Switzerland's famous cities and picturesque towns have a high non-Swiss population, with people from all over the world choosing to make this small landlocked country in central Europe their home. It's estimated that over 20 per cent of the population is made up of foreign nationals.
There are many factors behind the nation's popularity with expatriates, so much so that no two foreigners living in Switzerland are likely to give the same reason for their decision to move there. First and foremost, it is a very prosperous country with a stable economy and extremely low crime rates, as well as world-renowned education and healthcare systems.
Added to these advantages are the nation's reputation for cleanliness and precision - Switzerland is famous for its watch-making industry and, accordingly, the public transport systems tend to run like clockwork. It's also famed for its natural beauty. Regular skiers are likely to be familiar with the snowy majesty of the Swiss Alps, while the country's rolling green hills and stunning natural features such as Lake Geneva adorn many picture postcards.
All of this adds up to a very high standard of living for both the natives and those who choose to set up home in Switzerland. In November 2012, the country topped a global quality of life index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Switzerland was named the best country to be born in for 2013, based on a range of factors including wealth, health and trust in public institutions. The top five was completed by Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Furthermore, OECD ranked Switzerland in the top 10 for the countries with the best quality of life. This was determined by work-life balance, employment rate of women with children, work hours, personal time, and more. Switzerland consistently ranks in the top 10, landing at 6th place last year.
As the Mercer survey showed, Zurich, Geneva and Bern are rated among the very best places in the world for urban living. There are many reasons for this, with the three cities benefiting from a level of political and economic stability not found in many other places around the world.
They offer efficient transport services, high-achieving schools, reliable hospitals and a host of other facilities that appeal to expatriates. All this is partly down to their relatively modest scale, as the major cities of Switzerland are famously small by international standards. Cosmopolitan Geneva, with a population of just over 500,000 within the city boundaries, is often referred to as 'the world's smallest metropolis'.
The Swiss education system has now maintained its reputation for excellence for many years, with schools in both the public and private sectors ranked among the world's best. Many expatriates are attracted by the country's outstanding international schools, which can provide students with a British-style curriculum and bilingual education.
In 2006, the Guardian named the International School of Geneva - one of the oldest institutions of its kind - as a leading international school on account of its "academic excellence and strong emphasis on global issues". A school education is compulsory until the age of 16 in Switzerland and local schools generally teach English from the primary school level.
So, as you can see, there are many reasons to consider a move to Switzerland!
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