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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

The Swiss Feel at Home Abroad

The typical Swiss expat has lived in many countries, speaks multiple languages, and often has a lower income abroad.
  • Swiss expats often move abroad for love
  • 36% want to stay in their host country forever
  • 19% have lived in five or more countries
  • No one only speaks their native tongue
  • 31% earn a lot less than they would back home

Expat Statistics 2016

Expat Statistics on the Swiss Abroad — infographic

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(No) Reason to Move

The Swiss definitely enjoy their lives abroad, as 80% of the respondents say they are overall satisfied with it and close to one-fifth (19%) even quote complete satisfaction. Some of the most important reasons for moving abroad are — after being sent by an employer (16%) — surprisingly love related: 13% moved in order to live in their partner’s home country and one in ten moved due to the partner’s job or education.

Besides moving for love or one’s job, a comparatively high percentage of Swiss respondents (7% vs. a global 4%) also say their most important reason for the move was that they wanted to live in their particular country of residence. The quality of life, on the other hand, was less of a motivating factor: while worldwide over a quarter (26%) consider this to be a reason for their move and 9% even the most important one, Swiss respondents are less likely to quote this factor as a or even the main reason (15% and 6%, respectively). Considering that their country of origin, Switzerland, ranks in the top ten of the Quality of Life Index, this may not seem surprising.

International Love

Most of the Swiss respondents, a sound 70%, are in a relationship. Of these, 38% are together with a person from the same country they are living in, a higher than average percentage (33%) that also correlates with the higher than average portion of Swiss who moved abroad for love. The Swiss are significantly less likely to be in a relationship with a fellow Swiss national (28% against a worldwide 45%) and more than one-third (34%) have a partner from another country altogether.

Citizens of the World

Apparently, the Swiss like their host countries, seeing that 27% say they have been living there for more than ten years, with a further 18% between five and ten years. It does not come as a surprise then that 36% want to stay there forever, if possible. However, before potentially settling in their current host countries, a large portion of the Swiss respondents have had quite the cosmopolitan experience. In fact, nearly two-thirds of them (65%) have lived in two or more foreign countries before, not counting their current country of residence, and 19% even say they have lived in five or more countries.

Communication? Not a Problem

Languages are a piece of cake for the Swiss. One in three speaks as many as four languages (33%), whereas globally only 19% say the same. An additional third of Swiss respondents (34%) even speak five or more languages, and not one admitted to speaking just one language. The latter fact is somewhat biased due to the survey being conducted in English, however.

In their host countries, they don’t seem to have language problems either, as 35% attest to speaking (at least one of) the local language(s) very well (versus 28% globally) and only 9% do not speak the local tongue at all. As a result, the language barrier is not a problem at all according to 52% of the Swiss respondents.

University Degrees Are Just One Option

When it comes to their level of education, the Swiss seem somewhat below the global average, with only about three-eighths of them (38%) having either a postgraduate degree or a Master’s degree, and 28% having attained a Bachelor’s degree or similar (versus 41% and 34%, respectively). However, with 16%, double the global average have instead completed a commercial, technical, or vocational training, which generally play a much larger role in the Swiss education system than in many other countries.

The Swiss in the Workforce

With this education, two in five are either employees or managers. A smaller amount, 12%, are either entrepreneurs or business owners, and another 13% are living abroad as retirees. Compared to all survey respondents, Swiss expats are much less likely to be found at educational institutions, whether as students abroad (1% vs. a global 4%) or teachers, academic staff, or researchers (1% vs. 8% worldwide). Those in an employment situation are often found in middle management (27%) and senior or expert positions (18%).

It’s Not All about the Money

It seems Swiss people do not move abroad to earn more money. In fact, more than three-tenths of those working (31%) report an income which is a lot lower than back home and 57% in total say it is lower to at least some degree. Consequently, 47% generally agree to having suffered a loss in personal income since moving to their host country, whereas globally only 31% concur with this statement.

Further Reading