Switzerland drops further down ranking of expat destinations

Switzerland drops further down ranking of expat destinations

Following a reasonable performance in 2022 and a mid-table finish in 2023, it seems that the rose-tinted glasses have now fallen off the expat residents of Switzerland. The alpine nation has seen its score among internationals plummet precipitously in the latest Expat Insider Survey from InterNations.

Expat Insider Survey for 2024

Every year, expat networking site InterNations publishes the Expat Insider Survey, a ranking of 53 top destinations for international workers. To create the list, 12.000 expats from 175 different nations around the world were invited to rate their adopted homes through various categories.

The ranking brings together insights across all elements of expat life, from safety and security to the ease of settling in. As ever, the 56 factors assessed in the survey were split into five key indexes, with the results then brought together to form the overall ranking. The five indexes are: 

  • Quality of Life Index (which looks at leisure options, travel, healthcare, security and environment)
  • Ease of Settling in Index (culture, friendliness and ease of making friends)
  • Working Abroad Index (career prospects, salary and job security, and culture and satisfaction at work)
  • Personal Finance Index (cost of living, satisfaction with financial situation)
  • Expat Essentials Index (digital life, housing and local language)

In 2024 Panama unseated Mexico to take the top spot in the ranking, with Mexico slipping down to second. The top five was rounded out by Indonesia, Spain and Colombia, places where expats all report being satisfied with their lives.

In a sign of what is to come, nations that typically perform well in quality-of-life studies like Norway and Finland were found in the bottom 10, ranking 48th and 51st respectively. Top expat destination Germany was also rated poorly, coming in 50th place only in front of Finland, Turkey and Kuwait in the overall ranking.

Switzerland's score among expats: From bad to worse

For 2024, Switzerland has seen its score plummet, going from 23rd place in 2023 to ranking just 34th out of 53 in 2024. When it comes to life in Swiss cities and cantons, expats reported a very mixed bag.

Switzerland performed best for quality of life, being ranked 12th overall. High scores were awarded for safety, clean air, and the quality of the natural and urban environment - in fact, not a single survey respondent had something bad to say about the country’s nature and landscape.

“The outdoor scene is amazing, and the mountains and lakes are incredible,” one expat wrote. Scores were also high when it came to public transport (with the exception of its cost) and how accessible Switzerland is when it comes to global travel.

Cost of living hampers expat rating of Switzerland

However, the shine started to fade in the Working Abroad, Leisure and Expat Essentials categories. While Switzerland performed well when it came to the ease of accessing official services like registration and residence permits, and the quality of healthcare, salaries and the internet, it faltered in the difficulty of learning the local language and living costs, ranking fourth-worst for healthcare costs and eighth-worst for the general cost of living.

As anyone embroiled in the current housing crisis will confirm, over three in five expats rated the Swiss housing market negatively. Alongside the high costs, 49 percent of expats said that it was difficult to find houses and apartments to rent to begin with. “It’s an impossible housing market, both for rental and purchase,” one British expat told the report. 

Less than half of expats say the Swiss are friendly to foreigners

Adding to the idea that Switzerland is a tough social nut to crack, the country’s worst overall category was for Ease of Settling In, placing 46th of 53. Expats reported finding it hard to get used to local culture, and often don’t feel welcome in Switzerland.

Fewer than half of expats surveyed (46 percent) said that locals are friendly towards foreigners and 62 percent said they struggled to make local friends. “I wish locals were more open to expanding their social circles. It is almost impossible to make friends here,” one expat wrote.

The best and worst countries in the world for expats in 2024

According to the latest Expat Insider Survey, these are the five best expat destinations in the world: 

  1. Panama
  2. Mexico
  3. Indonesia
  4. Spain
  5. Colombia

The expat destinations that performed worst in the 2024 ranking are: 

  • 49. Canada
  • 50. Germany
  • 51. Finland
  • 52. Turkey
  • 53. Kuwait

For more information about the Expat Insider Survey, visit the InterNations website.

Thumb image credit: Eckhard Suchowitzky Mejia /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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