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‘The right decision’: why foreign residents of Swiss cities move to the country

The transition from city to country is not a new phenomenon, but it has grown significantly since the onset of the Covid pandemic, when many people – both Swiss and foreigners – moved from cramped towns to smaller towns and villages.

For many people, this kind of move made even more sense given the work-from-home requirement that was occasionally in place during the pandemic.

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“There was a Covid effect on a desire for the countryside. We can say that the coronavirus acted as a kind of trigger,” said Joëlle Salomon-Cavin, a lecturer at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability at the University of Lausanne (UNIL), in a statement. interview with the public broadcaster RTS.

However, the pandemic has not been the only catalyst. A study Conducted jointly by UNIL and the Federal Polytechnic Institute of Lausanne, they found three main reasons for the move: the quest for a better balance in life, the desire for a less urban and more ecological way of life, and the quest for personal well-being.

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Foreign residents are no exception when it comes to a desire for a simpler, greener and less stressful life – at least this is apparent from the answers to The Vanir-exodus survey.

On January 25 we have our readers asked to share their experiences of moving from the city to the countryside, including the reasons for it, and whether they are satisfied with the choice they have made.

READ MORE: Have your say: what can you expect when you move to the Swiss countryside?

This is what they told us

Most respondents were predominantly positive about the move.

Stephen Farmer moved from Basel to Büsserbach in the canton of Solothurn because he wanted to buy a house with a garden “and get more peace and quiet”.

In hindsight, “it was absolutely the right decision and I’ve never been happier”.

Before he moved, “several people told me that Swiss in rural areas do not like foreigners and that it would be difficult for me to be accepted. But the people in my village are friendly and I found it easier to make Swiss friends here than in Basel.”

Many foreigners prefer to live in the Swiss countryside. Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

Steve Fors moved from Zurich to Remigen in Aargau “for more space and slower pace”.

“It was the best decision,” he said. “We love our flat and our village. We have made good friends with our neighbors and I work remotely three days a week”.

Also no regrets for another reader who moved from Zurich to Walensee in St. Gallen “to be closer to nature and enjoy three to four times more space for the same rent”.

Since he made the switch, “he found more time to read and focus on things I was passionate about”.

His conclusion: “I would never go back to a big city again, especially not after the past two years”.

Yet another reader moved from Basel to Lenzerheide in Graubünden, but rented out the apartment in Basel “in case we ever want to move back”.

So far, however, there is no regret or desire to go back. “The quality of life is much better here and taxes are lower. I can also ski for an hour during lunch or go for a walk”.

Das moved from Bern to Frauenappellen. Although he was surprised by the lack of non-Europeans in the village, “it was otherwise a good decision, both in terms of people and space”.

Sometimes readers are brave enough to move from one language area to another, as was the case for John Aran, who moved from Schaffhausen, Switzerland, Germany, to Wallis, in the French-speaking part.

He found the people in his new home “much friendlier”.

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“I hope I don’t regret it”

While most responses to our poll were positive, some readers were less enthusiastic about moving out of the larger cities.

Filip, who moved from Zurich to Wädenswil to be closer to his son’s school, said their new town “somehow feels lonely. Hardly anyone is around during the day”.

Another transplant, Sandra Shibata, who left Geneva for Wallis, found it more difficult to make friends in her new city. “I hope I won’t regret this decision,” she said.

A reader who also made the move from Geneva to Wallis gave a more scathing review of her new home: “Wallis is super retarded, sexist and xenophobic, and job search is a nightmare here”.

READ MORE: Where do the foreigners of Switzerland all live?

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