Zurich is the best city in the world for expatriates to work, according to two recent polls which hail the city's infrastructure and banking services.
Geneva ranks second in the annual Mercer Human Resource Consulting study, while the Greater Zurich Area was runner-up in the best European business location competition, of Foreign Direct Investment magazine.
Zurich achieved high marks for its stable political environment, international relations, banking and health services in the Mercer poll, which compared 51 cities in 39 categories. The city lagged behind some others for airport and recreation facilities.
Both cities improved their scores from the same survey in 2005 and retained the same positions, as did Swiss capital Bern which tied with Sydney for ninth place.
Foreign Direct Investment rated Zurich as the best business location among 89 European rivals thanks particularly to its IT and telecommunications infrastructure.
A separate City of the Future survey by the same magazine hailed Zurich as the best place in Switzerland for transportation and quality of life, among other categories.
"This does not surprise me because the quality of life and infrastructure in Zurich are exceptional by any country's standards," said Robert Baldwin, spokesman for Network Relocation, a company that helps expatriates settle in Switzerland.
"The international schooling system is great, getting to work on public transport is stress-free and anyone can feel safe walking around late at night.
"There is no such thing as a rough area in the city. No matter what building you live in, people take pride in it so you don't see the decay evident in other cities around the world."
Pia Niskanen of the British/Swiss Chamber of Commerce echoed Baldwin, saying the only gripe some British workers have about Zurich is the language barrier.
Close to nature
"Zurich is a small city making it easy to access facilities. It is also close to nature and our British members love the mountains being so nearby," she said.
"Our members rate Zurich and Geneva on pretty much the same level. The other Swiss cities lag behind a bit in terms of what they can offer expatriate business people."
Baldwin said one possible reason why Zurich outstripped Geneva as best place for expatriates to work was a cultural one.
"There is a strong Germanic influence in Zurich that you do not find in Geneva. There is a great deal of precision in Zurich which can feel a bit regimented, but it is an awful lot easier to know where you stand," he said.
"There is a big cultural difference in Geneva where they enjoy a bit of Gallic flair. That can also be wonderful, but it does not always fit into the business model."
swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Zurich
Canton Zurich has a population of 1.2 million, approximately one-sixth of the total population of Switzerland, while the city itself has around 360,000 inhabitants.
Much of the local population speaks at least one other language than German.
Around 3.7 million people – half the Swiss population – live and work within one hour's drive of Zurich's city centre.
85 of the 100 biggest Swiss companies are headquartered in the Zurich area.
Mercer Human Resource Consulting Worldwide Quality of Living survey 2006 (top 10 cities):
Zurich score 108.2
Lowest ranked: Baghdad 14.5
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