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24 heures: "Switzerland, paradise for wealthy foreigners".
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24 Heures, January 3, 2001
These first-class immigrants are progressively being won over by the quality of life in our country. Whether they are young retirees or families with children, they are looking for serenity and security. For the past few years, specialized companies have been helping them take the right steps. An increasing number of celebrities and well-to-do people are choosing Switzerland’s calm environment to spend the rest of their days. Sometimes in order to avoid financial hassles, but often to enjoy a better quality of life. So is Switzerland a tax haven for rich retirees? “No, it’s not a tax haven, far from that,” insists Mr. Micheloud, director of a Lausanne-based company that specializes in helping foreigners who want to move to Switzerland. “Foreigners also have to pay taxes, and sometimes they are quite hefty.” Compared to tax havens like Monaco or the Bahamas, Switzerland is expensive. And yet more and more people are choosing Switzerland as their final destination. Just how many? “I can’t give out the number of people who want to come to Switzerland through our agency,” says Mr. Micheloud straightaway, although he does confide that he is far from having to close up shop. “Much the opposite,” he smiles.
It is easier to obtain information on where these immigrants come from. Most of them are from Scandinavia, England or the United States, and they are looking for a good quality of life above all. “On that front, Switzerland is paradise for them,” emphasizes the director.
Taxes and residency permit
With regards to getting a residency permit, the authorities assure us they don’t give breaks to rich foreigners who want to come and live in Switzerland. The conditions to be met are very strict, to the point that inquiries may be made at the Swiss embassy in the person’s home country. In fact, only those who have a rock-solid file will get through without any difficulty. “I remember the case of an English engineer who worked for two years in the Eastern Europe. He had to prove right down to the last detail that everything he had done was totally legal,” recalls the director.
Rent at 5,000 francs per month
The apartments that they stay in are often very high class. “There is a real market for apartments that cost more than 3,000 francs per month,” adds the expert. “And most often the person renting is getting the better deal.” In order to find the ideal apartment, there are people who specialize in high-class rentals, but they can also be found through word of mouth. “You know, the owners do not balk that much at having an English lord as an occupant,” chuckles Mr. Micheloud. “Often it’s the owner himself who contacts us.” Some opt for a castle (see caption), while others live in villas or large apartments. The choices are endless.
24 Heures is the best-selling French-language weekly in Switzerland.
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