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Cost of Living in Switzerland vs. the US

While the USA and Switzerland are both great countries to live in, their cost of living may differ significantly.

If you are struggling to choose your home between the two countries, comparing the cost of living will be helpful. So what is the cost of living in Switzerland vs the USA?

The cost of living in Switzerland is higher than in the USA by 19 percent. Also, the country boasts a higher income rate of 28 percent. This makes Switzerland expensive for some people, primarily because of rent and additional living costs.

The USA may be a better choice for those looking to save money. However, salaries in Switzerland are higher, so you may have a consistent and steady income to afford a comfortable life.

This article will compare the two countries and help you decide which suits you, so keep reading.

Is living in Switzerland cheaper than living in the USA?

Generally, living in Switzerland is more costly than living in the USA, but the cost of living in some USA cities is similar to some in Switzerland.

For instance, New York and Zurich have almost the same cost of living.

The USA is an expensive place to live, but Switzerland is listed among the most expensive countries in the world. A family of four in Switzerland will need at least a monthly income of $6,000 to live comfortably, while they can live the same lifestyle in the USA with an income of $2,000.

What is the average cost of living for a Swiss family?

In a month, a family in Switzerland spends between $6,000 and $7,000 on average. A bigger percentage goes to food, housing, childcare, and transport.

There may be a need for more income for those who want a very comfortable life, especially in the major cities of Switzerland.

On the other hand, a US family doesn’t need $7,000 a month to live a comfortable and luxurious life in any major city in America.

To better understand the cost of living between the two countries, let us compare the prices of basic human expenses.


Rent prices in Switzerland’s significant cantons are higher than in American cities. On average, the rental cost in Switzerland is between $1,000 and $4,500, but this depends on the location and the type of apartment.

In the USA, the cost of housing is slightly cheaper, ranging between $750 and $2,000. However, it can be more money in major cities.

If you want to pay minimal rent in the USA, consider settling in cities like Wichita and Omaha. Here, the average monthly rent can be as low as $650 for an apartment.

The cheapest cantons for renters in Switzerland are Jura, Glarus, and Neuenburg.


Everyone living in Switzerland must have healthcare. There are three types of insurance to choose from in this country: subsidized private insurance, purely private insurance, and public insurance.

On average, healthcare insurance for a Swiss adult ranges between $4,000 and $6,000 per year depending on the insurance coverage you choose. This amount covers the minimum deductible amount and premiums.

Your monthly cost of basic health insurance will be about $300 to $500.

Healthcare insurance in the USA is also expensive. An individual can spend more than $9,000 per annum on healthcare.

A law was passed in 2018 in the USA that every individual must have health insurance coverage or face heavy penalties. The government subsidizes low-income earners and allows parents to include children up to 26 years old in their insurance coverage.


Food is more expensive by far in Switzerland than in the USA. A single person can spend between $25 and $60 daily on food, which is $700 per month. In the US, a single person spends between $10 and $20 on food a day, which is $600 per month.

Eating in restaurants is pricy in Switzerland, and dinner may cost you $60, including drinks.
On average, a family of four spends $1,500 monthly on food in Switzerland. This amount includes cooking at home and eating out.

In the USA, the same family will spend between $900 and $1,000 on food. However, eating out in the USA is expensive. If you want to save on the cost of food, I recommend you buy groceries and cook for yourself.


When moving to a new country as a family, it’s essential to determine how much your children’s education will cost you.

In Switzerland, public education is free unless you want to enroll your kids in private or international schools. However, once your child gets to the university, you will have to pay a considerable amount for tuition.

Education is free in America from kindergarten to 12th grade, but you will pay for private and international schools.

The quality of education in Switzerland and the US is different. The US education system emphasizes academics, while Switzerland focuses more on vocational programs.


The transport system in Switzerland is well developed, from trains to buses, boats, and cable cars. Public transport allows you to access any part of the country, but it’s incredibly costly.

If you’re a frequent commuter, I recommend using the rail pass, which offers free bus tickets. This way, you will save money since other means of transport are more costly. Remember to purchase your tickets in advance since not all buses have on-board ticketing.

You may pay $4 for a one-way trip. The same applies to owning a car. You may spend up to $500 per month.

In the USA, transport is relatively cheaper than in Switzerland. You may spend $250 per month, especially when using public transport.

The cost of living in Zurich vs. New York

New York has topped the list of the best cities in the USA for a long time. On the other hand, Zurich is listed as the most favorable city for people moving to Switzerland. But what’s the cost of living in these two cities?

In terms of rent, New York is more expensive than Zurich. A one-bedroom house in New York costs $3,900, while the same in Zurich is $1,900.

