Switzerland is the country with the highest salaries in the world. But are salaries and the cost of living in Switzerland in proportion?
There is no legal minimum wage in Switzerland as a whole, but only 5 of the 26 cantons have introduced a minimum wage, ranging from CHF 19 to CHF 23 per hour, depending on the canton. The cantons and cities that have introduced a minimum wage are:
- Neuchâtel, with a minimum wage of 20 CHF / hour
- Basel, with a minimum wage of 21 CHF/hour
- Jura, with a minimum wage of 20 CHF / hour
- Geneva, with a minimum wage of 23 CHF/hour
- Canton Ticino, with a minimum wage of 20 CHF / hour
- The cities of Winterthur, Zurich and Kloten are also in the process of introducing a local minimum wage of 23 CHF/hour.
Wages in Switzerland
Although there is no legal national minimum wage, workers in Switzerland are among the highest paid in the world. In 2021, the average annual salary in Switzerland was over 60,000 Swiss francs. The median wage has remained relatively stable over the last ten years.
This all sounds like a dream, but keep in mind that the cost of living is incredibly high. Regardless of the job you do, you need to plan your expenses carefully. Do not think about doing whatever you want given the size of your salary, because money runs out quickly in Switzerland.
Although salaries in Switzerland are high, they vary from canton to canton.
For example, a teacher in Geneva or Zurich earns much more than one in Lugano.
Here are the annual salaries for some professions in Switzerland:
- Doctor/veterinarian: 120’000 Swiss francs
- IT: CHF 120’000 Swiss francs
- Lawyer: 110,000 Swiss francs
- Engineer: 110,000 Swiss francs
- Police: 80,000 Swiss francs
- Cook: 80,000 Swiss francs
In any case, I recommend a calculator to estimate what your average salary would be in Switzerland:
As for foreigners working in Switzerland, they would be entitled to receive the same remuneration as Swiss citizens. This rule is required by federal law, but it is often ignored and immigrants are paid less than the Swiss.
Cost of living in Switzerland
To give you an idea of the cost of living in Switzerland, suffice it to say that prices in northern European countries are generally 50% lower than in Switzerland, which says a lot. Germany is also much cheaper than Switzerland, but salaries in Switzerland are at least twice as high as in Germany.
Most people live in rent, as buying a property in Switzerland is very expensive. Depending on the city, the rent varies considerably. Rents in Zurich are much higher than in an in any other city.
A good rule of thumb is that you should never spend more than one third of your monthly income on rent. Because then it might be difficult to make ends meet in the family budget.
For food costs, you need about 500 CHF per month per person, which can quickly become 1,500 CHF if you eat out twice a week. Unless you go to McDonald’s, where a hamburger and a Coke cost “only’ 15 CHF.
If you manage to do without the car, you will save considerably by using only public transportation, The monthly pass for city buses/trains costs150 -200 CHF.
For all additional costs (TV, internet, telephone), consider 100 -150 CHF/month.
In this case, the expense will be very subjective, but if you are a lover of the social and mundane life, be prepared to see your salary evaporate quite quickly. Know that if you want to go to the cinema, be prepared to spend 20 CHF. And if you go to a restaurant for two for pizza don’t think you can get away with less than 70 CHF.
Medical insurance in Switzerland is mandatory. Each person is required to purchase basic coverage, costing between CHF 300 and 500 per month for adults and CHF 100 for children. And if you intend to increase the level of insurance coverage, you can easily reach 1,000 – 1,500 CHF per month.
So, drawing the conclusions, I would say that a single person living in Switzerland, on average, with the necessary differences related to the city and personal needs, will spend more than CHF 2,500 per month, not to mention entertainment and extra expenses.
- 1,500 CHF for rent
- 500 CHF for health insurance
- 100 CHF for public service subscription
- 100 CHF for utilities
- 400 CHF for food
Cost of living and wages in Switzerland, conclusion
Life in Switzerland is a double-edged sword. Public transportation, health care and services work perfectly and salaries are high, but the cost of living is very high. In general, Zurich, Geneva and Basel are the three most expensive cities in Switzerland. However, this does not mean that other cities and towns are cheap, only that they are slightly less expensive.
Therefore, if you receive a job offer, I advise you to carefully weigh the amount of your salary and all the costs you will have to incur to live in Switzerland before accepting the offer.
If you want more information on how to find a job in Switzerland, I recommend reading this article: How to work in Switzerland