Reader insights For Members

'No laundry after 10pm': What foreign residents in Zurich should and shouldn't do

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 3 Nov, 2022 Updated Thu 3 Nov 2022 12:13 CEST
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Swimming in Lake Zurich (like here) is a must while in the city. Photo by Michael Buholzer / AFP

Switzerland's largest city has a myriad of written and unwritten regulations about what is and isn’t allowed. We asked our readers to share their own experiences.

About 32 percent of Zurich’s population are foreigners, with Germans making up the largest group, followed by Italians, and Portuguese.

There is a sizeable English-speaking community in the city and canton as well.

Wherever they come from, each newcomer has had to learn the proverbial "ropes" of living in Zurich: what they should and should not do.

In October, we asked Zurich-based readers two questions: the 'must-do's', and the activities that, based on their own experiences, foreigners should abstain from doing in order not to irritate the locals.

READ MORE: Tell us: Are there things that foreign residents in Zurich absolutely should (or shouldn’t) do?

The respondents have been living in Zurich for periods ranging from 18 months to 12 years, so they are well versed in the ways of the city.

This what they told us.

'Be neat'

First, we asked for advice on things that foreign residents should get used to doing in Zurich.

"Accept the strict rules of garbage recycling," Giesela Homa wrote, bringing home the point about the importance of proper trash disposal not only in Zurich, but throughout Switzerland as well.

READ MORE: Trash talk: What are the rules for garbage disposal in Switzerland?

Ramesh, an experienced resident with eight years in Zurich under his belt, reiterated what many foreigners already know but sometimes don't put into practice: "You have to adapt to the Zurich way of life."

"In most other countries, it is okay to be loud on Sundays," he said. "But in Zurich, and Switzerland in general, Sundays are strictly for home. No vacuum cleaners or being loud."

Another reader offered a practical tip like "look for deals to save money", which is imperative in the world's most expensive city.

That same person also recommends getting a half-fare travelcard for public transportation, which is also a good way to cut the cost of living.

Another no-nonsense advice is to "shop at Aldi, not Migros".

Juraj suggested swimming in the lake (we assume he means in the summer), while Jennifer's advice is to visit an area  called Frau Gerolds Garten.  Located on Geroldstrasse, it combines a market, art venues, and an urban garden.

One reader's  advice is to "be neat", which is sure to go down well in a country obsessed with cleanliness.

READ MORE: OPINION: Can foreign residents ever emulate the Swiss obsession for cleanliness?

Another brought up a point that should be self-understood but needs repeating nevertheless. "Take initiative to make friends," the reader said.

Those are all valuable tips, but our favourite (though we are admittedly biased) is this one: “Sign up for The Local to get the updated news from around Switzerland." (We might add that this tip holds true wherever in the country you may live).

'Don't break the rules'

Next, we asked what things foreigners in Zurich should never do.

Here too we received some valuable input, some which is in line with the much-talked-about rules of being a considerate neighbour.

"Never make noise after 10 o'clock the evening," Giesela said. This includes, as other readers pointed out, "not flushing your toilet after 10 pm, or doing laundry at night or on Sunday".

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

"You should respect people’s privacy.  And be quiet in public transportation," a respondent who identified themselves as Z, said.

Ramesh has also stressed the importance of respecting other people's privacy. "Avoid enquiring about personal topics unless allowed to do so," he said.

One reader advised against venturing to Sihlquai at night. It is an infamous neighbourhood that used to be a prostitution hub and considered unsafe, though it has been cleaned up in recent years.

Jennifer brought up an issue that is a sore point in many interactions between the Swiss and foreigners: "Don’t expect everyone to speak to you in English," she said. "Do your part to integrate by learning conversational German."

READ MORE: Why you shouldn’t expect the Swiss to speak English to you

To that end, as one respondent pointed out that you should greet people with 'Grüezi', not  'Grüessech' which is likely a nuance only people living in Zurich can understand.

A reader named Albin, who has lived in Zurich for 12 years, summed up the entire subject succinctly but accurately: "Don't break the rules" - a piece of advice that any foreigner would do well to comply with, whether living in Zurich or elsewhere in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Five Swiss laws that foreign residents are bound to break

What else would you add to this list? Leave a comment in the comments section below.

 

 

 

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/11/03 12:13

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