Survey pinpoints least expensive places to live

Geneva is the worst canton for draining disposable income Keystone

Switzerland is a notoriously expensive place to live. But a survey on disposable incomes has identified disparities between housing, tax, healthcare and childcare costs in different regions.

This content was published on December 13, 2016 - 13:44

The broad brush strokes of the Credit Suisse report make for familiar reading: cities and popular tourist destinations suck more money out of your pocket than remote, rural locations. This makes canton Uri the least expensive place to live in Switzerland, while Geneva is the most costly canton.

The survey measures discrepancies in the disposable income of several different family types and incomes, depending on where they live in the country. It also factors in utility bills, childcare tax credits and commuting costs.

The western part of Switzerland, including Geneva, Vaud and Valais, charge the highest taxes and have the most costly healthcare plans, the study found. But the same areas also offer the cheapest childcare services.

Small movements, big savings

Some of the detail throws up more surprising points. Moving just a few miles down the road can save thousands on annual household bills, say Credit Suisse researchers. The biggest savings can be made by crossing cantonal borders, but some money can be spared even within the same canton.

This is also an important consideration for expat workers, said Thomas Rühl, head of Swiss regional research at Credit Suisse bank. “When they first come to Switzerland, foreign workers often stick to the cities and only consider taxes when working out their cost of living,” he told “But after a while many like to optimise their finances by moving to less costly suburbs.”

While the difference in disposable income is stark between the upper and lower regions in the study, the disparity in the cost of living in the majority of cantons is less pronounced. Small changes to tax rates or housing costs can produce spectacular results.

Valais, home to many multinational firms and expat workers, weighed in as the 16th most expensive canton to reside the last time the survey was conducted in 2011. But since then, property prices have risen less drastically than in other cantons, propelling Valais to 6th place in the new list.

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