Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

HSBC Study Shows Swiss Money Can’t Buy Love for Expatriates

  • Expats rank Switzerland as best for financial well-being
  • HSBC survey lists Kenya, Bahrain better for relationships

Switzerland ranked first in a survey of the most desirable destinations for expatriates seeking financial well-being, but close to last for cultivating relationships and social life.

The poll of nearly 27,000 expats from 190 countries and territories conducted by HSBC Holdings Plc and titled Expat Explorer, showed the Alpine country also topped the sub-category for personal finances, including earning prospects, level of disposable income and savings. Singapore, which was the overall number one choice for expats for a second year, beat Switzerland into second place for confidence in the local economy.

Switzerland, which has more than 2 million foreign residents representing almost a quarter of the total population, was ranked 42nd in the relationships category, which included questions on social life, how close a person felt to their partner and how welcoming a country is from a diversity perspective. Philippines ranked first in relationships, Thailand second and Brazil third.

Switzerland is a top destination for expats with banking, commodity trading and pharmaceuticals drawing staff from across the globe. Trading houses such as Vitol Group and Cargill Inc. have major operations in Geneva, which also hosts the European headquarters of the United Nations. Banking giants Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS Group AG call Zurich home, while Basel hosts Roche Holding AG and Novartis AG.

With its mountain air and ease of access to outdoor activities, Switzerland ranked ninth overall in lifestyle, HSBC said (see table below). It came 24th out of 45 for integrating with local people and 26th overall in setting up, which includes questions on ease of finding accommodation.

Personal finances1
Local economy2
Working life4
Setting up26
Education & childcare22
Raising children11

Sweden topped the survey in overall rankings for family, which includes education and childcare costs and quality as well as raising children.

Canada ranked third overall, while the U.K. ranked 22nd and the U.S. was 30th. Italy was 43rd in the survey, coming last in the economics category. Brazil, whose economy has been hit by the downturn in commodity prices and a series of government corruption scandals, came last on the list.

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