German-speaking cities top the list for Quality of Life in 2010

Traditionally, it has been France, Spain and Italy that have lured people in search of a better climate and more relaxed lifestyle, but it seems that times may be changing. Whereas once it was affordable living, fine food and sunny climates at the top of the wish list, perhaps in these uncertain financial times there are new priorities emerging.

Germany, Austria and Switzerland all enjoy a reputation as financially stable countries with solid infrastructures and good quality public services. Whilst this may be an initial attraction for many, anyone who decides to relocate there will soon realise how many other fantastic things these countries have to offer too.

The four cities listed in the top 20 were Munich (number 1), Zurich (number 3), Vienna (number 8) and Berlin (number 11). The judging was based on factors such as restaurants, green space per head of population, response time for emergency services, local entertainment, and how easy it is to start a local business, but there are countless other things that make these cities, in fact countries, superb places to live.

Germans, Austrians and Swiss people are, in my experience, some of the friendliest and most open people that you can meet within Europe. They are traditional and progressive in perfect measure, and, just as their Mediterranean counterparts, enjoy the finer things in life and make sure that ample time is dedicated to doing them.

One thing that may surprise anyone new to the cultures, is that they have a very healthy attitude towards work that encourages a good work-life balance, and lots of time for family and friends too. In fact, in Germany certainly, working longer hours than you’re contracted for is strongly discouraged – it’s not ingrained in the business culture, as is the case in so many other countries.

Another misconception is that everyone in these three countries speaks English. Of course, there are plenty who do, and generally this will be to a very high level, but it shouldn’t be assumed. If you are thinking of relocating to Germany, Austria or Switzerland you’d be well advised to learn at least some of the language to ensure that you can find work, make friends and integrate into the local community.

German courses are available in a range of lengths and formats, and at a variety of prices. Options include tailor-made, individual or small-group courses, part-time evening courses and general or intensive language programmes in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

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