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Basics Breakdown of expenses for a Swiss university student


The cost of living in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, with the city of Zurich recently named the world’s second most expensive city

Despite the relatively affordable tuition fees at Swiss universities, fixed expenses can eat up a significant part of a student’s budget. Accommodation is scarce and those lucky to find university lodgings can expect to pay between CHF400-1000 per month for a room. You’ll need to budget more for a student flat (CHF800-1,600). A refundable deposit of between one and three month’s rent is required to secure a place to stay. Utilities like water, heating and electricity add up to around CHF40 a month. Expenses for grocery shopping can claim around CHF600 a month. 

Various insurances and fees are also mandatory. For example, all residents have to pay a compulsory health insurance fees. However, it is much lower for foreign students than locals (average of CHF90 a month). 

Another unavoidable cost in transport which can be pricey. For example, an annual Zurich transport pass costs CHF782 for two zones in second class. It is often cost effective to purchase a half-price card costing CHF185 that entitles you to a 50% discount on public transport for a year. Those wanting unrestricted mobility on Swiss public transport can splash out on an annual fare pass costing CHF3,860 for second class travel. 

All figures have been gleaned from the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurichexternal link (ETHZ) and Lausanneexternal link (EPFL) which estimate average monthly expenses at CHF2,250 and CHF2,000 respectively.

University comparison series How expensive is Switzerland for a student on a budget?

Despite relatively low university fees, living expenses in Switzerland are high. But is it pricey when compared to the US or UK? 

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