured second place, followed by Risch, all in the same canton.

Switzerland’s French or Italian-speaking areas have certainly not fared well, and all the country’s top ten cities are in German-speaking cantons. Moreover, Canton Zug gets an impressive number of six towns (and the top 3) in the best 10.

READ ALSO: MAP: The best cantons for business in Switzerland

The first French-speaking city in Switzerland to show up in the ranking comes only in 63rd place: Pregny-Chambésy, in the canton of Geneva. Then, Saint-Sulpice (VD) follows in 69th place, Carouge (GE) in 73rd, and Lutry (VD) in 95th).

Italian-speaking Switzerland does even worse: it only appears in 90th place with Collina d’Oro.

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Reader question: What can residents in Switzerland do about noisy neighbours?

Nothing disturbs your peace more than loud noises made by your neighbours. But Swiss law provides for some specific rules in such situations.

Reader question: What can residents in Switzerland do about noisy neighbours?

Barking dogs, screaming children, or other noisy disturbances can be a huge headache for people living in apartment buildings where walls are sometimes too thin for comfort.

What is and isn’t considered an excessive noise, however, is not clear. It depends as much on your own tolerance level as what is generally perceived as sounds emanating from normal daily activities.

The latter means that every tenant has the right to use and enjoy their dwellings for activities compatible with daily life — for instance, talking in a normal tone of voice, listening to music playing at a reasonable volume, or taking a shower.

You can hardly complain about any of these activities or expect the neighbours to whisper and tiptoe around.

What does the law say?

Not surprisingly, it requires tenants to be considerate of other residents in the building, though this rather general statement leaves a lot up to individual interpretation.

Still, common sense dictates that playing a drum in the middle of the night or a dog howling at the full moon, are not most people’s definition of being considerate towards others.

Your rental contract may also set out rules to be followed, which could include noise ordinances.

What can you do when your neighbour is too loud?

If it is a rare occurrence (say, a birthday party once year), you may want to let it go. But if the noise is frequent and disturbing, there are some remedies available to you — other than earplugs, that is.

Before you bring out the big guns (figuratively speaking, of course), you could try a bit of diplomacy. Speak to your neighbours directly and nicely, explaining how loud they are being and how it disturbs you and your family.

In the best-case scenario, you will reach an amicable compromise and maybe even have a glass of wine together, which the Swiss are fond of doing in all kinds of situations; in the worst, you might have to file a complaint (by registered mail) with the landlord, detailing the times and nature of excessive disturbances, and asking them to act within a certain timeframe.

You can also, according to an official government website, mention to the landlord “that you will cease to pay rent if no improvement occurs within the said time limit, withholding the money in a separate account. You can ask for a reduction in rent so long as the disturbance persists”.

READ MORE: Nine ways you might be annoying your neighbours (and not realising it) in Switzerland

Should you call the police?

Noise ordinances, and therefore police regulations, vary from one community to community.

Generally speaking, however, the hours between 10 pm and 7 am are considered as quiet hours.

However, these hours may be more flexible on weekends, and certainly during holidays like the National Day and New Year’s Eve.

What else should you know about noise-related rules in Switzerland?

You might have heard that you are not allowed to flush your toilet at night, but this is more of an urban myth than reality —unless your toilet sounds like a jackhammer.

READ MORE: Swiss daily dilemmas: Can I flush my toilet at night?

Also, you must know by now that Sundays are sacred in Switzerland. They are considered as rest days so your neighbours’ (or your) peace and quiet should not be disrupted by a sound of a lawn mower, hedge cutter, or nail being hammered into a wall.

One thing you should definitely not complain about, especially if you are a foreigner, are church and cow bells — no matter how loud and incessant they are.

If you are a light sleeper, don’t rent in a building located near a church or a meadow.

And you should also avoid farmhouses with roosters, unless you live for early mornings.