Living in Switzerland comes with its perks—and its expenses.

Whether you’re moving to Switzerland for its stunning natural beauty, its job market, its political and economic stability, its education system, or for reasons of your own, you’ll need to navigate the country’s high cost of living.

Is It Expensive Living in Switzerland?

53 – 62%

more expensive than the US

Estimates suggest that the cost of living in Switzerland is anywhere from 52.8% to 61.8% more expensive than the United States. In fact, Switzerland has the highest monthly cost of living in Europe, according to a Smart Asset study:

Cost of Living Comparison Switzerland

(Basic expenses for a single adult, no children; source)

In this article, we’ll offer you an overview of the cost of living in Switzerland, category by category. By investigating the costs of housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, food, childcare, and leisure, you’ll be fully prepared for your move to Switzerland.

Why Move to Switzerland?

Zurich. Image of Zurich, capital of Switzerland, during dramatic sunset.

First, let’s talk about the many reasons you might consider relocating to Switzerland:

  • Switzerland’s foreign policy has long been rooted in neutrality, giving Swiss citizens a stable country to call home.
  • Additionally, Switzerland is often considered one of the safest countries to live in.
  • Working in Switzerland can come with a higher salary than you’ll find in other destinations. That’s especially true for those who work in finance. (More on that later in this article!)
  • Families look to Switzerland for its top-tier public education system, which is free for the country’s residents.
  • Switzerland’s extraordinary natural beauty also adds another plus. (Who wouldn’t want to hike the Swiss Alps on a regular basis?)
  • Several languages are spoken in Switzerland, including the country’s four official languages: Swiss-German, French, Italian, and Romansh. English is also widely spoken in the country.
  • Finally, if you’re a citizen of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), there are flexible options for living and seeking work in Switzerland.

Whatever your reasons for moving, you’ll want to be well prepared for your relocation. To help you get a handle on your budget, let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Switzerland, category by category

Housing and Utility Costs in Switzerland

Panoramic aerial view of Geneva in a beautiful summer day, Switzerland


of income spent on housing and utilities

The single largest expense for most Swiss households comes in the category of housing and utilities. According to the Household Budget Survey from the Federal Statistical Office, Swiss households contribute an average of 13.9% of their income toward housing and utility costs.

That translates to CHF 1,364, or about ~$1,500 USD per month. If you’re living in a city like Geneva or Zurich, rent often exceeds CHF 2,000 (~$2,300 USD). In fact, in a study from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Zurich tied with Singapore for the most expensive global city. Geneva took the third spot on that list. If you have your heart set on city living, make sure to update your budget accordingly.

By the way, if you’re curious just how much utilities in Switzerland will set you back, data from Statista reports that a private household can expect an average annual utility bill of CHF 1,446. That’s CHF 120.50 per month, or about ~$140 USD

CHF 1,446

Average annual utility bill for a private Swiss household

Transportation Costs in Switzerland

Lorraine Bridge with red trolley bus line 20 and cyclists at City of Bern, capital of Switzerland, on a blue cloudy summer day. Photo taken June 16th, 2022, Bern, Switzerland.


of income spent on transportation

Switzerland residents spend 6.8% of their monthly income on transportation. That’s about CHF 668 or about ~$750 USD.  

If you’re moving to Switzerland from the US, it’s worth noting that the Swiss rely less on personal automobiles to get around. 92% percent of American households own at least one vehicle. In Switzerland, that number is just 78% 


Additionally, 61% of Swiss households own bicycles. More than half of the 16+ population holds a public transportation card, offering a glimpse at the alternative ways Swiss residents get around.

Note: If you’re moving to Switzerland, new cars (less than six months old) can be subject to stiff taxes and customs duties. Work closely with your moving company if you plan on importing a car when so you can compile the right documentation for smooth entry into Switzerland.

Healthcare Expenses in Switzerland


of income spent on basic health insurance

Swiss citizens and residents are all required to carry basic health insurance, as dictated by the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance. On a monthly basis, the cost for this insurance comes out to an average of CHF 684 per household, or about 7.0% of the average income. (That’s about ~$780 USD per household.) Note that the Swiss household averages out to 2.09 people, statistically. For an individual, you’re probably looking at about CHF 330 per month or ~$375 USD.

To get an accurate number for what healthcare might cost your household, take a look at this premium calculator.

