As is the case throughout Switzerland, the cost of living in Geneva is inescapably high. The city regularly features in the top 15 most expensive expat cities in Mercer's Cost of Living City Ranking. The 2024 edition of the survey ranks Geneva 4th out of 226 expat cities. Luckily, most expats are drawn to the city by high salaries, which offset the expenses they're likely to incur.

Cost of accommodation in Geneva

Accommodation will likely be an expat's biggest expense in this Swiss city. There's a serious shortage of accommodation in Geneva, and landlords can charge a premium. Rentals can be high, even for a one-bedroom apartment on the city's outskirts. Landlords can also request up to three months' rent as a security deposit. Moreover, expats will usually have to take care of their utilities as well, which include annual radio and TV licence fees.

Expats moving to Geneva with a family and seeking a larger home may need to consider investigating housing options across the border in France. Here, they will find more options with rental rates that offer slightly better value than in Geneva.

Cost of public transport in Geneva

Geneva's public transport infrastructure is extensive and efficient but comes at a price. That said, it remains cheaper than owning and maintaining a car in the city. There are various discount passes designed to combat the expense of public travel.

The cheapest way to get around Geneva would be by bicycle. The city is equipped to cater for cyclists with its cycle paths and bike-sharing scheme, making it a quick, healthy and cost-effective way to get around. 

Cost of education in Geneva

Education is another large expense for expats with families to consider. The city has many international schools, but places are hard to come by, and fees are exorbitant. International school fees easily add up as parents will often also need to pay for additional costs such as textbooks, uniforms and field trips.

Parents who have young children who can easily pick up the local language may consider enrolling them in a local public school if they are staying in the country long-term. Swiss public schools are free for all to attend and are touted as some of the best schools in the world. 

Cost of groceries in Geneva

Switzerland is known for its high quality of food, especially its chocolate and cheese, and Geneva is no exception. This does, however, come at a price. Expats can expect grocery prices to be 20 to 30 percent higher than in neighbouring EU countries, on the higher end at Swiss supermarkets like Coop and Migros, and on the lower at international supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl.

Thrifty shoppers know to visit Genevese supermarkets after 5pm when some perishable items go on discount. They also might hop across the border to France to do their bulk shopping, though some Swiss consumers are adamant about supporting domestic brands.

Cost of eating out and entertainment in Geneva

The amount an expat spends on leisure activities depends on their preferences. Geneva has some excellent restaurants, but eating out, bars and clubs aren't cheap. Alcohol, especially cocktails, is expensive, but most locals prefer to start the party at home to reduce their expenses. Skiing can be quite pricey too, but there are numerous free trails for those who enjoy hiking and biking.

Cost of healthcare in Geneva

The healthcare in Geneva is exceptional, and the medical practitioners in the city are widely qualified. Within three months of arriving in Switzerland, expats must purchase a health insurance policy according to Swiss law. Health insurance policies in the country are not particularly cheap and will likely not cover everything, so expats must account for deductibles and co-payments. The cost of health insurance will vary depending on an individual's coverage level, age, health status and lifestyle habits. 

Cost of living in Geneva chart 

Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Geneva for October 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in city centreCHF 4,220
Three-bedroom apartment outside city centreCHF 3,300
One-bedroom apartment in city centreCHF 2,115
One-bedroom apartment outside city centreCHF 1,800
Eggs (dozen)CHF 6.08
Milk (1 litre)CHF 1.60
Rice (1kg)CHF 3.38
Loaf of white bread (500g)CHF 3.42
Chicken breasts (1kg)CHF 24
Pack of cigarettes CHF 8.60
Eating Out
Big Mac MealCHF 15
Coca-Cola (330ml)CHF 3.94
Cappuccino CHF 4.64
Local beer (500ml)CHF 8
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantCHF 110
Mobile phone monthly plan with calls and dataCHF 68
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)CHF 55
Basic utilities per month for standard householdCHF 192
Taxi rate (per kilometre)CHF 3
Bus/train fare to the city centreCHF 3
Petrol/gasoline (per litre)CHF 2.05

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