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Switzerland Expensive for Most Residents

April 29, 2020 - Benjamin Manz

Is life in Switzerland too expensive? A survey of consumer perception of prices in Switzerland by independent online comparison service shows that the vast majority of residents find Swiss goods and services expensive. Health insurance, dentists, taxis, mobile roaming and the Swiss federal railway (SBB/CFF) received the poorest ratings.

Do residents consider Switzerland expensive? To find out, independent Swiss online comparison service conducted a survey in early 2020 in which it asked residents to rate categories of goods and services based on their costs.

A total of 1500 residents between the ages of 18 to 74 years old across both French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland were asked to rate 42 different categories of goods and services. Participants rated each category of goods or services as to whether they found it far too expensive, too expensive, somewhat expensive, priced just right, cheap or very cheap.

“The survey results show that in spite of the relatively high standard of living in Switzerland, Swiss consumers find the prices of most goods and services high,” states Benjamin Manz, CEO of independent online comparison service “In the oncoming recession induced by the coronavirus crisis, pricing is likely to pay an even greater role in the purchase behavior of Swiss consumers.”

You can find an interactive visual representation of consumer perception of prices in Switzerland here.

Price perception differs between age groups and regions

The costs of most goods and services are considered high by most residents, with only a minority finding prices to be fair or even cheap. “Discontentment with prices is higher in French-speaking Switzerland. French-speaking Swiss are more likely to perceive the costs of goods and services as expensive than German-speaking Swiss,” explains Daniel Dreier, senior editor at Age is also an important factor, with older adults more likely to consider prices too high than younger adults.

Health insurance, dentists and taxis expensive

The worst pricing ratings were given to compulsory health insurance. A high 76% of residents find compulsory health insurance premiums too expensive or far too expensive. Dental care is next on the list (74% of residents find this too expensive), as are taxis (also 74%). These are followed by roaming (69%), the Swiss federal railway SBB/CFF (65%), medicines (65%), rental homes (61%), Swiss hotels (61%), taxes (59%), hospitals (58%) and mobile phone service plans (58%).

Mortgages and flights cheap

Mortgages received the best pricing ratings from residents, with 17% of residents perceiving mortgages to be cheap or very cheap.

Other goods and services to receive good price ratings include flights (13% of residents find flights cheap or very cheap), schooling for children (12%), electronics in general (10%), alcohol (8%), garbage disposal (8%), electricity (7%), clothing (6%), Uber (6%), and social security contributions (6%). But even in the case of these goods of services, a significantly greater portion of residents find them expensive compared to those who find them cheap or priced just right.

Restaurants and groceries

43% of residents find restaurants in Switzerland too expensive. 29% of residents find groceries too expensive. 43% of residents find night life (clubs and bars) too expensive – with this percentage increasing to 56% when only club- and bar-goers are accounted for. Just 24% of residents find alcohol, as such, to be too expensive.

The restaurant and nightlife sectors – which have been exceptionally hard hit by the coronavirus crisis – may take exceptionally long to recover, states Daniel Dreier. A much larger portion of residents perceive restaurant dining and nightlife as too expensive, compared to those who consider groceries and alcohol in stores to be too expensive. The forced restaurant closures have driven many consumers to adopt stay-at-home eating habits. “We may well see a major consolidation in the restaurant and nightlife sectors in the wake of coronavirus prevention measures,” states Dreier.

Travel and public transportation

61% of residents still find Swiss hotels too expensive. Only 1% perceive Swiss hotels as being cheap. That perception does not set a good precedent for the expected spike in local tourism.

The Swiss national railway SBB/CFF also has a reputation for being too expensive. 65% of residents perceive the SBB/CFF as being too expensive. Only 9% consider the SBB/CFF to be priced just right, and only 3% find traveling with the SBB/CFF cheap. Regional and municipal public transportation received somewhat better ratings: a lower 54% of residents find using Swiss public transportation other than the SBB/CFF too expensive; 11% find it priced just right; 3% find it cheap.

Airline tickets, on the other hand, are considered to be well-priced by many residents. 33% of residents perceive airline tickets as too expensive, compared to 18% who perceive them to be priced just right and 13% who find them cheap or very cheap.

Cars, gasoline, taxis and Uber

40% of residents consider cars to be priced too high, 13% find cars to be priced just right, and 4% find cars cheap. Results for gasoline are similar: 41% consider petrol to be too expensive, 15% believe it is priced just right, and 5% find it cheap. Car insurance shows similar results, with 42% of residents perceiving car insurance as too expensive.

