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What do Zurich residents like and dislike about their city?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
What do Zurich residents like and dislike about their city?
LImmat river runs through Zurich. Photo by B NW on Unsplash

Switzerland’s largest city has often been rated highly in various international surveys for its quality of life. But what is the flipside of living in Zurich?


The best judges of the pros and cons of living in Zurich are the residents themselves.
That’s why every second year since 1999, the municipality has been asking the local population about what they like and don’t like about life in their city.

The latest survey was published on Friday, and it reveals some ‘telling’ information about what it is like to actually live in Zurich.

Let’s begin with the positives first.

Enjoying life
“The overwhelming majority of the population enjoy living in Zurich, feel safe here, and are satisfied with their own living situation,” the city said in a press release.

This finding correlates with what international rankings have found over the years: “Zürich offers its residents a quality of life that few other cities can match. One of its most frequently cited perks is its combination of urban living and easy access to pristine nature.”


Development of the city
Three quarters of residents believe that Zurich "is developing in a positive direction."

Nine out of ten welcome the creation of more open spaces in the city, and just as many don’t want existing green spaces to be lost as a result of construction activity.

That is just as well, because one of the city’s stated goals is the long-term preservation and promotion of vital urban trees in the city.

"Zurich complements urbanity with a variety of interconnected ecologically valuable habitats. Outdoor spaces and building shells provide habitats for native plants and animals,” the city stated.

What about the negatives ?
There are several ‘cons’ as well:

Tight housing

Half of the survey respondents pointed to “housing shortage,” “high rents” and “difficulty finding a suitable apartment,” as the worst aspect of living in Zurich.

There are several reasons for the lack of affordable housing in the city. They include insufficient construction activity to meet the demand driven by an influx of foreign nationals, attracted by Zurich’s employment opportunities and high salaries.
In all, 30,000 foreign nationals settled in Zurich in 2002 (with more arriving this year). 
READ ALSO: Zurich hit by affordable housing shortage amid record-high immigration



Fifty-percent of respondents mentioned heavy city traffic as one of major problems in the city.

This is not exactly a new development: Zurich (along with Geneva) have had a dubious honour of being named among the worst cities in Europe in terms of traffic congestion. 

Studies have shown that a Zurich drives spends, on aveage, 66 hours a year stuck in bottlenecks.


This is not a uniquely Zurich problem, as foreign nationals elsewhere complain of being discriminated.

In Zurich, one respondents in five said they have experienced discrimination — because of their nationality, language, or gender.

It has most often occurred in public spaces, on public transport, and in in workplaces.

Surprisingly, Zurich’s notoriously high cost of living was not cited as a huge concern.
Although the city was recently ranked as the world’s most expensive, this does not seem to be a major problem for survey respondents.

 READ ALSO: Why Zurich is the world's most expensive city to live in



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