Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends

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Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
File photo: Ivo Scholz/

Expats in Switzerland have the best earning prospects in the world but among the worst social lives, according to a new survey commissioned by global bank HSBC.


Now in its ninth year, the 2016 Expat Explorer survey, published on Wednesday, interviewed nearly 27,000 people about their life as expats. 

Questions fell into three main categories – Economics, Experience and Family – and covered topics related to expats' careers, financial wellbeing, quality of life and the ease of settling in.

Switzerland placed a respectable fifth out of 45 countries overall – up five places from last year – behind Singapore in first place followed by New Zealand, Canada and the Czech Republic.

And the alpine country was judged unbeatable when it comes to questions of money. For the second year in a row it topped the Economics category, which relates to an expat’s earning potential, career prospects and economic security.

“Switzerland shines for the second year in a row, offering unrivalled financial wellbeing and a strong economy for expats,” said the survey report.

More than 80 percent of expats living in Switzerland feel confident about the political stability and economy of the country, it said.

Expats in Switzerland earn an average of $180,000 a year and 75 percent of those surveyed said their earning prospects were better here than in their home country, said the report.

More than 70 percent said they were able to save more income and have more disposable income, far above the global expat average.

But it’s not all rosy.

Switzerland ranked mid-table (17th) for Experience, which questioned expats about their quality of life, the ease of setting up in Switzerland and how easily they formed local friends and integrated into society.

And it only managed a lowly 26th in the Family category, which related to social life, education and childcare.

Within those categories, Switzerland ranked just 42nd for ‘integration’ and ‘making friends’ and 44th – second from bottom – for ‘social life’.

The report also criticized the cost of childcare, with 75 percent of those surveyed saying it is more expensive to raise their child in Switzerland than at home, putting the country in 40th place.

HSBC’s survey reveals similar findings to the recent Expat Insider survey by online network InterNations, in which expats criticized Switzerland for having a bad attitude to foreigners and being a difficult place to make friends and settle in.


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