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What is the cost of living in Switzerland?

Before moving to a new city you want to know how much it will cost to live there. 

The cost of living in Switzerland is pretty high. In this article we aim to provide you with some usefull information, tips and guidance concerning the cost of living in Switzerland.

You can gain an overview of the costs you are likely to incur by drawing up a personal budget. Your actual living costs will depend on your personal lifestyle.

The Swiss currency

In Switzerland, the currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF) and it is divided into 100 cents. It comes in bank notes of 10, 20, 50, 100, 500, and even 1000 and 2000 CHF, and coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents or 1,2, and 5 CHF coins. You can change money in the airport, trains stations, and banks (for a fee) and in some hotels.  

Banking in Switzerland

Most major credit and debit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, etc.) can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs and pay in stores. If using a card on a foreign account, you will be charged based on the daily exchange rate for Swiss Francs and you may have some charges for international transactions. Some services still accept cash only (restaurants, taxis, street vendors, etc.)

During your first week on campus, a few bank representatives will have a booth ready for your questions and concerns.

Cost of living in Switzerland

Depending on spending habits, the average student will need approximately 900-1,500CHF a month for expenses such as restaurants off campus, groceries, evenings out, entertainment, personal items and clothing. Here are a few average prices to give you an idea of expenses:

Eating out costs in Switzerland

  • Regular Menu at Mc Donald’s: 11.90 CHF
  • Drinks in a café (coffee, beer, Coca-Cola): 3.50-4.90 CHF
  • Dinner in an average restaurant with few drinks: 50-60 CHF per person
  • Take out/order-in: 20-25CHF per person

Traveling costs in Switzerland

  • Tank of regular gasoline (45 l. x 1.649 CHF/l., plus tax): 80.00CHF
  • Train ticket 2nd class Lausanne to Milan and back (full fare): 172.00CHF

Enternainment costs in Switzerland

  • Cinema night (ticket, snack & drink): 50 CHF per person
  • Club night (cover fee + 4 drinks): 80-100CHF
  • Museum & expositions: 8-16 CHF with student ID

Clothing costs in Switzerland

  • Business attire outfit (blazer, top, trousers) at H&M/C&A/Zara: 100 CHF
  • Tennis shoes: 35-100 CHF
  • Dry-cleaning for suit blazer and trousers: 15CHF

Pharmaceutical costs in Switzerland

  • Generic brand Paracetamol or Ibuprofen (10 capsules): 5.50-11.90CHF 

Tips for saving money while studying in Switzerland

  • Eating out can be expensive in Switzerland, take advantage of your meal card on campus and try having simple “no-cook” dinners in your dorm with friends.
  • Taxis are costly, so avoid them if possible. Often, public transportation will get you there just as fast, but you must be on time because the buses and metro leave exactly on time. 
  • Take the train to France or Italy on the weekends where many things are less expensive.