The cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, with the main cities Geneva and Zurich being named in a 2015 study among the most expensive cities in the world. On the other hand, Swiss salaries and the living standards are also among the highest in the world, which is the main reason why you should still consider Switzerland a perfect location for working and living.
Swiss residents still have a high purchasing power and high disposable incomes, according to a study that ranked Zurich and Geneva forth on international level in 2012. This means that Swiss workers require less time to earn enough to buy items that they need o daily basis.
If you plan on moving to Switzerland for work purposes, you should consider estimating the cost of living in Switzerland when you negotiate your employment contract. You should also keep in mind that the living cost may significantly vary from one canton to another.
Cost of accommodation in Switzerland
Most people choose to rent property in Switzerland, which caused a shortage of available apartments. Especially in Geneva in Zurich, where several multinational companies established their headquarters, the competition is very high and the prices for rent can become quite prohibitive. Most persons who start working in Switzerland should expect the cost for rent to take up at least 20% of the salary. In many cases, the owners require a three-month deposit that must be paid beforehand. The costs for a one bedroom apartment can reach up to 1,500 CHF and for a three bedroom apartment up to 3,000 CHF, depending on the location.
Cost of health insurance in Switzerland
The Swiss health insurance can be quite expensive. Medical cover is compulsory for all categories of employees, but the government does grant subsidies in certain situations. Premium insurances vary in costs depending on the area and not on the salary, and you can expect to pay an amount situated between 250 CHF and 500 CHF monthly.
Cost of transportation in Switzerland
The Swiss public transportation system is extremely efficient and extensive, but it can also be rather expensive. People who need to commute to reach their workplace should consider multi-ride passes for means of public transportation, to benefit from discounts up to 50%. A monthly pass at a regular price costs around 75 CHF. By comparison, just a one-way ticket for local transportation costs 3.20 CHF.
Bicycles are very popular in Switzerland because they allow people to cut down on costs with the transportation, while opting for an environmental friendly mode of transit. Owning a car is more expensive, because of the additional fees associated with it: the monthly insurance, the canton tax, a parking permit and a highway sticker. The price for a liter of gasoline was 1.46 CHF in February 2017.
Cost of education in Switzerland
Families with children must also take in to account the costs associated with the children’s education. Public schools are famous for their high educational standards and are free of costs. However, it’s important to know that the teaching language in schools is the official language of the canton where they are located. There is the possibility of opting for bilingual schools, but the tuition for these schools can go as high as 25,000 CHF annually.
Foreign citizens can also opt for international schools that teach in several languages, but the costs with the tuition can increase up to 35,000 CHF annually.
Other costs to consider in Switzerland
Asides from accommodation and means of transportation, you should also consider other important costs related to daily activities. For example, a meal in an inexpensive restaurant costs around 22 CHF, while a meal for two persons at a mid-range restaurant costs around 100 CHF.
The basic utilities for an apartment in Switzerland can reach up to 180 CHF. This includes electricity, heating, water and the garbage tax. Electricity and heating are sometimes included in the rent as part of the costs for utilities and common charges. These costs can vary depending on the size of the property.
A TV license (obtained from Billag) is mandatory if you have cable equipment or if you receive TV and radio signal. This also includes car radios. These fees are paid separately and you can expect to receive a bill for them on quarter basis.