Switzerland tops expat career ranking for second year

Christmas decorations are displayed at the headquarters of Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse at the Paradeplatz square in Zurich, Switzerland.
Christmas decorations are displayed at the headquarters of Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse at the Paradeplatz square in Zurich, Switzerland.PHOTO: REUTERS

High salaries and excellent work culture cited; Germany ranks second and Sweden, third

ZURICH • It pays to be an expatriate in Switzerland.

Expats living in the home of UBS Group, drug-maker Novartis and commodity trader Glencore earn an average salary of US$188,275 (S$273,000) a year.

That is the highest in the world and almost twice the global average, according to data published yesterday by HSBC Holdings.

Switzerland also tops the bank's expat career ranking for a second year.

"Expats ranked Switzerland highly for both financial and personal well-being criteria," said Mr Dean Blackburn, head of HSBC Expat. "The combination of high salaries and excellent work culture has placed Switzerland at the top of the careers league table."


  • 1. (1) Switzerland

    2. (3) Germany

    3. (2) Sweden

    4. (6) United Arab Emirates

    5. (-) Norway

    6. (5) Singapore

    7. (-) Austria

    8. (8) Hong Kong

    9. (18) Britain

    10. (7) Bahrain

    •(2015 ranking)

It isn't just big pay cheques that make Switzerland, which also hosts the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, the best all-round destination for a career abroad.

Of those surveyed by HSBC, 69 per cent said their work-life balance had improved in Switzerland and 61 per cent said the work culture was better than in their home country.

Germany and Sweden ranked second and third overall, despite salaries that were at or below the global average, according to HSBC. European countries took six of the top 10 spots.

"Expats in Sweden and Germany enjoy benefits outside the financial side of work," said Mr Blackburn. "Germany offers the best job security for expats. Sweden, as well as topping the tables for work culture, is praised by 79 per cent of expats for its excellent work-life balance."

Money, of course, can't buy happiness.

Previous data released by HSBC showed that while Switzerland ranks first in financial well-being for those working abroad, it ranks close to last in cultivating relationships and social life.

The cost of living in Switzerland is also notoriously high, with Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung last month reporting that the price of food is 70 per cent higher than the European average, while health-care expenses are more than double.

The best employment packages - including health benefits, accommodation allowances and trips home - are found in Middle East countries such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, according to HSBC, which surveyed 26,871 expats in more than 100 countries.

Hong Kong and Singapore topped the ranking for career development with 68 per cent and 62 per cent respectively of respondents agreeing that these were good places to improve their careers.

Lifestyle, however, suffered for some upon moving to Asia as 30 per cent of expats in Singapore and 50 per cent in Hong Kong reported a decline in work-life balance.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2017, with the headline 'Switzerland tops expat career ranking for second year'. Print Edition | Subscribe