Quality of life survey: Zurich and Geneva rated among best in Europe

Quality of life survey: Zurich and Geneva rated among best in Europe

Starting 2024 as they mean to go on; Zurich and Geneva have been rated as having some of the highest quality of life in Europe. Barring one expensive apartment-sized elephant in the room, the European Union’s 2024 Report on the Quality of Life in European Cities gave the two extremely high scores across practically all categories.

Report on the Quality of Life in European Cities 2024

In what is one of the largest surveys of its kind, the European Commission asked 70.000 people living in 83 different cities across Europe about how they rate their quality of life. The report focused on people’s perceptions of the quality of life in their city, from happiness and safety to working life, leisure, public services and more.

The commission said it hoped that the report would reveal what people value when it comes to life in each city, and serve as a guide to governments as to how they can improve conditions in urban areas.

Global events see happiness in Europe decline

In the sixth iteration of the report, the European Union Commission noted that while general satisfaction continent-wide remains high, overall quality of life has declined in Europe since the last survey in 2019. They noted that the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have placed “immense stress on urban infrastructure, healthcare systems, economies and social dynamics.”

The report explained that the COVID pandemic presented major economic challenges for European cities, while the war in Ukraine has led to increased pressure on public services thanks to the arrival of new refugees. Despite these challenges, however, nine in 10 Europeans reported being satisfied with life in their city.

Zurich takes top spot in 11 quality of life categories

In the 2023 report, Zurich proved a cut above the rest, with the Swiss metropolis taking the top spot across a number of categories. A whopping 97 percent of Zurich residents reported being satisfied with life in the city - the best result out of all cities analysed.

Respondents also rated the city highest for its welcoming of the elderly and marginalised groups. 96 percent said it was a good city for LGBTQ+ people to live in and 95 percent reported it as a good place for the elderly. Zurich also took the top spots for satisfaction in the following areas: 

  • The financial situation of residents
  • Public transport
  • Cultural facilities
  • Healthcare
  • Air quality
  • Cleanliness
  • Efficiency of public administration
  • Access to public information and services via the internet

Zurich was also placed in the top 10 for being safe to walk home at night (7th), the trustworthiness of locals (7th), job satisfaction (7th), loneliness (6th best), public spaces (5th) and corruption (2nd best).

Geneva takes the gold for green spaces

Geneva was also given an equally glowing review, with 95 percent of residents reporting being satisfied with life, the 7th best result on the list. The largest city in French-speaking Switzerland was also rated well in the same categories as Zurich. 

What's more, Geneva beat the Swiss metropolis when it came to loneliness, with only 6 percent of respondents reporting feeling lonely in the past four weeks, the 3rd lowest percentage in Europe and 2 percent less than Zurich. The city also beat Zurich for satisfaction with jobs (4th in Europe), green spaces (1st), public spaces (3rd) and the access and simplicity of public administration (1st).

Swiss cities falter in the housing category

However, while the two cities came out of the survey largely smelling of roses, there was one unmistakable shortcoming highlighted by the survey. Only 8 percent of people in Geneva and 11 percent of Zurich residents said that it was easy to find housing at a reasonable price, the worst and 7th worst ratings out of all 83 cities.

The survey’s findings are perhaps no surprise, given that both cities were rated as having some of the most overpriced housing in the world by a UBS report back in September 2023. Along with the continued rises in the cost of renting a house or apartment, a more recent study by Iazi revealed that anyone who wants to buy a house in Zurich needs a salary of at least 525.000 francs a year before they can even afford the mortgage.

For more information about the EU report, please visit the official website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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