Warm but distant: Study reveals how the Swiss are as neighbours

Warm but distant: Study reveals how the Swiss are as neighbours

The first-ever “neighbourhood study” by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Canton Zurich has revealed how expats, locals and internationals treat each other as neighbours in Switzerland. While the report acknowledged that most families rarely get to know who lives next to them, trust in neighbours remains high.

Few people in Switzerland know much about their neighbours

In the "Hallo Nachbar*in" survey, 81 percent of respondents said they wanted to keep contact with neighbours “to a minimum” - characterised by 20 minuten as only a quick hello when picking up post and nothing more. The general consensus among those surveyed was that they “hardly knew their neighbour personally.”

However, according to the authors of the study, the relationship between neighbours in Switzerland appears, on the whole, to work quite well. They noted that "the relationship between neighbours is mostly characterised by distance, but at the same time there is a great deal of fundamental trust in one another."

COVID revamped neighbourly relations in Switzerland

This translates into a willingness to help each other, with almost half of respondents reporting that their neighbour "takes care of their packages" by putting them in front of the right door. 38 percent have even agreed to water their neighbour's plants when they are away on holiday. In all, 90 percent of those surveyed said that they trust their immediate neighbours, and 75 percent noted that they feel safe around where they chose to live.

According to the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, a slight sense of “good neighbourliness” has gripped the country over the last few years. They said that early COVID restrictions that restricted social contact outside the home made conversations and good deeds - such as delivering food - between neighbours all the more valuable. However, with pandemic restrictions over, the report concluded that while the majority of neighbourly relations remain warm, they have returned to being distant.

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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