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Urban discomfort Lake Geneva cities enjoy ‘least good’ quality of life

A bottle of champagne (naturally) in Geneva: one person's revelry is another person's sleepless night.


Crowded accommodation, burglaries, night-time noise, road injuries – these are some of the complaints that have affected the ranking of Geneva and Lausanne in a Federal Statistical Office report into quality of life in Swiss cities.

Quality of life in the cities 2016external link” analysed various aspects of the quality of life in Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Lucerne, St Gallen and Lugano.

Geneva was found to have the most “overcrowded dwellings”: 18% of occupied dwellings there had more than one person per room, followed by Bern (12%) and Lausanne (11%). This compares with less than 5% in Lucerne.

The study said having sufficient space “is essential to meet people’s basic need for privacy and for making home a pleasant place to be. Too many tenants may have a negative impact on health or children’s school performance”.

In addition, Geneva and Lausanne saw the most burglaries: nine and eight per 1,000 inhabitants respectively.

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The two cities on Lake Geneva were also two of the noisiest. Two-thirds of Geneva residents said they had been disturbed by noise at night (which exceeded 55 decibels), compared with 43% of those in Basel and 40% in Lausanne. This did not include noise from trains or airplanes.

The number of people seriously injured on Swiss city roads was highest in Geneva, at an average of eight per 10,000 inhabitants from 2011 to 2015.

Lots of bus stops though

It’s not all bad, however. Geneva came third for availability of childcare for infants aged 0-3, with around 420 places per 1,000 children in that age group (Basel and Zurich came top with around 550).

Also, the density of public transport stops was easily highest in Geneva at almost ten stops per kilometre squared – double Zurich, Lausanne and Lucerne. As the study authors noted, “a well-developed public transportation network increases the freedom of choosing the means of transportation and influences a switch from private motorised transportation to public transportation”.

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