A village in Valais, Switzerland, seen from a hilltop.
Photo: Artiom Vallat

Strapped for cash? Here are the cheapest places to live in Switzerland

Written by
Tristan Parker

‘Affordable Switzerland’ may sound like an oxymoron to many people living in the country. Little clues like Zurich being ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world and expats raging about the cost of living hint that Swiss life simply isn’t conducive with frugality. Unless you know where to go, that is.

A new study by Credit Suisse aimed to find the most affordable parts of Switzerland to live, perhaps seeking to seeking to appease some of that aforementioned rage. Using a system based around estimated disposable income combined with five key affordability criteria of different areas (tax, housing costs, commuting expenses, healthcare costs and childcare costs), the survey produced a few surprises, alongside some not-surprising-at-all results.

Firmly in the second of those categories was the shocking finding that urban areas like Geneva, Basel, Zurich, Vaud, Zug and Neuchâtel achieved “below-average values” thanks to high rents, high housing prices and “high mandatory charges”.

At the other end of the scale, the least expensive places to live for most households were the rural and beautiful Appenzell Innerrhoden (Switzerland’s smallest canton by population), followed by Uri and Glarus. All three were found to offer lower housing costs and levels of taxation.

These three cantons were followed by other similarly rural and rural-ish areas, which offer lower costs of living, including Schaffhausen, Jura, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Valais and Thurgau.

Speaking of Valais (which some may have been a little surprised to see on the above list), it’s also the place to be for families, the survey claims, due to an appealing level of family-specific tax deductions and allowances, and reasonable childcare costs.

It should be noted that the most ‘affordable’ place to live in the survey differs depending on an individual’s circumstances, such as income and disposable income, living situation and household. So, get your stats-head firmly screwed on and dive into the survey’s interactive maps to find out where you might save a few CHF by moving to, before deciding to stay where you are and stick to some well-rehearsed complaints about how expensive it is to live there.

If you’re looking to scope out new and wonderful places before making a move, check our 12 top tips for an amazing Swiss summer. You can also enjoy the best bits of the country without spending a dime, with our guide to 35 fun things to do in Switzerland, which features plenty of free activities.

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