Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Where to Live In The World (Was: Leaving Switzerland)

Hello guys,

I would like your opinion on my project to leave Switzerland, for minimum a year. I live in a city of french-speaking Switzerland of about 140'000 people. I still have at least 1.5 years of training to do before being able to leave. Here are the reasons by importance:

  1. Mentality & Values: the thing I don't like about here is that people have a village-mentality: a lot of hypocrysy, gossiping, judging, passive-agressiveness. It's quite right-wing and conservative. People are quite selfish in my opinion as well. Many people run after the money and don't value relationship so much. I want to bring innovations but people are quite closed off to such ideas
  2. Work-personal life balance: We work a lot and don't have so much free time.
  3. Social life: it's quite difficult to make new friends here as most people are quite cold and reserved. They keep to themselves and their family and close social circle.
  4. Learning: in my field and in my culture, there is more a competitive than a collaborative attitude. This means that to learn we have to fend for ourselves. There are courses but they are often difficult to take advantage of as they happen during work time.
  5. Mating: due to the mentality, I am not so much attracted to swiss women who are quite squared and stern. Also, there are pretty girls but not so many as in other countries I visited. I'm getting to an age where I'm peaking on my SMV so it's time for me to look for a long-term relationship.
  6. Mixing clinical work with research: if I want to do research, I have to do it in my free time. I think this is absurd as we already work a lot.
  7. Property: only 10% of Swiss population can afford a house, according to a survey.

So basically, I am looking for a place with more open-mindedness, more progressive, more equal society, more warmth and more free time. Also a place with more beautiful women. In surveys swiss people say they are happy but as someone who travelled I don't think we are so happy. We basically are overworked and quite isolated as a people.

The good things about Switzerland : money (we are rich when we travel, but not in our own country), nature, system runs well and is predictable, my family lives there, I speak the language, it is democratic.

Here are my ideas at this stage, I visited them all:

Amsterdam (NL): a bit less working hours, more emphasis on social life, more directness, open-mindedness and warmth, more open to change, it has the sea and beautiful architecture. I will have to learn the language but I love dutch. The bigger cons: less nature, more people.

Oslo (Norway): 37 hours a week (I work about 50), beautiful women, more open-mindedness, more equal society, very family and kid-oriented, it has the sea, wonderful nature. Cons: it's not as open-minded as NL regarding drug-policies. Cons: cold, long dark winter, Oslo is quite small.

Copenhagen (Denmark): Same as Oslo but less state-driven, more innovative than Norway, more talkative than Norway. A mix between NL and nordic countries. People are lovely and helpful. Cons: Copenhagen is quite small, the bike system is not as well run as NL

Stockholm (Sweden): same as Oslo with also Nanny-state, lots of free time but people are more like the Swiss: more reserved and more judging than Danes or Norses. Cons: cold long dark winter

Montreal (Canada): one of the best city for expats according to surveys. People are quite open-minded. Lots of beautiful women, great nature. Cons: far away from Europe.

I'm happy to have some feed-back on my project!

John,

I love how you are going about it.

Swiss has its pros, and personally I have never in my life heard so many people that want to travel and visit Switzerland as I have here in Seoul. It made me reflect that, after all, yes, the nature and high quality of life do make Switzerland somewhat of a special place.

But overall I agree with you on the cons.
Both the overall Swiss culture and the lack of major world cities are major big cons. And 140.000 is basically a big town. There are some advantages to that, but also several cons.

But man, how about:

Berlin, (German): it's in Germany, which means you're within a rich country, in a strong democracy, with a strong social support net. Even if you likely won't need that, social safety nets make for less social tension and an overall safer environment.
But most of all... You're in Germany, but without the Germany-drawbacks. Berlin truly is an international city, you barely need German language, and you get some of everything -you gotta love that diversity-. The East is more artistic, rebel, and party-like. The West is poshier, classier, and richer -plus one of the longest shopping streets in Europe: Kudamm. Even if you're not into shopping, it's just beautiful to stroll around-.
When it comes to people, in Berlin there is a mix that you will rarely find anywhere else: start-up folks with big dreams (but working on their dreams), artists, party people, tourists, lots of foreign students, and of course more typical businesspeople.

