Which areas in Switzerland are the most popular amongst expats?

Which areas in Switzerland are the most popular amongst expats?

In Switzerland, expats are spread far and wide across Swiss cities and cantons. Around a quarter of the population are not Swiss citizens, which begs the question: which places are the most popular amongst expats?

Cities and towns with the highest proportion of expats in Switzerland

Overall, studies from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and the University of Geneva have found that the majority of expats in Switzerland choose to live in and around the largest Swiss cities. In the studies, the shores of Lake Geneva and Lake Zurich were found to have the highest concentration of expats in the country.

Neighbourhood of Lausanne has the most expats

Using the most recent census data from 2020, the University of Geneva found Crissier - a suburb of Lausanne - has the highest concentration of expats, with 62,4 percent of locals being non-Swiss. This is no surprise as Lausanne and the surrounding area are full of international companies like Nestlé that offer English-speaking jobs with high salaries.

Zurich and Geneva dominated by expats

In terms of cities, the FSO reported that Geneva has the highest proportion of internationals in the country, with 60 percent of the population being non-Swiss. Geneva has long been regarded as a city for internationals, being home to parts of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

For the canton with the largest population of expats, look no further than Canton Zurich, which the FSO says has the highest number of expats living within its borders. Other cantons with large expat populations are Zug, Basel-Stadt, Schaffhausen, Ticino, Vaud and Neuchâtel.

Where in Switzerland is the most Swiss?

On the flip side of the coin, there are still some areas of the country where expats are hard to find. The study by the University of Geneva found that Röthenbach im Emmental in Canton Bern had the lowest number of foreign nationals, with 37 people registered as non-Swiss, out of a population of 1.172.

Communities in the mountains and in more rural parts of the country were generally found to have the lowest number of expats. For cities, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Winterthur, Solothurn, Chur and Sion had the lowest proportion of expats living there, with around 80 percent of the population being Swiss. 

Finally, the “most Swiss” canton goes to one of the smallest. According to the FSO, Appenzell Innerrhoden has the fewest expats, at only 11 percent of the population. Uri came in close second with 12 percent, followed by the low-tax canton of Nidwalden and its neighbour Obwalden.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

Read more



Leave a comment