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EARNINGS

It’s official! Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world

While anyone living in Switzerland might not have needed the reminder, a new study shows the cost of living in Switzerland is the highest of anywhere in the world.

It's official! Switzerland is the most expensive country in the world
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland topped the list well ahead of Norway in second place, with Iceland, Japan and Denmark rounding out the top five. 

The rankings, put together by CEO World magazine, took into account rent, groceries, purchasing power, restaurants and the cost of living in 132 countries across the globe. 

European countries featured prominently in the top 20, while countries in Asia and the Caribbean were also prominent. 

Switzerland top of the list

Not only did Switzerland top the overall list, but it also ranked highly in several individual metrics, making the cost of living there officially the highest in the world. 

READ: Everything you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland

Groceries in Switzerland are also more expensive than anywhere in the world, ranking a full 30 points higher than second-placed South Korea. 

But if you’re looking to avoid the grocery shop, eating out in Switzerland is also more expensive than anywhere else in the world. 

The only bright light in the rankings is Switzerland’s national purchasing power – which is also top of the list – perhaps explaining why the Swiss love to travel or even just shop abroad. 

This is of course more beneficial elsewhere, with the benefits of the country’s excellent purchasing power somewhat eroded by high prices at home. 

Photo: CEO World

In fact, the only metric Switzerland doesn’t top is rental costs. That’s not to say renting in Switzerland is cheap, but it trails Hong Kong, Singapore and Luxembourg on the international rent index. 

READ MORE: Eight things you need to know before renting in Switzerland 

Least expensive countries

Among the least expensive countries, central Asian nations rank highly. Pakistan is officially the least expensive, followed by Afghanistan, India and Syria. 

The least expensive European country on the list is Kosovo (124th) followed closely by Georgia (123rd). Romania is the least expensive European country on the list, in 99th place. 

Top ten most expensive countries as per CEO World magazine

1. Switzerland

2. Norway

3. Iceland

4. Japan

5. Denmark

6. Bahamas

7. Luxembourg

8. Israel

9. Singapore

10. South Korea

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COST OF LIVING

Can I have a fire in my backyard or courtyard in Switzerland?

The winter months are on their way and the weather is getting colder. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, can you light a fire?

White marshmallows toast over a fire
If you want to toast marshmallows in your backyard in Switzerland this winter, first make sure it's OK. Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Even if you own a property, the rules for what you can and cannot do in Switzerland can be relatively restrictive. 

As we covered in the following article, laws or tenancy rules can prevent you from doing several types of activities in your own backyard, including felling trees or washing your car. 

You can also be prevented from certain activities on particular days. For instance, rules, bylaws and tenancy arrangements may prevent you from mowing your lawn or hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. 

READ MORE: What am I allowed to do in my backyard or apartment courtyard in Switzerland?

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to stock up the fire pit, fire basket or fire bowl with wood and set it alight. 

The rules for lighting fires are also relatively complex. What you are allowed to do will depend on your canton, your tenancy arrangement and the type of fire. 

Can I light a fire on my own property in Switzerland? 

If you’re living in one of the few Swiss houses to have a fireplace, then you are presumably allowed to use it, unless tenancy regulations prevent it at certain times. 

You are also usually allowed to have a barbecue or grill either on your balcony or in your backyard, provided the noise and smoke is not excessive. 

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

Whether or not you are allowed to have a fire in your backyard however will depend on the rules in your canton. 

You are generally prohibited from burning any waste in Switzerland, other than typical forest or garden waste (i.e. wood, grass, twigs, sticks and leaves). 

That however can also be restricted at certain times of the year.

In Zurich, for instance, fires in backyards are only permitted from March to October, meaning that you will need to find other ways to stay warm in the winter months in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

Even if lighting fires is permitted, you may want to check with the rules of your rental contract to see if you are technically allowed a fire. 

What about fires in the forest or open parks? 

A campfire might also sound like a nice way to spend a winter evening, but this may be restricted or completely prohibited depending on the circumstance. 

There is no federal ban on fires in forests and other outdoor areas, provided you are not burning waste (other than garden waste etc) and you are not producing excessive emissions. 

The rules are the same on August 1st, Swiss National Day, where special bonfires usually require a permit. 

Note that there are special rules for burning old Christmas trees, which is prevented by law. 

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