Zurich is the banking and financial center of Switzerland, and I’m not sure if that’s why it’s so depressing or because it’s devoid of any personality. But if the Sunday scaries were a city, they would be Zurich. I don’t even like connecting through there, so it would be the last place I would consider relocating. Here are all the reasons why I would never live in Zurich.
Nothing really differentiates Zurich from other European cities. It has the typical city squares and a historic old town and glitzy shopping boulevards. The only real difference is that Zurich doesn’t feel cute or charming. It feels inexplicably cold. Everything is perfect and everything runs on time, but rather than feel convenient, it feels unsettling. Like you’re just walking around like a cog in a machine, surrounded by grayness. Even with busy flea markets and people hanging out along the river, the city is boring as shit. The industrial quarter is the closest thing Zurich has to having a personality except it’s just a fancy facsimile – that comes with a hefty pricetag.
Coming right off an incredible and peaceful few days in Interlaken, being in Zurich feels like a Sunday evening – just depressing as fuck. I don’t know how fresh air just off of Lake Zurich can feel like a stuffy office but it does. For a city where you can be wealthier than anywhere in Europe and have the most amazing natural wonders at your fingertips, Zurich really makes you want to kill yourself.
Things only feel expensive when they’re not worth the cost. And Zurich feels expensive as hell. Even though I happily spent the same amount or more on dinner and drinks in Interlaken, where I didn’t give it another thought, having a $30 burger in Zurich at a fast food restaurant feels like a kick in the teeth. I think it ties in with the fact that very few places in Zurich feel like a good time. Even when the food is good, the ambiance is like a business lunch that you have to pay for out of pocket.
In terms of living costs, even with their high wages, the Swiss pay a pretty penny to live in Zurich. A one-bedroom apartment costs more than €2500. And I can’t imagine working my ass off and spending most of my money to live in fucking Zurich.
Zurich is rare in that it’s awful but not because of the people. The people are fine – perhaps more aloof than the friendly locals from the mountain towns, but they’re not rude or unwelcoming. I would say they’re not unlike the Europeans of most large cities – quite reserved and just trying to get where they’re going, so they don’t have time to serve as a welcoming committee for outsiders. But compared to the warm and lively people of smaller towns, these people look miserable. Like they’re out having drinks after work just to fill their time rather than to bask in some quality time with good friends.
Though Zurich does have top-notch chocolate, that about does it for culinary praise from me. I’ve been everywhere from casual burger joints to high end restaurants in Zurich over several trips there, and I can’t think of a single meal I remember. Everything is expensive but also incredibly mediocre and forgettable. Zurich doesn’t even give you the singular joy of giving you a horrible meal that you can laugh about. Their food is boring, which is worse than bad.
Though transportation is also pricey, Zurich is exceptionally well-connected and convenient to get around. Public transportation and regional trains run constantly and can take you all over town or anywhere else in Switzerland. Zurich also serves as a hub for the best airline in Europe (maybe the world), Swiss Air. But that does little to make up for how much the city sucks.
Total livability score 1/10
If I never had to step foot in Zurich again, I would be better for it. I couldn’t live there – you couldn’t even pay me to visit again.