The cost of living in Zurich is high, even by the standards of an 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 2021 ranks Zurich as the fifth most expensive of 209 cities around the world. That said, its high living costs are mitigated by high salaries and a 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 competition is stiff 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 amounts 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, and 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. It's also important to note that dental treatment is not covered by health insurance.


Cost of transport in Zurich

While Zurich's public transport network is excellent and extensive, it isn't 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. That said, 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 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. Those who are planning on settling down in Zurich in the long term and have children young enough to easily adapt, however, 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 January 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CHF 3,000 – 6,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

CHF 2,100 – 3,500

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

CHF 1,500 – 3,000

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

CHF 1,100 – 1,900

Shopping  

Eggs (dozen)

CHF 6.60

Milk (1 litre)

CHF 1.70

Rice (1kg)

CHF 2.80

Loaf of white bread

CHF 2.80

Chicken breasts (1kg)

CHF 28.40

Pack of cigarettes

CHF 8.75

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 CHF 15

Coca-Cola (330ml)

 CHF 4.50

Cappuccino 

 CHF 5

Local beer (500ml)

 CHF 7

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

 CHF 120

Household

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

 CHF 0.30

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

 CHF 52.30

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

 CHF 211

Transport

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

 CHF 3.80

Bus/train fare in the city centre

 CHF 4

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

 CHF 1.65