Why Switzerland is getting worse for expats

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Why Switzerland is getting worse for expats
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Switzerland is no longer one of the top-ranked countries in the world for expats, according to a global survey of expat life.


The alpine country is one of the world’s ten biggest losers in the Expat Insider 2016 study by online network InterNations, plunging to 31st place after being ranked 14th last year and as high as 4th in 2014.

The survey ranks expat life in 67 countries across 43 aspects within five categories: quality of life, ease of settling in, family life, working abroad and personal finance.

This year Switzerland’s ranking has fallen across the board, but the country is particularly criticized in the ‘ease of settling in’ category, where its ranking has fallen from 58th to 64th.

Some 36% of expats in Switzerland say the Swiss attitude towards foreign residents is generally bad compared to the global average of 17%, said the report.

And 67% overall disagree when asked whether it is easy to make local friends in Switzerland.

“It might be easy to presume that given the cultural diversity in Switzerland, the local population would be welcoming to foreigners,” said the report.

“Unfortunately, while there are four different coexisting languages and cultures in Switzerland...the acceptance of diversity does not seem to extend to newcomers.”

More than half said it was difficult to learn the local language and only 48 percent felt it was easy to get used to the local culture.

Neither do all expat families feel particularly welcome in Switzerland, found the survey, with 21 percent disagreeing that there is a friendly attitude towards families with children compared to seven percent worldwide.

While parents praised the quality of Swiss education and the safety of their children here, 74 percent had a negative opinion of the affordability of childcare, compared with a global average of 34 percent.

Source: InterNations

With its high salaries, outdoor lifestyle and good transport connections Switzerland generally fares well when it comes to quality of life surveys, but even in this area its Expat Insider ranking fell this year, from 4th last year to 10th in 2016. Just two years ago it topped the chart.

Nevertheless, Switzerland-based expats praised the country for its safety, transport network, healthcare and job security.

Switzerland also fares badly when it comes to the cost of living, falling from 60th place last year to languish two places from the bottom on 65th.

“This is the only factor that a majority of expats in Switzerland (56%) consider as a possible disadvantage before moving there,” said the report.

“Once arrived, just 18% of those in Switzerland consider the cost of living to be generally good compared to 49% worldwide.”

Despite Switzerland’s many strengths, “What life in this country provides with one hand, it takes with the other,” said the report. “A good quality of life is dampened by the high cost of living and the struggle to settle in.”

More than 14,000 respondents representing 174 nationalities and 191 countries or territories took part in the survey globally.

Taiwan, Malta and Ecuador were named the top three destinations for expats.


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