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Excerpted from the Switzerland Career Guide

Cost of Living

Switzerland is expensive for expats. Despite differences in methodology and results, major global cost of living surveys from international consulting firms and banks such as Mercer and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) agree that Switzerland is one of the world's costliest countries. In fact, the country has dominated these surveys for years. As cost of living rankings are influenced by currency fluctuations, the strengthening of the Swiss franc has helped to propel Swiss cities upwards in most of these surveys.


Switzerland’s mountainous topography means it has little habitable surface area. More than two-thirds of the population lives in urban areas on the Swiss plateau (Schweizer Mittelland or plateau Suisse). About one-third of the population lives in and around the country’s five biggest cities: Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne.

In spite of recent increases in vacancies countrywide, a shortage of housing in the larger cities persists. But the discrepancy between urban and rural shortages continues; vacancies were recently highest in the canton of Jura, and lowest in Basel-City.

Medical Care and Health Insurance

The Swiss health care system includes public, private and subsidized private care. It is funded by individuals’ monthly payments to health care insurers. Everyone living in Switzerland is required to have health and accident insurance. And although this is a national system, it is administered by each individual canton. Everyone living in Switzerland for longer than three months must have basic health care coverage from an approved insurer. It is not unusual for people to take out additional insurance.


Switzerland shares borders with Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy and France, placing it at the center of Western Europe and making it an important connection between northern and southern European countries. There is a high quality and extensive public transportation system consisting primarily of an integrated network of buses and trains. Bus stations are located next to train stations, and bus and train timetables are coordinated to make connections easier. Single tickets can cover both modes of travel.

This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 75 pages of information in the complete Switzerland Guide.

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