Zurich named second best city in the world for expat quality of life

Zurich named second best city in the world for expat quality of life

The latest Quality of Living Survey by pension and investment firm Mercer has seen Zurich and Geneva feature among the five best cities in the world for expat quality of life. The organisation found that cities in Switzerland offer residents some of the highest quality of life in the world, but that it always comes at a high cost.

Mercer Quality of Living Survey

The Mercer Quality of Living Survey is designed to guide both workers and companies towards cities that offer the best quality of life for expat employees and their families. 241 cities were ranked in the report for 2023, spanning five continents.

To place each city on the ranking, Mercer experts analysed the quality of living data for cities around the world. Using New York as the benchmark, each location was rated for personal safety, connectivity, education, traffic, recreation, infrastructure and economy, among multiple other factors.

Europe is still the main hotspot for expats

Globally, the organisation noted that world instability has had a significant impact on the quality of life of expats, making international moves less popular. Mercer wrote that expat's priorities have also changed: “Many employees are reconsidering their priorities and assessing their work-life balances, in this the places in which they live and work and the quality of life they can have there with their families is of high importance.”

This year, the Austrian capital Vienna took the top spot in the city ranking. Mercer praised the “vibrance and history of the city,” and the high standard of living offered to expats. Experts added that Western Europe as a whole remains ahead of the rest of the world in attracting global talent due to political stability and the relatively high quality of healthcare, education, infrastructure, and cultural institutions in each nation.

Zurich takes second in expat city ranking

In the report for 2023, Zurich was rated as having the second-highest quality of living for expats and internationals. The “Swiss metropolis” was given high praise for the city’s political stability, public transport and the relatively high salaries offered by local and international firms.

The ranking saw other Swiss cities perform well too, with Geneva placing in fifth. Bern and Basel ranked in 13th and joint 14th respectively.

Zurich and Geneva: Quality of life at a cost

However, as high as the quality of living may be, Mercer noted that the very best cities combine both "a high quality of life and a reasonable cost of living.” In this regard, Zurich lost out, with the city rated as having the fourth-highest cost of living out of all the cities analysed.

When quality and cost of living are combined, Vienna pulls out a larger lead over Zurich as the Austrian capital was rated the best for quality of life and the 23rd most expensive city. When focusing on value for money, Auckland, New Zealand comes out on top, as it was rated as having the third highest quality of life but came 112th for cost of living.

10 best cities in the world for expats, according to Mercer

In all, here are the 10 cities that offer expats the highest quality of life, according to Mercer:

  1. Vienna, Austria
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
  3. Auckland, New Zealand
  4. Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Frankfurt, Germany
  7. Munich, Germany 
  8. Vancouver, Canada
  9. Sydney, Australia
  10. Düsseldorf, Germany 

For more information about the study, check out the Mercer website.

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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