Why do Swiss people move abroad?

Around one in seven Swiss expats is an 'explorer', who finds it easy to settle down in their new country of residence. Sunsets like this, in Hawaii, probably help. Keystone

Was it for love, career or adventure? Or something else? The first comprehensive expat typology has broken down Swiss people who live and work in another country into seven types, covering 86% of expats. 

This content was published on July 10, 2018 - 11:35

The surveyExternal link, published on Tuesday by expat network InterNations, includes types such as Go-Getters, who move abroad to boost their career, Optimisers, who are searching for a better life abroad, and Romantics, who move abroad for love. 

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“Although every expat journey is unique, there are similarities when it comes to the motivation for moving and the lifestyle abroad,” InterNations said. 

“While some types find it easy to make new friends and can imagine staying abroad forever, others struggle with settling in and believe that they will never feel at home abroad. The same applies to their careers, as some types face poor career prospects, while others are more than satisfied with their work and benefit from a high yearly household income.” 

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 With close to one in five Swiss expats (18%) being categorised as Optimisers who move abroad for a better quality of life, this type makes up the largest share out of all Swiss expats. 

On a global scale, however, Go-Getters are the most common expat type (21%), compared with just 13% of the Swiss. They move abroad for work-related reasons and dedicate a lot of their time to their jobs. 

On the other hand, Swiss expats are more likely to be Foreign Assignees sent abroad by their employer than the global average (16% vs. 10%). Despite their great career options, this type of expat often plans to return home at some point and finds it hard to make new friends. 

This is not the case for Explorers, who find it easy to settle in abroad, and Romantics, who are very likely to be mainly friends with local residents. The former relocates abroad looking for an adventure or challenge, while the latter makes the move for love. 

Out of all Swiss expats, 13% are categorised as Explorers (vs. 12% globally) and 14% as Romantics (vs. 12% globally). 

According to the survey, a quarter of Swiss expats are single, 51% are male and their average age is 50.9. 

Travelling Spouses also move abroad to be with their partner, but they often struggle to feel at home abroad and face poor career prospects. 

Lastly, Students are highly educated and move abroad for school or university. They are also the most likely to speak the local language very well. These two types make up the smallest share among both the most common Swiss expat types and the world’s most common expat types. 

“The Seven Most Common Expat Types among Swiss Abroad and across the World” was based on the insights of more than 18,000 expats living in 187 countries and territories in InterNation’s annual Expat Insider survey.

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