Switzerland: Great Quality of Life at a Considerable Cost
- Nearly all expats (99%) are happy with the natural environment (vs. 84% globally).
- Only 34% of expats rate the affordability of healthcare positively (vs. 61% globally).
- 85% of respondents rate the state of the local economy positively (vs. 62% globally).
- But Switzerland is among the worst destinations worldwide for the cost of living (58th).
- Over three in five expats (61%) do not find it easy to make Swiss friends (vs. 36% globally).
Expats Love the Natural Environment
Ranking 30th out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Switzerland performs best in the Quality of Life Index (9th). Nearly all expats (99%) are happy with the natural environment (vs. 84% globally), ranking Switzerland second worldwide for this factor — just after New Zealand (1st) — and fourth in the Quality of the Environment subcategory. Furthermore, 95% rate the factor water and sanitation positively (vs. 77% globally), and another 89% are happy with the air quality (vs. 66% globally).
I really like the safety, cleanliness, and great infrastructure.
The majority of expats in Switzerland is also satisfied with the country’s peacefulness (95% vs. 80% globally) and its political stability (91% vs. 64% globally). An Australian expat shares: “I really like the safety, cleanliness, and great infrastructure.” Another 94% are happy with their travel opportunities (vs. 84% globally), and 96% rate the transportation infrastructure positively (vs. 76% globally). This leads to a second place for Switzerland in the Travel & Transportation subcategory, where only Austria (1st) performs better. In terms of the quality of life, there are only two downsides: 26% of respondents are not satisfied with their socializing and leisure activities (vs. 18% globally), and only 34% rate the affordability of healthcare positively (vs. 61% globally).
A Good Place to Work
The country also performs well in the Working Abroad Index (18th), with an especially high share of expats (85%) rating the state of the local economy positively (vs. 62% globally). Indeed, an above-average proportion of respondents in Switzerland is currently working full or part time (74% vs. 67% globally). A Brazilian expat summarizes: “I like the security, the beautiful environment, the freedom, and the work opportunities in Switzerland.” And a Spanish respondent highlights the “high level of economic development”.
Hard to Afford & Settle In
However, while Switzerland places 20th in the Personal Finance Index, it is among the worst destinations worldwide for the cost of living (58th) — only Hong Kong (59th) performs worse. In fact, 65% of expats are dissatisfied with the cost of living (vs. 34% globally). A Greek expat claims that, “there are very high costs of health and services”.
It’s a bit difficult to find local friends if you do not speak dialect.
The country’s results in the Ease of Settling In Index (52nd) are not much better: 28% of expats do not feel at home in the local culture (vs. 20% globally), and another 28% find it difficult to get used to (vs. 18% globally). Moreover, 61% of expats do not find it easy to make local friends (vs. 36% globally), and 32% are dissatisfied with the general friendliness towards foreign residents (vs. 18% globally). A German expat shares that it is “a bit difficult to find local friends if you do not speak dialect”. Interestingly, more than half the respondents in Switzerland (52%) are mostly friends with other expats — a strikingly high share compared to the global average (32%), as well as its German-speaking neighbors Austria (44%) and Germany (38%).
The Impact of COVID-19 on Expat Life
While the pandemic has changed the expat plans of 37% of survey respondents on a global scale, it has only had an impact on 20% in Switzerland. However, one out of three expats in Switzerland (33%) says the pandemic mostly affects their social life, followed by personal travel (30%), and their work or business (10%). Few have noticed an impact on their general health (2%), personal finances (4%), or mental health (6%). The proportion of expats in Switzerland using official government channels as sources of information on COVID-19 and related regulations is quite a bit higher than the global average (61% vs. 48%). Moreover, a lower share of expats in Switzerland stays up to date through social media compared to expats worldwide (32% vs. 40% globally). Lastly, most respondents (71%) are satisfied with the official communication regarding COVID-19 (vs. 66% globally).