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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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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

Where are the jobs in Switzerland for English speakers?

Switzerland seems to offer it all for the international worker - a very high standard of living, great pay, excellent infrastructure and stunning natural beauty in the heart of Europe. The question is, are they hiring? 

Where are the jobs in Switzerland for English speakers?

We examine what you’re most likely to find a job doing as an English-speaker in Switzerland, and get an insight on the job market from one sector popular with new arrivals.

What and where – theoretically – are the jobs? 

Thanks to a combination of geography – being right in the middle of Europe – politics and history, Switzerland is a country where a number of large companies and research organisations are based. 

Banking, of course, is a Swiss strength. UBS and Raiffeisen are two local powerhouses, but there are also a significant number of private banks catering to an affluent clientele. 

Most global banks also have one or more offices – many of them in the nation’s financial capital, Zurich. 

Pharmaceuticals are another area in which Switzerland excels – it constitutes around five percent of the country’s gross domestic product. 

Swiss pharmaceutical giants include Roche and Novartis, with smaller, more specialised companies numbering in the hundreds, if not thousands.

READ ALSO: ‘10,000 job vacancies’: Where are workers in Switzerland most needed?

Many of these are based in or near the city of Basel, and as a consequence, many international pharmaceutical companies also have a presence there. 

The so-called ‘Health Valley’, stretching from Geneva eastwards towards Montreux is also home to over a thousand companies in the medical and life sciences field.  

Switzerland is also a leader in research and education, with several universities among the world’s top-ranked for research and innovation. 

Top employers in scientific research include the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, the University of Zurich, the University of Basel and the University of Bern.

Leading business schools such as the International Institute for Management Development, the University fo St Gallen and the Swiss Business School also employ a significant number of educators and international support staff. 

Signs of trouble? 

If you’re an IT worker, however, be wary. Despite the relative concentration of executive-level and research jobs within Switzerland, the events of the last few years have seen tech jobs take a beating. 

Greg Tomasik, founder of job board SwissDevJobs.ch told The Local: “The IT job market is currently much worse than in the beginning of 2023. 

“Starting in 2020 there was a big bull run in the job market, up until mid 2022. After that, the bubble started losing air. 

“Currently, there are around 30 percent less open roles compared to the beginning of 2023. On the other hand, the average number of candidates per job doubled, from 14 to 28.”

If you are seeking tech-related jobs, however, one area does stand out. 

Greg continues: “The Greater Zurich area remains the main economic hub in Switzerland. It is also where most of the tech roles are located. 

“We also see some rise in crypto-related roles in Zug area since most of the crypto companies are located there.”

Greg Tomasik, founder of SwissDevJobs.ch

With more candidates for fewer jobs, Greg has some focused advice for those looking for a Swiss tech job.

“Try to make sure that you fit the essential requirements. In the application, try to highlight that you meet the requirements and add a few sentences why you are applying specifically to this company,” he said. 

“Only a small fraction of candidates do it, and you will definitely stand out if you go to the effort. 

“One more thing, especially for junior candidates: learn the AI coding tools and stay on top of current trends. Tools like Copilot replace much of the work that was previously done by junior software engineers, and now they also need to adapt.”

READ ALSO: Why is Switzerland’s chronic labour shortage worsening?

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