Switzerland is a hotspot for expats looking to boost their income and quality of life. The most popular Swiss cities for expats, are Zurich and Geneva, but they are also among the most expensive cities in the world. So what salary is good enough to live and thrive in Switzerland’s financial and economical capital, Zurich?
In Zurich, a monthly net wage between 5,000 CHF and 6,300 CHF is considered to be a good salary. This corresponds to an annual gross salary of above 80,000 CHF. However, a salary starting from 100,000 CHF will allow you a more comfortable life.
Zurich has earned the reputation for being one of the most expensive places in the world. Yet, the high expenses are compensated by high wages, low taxes, and high living standards you are paying for.
Therefore, prices are easily manageable if you are working in Zurich and Switzerland, for that matter. Read this article to learn what to expect regarding salaries and costs when moving to Zurich in 2022. Also, check out our guide on the cost of living in Switzerland.
What is a good salary in Zurich, Switzerland in 2022?
In Zurich, a monthly net income between 5,000 CHF and 6,300 CHF is considered to be a good salary. It translates to an annual salary between 80,000 CHF – 100,000 CHF before taxes.
With that income, you can afford a decent life in Zurich, including renting a two-bedroom apartment, eating out, and spending weekends away.
Zurich provides some of the highest salaries in the country, accompanied by the highest cost of living. A regular paying job in Zurich will give you between 6,000 CHF and 7,000 CHF per month.
While an annual salary of 80,000 CHF – 100,000 CHF before taxes is considered good in Zurich. So, someone with valuable skills and education in, for example, engineering or banking shouldn’t accept a job below 80,000 CHF per year.
Keep in mind that Zurich is the most expensive city in Switzerland and the second most expensive place in the world. The average cost of living for a single person in Zurich is around 3,500 CHF per month.
As a single, starting from a salary of around 70,000 CHF, you can have a comfortable life, including a nice vacation, doctor visits, nice dinners from time to time.
Also read: What is a good salary in Switzerland?
What expenses will you face while living in Zurich?
When moving to Zurich / accepting a job offer, consider the following prices:
- A good rule in Switzerland isnÄt to pay for rent more than one-third of the gross monthly income. So with a gross salary of 100,000 CHF, it shouldn’t go over 2,700 CHF per month. The average rent in the Zurich city center is around 1,700 CHF – 2,000 CHF per month.
- Basic health insurance starts at 300 CHF per month – the lower the price, the higher the deductible (you will pay for medical services extra money).
- Public transport – an annual pass for Zürich will cost you 756 CHF.
Some other daily expenses:
- A cheap lunch – around 20 CHF
- A dinner (not too fancy) around 40 CHF up to 100 CHF
- A beer – up to 10 CHF
- Cappuccino – around 5 CHF, at Starbucks 8 CHF
- Gym membership – around 1,000 CHF yearly
- Groceries – at least 600 CHF per month
Total about: 3,500 CHF depending on your spending. These expenses are easily manageable with an annual income of 70,000 CHF gross or 55,972 CHF net (4,665 CHF net monthly).
This salary is considered average. Yet, you can earn less and live more frugally in Zurich, even under 3,000 CHF, if you rent a room instead of an apartment.
In fact, students make between 3,000 CHF to 4,000 CHF as interns; some banking firms pay closer to 6,000 CHF. If students can earn that money, ordinary employees will get at least 40% more.
But you can also make more and afford more in Zurich. For example, with a salary of 100,000 CHF before tax, you will have 6,660 CHF monthly after tax. It’s not an uncommon salary – one of four employees has a monthly income above 10,000 CHF in Zurich.
- Housing: You can rent a larger 2-3 bedroom apartment outside of the city centre – cost 2,000-3,000 CHF.
- Health insurance: You can get standard coverage for 500 CHF.
- Groceries: 700 CHF – you don’t need to be frugal with your choices.
- Disposal income per month: 2,960 CHF – for closing and shoes, personal items, eating out, entertainment, weekend trips, yearly holidays, etc.
- Saving: you will be able to put away up to 1,000 CHF per month.
With a gross salary of 130,000 CHF per year and 8,660 CHF per month after tax.
- Housing: You can rent a 3-4,5 bedroom apartment outside of the city centre (2,000-3,500 CHF) or 2-3 bedroom apartment in the city centre (3,000-4,000 CHF).
- Health insurance: You can take out better coverage with less deductible for 700 CHF.
- Groceries: 700 – 1,000 CHF (if you like to cook) – you don’t need to be frugal with your choices.
