The Bank HSBC has asked expats, like me – where they have lived and where is the best place. So far I have lived in number 1, Switzerland, working my way down the list, Germany at number 5, the UAE at number 15 but what is really sad, is that my home country the UK is number 33, just above the last on the list Egypt.
I do agree that Switzerland is a very beautiful place to live. There are however a few rules that also make it an odd place to live. Most expats seem to live in apartments, it means no garden, so its easy and you can get a good view from the fourth floor. One of the dilemmas to apartment living is men peeing. Men must sit down to pee, it can cause too much noise if they stand up and pee, especially at night. Seriously this is a rule! One person I knew had run a bath for her daughter who had a tummy upset and had puked all over herself. Her neighbour called to tell her it was too late to be running a bath and she must stop immediately, she endeavoured to explain why she was running a bath so late, but the rules must be obeyed. They really do love a rule, the Swiss, it why they have not joined the EU, they want THEIR rules, not some stupid Belgium telling them what they can and can not do.
Lunchtime is a unique Swiss experience. Between the hours of noon and 1pm EVERYONE stops work, downs tools and has their lunch. This means that all cafes and restaurants are packed at this time but more importantly it is the law. Builders who were pouring concrete for a new building next to where we were living, had to get permission from the Police and the local council to work through the sacred lunchtime. We all received letters informing us that the right permission had been granted, so need need to dial up the Police and start a panic. I have never been in hospital over a lunchtime, I arrived after lunch, had an operation that evening, left before lunch. I am wondering how they manage the sacred lunchtime. For the love of man, don’t have a heart attack between 12 and 1pm.
Sundays all shops are shut, you can not mow your lawn, wash your car or do any of those other typical Sunday activities in Switzerland on a Sunday. They are quite a God fearing nation, you pay a Church tax to your chosen religion direct from your salary. This means the churches are in fabulous condition and have amazing facilities in the form of ‘Parish Rooms’ which are like hotel foyers, I am thinking Four Seasons, not the Station Hotel. The minimum wage is around $20 an hour, if that’s what the lowest rate of pay is, you can only imagine what the top tax payers are forking out. Give the church a few % of that and no wonder the churches have new roofs and fresh flowers, new car parks and Nespresso coffee machines.
I am a little sad that the UK is number 33 – what has gone wrong there. Why don’t people want to live in London, assuming that is where most expat jobs would be. It is expensive but so are so many other capital cities, are we not welcoming to foreign workers? As the UK is home, I obviously have rose tinted glasses when I reminisce on my home. The rolling countryside, the changing of the seasons, as my mind pictures the scene I then remember there are the fly-tippers who leave mattresses and fridges in countryside lay-bys, the poor food served in pubs, the difficulty in getting the internet connected or changed between providers. The poor phone coverage anywhere outside an urban hub. Maybe the mist is lifting and I can get the drift, in Switzerland it all works and works on time. I can not say that about the UK but then again we have ten times the population and less funds to do the job.