 

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you for your answer! I considered Berlin and I know you lived there so thanks for sharing about it. I’ve been once in Berlin and I did like it a lot. I was in bars that were completely different than any other I’ve ever experienced. The biggest drawback for Berlin: the language! We learn German in school but I prefer the sounds of Dutch, Norwegian or Swedish. Danish I’m neutral towards it. Also when I watch videos on people being interviewed in the streets of Germany (not Berlin) or on German TV, they look boring as hell. That being said I’m going to add it to my list and go back to look at it with the idea of living there in mind. To me, Berlin is a sister city to Amsterdam and Copenhagen. A city where freedom means something. The “live and let live” philosophy.

Yes, Switzerland is special and unique. It’s one of the best countries to live in but I’m afraid this environment won’t help me reach my long-term goals. I don’t project myself there. At least not where I live. I considered Geneva, Basel or Zürich but I don’t think the culture will be very different and I don’t want to learn Swiss German dialect.

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef

Alright, take this follow-up as my very own opinion on the topic:

Copenhagen has less than 1 million people and no real international standing. I'd guess the expat population of higher-caliber workers is probably rather small.
Maybe you want to fit in with the local crowd, but as an expat, it's usually a great plus to also have other high-value international folks in the city.
Considering size, population, and high-value immigration trends, it's possible that after a while Copenhagen will also start to feel just like a slightly bigger small town.

Amsterdam is a step forward to Copenhagen.
I'm not a huge fan of having to walk around water, canals and bridges, but that's totally up to preferences. When I've been there in the summer though, I didn't have the best impression. In summer the city is filled with stoners who travel there just to smoke weed -as if they couldn't smoke at home-. So the crowd tends to be temporary travelers of generally lower status.
Also, the streets around the red light district just felt seedy. You can legalize and control prostitution as much as you want, but what happens then is that the area gets filled of men and drunk men and all women avoid it, so it feels seedy anyway.

My opinion is biased since I mostly hear from people who love Berlin, but even when I include folks who have lived in several different cities, there is truly no match at the moment in continental Europe.

It's also possible you wouldn't have to learn German at all. There is plenty of foreign population that some doctors might simply focus to cater to the international crowd.
You might still want to learn some local language, but you wouldn't have the work pressure to learn it fast -I certainly haven't become proficient at it, and not planning to-.

 

Stef has reacted to this post.
Stef
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Very interesting discussion - I wondered myself why you chose specifically Berlin as your base and now it makes a lot more sense to me.

 

As far as I’m aware, central europe generally has a comparativly good safety-net, germany in particular, but I wasn’t sure why you would even want that if you won’t need it, as it comes with significantly higher costs, but now I totally get your point considering overall safety, stability and mentality – that comes with it as well .

 

What I’m still curious about is, why haven’t you chosen an international italian city as your base?

As many things seem somewhat similar to germany, but you would speak the language, the weather and climate would mostly be a lot more attractive and the bureaucracy can’t be worse.

(Though one downside would be more competition because of how well italian men care about their appearance.)

 

What I also find very valuable are honest reports of downsides of places, because in many cases they can become an – or even -the- deciding factor(s), and it’s a bit harder to get honest, critical opinions on the matter, because f.e. travel-blogs in many cases oversell the upsides.

Insightful in that regard as well were these two threads for me:

Redditors, where do you want to live? Redditors who live there, why should they not want to live there?

People who traveled the world. What did you choose not to say about a country you visited to keep the story positive?

 

And I also really liked your balanced travel-reviews.

 

Quote from Anon on August 28, 2020, 3:38 pm
  1. As far as I’m aware, central europe generally has a comparativly good safety-net, germany in particular, but I wasn’t sure why you would even want that if you won’t need it, as it comes with significantly higher costs, but now I totally get your point considering overall safety, stability and mentality – that comes with it as well .

2. What I’m still curious about is, why haven’t you chosen an international italian city as your base? (...)
(Though one downside would be more competition because of how well italian men care about their appearance.) 

Hey Anon,

Yeah, I think choosing were to live is SUCH a huge part of anyone's life strategy and life objective.

It's crazy how many people leave that to randonmness, either staying put, or moving wherever they happened to find a job or a spouse.

How about you, are you thinking about moving?

The pros of more socialist countries

Yeah, safety nets, general financial well-being of the population and, to use an economist metric, a small GINI coefficient tend to make for safer, more collaborative societies.

