Cost of Living in Switzerland



Switzerland remains the richest country in the world and one of Europe's most expensive. However, taxation is low and salaries are high, so everything evens out to make life comfortable for the Swiss and expatriates.

Housing and Household Expenses

According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, residents normally spend about 29.7% of their income on social security contributions and taxes, 12-33% on housing and electricity, 8.5% for transportation and 7.4% on food. Compared to neighboring countries, household expenses in Switzerland can be up to 26% and 63% more than what an average family would spend in France and Spain, respectively.

"Cost of living in Switzerland is extremely high as compared to any country. Poland, on the other hand, is rather cheap for European standards so there’s a real gap between the two."- Anna Orecka, Expat in Geneva, Switzerland

With a shortage of apartments in Switzerland, housing can also be expensive. In fact, less than 50% of citizens own their own homes; the rest rely on rentals. Tenant rights, however, are clearly defined and protected by law. An average 2-bedroom apartment in the main cities costs about CHF 900 per month and it costs up to CHR 1300 for 4-bedrooms. Expats who don't want a long-term contract usually opt for subletting.


Food can also be expensive compared to other European countries and the US. You can get a quick meal consisting of a burger, soda and maybe coffee for about CHF 10. At a medium-cost family dinner, a meal amounts to anything from CHF 15 to CHF 50 while at the fancier restaurants, bills can soar to over CHF 1000.


Expats planning to return to school or those with children at university level have a long list of reputable Swiss universities to choose from. Costs may range from CHF 2000 to CHF 8000 for Undergraduate level and 2500-7000 CHF for Post-Graduate Courses. Primary and secondary school costs are relatively high. Education in Switzerland is actually the most expensive among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, mainly attributed to the high wages of teachers.


An average family car costs around CHF 40,000 and because gas is subject to less tax, gas prices are cheaper compared to neighbouring countries. In fact, foreign residents along the Italian and French borders fill up their tanks in Switzerland. Although gas prices fluctuate, they don't go above CHR 1.40 per liter. Although there are no tolls, car owners need a CHR 40-tax disk to be able to use the highways.

Switzerland's public day-to-day transport system is exceptional. Commuters have many ticket options that allow for discounts and free rides. For example, those who usually travel long distances by train use a Half-Fare card, valid for one year. The Day Pass comes with the Half-Fare card and is used by those who take the railway, boat and PostBus lines along with tram and bus networks across the Swiss cities. Residents between the ages of 15 and 65 can use the Track 7 card, which allows free travel after 7pm. In most cantons, children under 12 travel for free.

The average yearly cost of living in Switzerland is approximately CHF 16000-24000, covering all essential expenses from accommodation to recreation. While the amounts may sound alarming for expats who are new to the country, high salaries and very comfortable living conditions are often more than enough to compensate for the high costs.



Expat Services in Switzerland