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How much does it cost to raise a child in Switzerland?

Thinking of having a kid or already have one? Here's how much your little bundle of joy will cost you in the long term.

How much does it cost to raise a child in Switzerland?
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

As far as investment advice goes, children are about the worst decision no matter the country.

But in Switzerland, with its sky high property, food and childcare costs, raising children is particularly expensive – and probably more than you would have thought. 

Here’s what you should be aware of. 

Upwards of 200,000 CHF

According to a range of estimates, children will cost upwards of 200,000 Swiss francs. 

Swisslife, a Swiss insurance agency based in Zurich which runs a ‘Swiss budget calculator’, estimates that a child will cost the average family 200,000 francs from birth until their 20th birthday. 

This takes into account all of the ‘direct costs’ of raising a child – which according to the study includes food, clothes, schooling and leisure – but does not include additional extras such as mobile phones, hobbies and additional healthcare costs such as braces. 

The Swiss government’s Family Costs in Switzerland study, which was published in 2018, estimated that a child costs 810 francs per month, working out to 194,400 by their 20th birthday. 

A study from the Zurich Youth Welfare Office made headlines in late 2019 when it estimated that raising a child would cost between 1,200 to 1,800 a month, putting the cost of one kid at close to half a million francs. 

Babies start cheaper – then costs grow as they do

Swisslife estimates the cost of newborn babies starts between 300 and 400 francs a month. 

However, like the child, the costs continue to grow and grow. Once a child hits seven in Switzerland, the monthly expenditure should start at between 500 and 560 francs. 

Teenagers cost parents the most – which is perhaps no surprise to anyone who has ever seen a teenager eat – with monthly costs starting at 650 to 800 francs. 

In addition to food, hobbies and costs related to schooling the most for teenagers. 

Children voting in a (dummy) referendum in Switzerland. Fortunately, voting in referenda is free. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

What about multiple children?

More kids means more cost, but perhaps unsurprisingly the cost per child decreases slightly when you have more. 

While child-care and school fees should remain the same, certain costs such as clothes, bikes, car seats etc can be reused. 

The Swiss government estimates that one child will cost 810 francs per month, rising to 1,310 for two and 1,590 for three. 

Until their 20th birthdays, parents will therefore spend around 200,00 francs when having one child, or spend an average of CHF 314,000 for two kids and three children CHF 380,000.

What are the major expenses of having children in Switzerland? 

Childcare is a major expenditure for parents in Switzerland, with costs continuing to rise amid a shortage of places all across the country. 

How can I save money while raising a child in Switzerland? 

For those with kids already or who are considering having a child soon, there are still ways to save. 

We asked our readers for their advice on how to save money while raising a child in Switzerland. 

They got back to us with a range of helpful tips. 

From encouraging them to enjoy outdoor activities to shopping in second-hand shops, click the following link for more information. 

VERDICT: How to save money when raising children in Switzerland

As with everything in Switzerland, it is important to remember that wages are higher – so although things outside Swiss borders might be cheaper, you’ll have a hard time getting Swiss wages anywhere else. 

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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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