The comparison of consumer sentiment towards taxis and Uber pricing is interesting. Taxi services in Switzerland are one of the services which are widely perceived as too expensive. 74% of residents consider taxis to be too expensive, compared to 1% of residents which find taxis cheap. The figures are very different for ride-sharing service Uber. 6% of the population finds Uber cheap, and only 14% find Uber too expensive. Because a large portion of residents do not use Uber, you get a more realistic picture when only Uber users are considered. 25% of Uber users believe Uber is priced just right, 13% find it cheap, and 30% believe it is too expensive.


Mobile roaming – using a mobile service while traveling outside of the SIM’s country of domicile – is considered too expensive by 69% of residents. The prices of Swiss mobile plans are also widely considered to be too high, with 58% of residents finding mobile plans too expensive. Surprisingly, Swiss consumers are generally reluctant to migrate between mobile plans. Internet connections received better cost ratings: 40% of residents believe Internet connections are too expensive; 19% believe they are priced just right; 4% of residents find Internet use cheap.

Living expenses

Sentiment towards the cost of renting a home in Switzerland is worrying: 61% of residents fine rents too expensive. The cost of buying a home is considered too expensive by 55% of residents. Décor and furniture are the most affordable cost associated with living spaces. Only 27% of residents find furniture and décor expensive, 22% believe it is priced just right, and 4% consider furnishings cheap.

The cost of electricity is perceived as too expensive for 27% or residents. Another 27% believe electricity is priced just right, and 7% find it cheap. The cost of garbage disposal is considered too expensive by 27% of residents, while 35% believe it is priced just right, and 8% find it cheap. An interesting insight provided by the survey is that only 25% of residents perceive the prices charged by craftsmen to be too expensive.

Banking and loans

37% of residents consider bank accounts to be too expensive. Mortgages, on the other hand, are the best-rated of all goods and services included in the survey. Only 16% of residents believe mortgages are too expensive, compared to 17% who consider mortgages to be cheap. Ratings are even better when only residents who use mortgages are accounted for, with 53% of mortgage users believing that mortgages are either cheap or priced just right.

Interest charges for personal loans and car leasing are substantially higher than those of mortgages, and this is clearly reflected in the survey. 49% of personal loan users find them too expensive, and 45% of car lease users find car leasing too expensive.

Taxes and contributions

A majority of residents (59%) believe Swiss taxes are too expensive. Additionally, 54% of residents believe the compulsory Serafe (formerly Billag) television and radio fees are too expensive. Social security received much better ratings, with just 26% of residents perceiving social security contributions as too expensive compared to 31% who believe they are priced just right and 6% who find them cheap. The postal services also received good ratings, with only 29% of residents rating postal charges as too expensive, compared to 33% who feel they are priced just right and 5% who consider postal services to be cheap.


The Swiss healthcare system is considered good, but expensive. This is apparent in the survey. Compulsory health insurance received the poorest rating of all included goods and services, with 76% of residents believing that compulsory health insurance is too expensive. Dental care is a close runner up, with 74% of residents perceiving dental care as too expensive. The cost of medicines is considered too expensive by 65% of residents. Hospitals are considered too expensive by 58%, and family doctors are considered too expensive by 45% of residents.


Schooling for children is rated very favorably, which is not surprising considering Switzerland’s free public-school system. 23% of residents find schooling to be priced just right, 12% believe it is cheap, and 15% perceive schooling as expensive. Childcare, on the other hand, is considered expensive by many. Although just 28% of the total population considers daycare to be expensive, a high 51% of residents who use daycare facilities find them too expensive.

Clothing, hairdressers and electronics

35% of residents find hair stylists too expensive, 23% believe hair styling is priced just right, and 5% find it cheap. Women rate hair styling as more expensive than men do, which is not surprising considering the gender-based differences in hair-styling costs.

Clothing is perceived as expensive by 27% of residents, while 21% believe it is priced just right and 6% find clothing cheap. Similar ratings apply to electronics: 27% believe electronics are too expensive, 26% believe they are priced just right, and 10% consider electronics to be cheap.

More on this topic:
See an interactive graphic of the Swiss pricing survey 2020 (in German)
Swiss investment habit survey 2020
Swiss streaming survey 2020

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Expert Benjamin Manz
Benjamin Manz is CEO of and an independent expert on banking and finance.