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Why Switzerland is the top location for expats


Honor Jackson is a doctoral assistant at University of Neuchatel who has been living in Switzerland for 29 years.

Honor Jackson

Expats love Switzerland for its beautiful scenery and excellent education.

According to HSBC, Switzerland is the preferred country for living and working in the 46 countries surveyed.

A total of 93% of those surveyed reported a better quality of living since they moved to Switzerland. They also voted Switzerland one of the best three countries for overall well-being, alongside Australia and New Zealand.

Honor Jackson is a 29-year old doctoral assistant at University of Neuchatel. She says that Switzerland has many attractive features, including its beautiful natural landscapes. There are plenty of hiking trails and canyons to discover.

Jackson stated via telephone to CNBC that it was “just beautiful”, and described the country as “simply stunning”.

Jackson noted that the air in London was cleaner than in London. She moved there in 2018, along with Alex, her partner, and is now a stay-at home dad to their son, aged 2.

While the living costs are high, they say that there is an emphasis on locally-grown produce, with fewer import goods. Everyone is also paid well. Her annual salary is approximately 70,000 Swiss Francs (76,303). A minimum wage was established by the Swiss canton of Geneva in 2020. This is the highest standard of living anywhere.  

Jackson stated that Jackson and her partner spend about 1,100 Swiss Francs per month on their Neuchatel flat with three beds. According to The Swiss Federal Statistical OfficeThe average monthly rent in Switzerland was 1,362 Swiss Francs in 2019.

Swiss citizens don’t have to pay any national insurance taxes and all other taxes are relatively low. Jackson stated that the price of healthcare is very high. Switzerland’s residents must legally pay for their health insurance to be able to stay in the country. The following data was taken from Swiss Federal Statistical OfficeIn 2019, 801 Swiss francs per month were spent on health care.

Jackson stated that while the Swiss health system was excellent, the price was shocking for the U.K.’s National Health Service.

It was also a very family-friendly country, which she liked. Her son could learn French in “creche” while speaking English at home.

She said, however, that she could support some “conservatism”.

She explained that Alex, for example is a dad-at-home and this can cause some confusion. People will often address Alex as the one in charge of money and other things.

Jackson and her family plan to soon move to Los Angeles to spend a year. Jackson has been granted a grant to support research leave by a Swiss National Body. But, Jackson and her family intend to stay in Switzerland for the long-term.    

She said, “There is no way that, if there are options, I will leave.”

‘Extortionate’ health care

Paula Thiebaud (39-year-old English freelance teacher) also enjoyed the Swiss education system, which would allow her children to be bilingual.

In 2006, she moved to the U.K. from York. She worked as an au-pair for one year, and after that, she got a job on a residential facility for persons with disabilities. This was also where her husband met.

Thiebaud enjoyed the peace and security of Neuchatel where her family resided, as well as the slower pace.

“Everything’s shut on a Sunday, you can’t do anything on a Sunday apart from go to the swimming pool or go to the cinema — it makes you sort of prioritize a bit differently,” she told CNBC via telephone.

Thiebaud believes that the Swiss cost for health insurance is “exorbitant”, but she stated that the system offered faster access than could have been made possible by the U.K’s NHS. For example, Thiebaud was able to assess her son’s ADHD.

The downside, said she, is that child care systems can be complex, especially for people who are in the industry. Schools in Switzerland don’t usually provide lunch so kids have to return home, or their parents must find childcare for the rest of the day.

Thiebaud claimed that she created a lunchtime group for child care where children could learn English. Thiebaud said her county regulations limited the number of children who could attend her program, and that she had to include her own children. Other areas did not have these restrictions.

Thiebaud makes between 2,500 to 3,000 Swiss Francs a monthly. However, she said that while the cost of food can be prohibitive, such as meat, it is worth the high quality and seasonality offered by Switzerland.

As it was not economically feasible to buy a home in Switzerland, she said that eventually she’d like to return to the U.K. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, Switzerland’s home ownership rate was only 36% for 2019. Comparatively, British government data published in 2020The study showed that 63% households in England had a home in 2018.


Sam Bourgeois (34), is a University of Lausanne lecturer. He earns around 3,000 Swiss Francs per month. His wife Katherin and their child, who he moved to from Texas for 2013 while he was still studying, now live in Biel.

Bourgeois said that Switzerland has a number of advantages, including in politics.

He stated, “It’s nice to know that the institutions are functional and you can count upon them.”

But he said there may be some cultural “reservedness”, which can come with this stability.

Bourgeois said that when he goes hiking there is a slight hesitation if he dares to go off the trail. He was referring to the fact that Bourgeois has lost some of the “American Wildness” of Vermont where he grew.

Bourgeois claimed that the Swiss system of health care was much more liberal than those in America because they didn’t have to be tied to his work.

He said that many people he knows keep their jobs simply because they have access to health care.

Bourgeois applied in U.K. for a two year academic grant. He also submitted a Swiss citizenship application.

“The only reason I would go back to the USA, for example, would be as if somehow I was offered something … it would have to at least be the equivalent lifestyle if better, which is unlikely to happen,” he added.