Work and living cost

High salaries, excellent working conditions and low unemployment are just some of the plus points to working in Switzerland. Discover what the country has to offer...

Quality of life in Switzerland is second to none and the country has one of the highest employment rates in the world, but competition for jobs can be fierce. It can be difficult for foreign workers to secure a job in a skilled profession but it’s not impossible, to achieve this you’ll need to stand out from the crowd.

Switzerland enjoys a healthy tourism industry, great for part-time and seasonal work, thanks to its beautiful scenery and modern cities, however you’ll soon find that there’s more to this country than Swiss cheese, posh chocolates and fancy watches...


Swiss work permits

Switzerland has restricted quotas for foreign workers, and everyone will need work authorisation to legally work in Switzerland.

To come and study in Switzerland you must first be accepted onto a course at a university or equivalent. Once you have confirmation of a place you can apply for a visa, if necessary, and organise a residence permit B. In most instances, you cannot bring your family with you.

After six months, you can work for up to 15 hours a week during term time and full-time during holidays, but only after you have lived in Switzerland for six months. If you hold a Master’s degree and will be working at the university you can start work immediately.


Monthly living expenses

The following budget is indicative and may vary between students :

Fixed charges 

Mandatory Health Insurance




Personal expenses 

Hairdresser, etc.
Entertainment, mobile phone costs and miscellaneous costs



Medical and dental expenses



Additional charges 

Rent (including heating, water, electricity)







At the beginning of your stay you should take into account additional expenses:

For example: 1st month’s rent payment, includes a mandatory security deposit, costs of facilities, crockery, linen, small furniture, phone service & internet.


Trains, buses, and taxis in Switzerland

Switzerland possesses one of the world’s most reliable public transport services, which makes reaching even the most remote parts of the country relatively easy.

Travel by trams and buses in Switzerland

The main Swiss cities boast efficient public transportation, with trams and buses forming the core of the urban network. A single short journey ticket costs around CHF 2.60 and is usually only valid for an hour. Depending on the travel required, it may be more economical to purchase a day pass for about CHF 8, a monthly pass or a prepaid discount card.

Trains in Switzerland

Switzerland has over 5,000 km of railroad track, of which about 60 percent is owned and operated by Switzerland’s government- run transport provider (Schweizerische Bundesbahn or SBB in German, Chemins de Fer Fédéraux or CFF in French, and Ferrovie Federali Svizzere or FFS in Italian). Major cities are connected by InterCity trains, which run at least once every hour throughout the week. Switzerland does not have its own high-speed railway line, but foreign high-speed trains such as the French TGV and the German ICE run throughout Switzerland on a daily basis. Restaurants tend to be a standard facility on the main InterCity connec- tions and international trains.

The SBB provides additional services such as educational hikes and day trips. Scenic trains are available for those who want to fully experience the beauty of the Swiss landscape; these routes include the Glacier Express, Chocolate Train, GoldenPass Line, and Bernina Express

Travel by car

Travelling by car in Switzerland is easy, as all villages and towns are clearly marked and accessible. Road surfaces are usually well maintained, although heavy snowfall in winter can lead to some closures. To drive on the motorways between the main cities, it is necessary to purchase a special licence (called a vignette) for CHF 40. Larger vehicles such as caravans can safely travel along the Alpine passes, with even lorries driving over mountain passes when tunnels are too busy. Note that traffic is heaviest during the summer months, especially on weekends. While most mountains are accessible by road, some mountain resort towns including Braunwald, Murren, Wengen, and Zermatt are completely car-free. Public transport in these locations is therefore exceptionally good.

Other forms of transportation

Other forms of transportation are also readily available. Ferryboats operate on all main lakes and it is also possible to rent bikes at most train stations. The only underground system in Switzerland was introduced in 2008 in the town of Lausanne. As is the case across Europe, taxis are readily available in the centres of all cities, but can be expensive. The cost often doubles after 22.00, thus it is advisable to ask the price beforehand.

Prices and discounts

The high standard of public transport in Switzerland comes with high prices, especially for rail travel between larger cities. When staying in Switzerland for a long period of time, it is advisable to purchase a GA (General Abonnement) ticket. The GA provides unlimited travel on the entire Swiss network and is available in one-month, six-month and one-year durations. The next best op- tion is to purchase a Half-Fare card (CHF 164), which entitles the bearer to half-price travel on the whole network. Finally, those younger than 25 who already possess a Half-Tax card can upgrade to a G7 (Gleis 7) card for CHF 129, which grants free travel on the whole network after 19.00. Bearers of these cards are also entitled to reduced-price products at a number of shops throughout the country.


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