The Cost of Living in Switzerland

The Cost of Living in Switzerland

Switzerland offers magnificent landscapes and high living standards too but is also known for being one of the most expensive places to live. If you are planning on studying abroad, moving for work or just want to experience life in this beautiful country then you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland. This article breaks down monthly expenses in Zurich, Bern among other Swiss cities, and compares them with those from different nations such as America.

Overall Affordability

Switzerland has always been seen as costly but at the same time it provides good quality life which is why many expats find themselves attracted to this nation more than any other European countries that might be equally expensive. There are several reasons behind this perception which include:

  • High Salaries: Salaries in Switzerland are among the highest in Europe. This helps to offset the high cost of living.
  • Strong Economy: Switzerland has a strong and stable economy, which provides a sense of security and opportunity.
  • Tax Benefits: Income taxes in Switzerland are generally lower than in many other developed countries.

Cost of Living Comparison

For those considering a move from Germany or the USA, it’s crucial to compare the cost of living and salary differences to understand the financial adjustments needed. Here is a table that compares the cost of living in Switzerland to the cost of living in the United States:

Cost of living category

Rent (one-bedroom apartment)

Groceries (per month)

Transportation (monthly pass)

Healthcare insurance (per month)

Exchange currency

Switzerland (CHF)

1500-2000 (= 1655-2207 USD)

600 (= 662USD)

85 (= 93 USD)

300 (= 331 USD)


United States (USD)

1000-1500 (= 906-1359 CHF)

300-400 (=271-362 CHF)

100-150 (=90-135 CHF)

100-200 (=90-181 CHF)


As you can see, living in Switzerland is more expensive than the United States. However, it is important to remember that wages are also higher in Switzerland.

Cost Breakdown

Here’s a breakdown of some of the major cost of living factors in Switzerland:


Housing takes up majority funds for anyone residing in swiss land. Switzerland’s city centers, especially in Zurich and Bern, attract a diverse population, enriching the cultural fabric and offering a vibrant lifestyle. Monthly rent charges between 1500-2000CHF should be expected when renting a single room apartment located within Zurich area whereas other utilities like electricity water garbage services would attract around 150CHF per month on average. The prices may slightly vary depending with different towns or cities but they still remain very expensive especially if you consider Geneva where rent could go upto even double digits thousands dollars per month unlike smaller towns/cities that offer cheaper options.

  • One-bedroom apartment in Zurich: CHF 1500-2000 per month (1655-2207 USD)
  • Smaller towns/cities: Potentially CHF 1200 per month (1324 USD)
  • Average monthly cost (such as electricity, water, waste disposal) : CHF 150-200 (165-220 USD)


Food costs in Switzerland are also relatively high. Groceries cost around 600 CHF per month for a single person. Eating out can be expensive as well, with a typical meal at a mid-range restaurant costing around 30 CHF.


Public transportation in Switzerland is efficient and reliable, but it is not the cheapest. A single bus ticket costs around 2 CHF, and a monthly pass for public transportation in Zurich costs around 85 CHF. While not free, the public transportation system in every major city in Switzerland is renowned for its efficiency, making travel across the country seamless.

  • Single bus ticket: Around CHF 2 (2.21 USD)
  • Monthly pass (Zurich): Approximately CHF 85 (93.80 USD)


Switzerland’s health insurance is not only compulsory, but also a key element of the country’s healthcare system. It guarantees that all citizens have access to a broad range of medical services. What distinguishes this scheme from others is that it is run by private firms under federal supervision. In other words, while ensuring minimum coverage and equitable pricing, the government regulates insurance companies.
The premiums for mandatory basic coverage differ greatly based on various criteria:

  • Canton: Each of Switzerland’s cantons has different healthcare costs, and premiums adjust accordingly. For example, premiums in urban cantons like Zurich or Geneva may be higher compared to more rural areas.
  • Age: Premiums increase as you age. Young adults can expect lower rates, which incrementally rise with age.
  • Franchise: The chosen deductible (franchise) can affect monthly premiums. A higher deductible results in lower monthly payments but means paying more out-of-pocket when accessing medical services.
  • Insurance Model: Different models like the standard model, family doctor model, or health network model can affect costs. Choosing a restricted model (e.g., committing to visit a designated family doctor first) generally reduces premiums.

The usual monthly cost of basic health insurance is typically between 300 CHF and 500 CHF (331 to 551 USD). It pays for regular medical treatments and emergencies, but not for dental care or private rooms in hospitals.
Switzerland boasts excellent healthcare services at a steep price. Any person without insurance will find themselves with exorbitant medical bills hence the need for health insurance which acts as a buffer against such expenses.


ETH Zurich represents Switzerland’s academic excellence which is among the best worldwide. However, such quality does not come cheap especially if you are an international student. Tuition fees charged by Swiss schools per term for students from abroad generally range between 1’000 to 3’000 francs. Many choose to study in Switzerland not only for the top educational standards but also due to the high salary prospects post-graduation. These fees can vary based on:

  • University: Costs differ between universities; for example, ETH Zurich might charge differently compared to the University of Lausanne.
  • Program: Specialized courses or postgraduate programs may have different tuition fees.
  • Student Status: Non-resident students usually pay higher tuition fees compared to residents.

Beyond tuition, students need to consider:

  • Accommodation: Living near universities like those in Zurich or Bern can be particularly costly. Rent in these areas often surpasses 1,500 CHF per month for a small studio or one-bedroom apartment.
  • Living Expenses: Daily expenses, books, and materials add up. Students should budget an additional 1,000 to 1,500 CHF per month for these.
  • Health Insurance: As with all residents, students must have health insurance, adding an average monthly cost of 300 to 500 CHF.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Switzerland offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. These can significantly offset the high cost of education and are worth investigating early in the application process.

Additional Considerations

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when considering the cost of living in Switzerland:

  • Lifestyle Choices: The cost of living depends on how one chooses to live. If you do not mind living in a small apartment, cooking at home and using public transport then this will save money for you.
  • Currency Strength: Its stability during economic turbulence has earned Swiss France (CHF) a reputation as the safe haven. If anyone wishes to stay, learn or visit Switzerland they should find out what the exchange rate is between the US dollar (USD) and the Swiss franc (CHF) at that moment so as to manage their finances well. 1 CHF is approximately equal to 1.10 USD currently, this number varies based on many things such as when it was released which could be any time numbers were last published globally by different countries about interest rates set within them among other factors like Federal Reserve System’s or Swiss National Bank’s policy statements concerning this matter globally depending on indicators issued worldwide by governments through central banks with regards to FED or SNB interest rates policy statement among others where ever applicable for any specific period covered in question according to latest available data globally when asked.
  • Tax Benefits: There are certain tax benefits associated with residing within Swiss borders mainly because income tax rates tend be lower compared with those charged elsewhere across Europe especially developed countries.

Switzerland may be costly but offers excellent standards of living coupled with robust economies thus making it an attractive place to reside regardless. Feel free to read more about local attractions and cultural events in our travel guides, which offer a deep dive into what makes each Swiss city unique.

Whether you are an expatriate or a Swiss border worker looking for health coverage, Foyer Global Health has a solution for you. We offer global health insurance for expats in Swizterland and complementary health insurance in Swizerland. Discover our two products today and contact our experts to get personalised adivce, depending on your situation: