Important factors to consider in residence planning
With a population of 8.6 million (of which around 25% are foreigners), Switzerland has a German-, French-, Italian-, and a very small Raeto-Romance-speaking region, each with its own cultural traditions. While diverse, these regions have established a working relationship, thanks the the typically Swiss art of negotiation and compromise. As a result, the Swiss have taken direct democracy further than most nations in the world. The feeling of responsibility this system cultivates, as well as the political stability it engenders, are decisive factors in the economic success story of Switzerland. The notably stable currency and trade balance surpluses are two measurable results. All this has contributed to the reputation of reliability that Swiss enterprise has gained and is determined to maintain.
This long tradition of constant control by the people demands more responsibility from the individual, and it forces the Swiss to weigh short-lived successes against longer-term benefits. In Switzerland, social harmony, solid legislation, and dynamic foreign trade are supported and directly influenced by the individual.
Many of the world's major companies have chosen Switzerland as the location for their global, European or regional headquarters, their international finance companies or research and development facilities. Some examples include Amgen (European headquarters) in Lucerne, Kuehne + Nagel (international holding) in Schwyz, Philip Morris (European headquarters) in Vaud, Compaq Computers (European headquarters) in Zurich, and the IBM research laboratory in Zurich.
Switzerland is often perceived as a very expensive country and accessible only to wealthy individuals and large companies. However, the overall cost of living and doing business in Switzerland compares very favorably with Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the USA. State-of-the-art transport, communications, energy supplies, and waste disposal systems cost no more in Switzerland than the price paid elsewhere for traffic congestion and environmental degradation.
Banking and insurance are the foundation of Switzerland's financial system, which is arguably the most solid in the world. Swiss banks and insurance companies are extremely safe, as the entire Swiss financial industry is tightly regulated. Swiss banks and insurance companies are unique in that they provide sophisticated services to the discerning investor by offering financial privacy, and through their solid reputation, safety, and worldwide presence.