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Moving to Switzerland – comparison of living costs Zurich vs London

by MatthewMoving to Switzerland

You are contemplating a relocation from the UK to Switzerland, but still feel uncertain about essential factors which may affect your life abroad? Perhaps you wonder whether it will be possible to establish a new life abroad. Or maybe you are between a rock and hard place – thinking about which city is more suitable for your new residence, Zurich or London?

Precise and exact. These are the first words that come to mind when I want to describe Zurich. Many visitors also come here because of its attractive banking offers. Here in Switzerland, punctuality and preciseness are considered somewhat of the national virtues. To be fair, the phrase “time is money” takes a whole level up in Zurich.

Apart from being a legendary traditional and conservative, old, or we even dare say ancient city, London at the same time, is extremely global, and multicultural. Frankly, it does not require plenty of effort to encourage someone to go there. It offers numerous options for various activities and things to do and one is rarely bored here. This explains why millions of tourists are drawn to this place.

We will do the topic justice by saying, that London and Zurich indeed have some things in common. Both cities are among the biggest international business capitals and both are classy, with their own distinctive rules of life. But here is a question. Which one of these two is more affordable and is best for you personally? If you’re trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the living costs between Zurich and London can help you decide which place is right for you. In this article, we will compare the cost of living in those two cities.

Obviously, relocating to such a country as Switzerland is fascinating. Unfortunately, the pitfalls can be encountered everywhere. This is why doing profound research on the destination country is so important and is absolutely worth the effort.
Extremely helpful will be covering the essential aspects of life, such as food, housing, clothes, transportation, personal care, and entertainment. That is exactly what we did in this article.

Cost of accommodation in Zurich

Sometimes figuring out the best place to stay in Zürich can be tricky. Besides, accommodation cost is one of the largest expenses an expat faces during the removal. Rental costs vary depending on the area of the city and the size and condition of the property. Living in the city centre is more expensive than staying in the outlying suburbs.

Another fact worth mentioning is that the price of average rent in Zurich depends mostly on two things: the size of the rental and its location since the prices rise in some more prominent areas of the city. The closer the apartment/house is to the city centre, the higher the price. The size, furniture, and condition of the apartment also determine the price.

Since finding a suitable property in Zurich is rather challenging, most emigrants get the help of a real estate agent. Besides, there is stiff competition to relatively few available properties. Expats should be aware that additional fees, which are equivalent to two or three months’ rent, can be charged by the agent. Please also bear in mind, that tenants are often expected to pay a security deposit which is usually the equivalent of one to three months’ rent. Hence, you need to plan out your budget carefully.

For this matter, we prepared this overview of some of the expenses you may encounter in Zurich.

Rent Per Month In Zurich

  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre CHF 1,939.74
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre CHF 1,514.44
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre CHF 3,705.28
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre CHF 2,738.06

Currently, the average rental prices are as follows:

  • Average apartment rent per m²/year:  CHF 475 – an average of CHF 265 – 1,100
  • Average house rent per m²/year: CHF 321 – an average of CHF 116 – 553

Cost of accommodation in London

London rent can be quite expensive, especially as you move towards the heart of the city. However, there are plenty of affordable places outside the city centre where people love to settle. Many people in London choose to split rent with flatmates. If you choose to rent an apartment, the following table will give you a good idea of the average monthly costs.

Average Cost of Accommodation in London

Flat-Share Rental per month One Bedroom Flat Rental per month

  • East London £290 – £390 (single), £430 – £600 (double) East London £650 – £750
  • West London £280 – £430 (single), £459 – £690 (double) West London £700 – £800
  • South London £280 – £500 (single), £350 – £650 (double) South London £600 – £700
  • North London £300 -£400 (single), £430 – £550 (double) North London £650 – £750

However, it is also reasonable to decide upon the rent based mostly on crucial factors and not only the price. Obviously, that might require making some adjustments to your budget.

Costs of groceries, food and restaurants in Zurich vs London

Whether you are visiting or moving to Switzerland, it’s crucial to know local food prices. In fact, they are some of the highest you have ever seen in your life. A family of four, for example, spends about 1,015 CHF only on groceries every month.

The cost of food in Switzerland depends on your preferences. You can spend about 45 CHF per day or 1,350 CHF per month eating at least one meal out daily and cooking yourself. Or you can mostly cook your food and spend 20 – 25 CHF daily or 600 – 750 CHF monthly.

London has an abundance of great food at different price points, but eating out all the time can be expensive. People who have lived in London for years, often state that food prices are very competitive on account of the volume of places to eat. Generally, they are around the same price as the rest of the UK, often cheaper.

There are some places where you can buy reasonably price meals for not much at all. Quite often supermarket prices are exactly the same as in the rest of the UK.
Food and groceries are no exception to London’s high cost of living. Grocery and food costs will differ from person to person depending on your eating habits. Shopping at Sainsbury’s, Lidl, or Tesco rather than upscale grocery stores can save you money every week.

