Switzerland drops in global expat poll

Expats surveyed say Switzerland can be a difficult place to settle in

A year after being chosen by foreign residents as top location for living and working, Switzerland dropped to tenth place in an annual survey published by the British-based global bank HSBC.

This content was published on September 23, 2015 minutes and agencies

The report, entitled Expat ExplorerExternal link put the Alpine country behind the favorite Singapore, as well as New Zealand, Sweden, Bahrein, Germany, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates.

Respondents were asked to rate the countries where they live in terms of economic well-being – including salaries and job security – personal experiences and the family life.

This year’s results reflect the views of 22,000 expats living in 39 countries, more than double the 9300 respondents surveyed last year.

“Unfortunately we are unable to offer a scientific interpretation to explain the retreat”, HSBC responded in a communiqué, according to Geneva’s Le Temps newspaper.

The latest report however put Switzerland in first place in terms of financial well-being, up from second place last year. The study shows that while expats earn on average $180,000 (CHF175,500) per year, in Switzerland this figure was $200,000.

Meanwhile, personal experiences and family life scored less well for expats living in Switzerland.

Experiences, which included general quality of life, health, safety and integration, fell from fifth to 26th position, while family life dropped from 10th to 25th place. Integration into local society scored low, taking 35th place, with expats also putting the country in 38th position in terms of their ability to make friends in the country.

In terms of family life, respondents valued the quality of education for the children in Switzerland, rating it 6th globally, while social life took the bottom 39th position.

The HSBC survey also offered advice from respondents to future Swiss expat residents.

One respondent quoted in the survey said: “Prepared for being lonely at first, as the Swiss are very private and conservative and it can be hard to make friends.”

In the [majority] German speaking parts of Switzerland, when you enter a waiting room or elevator, be sure to say “Gruetzi Mitenand!” (hello all) as you enter. It is considered very rude to stay silent,” another respondent commented.

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