In 2021, foreign nationals in Switzerland represented more than a quarter (26.4%) of the country’s working population (of which 18.9% were European nationals). If the country of Gruyère cheese and watches appears at the top of the HSBC Expat ranking, it is constantly falling in the Internations Expat Insider ranking (30th). Whether Switzerland is a real El Dorado or a destination that is losing its appeal, why choose it for expatriation?

Expatriation in Switzerland: the advantages

If you are told to be an expat in Switzerland, which advantages do you think of first? The quality of life? The salary? These are the first two criteria that emerge from the annual HSBC Expat Explorer Survey 2021. The survey, which has been running for 14 years, looks at expat life around the world. And the opinion of expatriate workers in Switzerland is clear: it is a good place to live! Between land, lakes and mountains, the purity of the air and the beauty of the landscape are undoubtedly among the strengths of the Swiss Confederation. When it comes to remuneration, it’s enough to get you over the moon. An expatriate in Switzerland earns an average of 99,000 euros per year, which is more than the average Swiss salary of 67,000 euros.

Expatriating to Switzerland for security

Whether it is financial, political or societal, a sense of security is paramount in the choice of expatriation to Switzerland. Among the criteria put forward by expatriates: a crime rate, which is among the lowest in the world, strong political stability despite an unstable world and a tax rate that changes very little from year to year.

Not covered in the HSBC rankings is health care. Fortunately for you, if you want to know more, we have created a Guide to Expatriate Health Insurance in Switzerland.

Almost nine out of ten expatriates plan to stay in Switzerland for at least one more year.

Around 90% of survey respondents believe that their “environment” is “better” since moving to the country and just over 85% feel safer. Almost three quarters of them “want to save for their retirement”, while a third are saving money to buy property in the country.

Two of the last criteria where Switzerland stands out: quality of education and work/life balance.

Expat in Switzerland: the other side of the coin

You cannot be first everywhere! The second most scrutinised ranking for choosing a country to expatriate to is that of Internations, which is not particularly impressive for our Swiss friends (in 30th position compared to 4th in 2014). The survey asks expats to rate up to 37 different aspects of expat life on a scale of one to seven.

expat switzerland report

While Internations’ ranking confirms expatriates’ attachment to the natural environment, quality of life and peacefulness, it highlights a few points that upset expats in Switzerland.

It is among the worst destinations in the world for the cost of living (58th) – only Hong Kong (59th) is worse. In figures, 65% of expats are not satisfied with the cost of living (compared to 34% worldwide). This is due to the high cost of health and services, according to expatriates. Another difficulty, this time in the private sphere, is the difficulty to integrate.

Thus, the country’s results in the ease of settlement index (52nd) are not in its favour: 28% of expatriates do not feel at home in the local culture (compared to 20% worldwide), and 28% find it difficult to get used to it (compared to 18% worldwide).

For those who have chosen to expatriate to Switzerland, it is almost impossible to make local friends, according to 61% of respondents.

Even worse, 32% are not satisfied with the general friendliness towards foreign residents (compared to 18% worldwide). The Courrier International published an article last year about the lack of friendliness in the confederation. In fact, according to the Internations report, more than half of the respondents in Switzerland (52%) are mainly friends with other expatriates.

Health Insurance for Expatriates in Switzerland

In order to protect you as best as possible, we offer a supplementary health insurance for expatriates in Switzerland: Epion. For inpatient, outpatient, dental and vision care, please contact one of our experts in expatriate health insurance in Switzerland to find out more.

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