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Where do the Swiss go, when they live abroad?

By Kai Reusser and Luigi Jorio

More than one in ten Swiss lives abroad. The number has more than doubled since 1980. This graphic illustrates that the Swiss don’t like to stray too far from home.

At the end of 2015, more than 760,000 Swiss lived abroad.


People move around a lot these days and for many different reasons: tourism, family, studying or work, said Gianni D’Amato, director of the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies, at the recent Congress of the Swiss Abroad in Bern.

Most of the Swiss emigrating abroad are young: the average age for women is 33 years old and for men, it’s 35, explained D’Amato. The University of Neuchâtel professor nevertheless noted that retirees made up 7% of those leaving Switzerland.

According to a study by Philippe Wanner, professor at the Institute of Demography and Socio-economics at the University of Geneva, a large number of Swiss moving abroad come from the urban regions of Geneva, Zurich, Lausanne, Bern and Basel.

France is the biggest draw for expats, with a Swiss community of almost 200,000 people. The latest date from the Federal Statistical Office shows that 3,982 Swiss moved there in 2014. Second on the list is Germany with 86,774 expats at the end of 2015 and 2,667 new arrivals from Switzerland by the end of 2014.

Have you left Switzerland for a European country or moved further afield? Let us know about your experiences. 



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