The cost of living in Switzerland is high compared with the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, the average household manages to save over one-tenth of its income.
Household income and expenditure
The average monthly household income in Switzerland was CHF 10,079 in 2014. 63.1% came from salaries, 12.5% from self-employed work, 4.3% from returns on assets and rental income, 18.9% from social insurance pensions, and 1.2% from monetary transfers by other households.
In 2014 Swiss households spent an average of CHF 8,927 per month, of which CHF 2,736 (27.1%) went on social security contributions, taxes and health insurance, CHF 642 (6.4%) on food and alcohol-free beverages, CHF 1,488 (14.8%) on rent and energy bills, CHF 827 (8.2%) on travel costs and CHF 571 (5.7%) on leisure activities and culture. On average, they saved CHF 1,544 (15.3%).
Switzerland is an expensive country. Price levels in 2015 were 63% higher than the European Union average. In March 2017 they exceeded French price levels by 54%, German levels by 59% and Italian levels by 61%. Only Iceland was as expensive as Switzerland (2% more expensive). Measured by Switzerland’s high wages, the country is not more expensive from a global perspective. In 2015, a person working in Switzerland would have to work for 5 minutes in order to afford a loaf of bread, compared to the 19 minute global standard. The same applies to rice (5 minutes work in Switzerland, 18 minutes globally).
In recent years, prices in Switzerland have fluctuated wildly as a result of the 2007-2008 financial crisis and troubles in the Eurozone. In 2016, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) went down by 0.8% against the previous year, which also recorded a decrease of 0.8% (between 2014 and 2015). Examples of the HICP going up were in 2008 (+2.4%) and 2010 (+0.6%). The strength of the Swiss franc against the euro and other currencies has meant that imported goods have become considerably cheaper.