Switzerland best in world for work/life balance

Geneva, Switzerland Photo: DeGust

The latest Expat Explorer report from HSBC reveals the Switzerland is the best in the world for a healthy, balanced expat life.

Respondents highligted the availability of outdoor activities and the family-centric culture, as the reasons they enjoy the Swiss lifestyle, ranking the country ahead of both Singapore and China for quality of expat life.

When looking at why expats are taking the plunge to move abroad, the most frequently cited reason was to improve career prospects, emphasising the important role that work plays in expat plans.

While 38 per cent said they were looking for a better career, though, 31 per cent said they were hoping to improving their quality of life and spend time with a family partner.

For those seeking better job prospects, the Middle East remains the place to be. At nearly twice the global average, around two in three expats say they moved to Kuwait (63 per cent), Qatar (63 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (63 per cent) for better job prospects. Average expat salaries, however, vary greatly from region to region. Boosted by the number of higher earning expats in Asia, average salaries in this region top the $100,000 p.a. mark. The average annual expat salary in Asia is $120,000 p.a., compared with the global average of $92,000 p.a. This is followed by expats in the Middle East earning $84,000 p.a., while Europe-based expats earn an average salary of $78,000 p.a.

For retirees, Canada and New Zealand emerge as the most popular locations. Nearly a third of expats (31 per cent) in Canada and 28 per cent in New Zealand said they were retired, compared with the global average of 11 per cent. Expats who said that quality of life is more important tend to be attracted to the more relaxed lifestyles and slower pace of life found in these countries.

Expats based in Europe are the most likely to be concerned about the general state of the economy in the country they are residing in (40 per cent) compared with those in other regions (Asia 24 per cent and the Middle East 18 per cent).

For those caught between the two extremes, though, Switzerland proves a happy middle ground. Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of expats living in the country associate it with a pleasant climate and picturesque scenery. Expats also rank the local environment second only to New Zealand when it comes to air quality and a lack of pollution. Expat parents say their children are also reaping the benefits of fresher air and more open spaces, with three-quarters observing that their children’s health has improved following the move (74 per cent compared with a global average of 56 per cent).