It's great when you can walk at any time of the day or night, the subway still running on the weekend 24h, and you don't need to watch your back -albeit I still do, I'm a big believer in the saying "to trust is good, and not to trust is even better" :)-.

But even beyond pure safety, the whole society changes.
People are less money-driven, less competitive, less overworked, and there is generally a more chill vibe. Women are also less hypergamous and resource-driven in their mating and relationship choices, albeit that can be either an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the individual's circumstances.

There also some drawbacks too, of course.

But at least when it comes to the personal high costs of socialism, if you live less than 6 months in the country and don't take advantage of public services such as free schools and healthcare, then you don't have to pay taxes there.


Living abroad: the advantages

Living abroad has advantages and disadvantages, but so far for me, the pros outweighed the cons.

There are two things I like about leaving abroad that I've rarely seen mentioned:

  1. The bubble effect for full focus: when you understand little of the language around you, it's a bit like living in a bubble. Some people suffer in that bubble, but I find it refreshing. To me the social relationships of eavesdropping to other people's conversations or complaining about the weather to your old neighbor are NOT relationships anyway. The bubble effect helps you not to care much about what others think, and it helps me to stay focused on my things.
    The bubble also helps me observe and learn much more effectively, as a true scientist, without getting too personally involved.
  2. Rising above pettiness: almost every country or geographical area has some stereotype or some other people that they (secretly) don't like. Germans think they are superior to the "Sudlaender" (countries in the south), South-East Asian don't like Chinese for whatever reasons and Japanese for the war crimes, Chinese are racist towards colored people, Eastern Europeans don't like Russians for the legacy of communism, etc. etc. But when you move there, you come from a different background and you just think "come on man, that is so silly". Experience that a few times, and you start rising above pettiness, and becoming more of a global citizen, a member of the human race.

And this third one has been mentioned plenty.
I'm not too sure how really helpful it is for people in general, but it definitely was helpful for what I do:

  • Learning experience: the idea that "traveling makes you grow" is probably overblown, and a traveling idiot is still an idiot. But there is something there. And for the work I do, experiencing different perspectives and cultures, different sexual marketplaces and different social attitudes -plus most of the human aspects that are exactly the same everywhere you go- has definitely helped me out a lot in deepening my understanding of sexual, social, and power dynamics.

Finally, as you mentioned, yes, the competition argument is also a small added value.
And the last good argument: flats in Berlin were so cheap compared to other European capitals.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you for your elaberate response; very, very insightful, the whole living abroad-mindset part especially.

And yes, totally agree, the place of living is the very fundament, literally.

 

On moving and my general situation:

I decided in the past that I wanted to focus on my inner/mental development, and I did so for several years, and I think that was the right thing to do.

But it came with immense costs, as I don’t have much money or many significant travel experiences, and the ones I have were mostly long ago.

 

I’m now in the process of changing that, focussing a lot more on money, moving is in consideration mid-term as well.

My plan in this phase is to get a position that gives me the ability to save up significantly and doesn’t destroy me mentally.

 

Both at the same time seems hard, and the timing isn’t particularly well with the whole corona-thing, but I’ll see how it goes. Though Power University gave me already very much to help with that.

 

Climate:

Climate-wise I would like to live in a tropical or subtropical enviroment.

Temperatures below 20° are generally not my preference, especially not the winters, and I don’t like grey skies all that much either.

 

South-east-asia appears very attractive for me in that regard (and there’s Durian!), but absolutely not in others.

Southern Europe seems the best option for me at this point (though I had only a few short-term stays), but central Europe isn’t far behind - and the summers are very nice.

 

Berlin:

From time to time I’m in Berlin, as I have close friends there, and what I like especially is the amount and size of the parks, the proud architecture, the iconic transportation-system and the abundant shopping opportunities, even for items that are less common in other cities.

 

For example the number of stores that sell organic food is way higher in Berlin, than any city I’ve ever seen before, and that has also an effect on prices, compared to places with only few organic food shopping options.

 

Considering that one has to buy food constantly it’s nice to live in a place where quality is up and prices relatively reasonable.

 

 

What I find a bit overwhelming at this point is thethis-is-a-huuuge-city”-feeling.

I’ve been growing up in a small village and live now in a city with several hundred-thousand guys and gals, but Berlin is still another level.

