The cost of living in Switzerland

The cost of living in Switzerland

The cost of living in Switzerland is proof that enjoying a high quality of life in the midst of incredible beauty comes at a price. That said, the country remains a tantalising option for British expats as the expense of living in some cities is not all that different from the UK.

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Where to live in Switzerland

British expats are attracted to Switzerland for a number of reasons, including stunning Alpine scenery, high skilled career opportunities and a relaxed outdoor lifestyle. Switzerland is also renowned throughout the world for its high quality of life. This does, however, require a significant cost of living for expats moving to the country.

Mercer’s 2021 Cost of Living Survey included 3 Swiss cities within the most expensive 10 cities in the world, with Zurich ranked as high as number 5. Geneva was in the 8th spot and Bern was in the 10th spot. Zurich and Geneva are often considered the most expensive Swiss cities to live in, however other locations such as Lugano, Luzern and even capital city Bern provide more affordable alternatives. That being said, the cost of living in these cities is relevant to the lifestyle you wish to lead and may not be too dissimilar from your expenditures in the UK. 

The currency used in Switzerland is the Swiss franc, with 1 British pound equalling 1.22 francs (as of 10th December 2021). Converting Swiss prices into British pounds can help you to get an idea of the cost of living in Switzerland compared to UK. Monitor the GBP to CHF exchange rate from our Currency Zone.

(All figures taken from Numbeo.com and exchange rates calculated on 8th December 2021 at 9.45am).

 

How much does accommodation cost in Switzerland?

The cost of renting and buying property in Switzerland can differ greatly depending on the region or city in which you choose to live. Accommodation is an important consideration when answering the question, “What is the cost of living in Switzerland?” Below is a general guideline of the property prices and rental costs you can expect to find within four different cities in Switzerland.

 

Bern

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£1,176.34 (1,438.89 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£844.78 (1,033.33 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£2,023.39 (2,475.00 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£1,407.97 (1,722.22 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£6,365.86 (7,786.70 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£5,160.86 (6,312.75 Fr.)

 

Zurich

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£1,640.23 (2,006.33 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£1,180.73 (1,444.26 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£3,088.38 (3,793.10 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£2,155.18 (2,636.21 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£10,890.50 (13,321.22 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£7,556.35 (9,242.90 Fr.)

 

Basel

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£974.65 (1,242 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£846.73 (1,079 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£1,932 (2,462 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£1,572 (2,003 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£10,069 (12,833 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£7,721 (9,840 Fr.)

 

Lugano

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£1,026.46 (1,255.56 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£756.22 (925.00 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (city centre)

£1,987.62 (2,431.25 Fr.)

Monthly rent for 3 bedroom apartment (outside centre)

£1,467.83 (1,795.45 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (city centre)

£10,730.08 (13,125.00 Fr.)

Price per square meter to buy apartment (outside centre)

£4,937.88 (6,040.00 Fr.)

 

Cost of transport in Switzerland

Transport within Switzerland is considered on par with what you might be expected to pay in the UK. Public transportation costs, for single journey tickets and monthly passes, are at a similar level, while the average cost of petrol is almost identical. If you think in terms of cities, the average cost of living in Geneva Switzerland is higher than in other Swiss cities. However, when it comes to public transport, the prices of single and monthly tickets are affordable.

Owning a car in Switzerland will allow you to travel more independently to experience the natural beauty of the country, however there are cross country rail and coach options that are highly popular options amongst locals.

Single bus ticket

£2.86 (3.50 Fr.)

Monthly public transport ticket

£65.40 (80.00 Fr.)

Petrol (1 litre)

£1.33 (1.63 Fr.)

Volkswagen Golf

£23,528.51 (28,780.00 Fr.)

Toyota Corolla

£24,683.80 (30,193.14 Fr.)

 

What is the cost of living in Switzerland?

The cost of living in Switzerland is considered extremely high when compared to other European countries, and is more in line with costs you might find in London than anywhere else in the UK. Below is a list of the average prices that you might encounter for various goods and services within Switzerland.

Milk (1 litre)

£1.30 (1.59 Fr.)

