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Switzerland is 'worst place to make friends'

Malcolm Curtis · 30 Oct 2013, 22:23

Published: 30 Oct 2013 22:23 GMT+01:00

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The Swiss rank number one for income, disposable income and “host economic satisfaction”, according to the study by the HSBC bank, released on Wednesday.

HSBC’s sixth annual Expat Explorer survey, billed as the largest global expat survey of its kind, ranks 37 countries based on the results of questions answered by 7,000 expats.

The survey puts China atop the overall league table for factors that include experience and raising children, as well as economics.

Germany ranks second, followed by Singapore, Cayman Islands, Australia and Canada.

Switzerland is not ranked overall because of incomplete statistics about raising children.

Considering economics alone, it comes ahead of China, Qatar, Thailand and the Cayman Islands, but it falls behind for the “expat experience”.

One in three (34 percent) of expats report that they are financially better off in Switzerland, while seven in 10 say they have a higher disposable income.

But two in five expats (43 percent) surveyed in Switzerland say they are currently looking to leave the country because of the expensive cost of living, much higher than the European average of 27 percent.

And when it comes to the “experience” of living in the country, Switzerland ranks only 13th for a basket of issues ranging from commuting, “feeling welcome at work” and organizing healthcare.

It is the worst country when it comes to making friends (37th), and scores poorly among expats for social life (33rd), making local friends (32nd), entertainment (32nd), local work culture (30th) and learning the local language (32nd).

Expats surveyed valued Swiss trains, trolleycars and trams, rating Switzerland first for local transport.


HSBC has set up a website to compare and contrast survey results along with selected “hints and tips” from expats about the countries they are living in.

“In German-speaking parts of Switzerland, when you enter a waiting room or elevator be sure to say “Grüezi mitenand” (hello all) as you enter,” one expat advises.

“It is considered very rude to say silent.”

Another expat suggests: “Take a language course before you arrive.”

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And there are positive comments.

“There is plenty to do in Switzerland: mountains for winter sports and lakes for summer sports,” Rachel Southern, a guest blogger for HSBC’s Expat Exporer website says.

“The healthcare is amazing, as is the public transport.” 

For more on the expat survey's findings, check here

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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