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EXPLAINED: Why Zurich residents are the 'most satisfied in all of Europe'

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Why Zurich residents are the 'most satisfied in all of Europe'
Residents in Zurich are the "most satisfied in Europe". Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

The people are more satisfied with their everyday life than the residents of any other big city across Europe, a new survey has revealed.


The ‘Eurobarometer’ study conducted by the European Union showed that Zurich ranks in first place with a life satisfaction rate of 97 percent — which means that nearly the entire city population is happy to be living there.

The study, carried out in 83 European cities, evaluated how satisfied 71,153 residents are with their respective city’s infrastructure, environment, security, culture as well as their individual work situation, education, and healthcare.

But Zurich was not the only Swiss city to be featured in the ranking.

Switzerland's second-largest city, Geneva, also did well: with a 95-percent satisfaction rate, which meant it ranked in 7th place.

READ MORE: What do Zurich residents like and dislike about their city?

Zurich best city for LGBTIQ community

In addition to coming out first in the overall life satisfaction rating, Zurich has also been crowned the top city for LGBTIQ people to live in with a satisfaction rate of 96 percent.

According to the study, residents’ replies can be linked to education with a higher education level likely indicating that an individual considers their city a good place for LGBTIQ people to reside in.

…and old people

Similarly, Zurich also came out on top (95 percent) when looking at how satisfied older people (aged 65 and above) are living there.

This is particularly important as Europe’s older population is rapidly increasing.


The study revealed that between 2012 (18 percent) and 2022 (21 percent), the share of the population aged 65 and older rose by 3 per cent and is expected to rise to 24 percent by 2030 (29 percent by 2050).

…as well as public transport

Residents were also very satisfied with Zurich’s public transport with trams and buses being the preferred means of transportation. The city topped the list with a score of 95 percent for satisfaction with public transport.

Whether you’re visiting Zurich for the day or are enjoy permanent resident status, however, there are handy ways to save money when using its public transport links.

If you’re in the city for the day, the Zürich Card is an excellent and affordable way to get around. For just 27 Swiss francs, adults can travel for “free” for 24 hours on trams, buses, trains, boats, and cable cars (2nd class) in both the city and its surrounding areas. The card also includes mini and small lake tours, a river tour and free admission or discounts to Zurich’s most popular museums.


For those living in Switzerland, investing in a half-fare ticket is almost a must. Following a one-off 120 franc payment, travel on public transport (2nd class) only costs half the total sum.

Top-notch healthcare services

The study also found that Zurich residents are satisfied (83 percent) with the healthcare services in the city. The city once again secured the first rank.

Despite the general satisfaction, health insurance providers across Switzerland have raised their premiums from January 1st, 2024 – but this doesn’t mean there are no ways to cut back on cost.

Read The Local’s article on ‘How you can save money on healthcare in Switzerland’ to find out how to save a buck or two on healthcare this year.


Safe metropolis

Zurich is often named among Europe – and the world’s - safest cities and this is also evident when looking at residents’ opinions on personal safety in the city.

Switzerland’s financial capital ranks 6th with a score of 86 percent in the category ‘people feeling safe walking alone at night in the city’. Additionally, 83 percent of Zurich residents feel that most people in the city can be trusted.

This is not surprising, as Zurich’s crime rate is relatively low when compared to other European metropolises.

Yet, the city’s crime statistics (not yet available for 2023) show that the number of crimes known to the police in Zurich increased by around 9.1 percent in 2022 (41,946) compared to the previous year (2021: 38,448).

However, it is worth noting that the figure is lower than it was before the corona pandemic (2019: 43,333).

READ MORE: Are there any parts in Zurich you should avoid?

Residents satisfied with work

In 2022, the last year for which statistics are available, just over 80,000 foreigners came to Switzerland — the vast majority of them attracted by the prospect of employment.

That’s because Swiss wages are higher (and sometimes by much) than nearly everywhere else in Europe, and in many non-EU countries as well.

The good news is that in addition to healthy wages, in Zurich, where many foreigners find work and settle, people are also generally satisfied with their work situation.

Zurich ranked 7th (82 percent) behind Geneva (83 percent), which came in 4th place.

…and financial situation

Not surprisingly, Zurich residents are also happy with the financial situation of their household. In fact, Zurich once again secured the top spot with an impressive satisfaction rate of 90 percent.

But how wealthy are Zurich residents?

With just over 443,000 residents, Switzerland’s largest city boasts the country’s highest per-capita GDP of 103,000 francs — higher than the national average of 91,246 francs.

It is true that Zurich is among the most expensive towns globally, but (and this may come as a surprise to you), the purchasing power in the city is nevertheless the highest in the world. 

In terms of disposable income, that is, money left for spending after all the fixed charges have been paid, Zurich has 59,692 francs per household.

It is not Switzerland’s highest (Zug), but it is still above the national average of 51,449 francs per household per year.

…but not housing

If you tune into Swiss news, it won’t take you long to find out that finding affordable housing in Switzerland’s largest city is a growing problem. Among the reasons why is Zurich’s unprecedented influx of foreigners in the last couple of years.

Switzerland’s largest city – and one of the most foreigner-friendly ones - is attractive for immigrants, as it offers many job opportunities and high salaries. However, the area is swiftly running out of rental apartments.

It is no surprise then that not many people agree it is easy to find good housing at a reasonable price in Zurich. The city ranked in the bottom 10 (6th place) with a satisfaction rate of 11 per cent in the survey.

Meanwhile, Geneva scored the lowest when it came to housing with a satisfaction rate of 8 percent.


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