How Much Do You Need to Comfortably Live in Switzerland?

Although the cost of living in Switzerland can be high, Swiss residents benefit from the second highest salaries in the world. In today’s article, we’ve compiled estimates of how much you might need to comfortably live in this Alpine nation if you’re a single person, couple, or family with two children.

Cost of Living in Switzerland: An Overview

Swiss residents enjoy excellent healthcare, infrastructure, education, and social services. This and the fact that almost everyone is paid a good wage is partly why expenses are higher than in other places. In addition to tax, residents have to pay for health insurance and public or private transport.

Because Switzerland is a very popular place to live, rents are high. Most people also spend a significant amount on food and entertainment. Eating out, going to the cinema, attending a concert, and other leisure activities are relatively expensive.

The cost of living may appear high when you first arrive, but it's important to consider that your earning potential could also be greater in Switzerland. Additionally, the possibility of retaining a larger portion of your earnings may increase, especially if the tax rates are favourable compared to those in your home country.

Our Assumptions

How much you need to comfortably live in Switzerland varies depending on where you live and your preferred lifestyle. In our estimates, we’ve made various assumptions that may or may not apply to your situation. Here’s a breakdown of the budget categories we’ve used:

  • Rent: Most people rent in Switzerland. Some bills like electricity and water are often included in the rent.
  • Utilities: These include wifi, mobile contracts, the TV licence and rubbish collection.
  • Food: We’ve assumed that the households mainly cook at home and eat at restaurants 1-2 times a week.
  • Transportation: Many people in central Zurich don’t have a car and use public transport instead. For the households living in a smaller town, we’ve created two figures, one with a car and one with public transport only. We’ve assumed that the households take one or two sightseeing trips to other places in Switzerland every month.
  • Insurance: This includes basic health insurance, personal liability insurance, and contents insurance.
  • Entertainment and holidays: This includes recreational activities and 1-2 international holidays a year.
  • Other expenses: These could be unexpected one-off expenses or debt repayments.

How Much Do You Need to Comfortably Live in Switzerland?

Single Person Living in Zurich

This fictional single person lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a reasonably central location in Zurich. They have a local public transport travelcard and a half-fare card valid in the entire country.

Couple Living in Zurich

This couple lives in a spacious 2-bedroom apartment in Zurich. Like the single person, they have local travelcards and half-fare cards.

Family of Four Living in Zurich

This family lives in a small house, or three or four-bedroom apartment, in Zurich. The parents have local travelcards, but the children don’t. At weekends, the family sometimes travels to other areas of the country by train or bus, but the children ride for free as long as they are accompanied by their parents and hold a valid Junior Travelcard.

Single Person Living in a Low-Cost Area

This person lives in a one-bedroom apartment in a less popular area that is still reasonably well-connected to the nearest city. They can either opt for public transport or buy a car.

Couple Living in a Low-Cost Area

This couple lives in a two or three-bedroom place in a small town close to a larger city. Because everything tends to be cheaper in low-cost areas, they spend less in almost every category except public transport. We’ve assumed that people in smaller towns travel more in their spare time because there’s less to do in their local area.

Family of Four Living in a Low-Cost Area

This family lives in a three to four-bedroom house or apartment. The children go to school locally, but one of the parents has to commute to work, so they need a car or travelcards.

How Can I Live Comfortably in Switzerland?

If you come from a lower-cost-of-living country, you might be surprised by these figures. However, the average person in Switzerland makes over CHF 6,500. According to Expatica, the following industries pay particularly well:

  • Financial and Insurance Activities: on average CHF 9,286 per month
  • Information and Communication: on average CHF 8,724 per month
  • Professional, scientific, and technical: on average CHF 7,873 per month.

At Rigby, we collaborate with large and small employers all over Switzerland. If you work in one of these industries and are looking for a position, contact us.

While the cost of living in Switzerland is high, most people have a good standard of life. Before you move, consider various factors such as the need for a car and the tax implications of your chosen area. Sign up for our monthly newsletter now to get a more detailed Living in Switzerland Guide.

How Much Do You Need to Comfortably Live in Switzerland?