Nonetheless, there are still some ways to buy groceries at a cheaper rate, as well as tips to eat out without breaking your wallet. Usually, stores and supermarkets located far away from Central London offer more agreeable prices.

ProductPrice in ZurichPrice in London
One loaf of bread (250g) CHF 1.32GBP 0.89
Blueberry muffin 4 pcs.CHF 3.32 - 8GBP 0.85 - 1
Dark Chocolate per 100 grCHF 4.82 - 7GBP 0.8 - 1.2
Pasta, spaghetti per 500 grCHF 2.90 - 4.85GBP 0.4 - 0.6
Rice per 1 kgCHF 2.93GBP 0.8 - 1.5
A dozen eggsCHF 4.95GBP 3.38
1 Kg of chicken wingsCHF 25.39GBP 1.7 - 2
1 Kg of chicken breast filletCHF 20GBP 4 - 5
Beef steaksCHF 25 - 70
GBP 14 - 18
PorkCHF 17 - 40 GBP 4 - 12
Chilled salmon, mackerel or cod fillets CHF 19 - 65GBP 10 - 12
Various frozen fish CHF 10 - 25GBP 6 - 7
1 Kg of applesCHF 3.78GBP 1.7
1 litre of milkCHF 1.55GBP 1.45
1 Kg of Local CheeseCHF 23.05GBP 4.76 - 11
1 Kg of lettuceCHF 2.31GBP 2.15
1 Kg of onionsCHF 2.31GBP 1
1 Kg of potatoesCHF 2.48GBP 0.5 - 1
1 Kg of tomatoesCHF 3.76GBP 2 - 3
1 Kg of orangesCHF 3.81GBP 0.7 - 1
1 Kg of bananasCHF 2.63GBP 0.78
A 1.5l bottle of waterCHF 1.19GBP 0.85 - 1
1l of olive oil CHF 7.95-29.27GBP 0.5 - 1.75
1l of sunflower oil CHF 5.67GBP 1.09 - 2.10

Licquor andcigarettes

In general, alcohol is slightly more expensive in Zurich than in London:

ProductPrice in ZurichPrice in London
Energy drink 250 mlCHF 1.70 GBP 0.68
Local beer 500 mlCHF 1.90GBP 1 - 1.5
Imported beer 330 mlCHF 2.40 GBP 2
WineCHF 12GBP 8
VodkaCHF 18.95GBP 14 - 15
RumCHF 21GBP 13-15
GinCHF 19GBP 14 - 15
WhiskeyCHF 20 GBP 14 - 16
CigarettesCHF 8.50GBP 10

Restaurant, street and fast food prices in Zurich vs London

Eating and drinking out are very expensive in Switzerland. Most tourists get shocked seeking local prices. If you eat out every meal during your Switzerland trip or stay, you should budget about 25-35 CHF for lunch and 40-50 CHF for dinner per person, including drinks. That’s almost 100 CHF per day!

MealPrice in ZurichPrice in London
Macdonals menuCHF 12.15GBP 8 - 12
Coffee with milk in a cafeteriaCHF 4.50GBP 2 - 7
Can of soda (0.33l) CHF 3.91GBP 1
Water bottle (0.33l)CHF 3.27GBP 1 - 1.2
Basic lunchtime menu (including a drink) in the business districtCHF 25GBP 8 - 12
Combo meal in fast food restaurant (big mac meal or similar)CHF 15GBP 8
Dinner for one person in a cheap restaurantCHF 22.60GBP 15-23
Dinner for two in a good restaurantCHF 90.38 - 135GBP 105


  1. The city is very clean
    Generally, Swiss cities are cleaned often: the streets, trash bins, lake and all other public areas. The reputation of the city is taken very seriously. Pay attention to where you drop your litter, otherwise, you will be fined. And as you already know Switzerland is rather an expensive country. There are strict regulations even on disposing of your own trash.
  2. High salaries and versatile job possibilities
    Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city that has to offer job possibilities to its citizens both current and potential. Its vibrant environment is full of numerous business ideas and various options for employment.
  3. Excellent healthcare
    Healthcare in Switzerland is of first-rate quality. Apart from having well-qualified doctors and therapists, this country has to offer some highly sought-after wellness and rehabilitation centres. These Swiss clinics are all the rage nowadays among VIPs.
  4. Most locals speak English
    That’s a really good one. Overall, Swiss people have a high tolerance for different languages and cultures. And this is no wonder since Switzerland has four national languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Thus, you don’t have to worry about language barriers while living here.
  5. Efficient public transport
    Zurich has a network of buses, trains, and boats. This high-developed infrastructure (with the timetables, which are by the way, exact to the second) offers the citizens and tourists various possibilities to commute comfortably. Besides, the integrated ticketing system provides access to the whole network.
  6. Low crime level
    What can be better than feeling safe, while living abroad? Generally, Switzerland has one of the lowest crime rates. Therefore, it rather works on the reputation of Swiss cities.
  7. A plethora of activities are available
    During winter Switzerland becomes a hub for skiing fans. Nonetheless, if you live or are planning to live in Zurich, there are plenty of activities for nature lovers in summer, as well.


