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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Zurich Is Expensive, but Expats Can Still Afford It

Zurich receives mixed results in the Expat City Ranking 2022. While expats praise the economy and quality of life, costs are high and the locals not always friendly. Overall, Zurich ranks 20th out of 50 cities.

It even places third worldwide in the Quality of Life Index, only beaten by Valencia (1st) and Copenhagen (2nd). Expats are very happy with the Travel & Transit (10th) Subcategory, but even more so with the Environment & Climate (4th). They appreciate the natural environment (99% happy vs. 83% globally), the air quality (93% vs. 65% globally), and the urban environment (81% vs. 67% globally). Additionally, they feel safe in Zurich (93% vs. 81% globally) and are happy with the availability (84% vs. 73% globally) and quality (86% vs. 72% globally) of medical care. More than four in five expats in Zurich (81%) say that they can access all the healthcare services they need (vs. 67% globally).

The city also performs quite well in the Working Abroad Index (20th), even ranking first worldwide for the state of the local economy: 94% of expats rate this factor positively, compared to 64% globally. They are also happy with the local job market (60% vs. 47% globally) and feel paid fairly for their work (69% happy vs. 62% globally). This might also explain the results in the Personal Finance Index (24th): while the general cost of living is considered too high (65% unhappy vs. 35% globally), 74% are still satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 60% globally). More than four in five expats in Zurich (84%) say that their disposable household income is about enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally). “You can afford to lead a comfortable life here where things just work”, says a US American expat.

When it comes to the Expat Essentials Index (24th), expats find it easy to pay without cash (97% happy vs. 84% globally) and to deal with the local bureaucracy/authorities (69% vs. 40% globally). However, housing is hard to find in Zurich (41% unhappy vs. 27% globally), and 63% describe it as unaffordable (vs. 43% globally).

Placing 43rd in the Ease of Settling In Index, Zurich is the worst-rated Swiss city. In fact, it is among the bottom 10 for all three subcategories: Local Friendliness (44th), Finding Friends (43rd), and Culture & Welcome (42nd). Expats describe the local population as unfriendly towards foreign residents (29% unhappy vs. 18% globally) and find it hard to get used to the local culture (28% vs. 19% globally). Since they also find it hard to make local friends (54% vs. 37% globally), it is no surprise that 30% are unhappy with their social life in Zurich (vs. 26% globally).

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