In its latest annual ranking of countries acclaimed by expatriates, HSBC ranks Switzerland 8th (out of 31) of the most attractive countries for expatriates in the world for 2018, with an excellent first place for economic aspects, including opportunities for a professional career or high salaries. In the study on HSBC expats, Switzerland maintained its position compared to last year. The population studied here - expatriates with high incomes - is not representative of the population of foreigners who come to settle in Switzerland. However, these results compare different countries with each other and are very interesting in this respect.
The study analyzes different criteria, such as economic aspects, quality of life, cost of living, career development, etc.
Economic criteria: Switzerland's strong point for expats
Regarding the economic aspects, Switzerland is in the first position among the 31 countries analyzed. In the eyes of expatriates, the material benefits in the broad sense proposed by Switzerland are clearly interesting, especially on the aspects of the salary.
Moving to Switzerland allows a strong salary increase
By changing countries to live in Switzerland, expatriates have generally observed a significant increase in their remuneration: a large majority of expatriates say they have had a salary change in Switzerland, and the country is, on this criterion, the 2nd country among 31 having allowed the biggest salary increase.
The best salary available is in Switzerland
Thanks to a relatively good level of taxation compared to other jurisdictions, Switzerland ranks second in the world for disposable income (the average gross annual income reported in the study is 196,725,187,730 CHF gross annual over a total of it should be noted that these incomes correspond to high average incomes, generally intended for executives or senior managers).
Switzerland allows expats to have a good savings capacity
In Switzerland, high incomes are to be matched with a high cost of living. As a result, expats who have made a move to Switzerland save in a rather satisfactory way since the country ranks 8th globally on savings capacity.
The economic stability of Switzerland
From an economic point of view, the Swiss economy inspires confidence in the expatriate community since a large majority of them give a positive opinion on the Swiss economy, placing the country in 1st position globally. This stability is an integral part of Switzerland's appeal to expatriates and investors alike. To illustrate this, one can mention for example the stability of taxation in Switzerland (which is one of the facets of the country's economic stability), the country proposing rules and tax rates that change little from one year to the other.
Job security in Switzerland
Despite a relatively flexible and fairly balanced labour law between employees and employers, expatriates believe that Switzerland provides real job security since the country is ranked 4th globally on this theme. For the record, Switzerland was ranked 7th on this criterion in 2015, so things have improved greatly.
Switzerland supports career progress
It seems that a job held in Switzerland allows expatriates to benefit from a "boost" for their career since expatriates put Switzerland in 5th position for countries with the best career progression. We can, therefore, say that Switzerland is becoming a staple in expatriates' careers.
Life in Switzerland: the good and the bad
In the study, the criteria that make up what can be described as living conditions put Switzerland in 19th position out of 31, which is rather average, with significant differences between the different criteria.
After several years with a rather average ranking (up to 12th position), Switzerland has found since 2017 a good 4th place. Let it be said, expatriates, believe that the quality of life in Switzerland is good!
Is it easy to integrate in Switzerland or to make friends? Probably not so much, according to the ranking, since expatriates position Switzerland last in 31 countries. This criterion is deteriorating from year to year, since in 2016, Switzerland was in 24th position. It is interesting to note, however, that most of the people interviewed in this study are English-speaking, and that language, as we know, is a natural barrier to integration and the ability to make friends in the country. This behaviour is also reflected in the "integration" criterion for which the country is in 29th out of 31 positions.
For the criterion of safety, Switzerland was placed 3rd. Historically a neutral country, Switzerland is rarely associated with armed conflict, and the police ensure the safety of the inhabitants, as well in the cities as in the countryside.
Expatriates have judged in the study the different financial aspects: the offer of banking institutions, financial services offered etc. By coming to Switzerland, expatriates will, for the most part, have a currency exchange problem and probably also specific needs related to the different trips they regularly have to make. On the criterion of financial aspects, expatriates position Switzerland 22nd out of 31.
Regarding access to a property, expatriates in the study are on the same page: Switzerland is one of the countries where it is the hardest to become an owner, ranking the country in 30th place out of 31. This observation is probably the resultant selling prices of real estate, particularly high. In some cantons, it is sometimes necessary to pay very large sums for, particularly small areas.
The hospital infrastructure in Switzerland is generally of good quality but the health care is very expensive. Result: the country is in 22nd position (out of 31).
The political and economic stability of Switzerland
For expatriates who sometimes come from countries in conflict, Switzerland probably appears as a very safe place, and this is very clear from the survey since 86% of them have a positive opinion on the political stability of Switzerland, with a first place globally.
People who want to move to Switzerland with their family will think twice after having read this study: on the whole of the criteria related to the family, the country is in 24th position out of 31. To consider is the cost of the studies, the integration of foreign children into the school system and early childhood care infrastructures.
The ranking should only be considered for informative purposes as each person’s experience is very different. However, the first step to make if you want to work and live in Switzerland is to obtain a Swiss work permit, an aspect in which our experts are able to provide assistance.