  1. Rather conservative locals
    Swiss people are fond of strict rules and regulations and tend to be quite pedantic and sometimes even old-fashioned. Situations where an expat, while renting the apartment, must follow some internal arbitrary rules, for instance, a prohibition to wash their car on Sundays, unfortunately, are likely to take place in Zurich.
  2. Long cold winters
    If you are not a fan of cold wind, snow or top-notch ski resorts, then Swiss weather during the winter part of the year will be rather a drawback. However, it is not as bad as it seems, but don’t forget to bring plenty of warm clothes with you.
  3. Extremely high costs of living
    Unfortunately, the prices almost in every area in Zurich (and Switzerland overall) are as high as the Swiss quality standards. For this reason, food, public transport, healthcare and rental are hellishly expensive.
  4. Mandatory private health insurance
    The Swiss public healthcare system is unusual, as it is not financed through taxation or by employers. All residents are obliged to have basic private health insurance and are free to choose their own policy from a range of insurance companies. Beyond the basic coverage, there are options for supplementary insurance to cover specific treatment types, as well as the option to pay a higher or a lower premium depending on the level of coverage.
  5. Complex rental accommodation
    Overall, finding accommodation in Zurich is difficult. Thus, quite often expats have a hard time finding a suitable, if not comfortable place to live. What can be even worse is the tenant selection process since some landlords can be very fussy and get to say the final word.


  1. Job opportunities
    London is full of jobs and can be a great place to develop your career, or even start a new one. To get jobs you can search online, look in newspapers, walk in, or apply through recruitment agencies.
  2. Numerous stunning sights, architecture and history
    London has a plentitude of fascinating places to visit. This is probably the reason why it attracts millions of tourists annually. Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London and this is only the beginning of the list. Don’t miss the opportunity to dive into this magic mist of London legends and incredibly interesting history.
  3. Easy to find the accommodation
    This factor is actually a true relief for any expat. London has tons of options for accommodation, so it’s very easy to find a place. If your budget allows, you can use the help of estate agents to find the most suitable option.
    Quite often people stay in a house share and rent a spare room, which is way cheaper than renting a separate apartment.
  4. Free healthcare
    A benefit that the Brits take for granted is the free healthcare that they get. In many countries around the world, you have to pay for health insurance or other means to get access to healthcare. It’s worth noting that technically when living and working in England you will be paying for it through your tax and national insurance contributions. This comes out of your salary every month.
  5. Wonderful cuisine
    London is a multicultural city, so here you can find a dish that will fit even the most choosy taste. London offers great food and you’ll find options that suit all budgets. Wide range of posh restaurants, fast food, and markets, as well as cheap meal deals in grocery stores.


  1. Depressive weather and pollution
    If you do not like rain and clouds, you might find the local weather rather frustrating. Apart from that, the city of London is considered highly polluted and often overcrowded, which is typical for a big tourist city.
  2. Takes a long time to commute:
    A lot of people living in London end up living far from where they work. Commuting in the UK has always been an issue, with an average commute nearly an hour long at 54 minutes. According to a recent poll, two-thirds of Londoners found using public transport the most stressful part of living in the capital. Commuting is generally considered an unpleasant activity, and when you are short on time, this turns into a massive problem.
  3. Rather high prices
    As you can expect London is an extremely expensive city to live in. You will encounter a high price. It is especially felt when you want to buy a house or rent a room, the city is very expensive. The closer you are to the centre, the more expensive it gets. It applies almost to each area. All in one, food, drinks, utilities, and internet service may bleed your budget dry.


Yes, definitely London is cheaper. Hence, if you are moving to Switzerland, you must brace yourself for a high local price range.

After the cost comparison, it is true to state that living in London is 4% less expensive than in Zurich. Additionally, these cities ranked 65th and 37th (£2438 vs £2552) in the list of the most expensive cities in the world.

The average after-tax salary is enough to cover living expenses for 1.3 months in London compared to 2.4 months in Zurich. London ranked 1st best city to live in the United Kingdom versus Zurich ranked 1st in Switzerland, while ranked 5th and 9th among the best cities to live in the world.

We hope that this article will help you decide which of these two cities will be much better for you to choose to live in. Moreover, if you are planning on relocating to Switzerland from the UK, you should be aware of the pros and cons of living in these cities.

Hence, if you still consider moving to Zurich one of the Swiss cities or London please contact MyCheapRemovals. We are here to help you!

Source: https://livingcost.org/cost/london/zurich – All information valid at the very end of 2022

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