Living in Liechtenstein

Iyna Bort Caruso

Liechtenstein is a landlocked country dwarfed by its neighbors, and yet the principality stands out for its standard of living, one of the highest in the world. A corporate-friendly tax structure enacted decades ago transformed the pocket-size nation into a big base for business.

The mountainous microstate is sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria in the upper Rhine Valley of the Alps. Its population is a scant 38,000; its capital city of Vaduz has just 5,000. There are more registered companies than citizens.

In addition to the favorable business climate, companies are attracted to Liechtenstein’s well-developed infrastructure and well-positioned location in the heart of Europe. There’s also the matter of well-being. The country scores high marks for its educational system and low unemployment levels.

Liechtenstein also has an outsized share of natural beauty. It’s easy to take advantage of outdoor activities since distances between attractions are minimal. The country is only 62 square miles. The family-friendly ski resort of Malbun, for example, is less than 10 miles from the capital. Come summer, some 250 miles of Alpine trails beckon mountain bikers and hikers. Vineyards are familiar sights, too.  Liechtenstein has been a wine-producer for over 2,000 years. Today more than 100 winegrowers produce respected Chardonnays, Rieslings and Gewürtztraminers, among others.

Two-thirds of Liechtenstein’s workforce commute from neighboring Austria, Germany and Switzerland, but permission to in the country from aboard is not easy.

Only a limited number of residence permits are granted annually. For international real estate investors, residency is required. A sizeable percentage of homes are rented out. In fact, a few years ago the entire country was available for rent at a cost of $70,000 per night. The price included enough rooms to accommodate a generous guest list and gain the symbolic key to the state. One caveat: Liechtensteiners got to stay the night, too