- Disposal income per month: 4,260 CHF for closing and shoes, personal items, eating out, entertainment, weekend trips, yearly holidays, etc.
- You can afford a more expensive hobby such as skiing or kite-surfing.
- You will be able to shop at higher-end stores for more designer clothes and electrical equipment.
- You can go on holidays more often – 2 or 3 holidays a year, including a more long-haul destination or a week-long winter sport vacation.
- You also can spend many weekends away.
- Saving: you will be able to put away at least 1,000 CHF every month.
In the end, it also strongly depends on where you are living in Switzerland. Rental prices vary significantly. If you work in another city, budget for a yearly train ticket or consider buying a car.
Starting from 100,000 CHF, you earn well above average in Zurich. Salaries starting from there are considered very good.
Example of a good salary in Zurich
With a gross salary of 90,000 CHF, you will have 70,000 CHF net annual or 5,830 CHF monthly. Here is an example of the cost of living for a single person in Zurich, Switzerland:
- Rent+utilities: 2,000 – 3,000 CHF – one/two-bedroom apartment in Zurich
- Groceries: 500 – 700 CHF
- Health insurance: 300 – 500 CHF
- Transport: Zurich ticket 700 CHF per year
- Household expenses: 300 CHF
- Entertainment: 500 – 1,000 CHF (e.g. going out, events, gym, shopping)
Even if taking these numbers to the maximum, it will be around 5,860 CHF per month, an annual gross salary of about 90,000 CHF will cover these expenses.
Gross vs Net
Switzerland is known for its low tax rates. The average income taxes plus social security contributions come to between 10% and 30% of the gross salary. Your final tax rate will depend on the canton where you live. Zurich taxes aren’t particularly low, but you will get the best deal by living in Zug.
Total taxes you should expect in Zurich include:
- Federal taxes (mandatory insurances) 7% of
- Federal income tax – for someone with less than 100k, is less than 1%
- Cantonal, local, and church taxes – vary wildly with location
For example, as a single with no kids and being 35 years old, with a gross salary of 100,000 CHF you will pay the following taxes while working and living in Zurich:
- Cantonal tax: 4,883 CHF
- Communal tax: 5,811 CHF
- Personal tax: 24 CHF
- Direct federal tax: 1,897 CHF
- Total tax: 12,615 CHF
Additionally, all employees contribute to the social funds, such as pension, and unemployment. These taxes will eat up another significant part of your salary:
- Contributions to OASI, disability insurance, compensation for loss of earnings: 5,300 CHF
- Unemployment insurance contributions: 1,100 CHF
- Accident insurance contributions: 400 CHF
- Pension fund contributions: 3,536 CHF
- Total social tax: 10,336 CHF
Consequently, you just paid 22,951 CHF in total in taxes on your gross income of 100,000 CHF; which leaves you 77,049 CHF a year or 6,420 CHF a month after tax. In total, your tax rate is 23%, which is significantly lower than in many EU countries.
Bonuses, holiday pay and remuneration packages
In Switzerland, all employees receive holiday pay at the end of the year, which is equivalent to one gross monthly salary. Furthermore, you get at least 4 weeks of paid vacation!
Salaries in Zurich
Generally, salaries in Zurich are above the country’s average. Employees in Zurich city earn 12% more than in the canton of Zurich overall.
An average Zurich employee earns about 95,000 CHF before taxes. Here are some examples of average decent salaries for various jobs in Zurich:
- Doctor: CHF 110,000–130,000
- IT: CHF 115,000–120,000
- Lawyer: CHF 111,600
- Engineer: CHF 108,500
- Marketing Officer: CHF 90,500
- Civil Servant: CHF 85,800
- Journalist/Editor: CHF 85,200
- Police Officer: CHF 82,200
- Draftsman/Architect: CHF 75,000
- Translator: CHF 73,200
- Postal Worker: CHF 66,600
Statistics show that the most common wage in Zurich range between 4,000 CHF and 7,000 CHF per month for women and between 5,000 CHF and 8,000 CHF for men.
The median salary is 7,832 CHF, almost 20% higher than nationwide.
Moreover, one in four wages in Zurich is above 10,000 CHF per month. Consequently, the level of income is pretty high among Zurich residents. Even the people with the lowest paying jobs aren’t suffering from a very low income. Their salaries are about 5,756 CHF per month.
For example, lawyers are well paid in Zurich; they make 111,000 CHF annually on average. Someone in a managerial position will earn between 130,000 CHF and 270,000 CHF per year.
