Where do Expats Live in Switzerland?
Kingpin has a variety of International Tax roles currently available in Switzerland, but where in the country is most popular with expats?
Data from the Swiss Federal Statistics Office has revealed there are presently more than 2.1 million foreigners who reside in the country, which is a 2.5% increase from 2016. This equates to almost a quarter of the permanent population of the country. With this plethora of foreign expats working in the country, it raises the question ‘Where do they live?’
Although largely dependent on where work is located, expats are not short of choice when moving to Switzerland, with the country offering a wide range of areas that all have their own unique offerings. From city life to quieter, rural areas in the midst of nature, Switzerland has somewhere to suit everyone’s desires. Switzerland’s largest cities and economic hubs are unsurprisingly the country's expat hotspots.
Despite being slightly more expensive than other areas, the canton of Zurich is perhaps the most popular destination for expats with it being home to the nation’s economic heart in the city of Zurich. Indeed, the city was voted 2nd in Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living Rankings and is steeped in culture, history and striking architecture, all which acts as a huge attraction to foreign expats. On a more leisurely level, the city offers a variety of options to satisfy expats downtime and leisure needs with a range of bars and restaurants in the Old Town which is also popular with tourists. It also offers excellent transport links to surrounding areas in the Canton and the major cities of Switzerland, along with others beyond such as Amsterdam and Munich. Aside from the city, the Canton has a number of towns and villages, many of which offer larger housing options for a more affordable price compared to central Zurich.
For more information about Zurich, have a look at our guide to living in the city.
Switzerland’s 2nd largest city is another popular location for expats and is considered one of the best cities in Europe for living standards. The foreign expat population is a staggering 40%, making it one of the most ‘International’ areas in Europe. This multicultural vibe, coupled with the high quality of living makes the city a very attractive destination. It has a high number of good quality restaurants to sample, making it great for food lovers and is also close to the Alps for those seeking to experience some of the best ski slopes around.
Find out more about the city with Kingpin International's Introduction to Geneva.
ZUG – SWITZERLAND’S TAX HAVEN
Zug lacks the publicity that the economic hubs of Zurich and Geneva have, making it a somewhat unknown treasure.
The Canton and indeed the city of Zug has become more popular for expats in recent years due to the arrival of many multinational companies in the region, mainly due to the generous tax rates and a number of skilled workers. In fact, a 2013 report showed Zug was the best area in Switzerland for companies to relocate to. However, there is more to this part of Switzerland than lower rates of taxation. The city itself is filled with heritage, with the Old Town home to many historic buildings including the 52m high Zytturm. Along with the beautiful architecture, there are also a good number of restaurants and bars to keep expats occupied. The beautiful Lake Zug is another attraction of the Canton, with cruises a very popular activity, particularly in the summer months and excursions to the Zugerberg mountain which offers spectacular views and scenery. Although the City is becoming home to more expats, anyone living there should be aware that you are ‘expected’ to learn the local language to an intermediate B1 level. Some other low Tax areas to consider across Switzerland include the central Swiss cantons of Schwyz, Nidwalden, Lucerne and Appenzell Ausserrhoden.
other Swiss Cities
Although most expats typically end up in Zurich or Geneva, you will find some who live in Switzerland’s other major cities such as Lausanne, Basel, Lucerne, Lugano and Bern. Without the popularity and business centres of Zurich and Geneva, people often forget that Bern is Switzerland’s capital. Home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and lavish shopping areas, the political heart of Switzerland has a nice mix of historic value and contemporary living. All the cities in Switzerland come with good transport links and have International schooling options in proximity, both of which are favourable aspects for the majority of expats. It is also worth noting that these areas are generally less expensive than both Zurich and Geneva. Every city has its own unique twist, from the markets and River Rhine of Basel to the Italian influence in Lugano, all offering something different to any expat contemplating a relocation.
If you are interested in a move to Switzerland or anywhere else in the world and would like to speak to Kingpin International about international tax opportunities, please contact a member of the team. Alternatively, please browse our current international tax vacancies.