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QUALITY OF LIFE

Switzerland named ‘world’s best destination for expats’

Switzerland has been named the best place to live and work overseas in the latest HSBC Expat Explorer report. But there is a catch (or two).

Switzerland named 'world’s best destination for expats’
Photo: Zurich Tourism

The Alpine country offers “the complete expat package” with improved quality of life alongside excellent salaries and “swift career progression”, according to the report which ranks 33 countries globally and is based on interviews with just over 18,000 people in 163 locations.

Spain was ranked fourth in the overall rankings, for very different reasons. Germany was ranked eighth while France was 17th.

A total of 82 percent of survey respondents based in Switzerland said their life had improved since moving to the country while 67 percent of people said they felt safer in Switzerland than in their home country.

Read also: The REAL reasons why Switzerland is the best country in the world

There were also very high levels of satisfaction with the country’s political and economic stability.

Top for incomes

The HSBC Expat Explorer breaks down its findings into three different categories: ‘living’, ‘aspiring’ (which refers to finances and career prospects) and ‘little expats’ – or family life and education.

Switzerland ranks relatively highly in all three categories, coming seventh overall for living and fourth for children and family life.

But it is in the realm of incomes that the country excels. Expats, or immigrants as many foreigners prefer to be called, earn an average $111,587 in Switzerland, against a global average of $75,966, according to HSBC.

Read also: Revealed – How much foreign workers in Switzerland earn

That sees Switzerland score top for salaries, while it comes second for disposable incomes behind the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

However, Switzerland does less well on metrics such as career progression (15th place) and work–life balance, where it comes 16th.

The table below shows the overall ranking.

The Swiss paradox

The relatively low score for work-life balance among foreign employees in Switzerland highlights a paradox about the country’s ratings in the HSBC survey.

While Switzerland rates high for incomes and quality of life (second), it does not score well for “reaching potential” in one’s job (16th) or the lifestyle metric of “fulfilment”.

And, as in previous years, Switzerland continues to rate poorly in factors related to social life.

For “ease of settling in”, Switzerland comes a lowly 24th and Swiss society is also marked very low in terms of ‘cultural, open and welcoming communities’ where it finished 28th.

Singapore knocked off its perch

By taking the top spot in the latest HSBC ranking, Switzerland stripped serial top-place getter Singapore of its crown. Singapore moved down to second, Canada was third, Spain fourth and New Zealand fifth.

Read also: Three Swiss cities named Europe’s priciest for foreign workers

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ZURICH

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier 

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