I know NYC, Hongkong or New Delhi must be even way, way crazier in that regard alone, but even Berlin is still huge for me. That has certainly something exciting to it though.

 

"a traveling idiot is still an idiot."

thats a good one Lucio, is funny because if you read some books and watch some pictures+videos, a diligent or curious ( maybe smarter )person may end knowing lot more about a country without ever being there than someone who have traveled to that country but is less curious.

For sure some stuff needs to be experience being there, and you can never be sure of what you read or watch about a country, the ministery of propaganda from that foreing land may be may working in overdrive...

Quote from Anon on August 28, 2020, 7:53 pm

Climate-wise I would like to live in a tropical or subtropical enviroment.

Temperatures below 20° are generally not my preference, especially not the winters, and I don’t like grey skies all that much either.

South-east-asia appears very attractive for me in that regard (and there’s Durian!), but absolutely not in others.

Southern Europe seems the best option for me at this point (though I had only a few short-term stays), but central Europe isn’t far behind - and the summers are very nice.

 

Berlin:

From time to time I’m in Berlin, as I have close friends there, and what I like especially is the amount and size of the parks, the proud architecture, the iconic transportation-system and the abundant shopping opportunities, even for items that are less common in other cities.

 

For example the number of stores that sell organic food is way higher in Berlin, than any city I’ve ever seen before, and that has also an effect on prices, compared to places with only few organic food shopping options.

 

Considering that one has to buy food constantly it’s nice to live in a place where quality is up and prices relatively reasonable.

 

 

What I find a bit overwhelming at this point is thethis-is-a-huuuge-city”-feeling.

I’ve been growing up in a small village and live now in a city with several hundred-thousand guys and gals, but Berlin is still another level.

I know NYC, Hongkong or New Delhi must be even way, way crazier in that regard alone, but even Berlin is still huge for me. That has certainly something exciting to it though.

 

I agree with you about the temperature.

PROS OF WINTERS

On the other hand, I have learned to appreciate winters in Christmas time.

If you can get to appreciate that time of the year, then up to the beginning of January the winter can also have its advantages and beauty.

And the opportunity to layer-up also gives you the opportunity to dress well.
Some of the very best first-impressions I've made were with a beautiful fitted coat, scarf resting on an open shirt, and a pork pie hat.

DARK SKIES

I also find the grey sky oppressive.

I remember on a Sunday early afternoon, sitting in Prague with a friend of mine after we had been out partying and drinking the day before. The sky was so dark grey and it just felt so oppressive. The sky in Prague was always dark grey.

However, here is the thing, when it comes to the sky's power to affect your mood, you eventually get used to it and it doesn't drag you down anymore (psychology Seligman also notes the same).

PARKS:

Totally agree with you on the availability of high-quality and bio food in Berlin, and the big parks: both two other big plusses.

A big park in a city is another huge plus, as you can immerse yourself in nature while still being in the city, meaning you could theoretically get your "nature shot" on any given day you please.
Even if you will not do it often, just the possibility of going green for a day makes you feel good.

In Berlin's case, the Tiergarten is also large enough, plus the city is enough spread out, that it's not overrun by people -so much so that you can even find plenty of places for hidden daytime trysts, as I've found out-.
The lake with the possibility of renting a boat is the cherry on the pie. Great place for dates and picnics, too.


What's unattractive for you about Southeast Asia?

To me, it's that the cities have generally lower quality of life. Overrun by cars and traffic, and very polluted.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Stef on August 29, 2020, 3:14 am

"a traveling idiot is still an idiot."

thats a good one Lucio, is funny because if you read some books and watch some pictures+videos, a diligent or curious ( maybe smarter )person may end knowing lot more about a country without ever being there than someone who have traveled to that country but is less curious.

For sure some stuff needs to be experience being there, and you can never be sure of what you read or watch about a country, the ministery of propaganda from that foreing land may be may working in overdrive...

Yeah, absolutely, people are people, and the basic building blocks of psychology and personal drives are largely the same.

The value of "meeting and learning new cultures" should always be prefaced with the fact that cultures are yes important, but they concern more the superficial layers, with the underlying "human foundations" being largely the same.

Experiencing -and reflecting- on why people sometimes behave so differently in different locations often leads to the realization that the main driver of that difference is often culture, but structural social differences that support -or hinder- those common drives that we all have.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?