12 things that are actually 'cheaper' in Switzerland
Switzerland regularly tops rankings of the most expensive countries in the world and it is unlikely to win any prizes for being a budget destination. But not everything in the country costs a small fortune.
It comes as no surprise to anyone living in Switzerland that the cost of living here, and especially in Zurich and Geneva, is very high.
In fact, these two Swiss cities are again ranked among the world's most expensive in the recent Economist Intelligence Unit study, which ranked Zurich in the sixth place (out of 172 cities surveyed) and Geneva in the seventh.
However, if analysing only European cities, Zurich ranks in the first place and Geneva in the second, as the five cities found to be more expensive are all outside Europe.
Does this mean that everything in Switzerland's two largest cities, and Switzerland in general, is very expensive? Or can some things be purchased for a reasonable price?
We asked our readers what they think is actually a good value in Switzerland. Here is what you told us.
1) Single-day travel passes from local town halls
Many town halls around Switzerland offer single-day travel passes which allow local residents to travel on almost all of the Swiss public transport network for around 40 Swiss francs. To see whether you commune offers this service, see here.
Readers also pointed out that the SBB/CFF’s supersaver tickets can be good value. And purchasing a half-fare travel card for the rail network is also considered a good investment. This half-fare card provides a 50-percent discount on rail, bus and boat travel across Switzerland. It costs 185 francs for the first year and then 165 francs for subsequent years.
2) Public transport for children
The SBB/CFF Junior travelcard allows children from the aged of six up to the 16th birthday to travel for a whole year for 30 Swiss francs if they are travelling with a parent who has a valid ticket. This Junior travelcard is also free from the third child on. More here.
3) Eating at the Migros restaurant
The restaurants of the supermarket chain Migros are, by Swiss standards, a good, cheap place to eat with main course at lunchtime costing around 10 Swiss francs. There is also a reasonable breakfast option with a couple of bread rolls, butter and jam and a hot drink costing around 7 francs.
Another relatively cheap option in Switzerland are the set menus (Tagesmenü/menu du jour) that many restaurants offer at lunchtime.
Several readers noted the prices for electronics in Switzerland were hard to beat, at least compared to elsewhere in Europe, partly because of the lower value-added tax rate in Switzerland (the standard rate is 7.7 percent).
One reader also noted that the warranty period is good in Switzerland. Two years is standard for new products.
5) Motorway tax sticker
Switzerland’s “spotless” and “top class” roads came in for praise from our readers who said the 40-franc sticker required to travel on the country’s motorway network was good value. There is a link to a map of the roads where this sticker is required here.
Switzerland’s public education system is excellent and – as a couple of our readers pointed out – absolutely free. In fact, this right to an “adequate” and free basic education is even guaranteed in the Swiss constitution.
With childcare also often based on parents’ income levels, this can be surprisingly affordable, as another reader noted.
7) University tuition
The tuition fees at Swiss universities are low by the standards of many other countries. At the prestigious ETH technical institute in Zurich, for example, tuition and semester fees total 649 francs a semester. But this has to be balanced against the estimated 16–26,000 francs in study and living costs students spend every year.
8) Good wine and beer
Our readers pointed out that supermarkets in Switzerland sell relatively good-quality wine and beer for much cheaper prices than you'd find elsewhere.
9) City parking
A few people noted that car parking in Swiss cities is cheaper than “back home” with rates of 1 franc an hour not uncommon.
10) Pool and water park entrance fees
Both single-entry tickets and season passes for outdoor pools are good value in Switzerland, according to readers of The Local.
11) Ikea and H&M
A number of our readers pointed out that clothes at stores like H&M and furniture from Ikea are actually very similarly priced in Switzerland as compared with other countries. With wages, generally higher in Switzerland, this means these products are relatively cheap.
12) Fresh air, mountains
Last but not least, many readers pointed out that many of the best things about Switzerland are actually free – from clean air and high levels of safety to the wonderful scenery and the amazing network of public footpaths that allow you to explore the county at a walking pace.