Living Near Heaven in Switzerland
With its breathtaking mountainscapes, high quality of life, and status as a center for international banks, NGOs and the UN, Switzerland has long been a first choice for global financial elites seeking a home in a second country. Nowadays increasing numbers of those elites are from China.
More than Mountains
Universally recognized as one of the most beautiful places on earth, Switzerland is also one of its best places to live, with the 2015 Mercer Quality of Living Index listing Bern, Geneva and Zürich as the world’s 13th, 8th and 2nd best cities to live in respectively. The nation’s cultural diversity contributes much to its appeal, with its German, French, Italian and Romansh speaking regions each having their own special character, customs and cuisines.
Although the pledge of financial privacy that Swiss banks long offered international wealth holders has become less absolute in recent years, the country remains a global center for wealth management thanks to its economic and social stability and long tradition of political neutrality.
The soaring snowy peaks, pure blue skies, verdant meadows and glassy mountain lakes are stunning enough in themselves, but there are many options for enjoying leisure time amidst such stunning settings — horseback riding, hiking, boating, biking and hot air ballooning to name a few. Food aficionados an explore the worlds of Swiss-produced cheeses, chocolates, wines and the unique taste of nation’s different regions. And of course Switzerland offers unmatched opportunities for skiing, a sport that is enjoying increasing popularity in China.
Switzerland is also one of the best places for education, with an outstanding system of schools and multicultural atmosphere that is ideal for cultivating a global outlook. ETH Zürich and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are ranked respectively as the 12th and 17th best universities in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15.
Increasingly Popular in China
Chinese travelers have clearly fallen in love with Switzerland, their third most visited European country in 2014. Things they especially appreciate about the country other than its breathtaking landscapes include its historical sites, chocolates, cheeses and swans.
It is not known how many Chinese have taken up residence in Switzerland, but according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office foreign permanent residents from Asia totaled approximately 129,902 at the end of 2014. In contrast, there were 4,129 Swiss citizens living in China at the end of 2013.
China is Switzerland’s third most important trading partner, with trade volume between the nations totaling CHF 20.2 billion in 2013, and that number is likely increasing since the nations entered a bilateral trade agreement in January 2014.
The Swiss property market is somewhat unusual for its low rate of home ownership — only 40% of residents own their home. A high degree of participation by foreigners, who account for roughly 20% of the permanent resident population, means the relative strength of the Swiss franc has significant impact on demand.
In 2014 the Swiss government and Swiss National Bank introduced measures to cool home prices that had risen by as much as 52% in some areas of the country between 2005 and 2014. These measures were effective; the price of single family homes rose only 1.8% in 2014, down from an average annual increase of 4.4% between 2009 and 2013. In Zürich, Geneva and Berne prices fell over the year, by 0.84%, 0.89% and 2.21% respectively. As of Q3 2015, prices continue falling in some parts of the country and some market segments, while other areas and segments continue rising at slow or moderate rates.
Mountain chalets, lakefront and riverside residences, magnificent country manors, castles and luxury townhouses in cosmopolitan cities are among the types of luxury properties available for purchase.