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7 Reasons Why Life Is Better In Switzerland Than America


JUL. 30, 2014, 1:36 PM


A scene of Gstaad, Switzerland.

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Quora in answer to the question, "Which is a better place to live: Switzerland or USA?

Manish Rai Jain, who previously worked at Google and Quora, allowed us to republish his answer. He's currently working on his own startup, Snapknock.

I lived in Switzerland for two years and then moved to the US. Life in general in Switzerland is IMO, better than U.S., and here's why:
Higher standard of living: Swiss cities, houses and food are all top quality. Crime is very low, so you'd feel pretty safe roaming around in the middle of night all alone. There are no beggars on the street, and everybody around you looks very well off, it's surreal. You can drink from any public water fountain in the city, and all public places are kept really clean. There're many reasons why Zurich consistently fares as one of the top 3 cities in the world to live in. Mercer Quality of Living Survey

Higher pay and lower taxes: Swiss wages are pretty high. If you're a waiter, you get paid minimum 20 CHF per hour. If you're an engineer or a banker, your salary is better off than your US colleagues. On top of that, the taxes are relatively lower. Swiss Tax Calculator
Amazing public transportation / travel opportunities: You're right in the middle of Europe. From Zurich, Germany is an hour away, France and Italy are 2. Everything else is a few hours by flight. The trains are all on time, and the transportation both intra-city and inter-city is very good. You can pin point any remote location and reach there solely by public transportation. Switzerland is also part of Schengen treaty, even though it's not part of European Union. That means, citizens of visa deprived countries (like India / China) can roam around freely in EU if they're living / working in Switzerland. SBB: Swiss Train System
Better work life balance, and emphasis on sports: People work to live there. 8-5 culture is the norm, and people don't work on evenings or weekends. This applies not only to office going folks, but also to general stores / shopping malls etc. Minus the bars, the entire city of Zurich closes at 7pm on weekdays, and opens only until 4pm on Saturday (Thanks for correction: Thierry Blancpain). Nothing is open on Sundays. Everybody I knew was doing at least 2 sports on a regular basis, which also explains why Swiss are so fit.

Almost free education even during undergrad studies:
As opposed to US, where an undergrad can cost you a mortgage and your parents have to save their entire lives for, the best of Swiss universities charge only ~500 CHF per semester, regardless of nationality. This includes world renowned universities like ETH Zurich, and EPFL Lausanne, and is true even for master studies. ETH - Rektorat - Semestergebühren/-beiträge

Clean smog-free air / beautiful mountains and landscape: Swissreally care about the environment. Air conditioners are frowned upon, if not entirely forbidden. Even when summer brought 32 degrees Celsius (~90F), we had to make do with fans both at home and at office. Ah, the horror! But well, it's good for the environment, and summer doesn't last that long. Another good example is the Gotthard Rail tunnel that Swiss are building to cut down on the number of trucks between Switzerland and Italy. Gotthard Base Tunnel

Food / Chocolate / Beer / Wine:
The best of Swiss chocolate isn't sold at airports worldwide (I'm looking at you Lindt). In Switzerland, you get to eat Sprüngli, which IIRC, has its main branch in Paradeplatz in Zürich, right in front of Credit Suisse and UBS headquarters, and isn't available outside the country. In Switzerland, you can find good selection of Italian, French and German food as well. And you wouldn't be complaining about beer and wine. Swiss chocolat.

So, why did I move? 

Now, here're 3 reasons where U.S. (well California) fares better than Switzerland:

Weather: Switzerland isn't known for their great weather. It's cold and wet 9 months of a year, and hot and wet for the rest. California boasts of a weather straight out of heaven (minus the earthquakes that is).

Silicon Valley: If you're a software engineer, your Mecca lies in the San Francisco bay area. The choice of great ambitious companies, andcutting edge technology is unmatched in the rest of the world. Zurich only has a few software companies, so if you choose to live there, you're pretty much stuck working for them.

Foreigners are tourists: Swiss don't believe in foreigners contributing to their society. For them, foreigners are something they have to bear with, and protect their society from. They're really kind hearted people once you get to know them, but you wouldn't feel at home living there.

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