Cost of Living in Switzerland Vs UK

The UK and Switzerland are both exceptional countries that offer promising prospects for anyone looking to relocate. However, when it comes to the cost of living, the UK is 43% cheaper than Switzerland.

Switzerland offers a remarkably high standard of living but that comes at the price of its equally high cost of living, which is why it’s also widely known as one of the most expensive countries in the world. Compared to the UK’s 16th rank, Switzerland clocks in at no. 4 on the list of most expensive countries in the world.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at various factors to understand the cost differences and local purchasing power of both Switzerland and the UK.

Switzerland Vs UK: Housing

Renting An Apartment

How much can you expect to spend on rent in Switzerland and the UK? Here’s a look into your biggest monthly outgoings, both in and outside the city center.

Monthly RentSwitzerlandUK
1-bedroom apartment in the city center$1,754.60$1,095.84
1-bedroom apartment outside the city center$1,385.96$840.49
3-bedroom apartment in the city center$3,164.16$1,947.14
3-bedroom apartment outside the city center2,459.49$1,465.12

Keep in mind that you also have to put a deposit down, which is a month’s worth of rent + tenancy deposit in the UK and 3 months’ worth of rent (maximum) in Switzerland.

Buying Property

Switzerland is a wildly expensive place to live in, which is reflected in the exorbitant property costs. Houses in Switzerland costs more than double that in the UK. So, it’s no surprise that, compared to 63% of British folks, only 36% of Swiss residents have their own homes.

This is also because the Swiss government has a layer of restrictions for non-nationals looking to buy property in the host county — purchase of a license.

Average Cost of Buying A HouseSwitzerlandUK
Price per square meter (city center)$14,179.18$5,341.57
Price per square meter (outside of the city center)$9,709.41$3,947.53

Interested in buying a property in the UK or Switzerland? We have created a transferring money from Switzerland to the UK guide that showcases the best companies to work with if you need to send large sums of money between the two countries.

Switzerland Vs UK: Salary

The average monthly salary (post taxes) is $5,924.32 in Switzerland — more than two times that of the UK, which stands at $2,798.42. This is one of the key attractions for professionals moving to this gorgeous, mountainous country for a new role.

But here’s the catch.

Switzerland has a GDP of $799.8 billion, so while it does offer high-paying jobs, opportunities tend to be few and far between. Plus, its high purchasing power often means you’ll end up paying more for utilities and facilities, among other things.

The UK, on the other hand, has its head in the game with a GDP of $874.5 billion. So, even though you’ll get paid less here than in Switzerland, you can benefit from many opportunities if you want to transition into a better-paying field based on your skill set. That combined with a comparatively cheap cost of living, and you can expect a better quality of life in the UK.

Here are some common jobs and their wage disparities in the two countries:

Job Role Avg. Annual Salary in SwitzerlandAvg. Annual Salary in the UK
Graphic Designer$59,629.96$32,962.10
Marketing Officer$98,118.56$35,432.07
Postal worker$72,206.59$29,237.57

Switzerland Vs UK: Food


Your grocery and food expenses in either country will ultimately depend on how many mouths you’re feeding and what brands you prefer. That said, you can expect to pay 32.3% more in Switzerland compared to the UK, although you may be able to reduce the costs by shopping at discount stores and budget supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl.

Apples (1 kg)$4.04$2.33
Bananas (1 kg)$2.83$1.32
Beef Round (1 kg)$51.74$10.76
Bottle of wine (mid-range)$14.07$8.50
Bread (Loaf)$3.24$1.24
Cheese (1 kg)$26.04$7.10
Chicken filets (1 kg)$26.19$6.91
Eggs (dozen —12)$6.30$2.54
Lettuce (1 head)$2.40$0.86
Milk (1 liter)$1.77$1.21
Onions (1 kg)$2.46$1.18
Oranges (1 kg)$3.30$2.16
Potatoes (1 kg)$2.58$1.29
Rice (white, 1 kg)$3.07$1.68
Tomatoes (1 kg)$4.27$2.47

Dining Out

When it comes to dining out, the UK is significantly more affordable than Switzerland. Eating out or enjoying the nightlife is more convenient, easily accessible, and more importantly, doesn’t require you to burn a hole in your pocket.

