Cost of Living in Zurich

The cost of living in Zurich is high, even by the standards of an already expensive country. Aside from accommodation, transport, food and education, expats will also have to pay various taxes, licence fees and insurance premiums.  

The Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2019 ranks Zurich as the fifth most expensive of 209 cities around the world. However, its high living costs are mitigated by high salaries and good quality of life. It's important for expats to anticipate what their living expenses in Zurich will be, so they can negotiate a good salary and plan ahead.


Cost of accommodation in Zurich

Most residents, including locals, rent in Zurich, so there’s stiff competition for relatively few available properties. Expats could spend between a fifth and a third of their income on monthly rent.

Renters will also have to pay their own utility bills, which generally amount to the equivalent of about 10 percent of the rent. TV and radio licence fees are also something worth taking into account when considering utility payments. 

Expats living in Zurich should get into the habit of recycling. The council taxes residents per garbage bag and one can save a considerable amount by separating their rubbish into plastic, glass and aluminium and disposing of these at free recycling sites around Zurich. 


Cost of healthcare in Zurich

In line with Swiss law, private healthcare is compulsory in Zurich and expats will need to get covered within three months of their arrival.

Health insurance is by no means cheap in Switzerland. However, it is worth shopping around to find a suitable package for one's individual needs. Expats on any form of long-term medication should check whether this is covered by their health insurance policy. Furthermore, it is important to note that dental treatment is not covered by health insurance.


Cost of transport in Zurich

While Zurich's public transportation network is excellent and extensive, it is not cheap. Regular users should invest in monthly and annual transport passes which will save them a considerable amount of money in the long term.

The city is divided into transport zones. There often isn’t a big difference in rental prices between Zurich and its outskirts – so many expats find that living closer to work is the best way to save, and gives them the option of commuting by bicycle. However, residents will need to buy an extra ticket if they wish to transport their bicycle on the train. 

Owning and maintaining a car in Zurich is very costly, and quite unnecessary for most expats. Public parking fees quickly add up. Drivers also have to pay to park in residential areas, so expats planning on getting a car should check the rates for residential parking when they are searching for a home. 


Cost of education in Zurich

Public schools in Zurich have high standards and are free, but the language of education will be Swiss German. This makes them an unsuitable option for most expats. However, those who are planning on settling down in Zurich in the long term and have children young enough to easily adapt may want to consider this option.

Some bilingual schools exist, but tuition at these institutions can be costly – and it gets even pricier for expats who'd rather send their children to an international school that teaches their home country's curriculum in their home language.


Cost of living in Zurich chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for February 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CHF 3,000 - 4,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

CHF 2,000 - 3,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CHF 1,500 - 2,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

CHF 1,000 - 2,000

Shopping  

Eggs (dozen)

CHF 6

Milk (1 litre)

CHF 1.80

Rice (1kg)

CHF 2.80

Loaf of white bread

CHF 3.20

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CHF 27

Pack of cigarettes

CHF 8

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 CHF 14

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 CHF 4.20

Cappuccino 

 CHF 5

Bottle of local beer

 CHF 7

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

 CHF 100

Household

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

 CHF 0.30

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

 CHF 60

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

 CHF 180

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

 CHF 4.30

Bus/train fare in the city centre

 CHF 4.50

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

 CHF 1.70

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Aetna offers award-winning international health insurance plans to more than 55 million members worldwide. Their plans are tailored to meet the individual needs of you and your family while you are away from your home country, living and working abroad. Get peace of mind knowing you and your family will be protected and have access to quality health care wherever you are, where you need it.

* For a limited time, there is a discount of up to 20% on new multi-member policies and up to 10% on single member policies. This offer is valid until 19 June 2020. See website for details.

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Cigna Global

With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

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