How much do you need to earn for a good life in Switzerland?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
How much do you need to earn for a good life in Switzerland?
There are rules on finding money in Switzerland. Photo: Pixabay

You probably want to respond with ‘millions’, and depending on how extravagant your Swiss lifestyle is, you may be right. But for most people, less is enough.


Yes, Switzerland is among the world’s (and Europe’s) most expensive countries, but at the same time salaries are also higher here than nearly elsewhere else.
Then, there is a long-standing but never fully resolved question about whether Swiss wages offset the high cost of living, with some saying they don’t, while others arguing that they do.
READ MORE: Do wages in Switzerland make up for the high cost of living? 

So let’s crunch some numbers.
The median monthly salary in Switzerland is about 6,555 francs, which means 50 percent of the working population earns less, and 50 percent earn more. 

Obviously, those whose income is higher have an easier time making ends meet — and then some — than the lower earners.


Also, a lot depends, logically, on how high your wages are versus your fixed costs (rent / mortgage, health insurance premiums, food, transport, clothing, taxes, etc.), and also your overall spending habits on “non-essentials” such as entertainment, restaurants, travel, and leisure activities in general.

But that, of course, applies to all countries, not just Switzerland.


Geneva, which is home to the largest number of wealthy individuals, Switzerland. Photo by Philipp Potocnik on Unsplash

There are other factors as well.

For instance, if you a single person, or a couple without children, each earning the median income, then this should be enough money to have a perfectly fine lifestyle.

You will get even more out of that money if you live outside high-cost urban centres like Zurich, Geneva, Basel, Zug, and Lausanne. But, paradoxically perhaps, you have to work in those regions to earn a median or above-median wages.

If you live and work in small towns or rural areas that are not in the immediate proximity to large cities, then a lower salary can still afford you a decent life in these cheaper locations.

The ideal, of course, is to work in cities where salaries are high, but live outside those urban areas, where costs of living are lower. But that, of course is not always possible.

So how much should you earn to live well in Switzerland?

Here too, there are several factors to consider, the first being your own definition of "living well".

Does this mean being able to afford basic necessities, have some money left over for recreation and entertainment, and maybe even save a bit each month?

Or does it mean living beyond your means, shopping in expensive boutiques, going out every night, and jetting all over the world in first class?

The second example may be a bit exaggerated, but you get the point.

There is no scientific, or official, data yielding an accurate single answer to this question, given all the variables mentioned above.

The best answer is either to see what other international residents say in this matter, or calculate the cost of living for major Swiss cities versus your salary.

In the first case, this is what some foreign residents say based on their own experience:

  • "A single person would need a net salary of 3,500 CHF to live comfortably in most Swiss cities, while a family of four would typically require a net salary of at least 9,000 CHF per month." 
  • For another person, an annual income of 60,000 francs, or CHF 5,000 per month, "is a good, liveable salary in the country." That individual doesn’t specify whether this is for a single person, a couple, or a family, but make of it what you will.


To get a better idea of what you need to earn for a comfortable lifestyle, add up all your fixed expenses, such as rent / mortgage, health and car insurance, taxes, utilities, telecommunications, public transport, childcare, and whatever other fixed costs you have.

A five franc coin is put into a shiny piggy bank

Photo: Pixabay

Then add your average monthly expenses on food, clothing, entertainment, travel, and other additional costs.

That will give you a sense of how much you should be earning to cover all these expenses, plus whatever else you would like to spend your money on.

The resulting figure will indicate how much you need to earn.

These sites can help with calculations:
For Zurich 
For Geneva 
For Basel 
For Lausanne 
For Bern 
For Zug

Do you have your own calculations on how much you should earn to enjoy all the perks of Swiss life? Share them with us. 


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