Minimum wage in Zurich in 2022
In 2022, the minimum wage in Zurich is set to 23 CHF per hour.
Average salary in Zurich
The average salary in Zurich is 7,696 CHF per month before taxes which is about 95,000 CHF annually. It’s 1,200 CHF higher compared to the Swiss median.
Best paid industries in Zurich
Jobs in the financial services sector are best paid in Zurich. Those working in finance enjoy a median wage of 11,118 CHF, which is around 42% above the city average.
The financial and insurance industries offer the highest salaries in Zurich but across Switzerland.
Wages are only slightly lower in telecommunications (10,737 CHF), information technology/information services (10,268 CHF), and insurance (10,220 CHF). These industries are also some of the largest in Zurich and provide a significant number of jobs.
At the same time, the lowest salaries have been seen in the hospitality industry, with the median wage of 4,589 CHF gross a month. It’s more than 41% below the city average. Other low-paid areas to work in include beauty services, e.g. hairdressers, food, and beverages manufacturing (5,052 CHF), and retail (5,098 CHF).
Highest paying jobs in Zurich
Some of the best-paid jobs in Zurich are:
- Managing directors with executive functions
- Managers in the commercial sector
- IT professionals
- Academics and executives in production
All of them enjoy a five-digit monthly salary.
In addition to the industry, the education of Zurich workers is also a major factor when considering salary level. Those with a degree from ETH university (technical university of Zurich) earn 10,535 CHF a month – about 35% more than the city’s average.
Graduates of universities of applied sciences make 9,592 CHF a month. And those with vocational training earn 6,545 CHF on average. By far the lowest wages are among workers with no training at all – 5,214 CHF.
Salaries range depending on the industry. For example, in the construction industry, people with a degree from a university of applied sciences earn 11,758 CHF.
In the financial sector, employees with a degree from a university of applied sciences earn even slightly more than those with a university degree (12,714 CHF), with a median salary of 13,415 CHF.
Average expenses with the average salary in Zurich
Expenses with income per month of 7,700 CHF before taxes (in CHF):
- Retirement insurance 550
- Taxes 850
- Rent 1,600
- Health insurance 330
- Other insurances 100
- Telecommunications 150
- Transportation 460 (car)
- Other health costs 180
- Food 450
- Shoes and clothing 130
- Household, hygiene articles 300
- Entertainment, recreation, culture 700
- Total: 5,800
The average rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Zurich’s city center is 2,460 CHF and 3,612 CHF for a two-bedroom flat. Prices outside the city center are significantly lower – 1,348 CHF for a one-bedroom and 2,278 CHF for a two-bedroom.
Is 140K CHF a good salary in Zurich?
An annual gross salary of 140,000 CHF is an excellent salary in Zurich, and not many professionals can reach this level.
For example, by making 140,000 CHF in Geneva as a single person, you will have a better salary than 90% of the local population. Considering that Geneva is the second most expensive city in Switzerland after Zurich.
140,000 CHF annually gives you 101,502 CHF or 8,458 CHF monthly after tax. It’s a very high income for a single person. As a single, you could easily afford the top end of average rents, and a mortgage would be even more manageable if you have savings for a deposit.
If you have a wife or/and kids to support, this salary would still be enough, but don’t expect to live a luxurious life.
Is 160,000 CHF a good salary for a single person in Zurich?
A salary of 160,000 CHF is considered to be an exceptionally good income in Zurich. It’s more than twice much higher than the average salary. This amount will leave you 113,514 CHF annually or 9,459 CHF monthly after tax.
So let’s assume you have 10,000 CHF monthly to spend. As a single, you can live lavishly.
Your monthly costs might look like:
|Apartment in the city center||2,000 – 3,000 CHF|
|Food||1,000 CHF – if you eat out every second day|
|Other small expenses||from 200–1,000 CHF including phone bill, clothes, public transport or a car – here all will depend on your needs and preferences|
|Entertainment||200 – 1,500 CHF – also depends on how far you want to go (a drink in a club costs 20 CHF, a monthly gym subscription 100 CHF)|
Therefore, even when taking more the upper limits, it comes to 6,500 CHF per month, leaving 3,500 CHF monthly in your pocket to save or spend further.
Consequently, one can live an extravagant lifestyle on 160,000 CHF as a single in Zurich. But couples will also enjoy a comfortable life with that income.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Zurich?