On the other hand, you have to be smart about dining out in Switzerland, which can be rather expensive. For example, a three-course meal in the culinary heaven of Switzerland can set you back by as much as $108.25. Meanwhile, a similar meal in the UK will cost just $66.82.

Meal at an inexpensive restaurant$27.06$18.22
Combo meal at McDonald’s (or similar fast food chains)$16.24$7.29
Bottle of water (0.33 liter)$4.01$1.29
Domestic beer (0.5 liters)$7.04$4.86
Imported beer (0.33 liter)$6.50$4.86
Cappuccino (regular)$5.17$3.56
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter)$4.45$1.78

Switzerland Vs UK: Taxes

Take a look at the taxes levied in Switzerland and UK (on an individual level), and you’ll understand why Switzerland is so expensive to live in.

In Switzerland, you can expect to pay 20-40% of your total monthly income, depending on where you live. Factor in a sales tax rate that’s estimated to reach 7.70% by the end of 2023, and you’re not left with much to create a cushion.

It also impedes your ability to purchase a house, because the real estate tax is calculated according to on-site valuation, which could be 70-90% of the market value of the property!

In the UK, on the other hand, you’re allowed to have $15,155.27 as a personal allowance, which is tax-free. After that, the basic tax rate starts at 20% and goes as high as 45%, depending on your income. The sales tax here tends to be expensive, costing as much as 20% in VAT and duties on goods and services.

As for real estate taxes, how much you pay will depend on whether you’re a resident of the country. Typically, though, you can expect to pay 15% Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) — if your UK real estate property is worth upwards of $24,13,000.

Switzerland Vs UK: Utilities

Utility bills include electricity, water, and gas, although Switzerland focuses on hydropower more than gas, which is how the country has managed to avoid soaring gas prices.

Bear in mind, however, Switzerland also stipulates separate charges for waste management and garbage disposal. Although you could use public recycling facilities to keep costs low. Just make sure you do it by the book, as Switzerland has strict laws regarding recycling.

As you can tell, Switzerland is more expensive than the UK for utilities as well.

Basic amenities like water, gas, electricity, garbage, and heating for an 85 sq m apartment$240.16$232.15
1 min. of prepaid local mobile tariff$0.30$0.15
Internet (60 Mbps or faster, unlimited data, and cable/ADSL)$57.78$36.45

Switzerland Vs UK: Childcare

Childcare, specifically daycare, is expensive in both Switzerland and the UK. You will have to dedicate nearly 30-100% of your income, depending on factors like how much you earn, whether your partner earns, and where you live.

If you have school-going kids, here’s what you can expect to pay to educate them.

Cost per childSwitzerlandUK
Private, full-day preschool (one month)$2,549.92$1,262.35
International primary school (for one year)$29,619.22$16,542.65

Switzerland has an exceptional education system, ranking 6th according to the World Population Review. But if you think you may relocate somewhere else someday, proceed with caution. Education in Switzerland relies on vocational training, which could limit your child’s prospects if they’re going to work for a non-Swiss company later.

Switzerland Vs UK: Crime Rates

It is widely accepted that crime and education have a close correlation. The same is true in both Switzerland and the UK.

A large majority (86%) of Swiss residents between the ages of 25 and 64 have at least an upper-secondary education. This stands in contrast with education in the UK, where only 45.7% of British people have some post-secondary education. And with higher education rates offering better public safety outcomes, Switzerland generally tends to have a lower crime rate than the UK.

Take a look at the table below to compare key data across the two countries:

Crime Levels27.448
Drugs abuse (Opiate)0.60.9
Intentional homicide1.251.17
Murder with firearms (per million)9.330.236
Violent crime52722

In Conclusion

Now that you’ve got the rundown on how much you can expect to spend in the UK and Switzerland across multiple touchpoints, you can make a more informed decision that aligns with your budget.

Will you move to Switzerland, the neutral state blessed with picturesque nature and renowned for its decadent chocolate and skiing resorts, or will you make your way to the diverse UK, known for its pretty pebble beaches, rich culture, and amazing countryside?



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