You also may want to read more on Switzerland’s compulsory/basic health insurance requirements so you understand exactly what basic health insurance entails. Some families choose to purchase additional, complementary insurance to supplement their coverage, which costs an average of CHF 163 a month (~$185 USD).

Food and Grocery Expenses in Switzerland

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - CIRCA OCTOBER, 2018: interior shot of Migros supermarket in Zurich International Airport. Migros is Switzerland's largest retail company.


of income spent on food and non-alcoholic beverages

If you’re moving to Switzerland from the United States, you may need to adjust to the size of the refrigerators you’ll find in Swiss homes. In comparison to the standard models in the US, Swiss fridges can feel tiny.  

In addition to owning larger refrigerators, US consumers also simply spend more on groceries—in excess of $1,000 per month. Swiss households spend about 25% less in comparison—CHF 664 (~$750 USD) on a monthly basis or about 6.8% of their income. 

Swiss households also spend an additional 1.1% on alcoholic beverages and tobacco (CHF 112/~$125 USD). That stacks up fairly closely with similar expenditures in the US, which average out to 1.3% of annual income, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Childcare and Education Expenses in Switzerland

Elementary classroom, back to school concept

In Switzerland, mandatory school lasts for eleven years in Switzerland, which covers kindergarten, primary, and lower secondary school. Schooling is funded at the canton level through taxes, so mandatory public school is largely free to Swiss residents.

However, parents may need to pay extra fees for materials or school trips, which vary, depending on where you live. Additionally, many schools expect students to go home for lunch, giving them as long as two hours to walk home, eat lunch, and return to school.


of Swiss households send their kids to private school

A small percentage of Swiss families (around 5%) opt to send their children to private school, which ranges from CHF 15,000 to CHF 40,000 to more than CHF 130,000 ($17,000 to $46,000 to $150,000 USD).

If you have your heart set on sending your children to a private school, an international school, or a boarding school, make sure you plan your budget accordingly.

Lifestyle & Leisure Expenses in Switzerland

Switzerland Cost of Living

CHF 397

average Swiss monthly expenditures on entertainment/


If you want to truly enjoy your time in Switzerland, you’ll want to budget for fun. Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office puts this in a category they call “entertainment, recreation, and culture.” Average monthly expenses in this category add up to CHF 397 (4.1% of income) or about $450 USD 

We should probably also throw in the cost of hotels and restaurants, which also fall into this broader lifestyle and leisure category. Average expenses per month in this area add up to CHF 390 or about another $450 USD.

To sum it up, you’ll want to budget yourself somewhere in the neighborhood of $900 USD to enjoy your time off in Switzerland.

Salary Expectations in Switzerland

Collection of the new swiss banknotes (issued in 2017)

Now that we’ve taken a look at where Swiss residents spend their money each month, let’s take a look at how much residents can expect to earn in Switzerland.

What Is the Average Salary in Switzerland?

When you’re looking purely at income earned as an employee, the average monthly employee income in Switzerland is CHF 6,344 or ~$7,200 USD.

Want to calculate the average monthly salary for a specific position and/or educational level? Try this national wage calculator from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

What Is the Minimum Wage in Switzerland?

Only five cantons in Switzerland have defined a minimum wage:

  • Neuchâtel: CHF 21.09/hour
  • Jura: CHF 20.60/hour
  • Ticino: CHF 19-19.50/hour
  • Geneva: CHF 24.00/hour
  • Basel-Stadt: CHF 21, and only applies to some sectors

Why Is the Switzerland Average Salary So High?

The high average salaries in Switzerland are driven in part by the finance and banking industry, which has a large presence in the country. Additionally, as you’ve seen, the cost of living in Switzerland is significant, so attracting and keeping workers in Switzerland means offering wages that make it feasible to live and work in Switzerland.

Making Your New Home in Switzerland

Whether you’re moving to Switzerland from the US or another part of the world, establishing a budget is an important part of planning your new life. A budget will give you a meaningful target to aim for as you choose a place to live, decide how to spend your days, and accept a job offer. Use the average expenses above as a benchmark for what to expect—and what’s right for you—as you settle into your new life in Switzerland.

If you need some help moving between the US and Switzerland, our international experts would love to assist! We’ll deliver a safe, simple, and stress-free move from start to finish. Just reach out to our team to get started with a complimentary quote.

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