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries on the planet, and Zurich is Switzerland’s most expensive city. Consequently, it would help if you were mentally prepared to see very high price tags on everything. New York is pretty much similar to Zurich regarding living expenses.
Furthermore, cities like Zurich, Basel, Bern, and Geneva are among the most expensive places to live in the world. Due to strong immigration in recent years, rental prices have increased significantly (by 20% in the last 10 years).
Here is some data on average living expenses in Zurich:
- Family of four will need approximately 7,054 CHF
- Single person’s estimated monthly costs are 4,029 CHF
Yet, according to our estimation, a single can live a modest lifestyle in Zurich on about 3,000 CHF – 4,000 CHF a month.
The minimal living costs in Zurich, Switzerland, are:
- Living (room 400-1,000 CHF, apartment 800-1,600 CHF) – average 800 CHF for a room
- Health insurance: 300 CHF
- Household/private liability insurance: 30 CHF
- Phone/Internet/TV: 120 CHF
- Electricity: 40 CHF
- Public transport: 100 CHF
- Food: 400 CHF
- Clothes, shoes, hairdresser, free time: 250 CHF
- Miscellaneous – dentist, doctor, medicine, gifts, repairs, small purchases: 180 CHF
The total minimal amount for a single person in Zurich is 2,220 CHF per month. Therefore, you need to earn at least 26,640 CHF after taxes. It’s about 31,000 CHF before tax.
However, more comfortable life in Zurich starts at 3,500 CHF, so you can at least rent an apartment.
Here are the average expenses for a single person that earns 5,000 CHF net a month in Zurich:
- 600 CHF for taxes
- 400 CHF for insurances
- 564 CHF savings for retirement
- 1,600 CHF for renting
- 320 CHF for transportation
- 700 CHF for food
Total costs are 4,184 CHF, which leaves a disposable income of 816 CHF that can be spent on leisure activities like holidays, restaurants, hobbies, and savings. Check out the insurance from Cigna Global to save some money on monthly expenses for insurance.
As an expat, you can expect to spend at least 30% of your salary each month on rent. In Zurich, apartments are rented for around 2,000 CHF – 6,000 CHF, depending on the size. Additionally, utilities might cost up to 300 CHF.
If you want to live in the center, you can expect between 700 CHF for a room up to 2,000 CHF and more. The cheapest one-bedroom apartment in Zurich is about 1,600 CHF per month.
But why live in the city if you can save a lot of money by renting a place outside of Zurich? For example, in Oerlikon and Altstetten, you can find nice apartments starting from 900 CHF per month, and it’s only a few minutes away by train.
Utilities and miscellaneous
In Switzerland, you will need to pay many bills, including (annual costs):
- Various insurances: 250 CHF
- Water: 100 CHF
- Electricity: 120 CHF
- Phone: 800 CHF
- TV (even if you don’t have one): 450 CHF
- In total of 1,700 CHF per year.
Generally, Switzerland has the most expensive food and non-alcoholic beverages among the European countries.
Yet, there are more and more German discounters opening up, such as Aldi and Lidl. By shopping there, you can save a significant amount of cash.
Generally, one should budget at least 500 CHF for food a month.
Read this guide about the cost of food in Switzerland and how much you should budget.
Zurich is anything but cheap in terms of dining. A pizza in a restaurant starts at 14 CHF; a nice meal costs 40-50 CHF.
While a three-course meal with a glass of wine for two people at a mid-range restaurant could cost around 100 CHF.
Suppose you cook mostly at home and buy cheap products, count 20 CHF a day per person. A meal at a restaurant costs at least 20 CHF for a meal (minimum price).
3,860 CHF is the price of the yearly train pass. If you own a car, you are going to spend more than that amount. The yearly ticket for Zurich costs 700 CHF.
Swiss residents pay about 350-500 CHF per month for basic health insurance. It includes a deductible of 300 CHF. You can increase your annual deductible up to 2,500 CHF per year and pay less for a monthly premium. Optionally, you can take out expat health insurance.
Health insurance for expats in Switzerland
Expats need a health insurance solution when moving to Switzerland. We recommend Cigna Global for international coverage. Because Cigna insurance is international you can use your policy not only in Switzerland but almost anywhere in the world.
With 74,000 employees, 200 years of experience, and more than 100 million customers globally, Cigna is one of the largest international insurance providers out there.
With that insurance, you can enjoy instant and easy access to healthcare facilities and professionals around the globe.
Read more about health insurance in Switzerland in this article.
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