Living in Switzerland For Members

'Safe, lonely and expensive': How foreign residents rate life in Switzerland

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
'Safe, lonely and expensive': How foreign residents rate life in Switzerland
Vast majority of foreign residents appreciate Switzerland's natural environment. Image by Enrique from Pixabay

Switzerland ranks highly in some categories but is doing less well in others, a new international survey shows.


International residents “enjoy the country’s high quality of life and are happy with their financial situation, despite high costs. But at the end of the day, they are lonely in Switzerland.”

This is the finding of a new Expat Insider survey, released on Tuesday by InterNations, a network for foreign nationals living in 420 cities worldwide. 

In all, Switzerland comes 23rd out of 53 destinations surveyed, which is not exactly a stellar performance.

However, this is not a bad score either, considering that only two European countries — Spain and Portugal — made it to the top 10, and that Germany, Italy and Norway rank near the bottom.

First, the positive.

Quality of life

Not surprisingly, given its strong position in this category in many previous surveys, Switzerland ranks highly, in the eighth place, for its quality of life.

Within this classification, it is in the first place globally in the Environment & Climate sub-category, and second for Safety & Security.

It also has higher than average Happiness Level: 74 percent of respondents rating this category highly, versus 72 percent globally.

This is line with another recent study, in which Switzerland ranks in the eighth place among 150 nations surveyed in the World Happiness Report 2023. 

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland is one of the world's 'happiest countries' 


Working Abroad Index

Switzerland does well in this category too: it is in the 12th place globally.

It is in the second place in terms of Salary & Job Security, but doesn’t particularly excel in sub-categories like Career Prospects (15th place) Work Culture & Satisfaction (18th) and Work and Leisure (33rd).

Expat Essentials Index

Here, the country is well positioned — in the seventh place — for Digital Life and Admin, but falls to the 47th place in the Housing Category.

It is no wonder, given both the prevalent and worsening housing shortage, coupled with high rents, and highly priced properties.

READ ALSO: Tenants in Switzerland hit by another blow with rent prices to rise further

Where did Switzerland do badly?

Ease of Settling In Index

In this category, Switzerland is the 47th place.

It ranks low (46th place) in Local Friendliness, and Culture & Welcome, and even lower (47th) in Finding Friends.

This will come as no surprise to many foreign residents for whom making friends here is an uphill struggle.

READ ALSO: Can you make friends in Switzerland?


Other findings

On the positive side, 93 percent of respondents rate the country’s political stability positively (versus 63 percent globally).

A high percentage (97 percent versus 84 percent globally) also value Switzerland’s natural environment, the air quality (91 percent versus 66 percent globally), and the urban environment (84 percent versus 67 percent globally).  

Also, majority of international residents appreciate the availability of public transportation (93 percent versus 73 percent globally),as well as road  infrastructure (91 percent versus 75 percent globally). Another 94 percent find it easy and safe to get around on foot and / or by bicycle (versus 77 percent globally).  

In terms of prices, while many foreign residents consistently complain about Switzerland’s notoriously high cost of living, 65 percent say they are satisfied with their financial situation (versus 58 percent globally), and 82 percent feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough for a comfortable life (versus 73 percent globally).  

'A Lonely Place for Expats'

In this regard, “Switzerland continues its tradition of ranking among the worst-rated destinations: it has never managed to make it out of the bottom 10,” the survey found.

“ Expats find the local population unfriendly in general (22 percent versus 16 percent globally) ,and towards foreign residents in particular (27 percent versus 18 percent globally).”

You can see the details of the survey here:


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Michael Gledhill 2023/07/13 17:08
Oh, articles like this really bug me. Yes, like any city, Zurich can be lonely and frustrating when you first arrive. But, go online... go onto Facebook or Meetup, and you'll find amazing groups like Zurich Together offering all kinds of meetup events, where you can meet new people, usually for free. Even today, I've been posting a new event for a Pizol 5-lakes hike on August 6th. I do wish articles like this would suggest solutions... rather than just the loneliness problem itself. Mike

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