1) Zurich and Geneva still most expensive cities in the world
The two Swiss cities have once again been named as the world’s most expensive by Swiss banking giant UBS, both when housing costs are factored in and when they are excluded from calculations.
To establish these price rankings for its Price and Earnings 2018 study UBS looked at the cost of 128 basic goods and services in 77 cities around the world.
They assigned New York a value of 100, with all other cities measured against that baseline. Zurich – the most expensive city ranked by UBS – scored 116.8 before rent was factored in, meaning it was 16.8 percent more expensive than New York overall. After rent was factored in, Zurich’s score was 104.3.
For Geneva, the score was 113.4 before rent and 102.9 including rent.
Zurich and Geneva have historically had high prices. However, UBS points out that the two cities only reached the very top of the rankings in 2006 along with uncertainty in the Eurozone given Switzerland’s reputation as a financial safe haven and “the resultant boost that gave the Swiss franc relative to other currencies”.
2) Geneva more expensive for food and housing
Zurich and Geneva were also the two most expensive cities in the world for food, according to UBS. But Geneva is actually more expensive in this category, with a European family of three paying an average $705.80 a month for food in the French-speaking city against $629.30 in Zurich.
Housing is also more expensive in Geneva: an average of $2,340 against $2,100.70 in Zurich. The most expensive cities in the world in terms of housing are Hong Kong ($3,946.90) and New York ($3,833.70).
3) Geneva tops the earnings table (before tax anyway)
UBS determined earnings by looking at 15 different professions ranging from bus drivers to doctors. They took into account gross and net earnings, holidays and tax and social security contributions.
Read also: This is how much people earn in Switzerland
Geneva received the highest score for gross salary: 131.5, while the net salary score was 133.1.
Zurich came second for gross earnings with a score of 129.8. But the net income score for the Swiss-German speaking city was a whopping 153.8.
4) Geneva ‘most expensive for expats’
This year UBS compared 13 cities looking at how much a family with children would spend during one month abroad. To do this, they looked at "basic expenses" (food, household goods and clothing) and "expat extras" like rent in a two-bedroom furnished apartment, tuition for international school for the children, household help twice a month and a language course.
While Zurich was not included in this group of 13 cities, Geneva topped this ranking with basic expenses coming in at $2,099.30 and the expat extras package setting people back $4,227.43. That’s a total of $6,326.73. UBS noted that accommodation in the city on Lake Geneva is particularly expensive.
Brussels ($6,159.22) and Dubai ($5,856.99) came second and third.
5) Zurich wins when it comes to purchasing power
Zurich came second in the UBS rankings in terms of net annual income while Geneva came fourth. However, Los Angeles topped the list.
6) The iPhone X factor
UBS looked at the average price of iPhone Xs in cities around the world and at average salaries of the professions they studied (see above) to see how long it would take workers around the world to earn enough to be able to buy the smartphone. In Zurich, it would take workers 4.7 days, faster than anywhere else in the world. By comparison it would take someone living in New York 6.7 days to earn enough. In Beijing, it’s 39.3 days and in Lagos it would take 133.3 days.
7) Don’t get a haircut in Zurich
The UBS survey shows Zurich is some 20 percent more expensive than Geneva for services including items like haircuts or language classes. The Swiss German-speaking city also has 16 percent higher price tags for electronic items like smartphones.
8) Why teachers and chefs should move to Geneva
According to UBS, chefs and (and primary school teachers earn 7 percent more in Geneva than their Zurich counterparts. For their study, UBS looked at chefs “with a fairly large staff in a respected restaurant or hotel, and the deputy of the head chef, or chef de partie, who supervises two to three cooks, has completed vocational training as a cook, has about 10 years of experience and is approximately 30 years old.”
9) Zurich wins in the paid holidays race
Survey results by UBS show workers in Zurich had 26.9 days of paid annual leave, excluding public holidays. In Geneva, the figure was 24.9 days. Riyadh tops the table with 37 days of paid leave a year but comes 39th for gross earnings.
Those survey results also suggest people in Geneva work more hours per year than their counterparts in Zurich after annual leave and public holidays are factored out (1,974.6 hours against 1,813 hours). Those numbers put Geneva in 34th place and Zurich in spot 60.