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  • Writer's pictureWalter Ponce

How much does it cost to live in Switzerland?

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

One of the questions that is frequently repeated on social networks has to do directly with the cost of living in Switzerland. On Facebook, Spaniards and other forums it is common to run into questions such as: "How much money do I need per month to live in Switzerland?" "Can two adults and a baby live on a monthly salary of CHF 4,000 on the German side?"

To guide those who are hesitant to accept an offer or those who plan to come to Switzerland in search of work, today I am going to try to calculate how much it costs to live in Switzerland for a month without aid that adds up or whims that subtract. Come on, the essential and obligatory, to survive more than to live (because to live Switzerland you need quite a lot, friends).

Before proceeding, please, keep in mind that my calculations are approximate and that I speak exclusively from my experience - a single person with no children - and what they say and what I observe around me.


Finding a place to live is in itself complicated but in the end one ends up getting it and facing rent and electricity, water and other expenses every month. In Switzerland, the expenses are included in the monthly rent and do not have to be taken into account separately (although from time to time an "adjustment" is made and, either they give you money back, or they charge you what you have spent and not you have paid... which is usually the case).

Speaking of prices (from the Bern, Vaud and Zurich canton, which is what I know), we can consider Zürich center very expensive (along with Geneva, the most expensive place to live in Switzerland), Zürich periphery (Oerlikon) somewhat more affordable. If you are looking to reduce the monthly fee, it is best to look in the nearby cities (Winterthur or Baden) or in small towns or smaller towns, where the cheapest is found.

In the case of Zürich and the surrounding area, I think you can find a room from CHF 800-900, while a flat with a living room + kitchen + bathroom + one/two bedrooms will go from CHF 1,500 (bargain skills needed) to CHF 2,000. CHF minimum. In cities like Winterthur or Baden, prices go down and, for example, it would be possible to find a nice two-bedroom apartment for CHF 1,400-1,700.

In Biel (canton Bern) the prices are lower and you can find apartment from less. I managed to get mine for CHF 1,490 per month but its a new building an new apartment.

There will also be cheaper ones, I'm not saying no. I call them “MIRACLE”. They appear from time to time and literally fly.

Obviously, the price of housing depends on many factors -location, size, proximity to a bus stop or train station, age of the facilities- and you always have to take into account spending on public transport, if you have a car, etc.

It is common knowledge that the ideal is never to spend more than a third of your salary on renting your home.

* Furnished flats are scarce if not non-existent. It is advisable to expect that the room/house that is rented will have to be furnished. In IKEA Switzerland the price of furniture is similar to that of IKEA in Europe.


  • Zürich city monthly pass: around CHF 85

  • Monthly pass in the canton of Zürich: around CHF 270

  • Annual subscription for the canton of Zürich: around CHF 2,100

  • Halb-tax : card that allows you to buy any ticket to travel on public transport in Switzerland and pay only half or a reduced price. Indispensable to get around Switzerland and not go bankrupt in the attempt, especially if you don't have a car. The price of the card is CHF 165 (CHF 185 when purchased for the first time) per year.

  • GA: allows you to travel around Switzerland with any kind transport for free. This card is much more expensive and worth it if you travel a lot. The price is around CHF 3,800 per year.


As you can imagine, it is not easy to calculate how much a person spends on their food per month because it depends a lot on their habits and tastes.

That is why I think that the best thing in these cases is to offer a small shopping list with basic products and their prices, so that you can get an idea for yourself:

  • 1 liter of milk: CHF 1.50

  • Loaf of bread (500 g): 2-3 CHF

  • Dozen Eggs: 6-7 CHF

  • Chicken breast (1kg): CHF20

  • Minced beef (500 gr): 10-12 CHF

  • A salmon fillet (200 gr): 12-15 CHF

  • 1/2 kg tomatoes CHF 3-4

  • Apples (1kg): 4-5 CHF

  • Potatoes (1kg): 2-3 CHF

  • Pasta package (500gr): 2 CHF

  • Rice (1kg): CHF 3

  • A frozen pizza: 6-8 CHF

In general, from my experience and that of those around me, I think that a person living alone usually spends between 300 and 600 CHF per month on food. Expenditure on food decreases per person if you live as a couple, it increases when you have children.


The Swiss Health System requires all residents to take out basic health insurance which costs an average of CHF 200-350 per month (per adult, not per family). This does not mean that CHF 200-250 per month will be the only health expense to assume because if you go to the doctor or have an emergency operation, for example, you will have to face your medical expenses up to an amount that depends on several factors. but above all the fee you pay each month.

If you don't get sick, you will pay around CHF 200-250 per month and if you get sick you can get to pay these 250 CHF per month and up to an additional CHF 3,000 maximum per year.

More clear:

  • Annual health expenditure per person without going to the doctor: approx. CHF 3,000.

  • MAXIMUM annual health expenditure per person: approx. CHF 6,000-7,000.

* In the event of an accident (everything that is not an illness), if the person is working, their company will bear the medical expenses. If the person is not working, he will have to meet these expenses.


Eating or having drinks outside can be an extra cost to be considered. If you are like me and you love to have experiences in restaurants or bars, you will freak out with the prices.

Restaurants can cost you starting from CHF 30 in a basic restaurant up to.... XXX.

Regarding drinks you can have a beer for CHF 5-7 CHF and cocktails starting from CHF 15.

Other fixed expenses

  • Landline + Internet + Cable TV: CHF 70-100/month (very unnecessary if you have a mobile).

  • Mobile phone with Internet: for CHF 50 per month you can have a prepaid card that includes a flat rate for calls to Switzerland and Europe and 1 GB of Internet.

  • German course: Although the price varies from course to course, we can estimate the cost of learning German at CHF 200 per month.

  • Home insurance: CHF 300/year. More than recommended.

  • Billag: CHF 400/year mandatory tax intended to finance Swiss "public" radio-television. Soon there will be a vote to decide if it is maintained or deleted (hopefully the NO wins!).

If you have a car

  • Gasoline: the price is higher to what can be found in Europe, so the monthly cost is much higher.

  • Car insurance: CHF 600-1,200/year

  • Change the tiers 2 times per year (mandatory winter tiers).

  • Parking on the street: CHF 50/month


Bearing in mind the above and making assumptions (but especially after listening to the experience of several people who have lived in Switzerland, even in Zürich, with the minimum) we could affirm that a person can live in Zürich or surroundings in a shared apartment with some CHF 2,000-2,500 per month that will pay for: housing, transport, health, food, telephone, Internet and possible unforeseen events, which always exist.

In the case of a family of four (parents + two children), getting a very affordable home that is close to work - without having to use much public transport - it seems possible to "get by" on CHF 3,500-4,000.

Of course, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are calculating what you can live with at a MINIMUM temporarily. Maintaining this situation over time entails many risks because it increases the chances of having to face unforeseen events that we will not be able to pay for if we live practically up to date.

As always, I ask for your help to improve this calculation and I open the debate: do you think you can live in Switzerland, a German zone, with 2,500 CHF per month?

How much is the minimum for a couple or a family with one or two children? How to reduce expenses to make this stage, which should be temporary, more bearable?

Please, do not stop sharing your experience to help other people to be clear about how much they will be able to live with if they decide to move here.



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