What’s the dark side of Switzerland?
Hugh Meyers, lives in Switzerland
Answered Sep 19, 2017 · Upvoted by Doug Jackson, lives in Switzerland (1997-present)
Switzerland doesn’t really go in for dark sides. Most things are right out in the open. There are some things that people have mentioned that are not so great.
Money is important. If you have a lot of it, the system will find ways to make things happen for you. Sometimes things that are not right or fair. Yes, this can happen in many other places but it is part of the generally accepted way that life works here.
Conformity is important. If you do not conform, people will take steps to make life difficult for you. Keep your lawn tidy. Grow flowers. Don’t make noise when people want quiet. Don’t try to change institutions. Wild and crazy self-expression is not welcome. If you are the type who likes to “let loose” from time to time, Switzerland may not be the ideal place for you.
Lots of autonomy is given to cantons (like states or provinces) and to communes (municipalities). You can have different levels of government pulling in different directions. Popular votes trump all else.
There is a correct procedure for everything. Expect multiple forms, multiple steps, lots of detail. If you move from one town to another, you must deregister from the former and register with the latter. There is a window of a few days in which you must do this. The procedure for renting an apartment will seem very complicated to a North American.
Tied in with the conformity thing is an “us and them” mentality that you may find in some communities. The Swiss are not outgoing in the first place and if you attempt to settle in one of the more closed communities the going may be difficult or impossible. This can vary greatly from community to community. I had no problem in this respect and was made to feel welcome. Others have had different experiences. A friend from Germany told me that she was always made to feel different in her community because she could not speak the local variety of Swiss German like a native.
I really like Switzerland. Nearly all the time nearly everything works well if you are willing to go with the flow. The standard of living is high. Crime is low. The infrastructure is great. Lots of culture, great education, good social safety net, stable society, wonderful people. But not everyone fits in well here.