• Switzerland's news in English

Expats in Switzerland have ‘worst social life’

Caroline Bishop · 24 Sep 2015, 11:27

Published: 24 Sep 2015 11:27 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Switzerland scored bottom for social life in the 2015 Expat Explorer survey, which assessed expat life around the world in 27 criteria split into three main categories – economics, experience and family.

The dire score contributed to Switzerland's slide to tenth place overall, after taking the top spot last year.

According to the survey, now in its eighth year, expats in Switzerland find it difficult to integrate with locals and make friends but enjoy high economic benefits and a safe environment in which to raise a family.

Research company YouGov questioned nearly 22,000 expats in 39 countries between March and May 2015 for the Expat Explorer survey, making it one of the largest independent global expat surveys.

Singapore took the top spot this year, followed by New Zealand, Sweden, Bahrain and Germany.

Despite slipping to tenth overall, Switzerland placed first in the economics category (up from second in 2014 behind China), with many expats citing the financial benefits of living here, including more disposable income, better potential to save and strong career progression.

“Over four in five (83 percent) expats in Switzerland believe their job security is better or just as good as in their home country and 77 percent are confident in the Swiss economy,” said the survey report.

Nearly a third of expats in Switzerland (29 percent) earn over $200,000 a year, second only to expats in Hong Kong, added the report.

However Switzerland fell down in the other two categories, ranking 26th for experience and 25th for family.

Despite scoring highly in the criteria of quality of life, safety and health, the country fared badly when it came to making friends, scraping into 38th place, one from bottom.

It also ranked poorly in integration (35th) and culture (34th).

“Only 35 percent have found it easy to form friendships in the country and 43 percent have found it easy to integrate with the local people and culture (compared with 61 percent of expats globally),” said the report.

Tanya Christensen, a Chilean-American expat in Lausanne who is co-editor of anglophone website The Lausanne Guide to Life & Style, agrees that it is difficult for expats to integrate into Swiss society.

She told The Local: "I consider myself a pretty extroverted person, but can count on one hand the number of Swiss friends I have — perhaps this is due to cultural differences, varied expectations, and a desire to have friends who share common experiences."

Within the family category, Switzerland ranked 38th for the cost of childcare, something Christensen, a mother herself, has first-hand experience of.

"I absolutely think the cost of raising a child here is much more than in the United States or many other countries," she told The Local. 

"I have several friends here in Switzerland who have made the decision not to have more children solely because of the cost of living here."

"To add to the astronomical costs, childcare is an issue as well," she added. "Most public daycares have waiting lists that surpass two years."

Story continues below…

However there’s a big upside for families.

Four out of five expat families said life in Switzerland is safer for their children, and 74 percent reported a better overall quality of life for their offspring than in their home country.

Seventy percent of expats in Switzerland also reported an overall improvement in their quality of life, compared with the global average of 53 percent.

“53 percent have become more physically active since moving to the country and 78 percent call describe the country's environmental health as better than at home,” added the report.

Switzerland’s fall in the overall rankings must be considered in the context of the criteria assessed, which differed slightly from the 2014 survey.

The 2015 sample was also much wider, with 21,950 expats questioned worldwide, compared with only 9,288 last year.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available