In Switzerland people think expats are rich people who live on generous relocation packages and send their children to expensive private schools, but this is far from the truth, according to new research.

Expats are often regarded in a negative way, but in reality this is based on a complete lack of knowledge of the expat community, according to Tania Zittoun, a professor at the institute of psychology and education at the University of Neuchatel.

Her research, carried out over three years, had found that many expats in Switzerland do not fit the stereotype and they usually earn the same amount as their Swiss counterparts and take jobs in a wide variety of sectors.

The research involved speaking to expat families all over Switzerland and it found that children adapt well, making new friends and not questioning the move. But expats also tend to cling to certain things to stave off homesickness, such as singing favourite songs, cooking particular dishes and reading books from home. She believes that such traditions help them to cope.

The research also found that expats tend to have items that they take with them when they move to remind them of feeling at home. These objects can vary from a comfortable sofa to a much loved teddy bear.

Spouses who follow a partner abroad can find it more difficult, the research also found. They are often left to deal with the more mundane matters such as sorting out a family doctor, paying bulls and can find it harder to make friends or find work.

This can lead to feelings of isolation and they seek out likeminded expats as they have few opportunities to socialise with others and this can lead to Swiss people thinking that they are not making an effort to integrate.

The study concludes that the Swiss Government should make it easier for so called ‘trailing spouses’ to get jobs in Switzerland and make teachers aware of the difficulties faced by expat children.