Polite but pedantic: What do expats think of the Swiss?

Polite but pedantic: What do expats think of the Swiss?

A new all-encompassing survey by 20 Minuten has revealed what expats think about Swiss people. While many internationals have used the report to complain about “distant” and “pedantic” Swiss citizens, an overwhelming majority like living in Switzerland.

Majority of expats like living in Switzerland

In the survey of 50.740 people, 85 percent of expats said that they enjoy and like living in Switzerland. Specifically, 69 percent said they appreciate the country’s mountains, fields and other landscapes, while others praised the alpine nation’s cleanliness (61 percent), safety (59), healthcare system (49) and public transport (48).

In contrast, the biggest pet peeves for expats in Switzerland relate to driving. When asked about what annoys people most about everyday life, the most common complaints from internationals were expensive fuel, traffic jams on roads and motorways and the lack of parking spaces.

Expats in Switzerland think the Swiss are distant and unfunny

While a majority of internationals reported enjoying living in Switzerland, when it came to the Swiss themselves, expats had a more nuanced view. For example, while 49 percent thought Swiss people are quite or very polite, around 68 percent of expats saw the Swiss as distant, with 60 percent reporting that it is hard to find friends in the country.

Interestingly, around 48 percent of expats thought the Swiss are “boring”, while 52 percent said the residents of the alpine nation have a habit of being “pedantic.” In adding to a perhaps unfair stereotype, only 21 percent of internationals thought the Swiss are funny.

People in Switzerland are stressed and materialistic, say expats

Around a third of expats noted that people living in the country “lack a willingness to help or the ability to take criticism.” Partly as a consequence of this, around 55 percent of expats (and 62 percent of Swiss) said that most people are stressed out at work or at home.

Finally, around 60 percent of expats said they see the Swiss as materialistic, with only a fifth of respondents describing people born in the alpine nation as “generous.” Despite a desire for material wealth, an amusing 41 percent of expats did not think that Swiss people dress particularly well. 

Thumb image credit: / Catenca

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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