Having lived in Switzerland for three years now here are a few observations. I have managed to travel a little bit, mainly in the French speaking part of the country, partly because of my own curiosity but also because of various photo projects i am working on. Of course there is the snowboarding as well, i think i’ve been to something like twenty different resorts.
It’s beautiful. You probably knew that already, but really it is. I mean really it has spoiled other places for me. I’ve done a little bit of travelling the past three years, and while i find myself thinking “well this is pretty” i also find myself thinking “but it’s no Switzerland”.
It’s not that expensive. If you’re living and earning here of course, but not just that, get out of the big cities: Genève, Zürich, away from Lac Léman, and you will find it’s not that bad. VAT is 8% so many consumer goods can be cheaper than in the UK. There are still some things that are expensive, especially if you’re visiting in peak season and eating out, but it’s all about balance. However, given the strengthening Swiss Franc (or if you want, weakening British Pound1), the reality that Switzerland is an expensive destination for tourists will continue for some time.
Public transport is excellent, but i bought myself a car. So far i am averaging 16,000km per year. Most of that is long trips outside Switzerland and visiting other resorts in the winter seasons, so really the car spends most of its time in the garage given my commute to work is a ten minute walk. I still have the half-pass because sometimes the public transport beats taking the car.
My French is woeful, but it is improving. I can understand about 75% of what i hear and read, and i can get by with day to day speaking when i need to. I should spend more time speaking to improve further. Learning French seems to be improving my English vocabulary but also destroying my spelling, specifically the extraneous letter ‘e’ in some words2.
Swiss wine is superb, as is the chocolate and the cheese. Unfortunately i have developed a reflux problem so can no longer eat the chocolate and have to go back to being almost teetotal. I can still eat the cheese though.
The Swiss political system and direct democracy is interesting, but i won’t be able to participate for at least another seven years. It’s a long haul for les étrangers.