The high housing cost is due to the increased demand for houses in the city that overpowers the supply. You can hardly find any empty land in New York, thus worsening the situation. The city has a booming job market and economy that attracts the masses to the city.

How much money do you need to live a comfortable life in Switzerland?

The cost of living in Switzerland depends on the preferences of a person.

On average, a single person must earn at least $2,000 a month to live a comfortable life. A family of four needs a monthly income of $8,000 to enjoy a luxurious life.

If you live in the major cities, most of your income will cater to rent while the rest goes to food, clothes, entertainment, sports, utilities, and savings.

If you live in the city center, you may not pay for transport since you can walk to your workplace. The best part about living in Switzerland is that pay is attractive in most fields.

The pros and cons of living in Switzerland as an American

Switzerland and the United States are some of the most flourishing countries globally. However, this does not mean that the two countries are similar.

Switzerland has been ranked among the most prosperous and stable countries, while the United States has been recognized as a country with plenty of jobs, freedom, and affordable living costs.

If you’re contemplating relocating to Switzerland from America for work or personal reasons, you must weigh both the advantages and disadvantages. Read through the pros and cons ahead to help you make an informed decision.


Switzerland is among the best places to live across all European countries. Get your mind ready as we cruise through the advantages.

1. Happiness index

Switzerland is the happiest country globally. It has a high happiness index because people in this country feel supported, have a longer life expectancy (an average of 85 years compared to America’s 77 years), have freedom, low crime rates, and have faith in the government. With the addition of scenic views, I assure you that you will enjoy life in Switzerland compared to America.

2. The Swiss Alps

Switzerland has magnificent beauty in the least expected places. It is believed that the country never chose to have the Alps, but the Alps chose Switzerland. If you’re obsessed with breathtaking views, Switzerland is the right country for you.

The towns and valleys around the country will have your views tapped, so breathe clean air and live longer in booming health compared to the United States. This country is one of the largest tourist attractions.

3. Proximity to everything

Surprisingly, Switzerland is surrounded by the majority of European countries in a very exclusive way. If you want to visit all the historic places across Europe while in Switzerland, you just need a ride on a train. In America, you must board a plane to visit historic sites in other countries.

4. Exercise all year long

Switzerland is a country that experiences fair climatic conditions. If you’re a fanatic about exercising, you can do so all year round as the country is full of natural resources.

During summer, you can enjoy the gorgeous terrain and plenty of lakes, while the Alps are suitable for skiing in winter. In Switzerland, there is no time to hibernate or huddle up like in America.

5. Education

The Swiss government has set high learning standards in private and public schools compared to the U.S.

While the country recognizes only four official languages, most public schools teach in either French or German. You should be fine if your kids are only conversant in English.

6. Low crime rates

Compared to the US, people in Switzerland are less likely to involve themselves in criminal activities. As a parent, you will be at peace with letting your children become more independent.

7. Variety of food

Switzerland is surrounded by food spills and a unique culture all around its borders. In this country, you are assured to find more than 200 varieties of bread and 450 varieties of cheeses compared to America, which sources most of its food from other countries.

8. Eco-friendly

Switzerland promotes a sustainable society. Recently, the country was voted the best in embracing an environmentally friendly economy. The U.S., on the other hand, is ranked among the top countries that emits greenhouse gases, which is a known environmental hazard.


1. Take ample time to enjoy your meal

In the US, everything is rushed. When you visit a restaurant in Switzerland, food preparation takes time. You will have to wait longer for your food than in the US. However, you will not be disrupted every few minutes by a waiter who keeps asking whether you need anything while eating.

2. Forget about free refills

Are you used to enjoying cold drinks at free refill stations in the US? Well, things are different in Switzerland, as there are no free refills. Furthermore, the drinks you buy here are smaller compared to the ones in America.

3. In Switzerland, food and cars don’t get along

Switzerland does not tolerate eating and drinking in the car. They consider this a taboo.

As discussed above, Swiss people are never in a hurry regarding food. In America, you are at liberty to have your meal anywhere.

4. Narrow streets and roundabouts

Switzerland has extremely narrow roundabouts and streets compared to the US. This is because when driving through a city or a village, there are no waiting spotlights. Furthermore, you will have to get used to driving while following other vehicles closely.

5. Cash over cards

Everywhere you visit Switzerland, expect to pay in cash. While most places in the US accept either debit or credit cards, it’s the exact opposite in Switzerland. Most places in this country do not take cards, so it’s paramount to have cash on you if you want to grab some coffee or ice cream.


The cost of living in Switzerland is high compared to the USA. However, salaries are attractive, and there are more growth opportunities. I hope this guide will help you decide whether to settle in the USA or Switzerland!