Cost of living in Switzerland?
Switzerland is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Taxes are relatively low, but insurance, services and food are expensive. Swiss residents still have comparatively high disposable incomes and purchasing power. A 2012 purchasing power study ranked Zurich first and Geneva fourth internationally. Workers require considerably less time to earn enough to buy universal products such as a Big Mac or an iPod Nano.
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Prices in Switzerland compared to Europe
Prices in Switzerland are higher than the European average. The 2014 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Zurich and Geneva as the fifth and sixth most expensive cities in Europe. Housing and utilities, as well as food, healthcare, clothing and leisure activities cost more in Switzerland. Transport, electronics and telecommunications are at similar levels to the rest of Europe. Petrol is cheaper than in France and Italy, but the costs involved in owning a car are high. In spite of the Eurozone's current instability, Switzerland's policy of enforcing a minimum exchange rate to the Euro has been successful in keeping the inflation rate just slightly negative since late 2011.
Average monthly expenses in Switzerland
Although salaries are higher and taxes lower than the European average, a large portion of gross income goes towards obligatory health insurance and other deductions. Most people rent accommodation because property prices are high and a large down payment is required. Housing and energy account for an average of 16%, transport 8%, entertainment and leisure 13% and food and non-alcoholic beverages 7% of a typical monthly household budget.
Source: FSO, Statistical Data on Switzerland
Cost of living in Geneva
The cost of renting an apartment in Geneva is higher than in New York or Paris and twice as much as in Amsterdam or Brussels. A two-bedroom apartment in Geneva will cost between CHF 2,300 and 3,500 per month. Renting a house costs twice as much as an apartment.
According to Geneva Lunch, a family of four would need an income of at least CHF 7000 per month to maintain a modest lifestyle. As elsewhere, the general rule of thumb is that rental costs should not be higher than 25% of gross monthly income.
Added to the monthly rent is an amount for charges and utilities, which usually includes building heating costs and maintenance. This is a partial charge and the actual usage is calculated later, then either invoiced or refunded. Electricity is billed directly to the tenant.
A deposit of the equivalent of up to three months' rent is payable in order to finalise the contract. One way of paying less for accommodation is to live outside the centre of Geneva. Other ways of saving money in Geneva include choosing carefully when and where to shop, taking advantage of discounts, special offers, loyalty programmes, especially with regard to public transport, and seasonal sales.