Bread (500g loaf)

£2.31 (2.83 Fr.)

Eggs (12pk)

£4.69 (5.74 Fr.)

Water (1.5 litre bottle)

£0.83 (1.01 Fr.)

Chicken Breast (1kg)

£19.74 (24.15 Fr.)

Cappuccino (regular, in a restaurant)

£3.79 (4.63 Fr.)

Beer (500ml, in a restaurant/pub)

£5.31 (6.50 Fr.)

Cinema ticket

£14.72 (18.00 Fr.)

Gym membership (monthly)

£65.91 (80.62 Fr.)

Preschool/Kindergarten (monthly)

£1,861.59 (2,277.09 Fr.)

Primary School (yearly)

£21,790.82 (26,654.46 Fr.)

 

The cost of living in Switzerland for international students

The average cost of living in Switzerland for international students is quite high. This means you may need to budget extra carefully and possibly consider making a few adjustments to your lifestyle if you want to study at one of the country’s many renowned universities.

In much of Europe, non-EU/EEA citizens pay higher tuition fees than EU/EEA citizens, but that is not the case in Switzerland. At many of the country’s universities, tuition fees are the same for all international students. The exceptions are the universities of Fribourg, Lucerne, Lugano, Neuchâtel, St Gallen, and Zurich. At those institutions, tuition fees may be higher for non-EU/EEA citizens, or they may be higher for all international students compared to fees for Swiss nationals.

In public universities, Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes cost between £340.83 – £3,152.69 per year. PhD degrees cost between £85.21 – £766.87 per year. At private universities, tuition fees can climb as high as £36,639.40 per year – and that’s before we consider the cost of living in Switzerland for students.

If you study and live in cities other than Geneva and Zurich, you can look at budgeting between £1,107.70 – £1,448.53 per month for accommodation, food, transportation, supplies, and entertainment. If you study and live in Geneva, you can look at budgeting between £1,405.93 – £2,130.20. In Zurich, you can look at budgeting between £1,405.93 – £1,874.57. In Bern, your monthly budget would be in the region of £1,363.33, and in Basel, you can look at budgeting between £1,192.91 – £1,704.16.

Let’s take a closer look at the average cost of living in Switzerland for international students.

Most students in Switzerland choose to stay in student halls of residence, share an apartment, or rent a flat. The monthly cost to stay in halls of residence range between £383.44 – £681.66, while the monthly cost of sharing or renting a flat range between £596.46 – £1,022.49.

When it comes to food, most students shop at supermarkets and enjoy the occasional meal in a restaurant. A handy tip to remember is that many shops offer 25 – 50% discounts on perishable items after 5pm. If you do most of your shopping in supermarkets, you can look at budgeting between £340.83 – £468.64 per month for food.

You can find local meals for prices that range between £13.63 – £23.01 per person in inexpensive restaurants. Restaurants that serve international cuisine may have lower prices. In university dining halls, you can look at paying between £6.82 – £8.52 per meal. Eating in snack bars can also help lower the cost of living in Switzerland for students.

Students qualify for a 30% discount on the Swiss Travel Pass, which is valid on buses, trains, and boats (with some exceptions). The cost of a monthly public transportation pass is approximately £47. You can also save money by getting around on foot or by bicycle.

Additional costs you should look at budgeting for include monthly health insurance, which ranges between £213.02 – £281.19, and books and supplies, which can cost approximately £85 per month. You can qualify for discounts on museum tickets if you have a student ID card, which means you can look at paying approximately £6 for a ticket.

 

The currency in Switzerland

As mentioned above, the currency in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc, which is represented by the currency code CHF. Banknotes are available in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 1,000. 1, 2, and 5 Swiss Franc coins also are used. One Swiss Franc is divided into 100 centimes, also known as Rappen. Centimes/Rappen are available in coin denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50.

With a high cost of living, you’ll want to get the most out of your money as possible when moving to Switzerland. Fortunately, a moneycorp account offers you excellent exchange rates and low transfer fees when sending payments abroad. This means you can enjoy better value on your foreign currency exchange.  

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