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Living in Switzerland
Health and Education: High Cost for High Quality
It may not come as a surprise for many of you, but the cost of living is anything but low in Switzerland. Indeed, the country keeps ranking as one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Our guide explains some of the general expenses you can expect to pay for when embarking on expat life in Switzerland.
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It’s not only accommodation that eats up a large percentage of your budget while living in Switzerland. There are other basic essentials which are also relatively pricey.
A basic health insurance policy, for instance, is compulsory for everyone who lives and works in Switzerland. Expats must purchase their health insurance within the first three months of living there and, unfortunately, it does not come cheap. On the bright side, the Swiss healthcare system is consistently ranked among the top ten worldwide by the World Health Organization — in other words, with high prices comes high quality.
Sometimes Basic Just Isn’t Enough
Although basic health insurance policies vary, they all cover the necessities — outpatient and emergency treatment, prescriptions, vaccinations, and maternity care. However, the patient is still required to pay an excess fee of 300 CHF for any medical care, and then a further 10% of the amount exceeding the excess up to an amount of 700 CHF, so make sure to factor this into your budget.
As for the premiums itself, these are calculated based on geographical location and can cost anything between 250 and 500 CHF per month. Should you be in need of an ambulance or other emergency transportation to the hospital, the basic health insurance policy generally only covers a contribution towards the respective costs. As for dental care, this is normally not included in a basic health insurance policy and you may want to take out additional coverage for this.
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Expensive Education: Can You Speak the Local Language?
For expats who have children, education will also be a necessity. Switzerland is famous for its high standard of education and any resident can attend a Swiss public school for free. There is a catch, however: the language in the classroom is normally the official language of the canton in which the school is situated.
A lot of state schools offer language assistance for foreign students during their first year, but for older expat children who aren’t familiar with the local language at all, a private international school may be the best option. Private school education in Switzerland can cost anything from 15,000 CHF to 35,000 CHF per year. Please see our article on Education in Switzerland for more information on the school system.
Extensive, Efficient and Expensive — Transport in Switzerland
Deciding on a mode of transport for your daily commute in Switzerland isn’t easy: although the transportation network is extensive, it is also expensive. For expats who live fairly centrally, multi-journey passes are the best option. For example, you can get a year-long half-fare travel card for 185 CHF a year, which gives you 50% off your travel fares. There are also regional travel cards which can work out slightly cheaper if you are using public transportation regularly. For more information, visit the SBB website for tariffs and regional transport maps.