Switzerland tops expat ranking for third time

While expats may not have been able to travel home, they had the consolation prize of sun and fresh mountain air in Switzerland. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The Alpine nation is again top for expatriates in British bank HSBC’s annual expat survey, thanks in part to its high quality of life amid pandemic travel restrictions.

This content was published on October 19, 2021 minutes

The ranking, published on Tuesday, puts Switzerland top for the third year in a row, followed by Australia and New Zealand. The United Arab Emirates and the Channel Islands followed, alongside the Isle of Man, Bahrain and Qatar. Singapore, which usually ranks near the top, dropped to ninth place.

Nearly nine out of ten expatriates see themselves staying in Switzerland another year at least. Stability appeared to be a decisive factor with some 92% of expats in Switzerland saying that the country will be a stable place to live in the next 12 months.

Around 90% of survey respondents felt that their "environment" was "better" since moving to the country and just over 85% felt safer. Nearly three-quarters "want to save for retirement" while one-third are setting aside money to buy property in the country.

The survey comes after a year of pandemic restrictions that made it difficult for expats to return home. Switzerland benefited from its high quality of life and fewer Covid-19 restrictions compared to many other countries. Globally, the survey suggests that people are prioritising wellbeing and personal lifestyle choices rather than traditional relocation drivers such as career progression and expanding their professional network.

This is the 14th edition of the Expat Explorer surveyExternal link, which surveyed around 20,460 people in 46 countries.

Switzerland tends to have mixed reviews in expat surveys. A different survey published earlier this year by InterNations ranked Switzerland 30th out of 59 destinations, sandwiched between Ireland and Indonesia. The country did well when it came to quality of life but less well when it came to settling in and making friends as well as the cost of living. The survey asks expats to rate up to 37 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven.

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