Get useful expat articles, health and financial news, social media recommendations and more in your inbox each month - free!

We respect your privacy - we don't spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.

±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners


Columnists > Sarah Ryrie

Sarah Ryrie

The Cost Of Living In Switzerland

  Posted Thursday June 25, 2015 (00:31:50)   (2898 Reads)

Sarah Ryrie

One thing that I won’t miss about Switzerland when we return to the UK is the cost of, well, everything. Before we moved out here we knew that it was one of the most expensive places to live, with the highest cost of living in the world, but I don’t think it really sank in until I did my first supermarket shop which reduced me to tears in the tinned food aisle and was singlehandedly The Most Terrifying Experience of My Life. Admittedly this wasn’t only down to the cost of groceries but it was definitely a large part of the trauma.

In the early days of our relocation (hark at me, I sound like a proper expat!) part of the initial culture shock was tied up with the price of everything. And by everything, I do mean everything. I remember tweeting about a purchase I had made which I felt was particularly good value - what was it?

A multi pack of toilet roll! Oh yes. At just under 15chf for a pack of 30 rolls I felt that this was a bargain. Not just a bargain, but one worth sharing with the world, this was the equivalent of unearthing a vintage Birkin bag for a tenner in a charity shop (which, by the way, there aren’t any of in Switzerland. Charity shops that is, not Birkin bags, I’m sure there are more than a few of those around). Early trips to Ikea and H&M revealed that their prices were approximately 10-15% more expensive than in the UK. Even the amount we pay out on rent is nearly four times the cost of our UK mortgage! What do we get for the princely sum of 3,875chf? Well, it’s modern and spacious 30 minutes south of Zurich, but it’s certainly not a four bedroom detached house with private garden and double garage.

Having come from the UK I was used to the price wars that are waged in the supermarkets, the BOGOFs (Buy One Get One Free’s), the three for the price of two, the gift with purchase, the loyalty card points to get bonus items that I wouldn’t have dreamt of getting otherwise. On arrival in Switzerland aggressive marketing and the fights between retailers to make sure that you spend that hard earned franc in their stores seems to have all but disappeared. Yes, there is competition between Coop and Migros, but it is not as merciless as it is in the UK between Sainsburys and Tesco. Indeed, they appear to compliment each other, almost working together to meet consumer demands; Migros doesn’t stock alcohol but Coop does, Coop stocks the more famous brands whilst Migros is more about local producers.

Having gone through the Most Terrifying Experience of My Life in that memorable first week of expat life I now frequent four different supermarkets to complete the family’s weekly grocery shopping. This is to make sure that I get all the ingredients I need and that I buy for the best value. Let’s take the basics of milk, bread and eggs, as examples. In the local bakers, Migros and Coop you can expect to be charged around 3.50chf for a white unsliced crusty loaf whilst in Lidl’s it’s only 2chf. Oh and whilst we are on the subject of bread, in Switzerland there are over 200 different traditional breads, fantastic for a carb lover like my husband, but I haven’t yet found a decent sandwich loaf for the children’s packed lunches. Then there’s the milk, scandalously cheap in the UK, in Coop and Migros just one litre will cost 1.50chf although if you stop off at a local farm and purchase from their vending machine you’ll save yourself 30 rappen. Eggs, 3.60chf for half a dozen medium free range. I could continue with the grocery list but maybe the admission that our weekly shop (for a family of four) costs 200-250chf will suffice.

Yep, I shall definitely relish the opportunity to withdraw a £10 note from the cash point. Here the majority of banks expect you to withdraw a minimum of 50chf of your hard earned cash from the hole in the wall. Indeed a 100chf note has stopped being a novelty. You know you live somewhere expensive when the cashier doesn’t bat an eyelid as you handover a tatty(!) 100chf note in exchange for a 4.50chf cappuccino.

Sarah is a mother, wife and freelance writer who also happens to blog about family life and their expat adventures in Switzerland. Check out her blog, Life of Ryrie.

Sarah Ryrie
Sarah is a mother, wife and freelance writer who also happens to blog about family life and their expat adventures in Switzerland. Check out her blog, Life of Ryrie.
Link  QR 

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. We offer direct access to over 1.2m medical providers worldwide, and we settle directly with them so you don’t have to pay up front for your treatment. We provide access to leading specialists without the need to see your family doctor first and ensure that you have the same level of cover wherever you might be, home or away.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.