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For expats, Switzerland ranks first

Expats in Switzerland appreciate the chance to enjoy spectacular scenery. Keystone

Switzerland is tops in the Expat Explorer ranking for people who settle abroad. Those surveyed said it was great in terms of income, sport and local travel, but poor when it comes to finding housing or affordable childcare.

The ranking, commissioned by British bank HSBC and carried out by research company YouGov, included input from 9,288 expats living in 34 countries. Switzerland came in first in the overall rankingExternal link, followed by Singapore and China.

“Many Switzerland-based expats mentioned the better work-life balance, availability of outdoor activities and the family-centric culture as the reasons they enjoy the Swiss lifestyle,” stated the Expat Explorer summaryExternal link.

Earlier this year, researchers queried 174 expats living in Switzerland – most of them between the ages of 35 and 54. Of those, 33% were British, 11% were American and 10% were German. More than a quarter (26%) worked in banking, insurance or financial services. Another 11% had careers in telecommunications, IT and internet, while 10% were from the fields of marketing, media and other creative pursuits.

Good money

“A quarter of expats [in Switzerland] earn over $200,000 [CHF190,000], more than twice as many as the global average of 11% and 85% associate Switzerland with higher salaries than their home country,” stated the country reportExternal link, noting that this was a necessity in a country where the cost of living tends to be much higher than in the expats’ home countries.

Despite this, 68% of those surveyed found they had more disposable income than they did before moving to the Switzerland.

Switzerland came in first or second in the following categories: household income, satisfaction with the host economy, local travel, environment, children’s health and wellbeing, and opportunities for sport.

Taking advantage of the central European location, many respondents said they travelled more since moving to Switzerland. Others said they were pursuing more sporty activities as well.

Poor social life

Although Switzerland ranked among the top 10 countries to raise a child abroad, it’s also an expensive place to do so. Some 83% of parents surveyed said it cost more to bring their children up in Switzerland than at home.

Respondents also said it was very difficult to find accommodation.

Switzerland placed second to last in terms of social life, and dead last for making local friends or friends in general.

On the HSBC Expat Hints & TipsExternal link page, an expat said, “For the French-speaking part of Switzerland it is mandatory to learn French. After arrival go ASAP to a local language school to increase your skills. [Otherwise] you won’t be treated equally by locals!”

Another urged people to talk to strangers: “Whether it’s in the grocery store, on a train or at a café table beside you, stepping outside your comfort zone (and fear) creates an opportunity for friendship, advice and connection.”

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