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Living in Switzerland

Living in Switzerland means quality of life and security, lakes and mountains, chocolate and cheese, traditional banks and innovation.

Switzerland’s glittering financial districts, but also the landscape with its lakes, castles, and quaint villages – and of course the breathtaking Swiss Alps – will amaze and inspire you. It is located in the center of Europe, bordered by Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Its culture is a rich mix of these influences and reflects the diversity of its geography and the languages spoken. This is also apparent in Switzerland’s  multicultural business environment, attracting many international corporations, which benefit from low tax rates, an excellent infrastructure, and a high quality of life.

Facts and Figures

According to the Global Innovation Index 2023 Switzerland is the number one country for international innovation and one of the most developed countries in the world. As well as having a good standard of living, inhabitants enjoy a high level of personal security and an exemplary culture of regional integration.

Switzerland’s extraordinary political stability is as much admired as its excellent education system, unique cultural and leisure opportunities, and efficient infrastructure. Switzerland is a representative democracy consisting of 26 cantons. The official name of Switzerland is the Latin Confederatio Helvetica (Swiss Confederation), abbreviated internationally to CH.

Capital Bern
Population 8,960,000 (2023), 27% of the population is non-Swiss
Area 41,285 km² (approx. 7% of the size of France; 40% of the size of South Korea)
Currency Swiss Francs (CHF)
Official Languages German (68.4%), French (23%), Italian (8.1 %), Romansch (0.5%)

Living Expenses

The cost of living in Switzerland reflects the country's high standard of living. Student living costs in Switzerland compare favorably with those in major European cities and are, in fact, lower than in Paris or London. Living costs depend heavily on personal lifestyle and your choice of leisure activities. Based on the experience of former students, CHF 1,500 a month should be sufficient. A typical student budget for one month includes:

Item From To
Rent and utilities CHF 600.- CHF 750.-
Food CHF 400.- CHF 500.-
Public transportation CHF 40.- CHF 100.-
Leisure activities CHF 200.- CHF 300.-
Course materials CHF 40.- CHF 50.-
Other expenses CHF 100.- CHF 150.-
Total CHF 1'380.- CHF 1'850.-

Additional Expenses

Item From To
Swiss health insurance (only applicable for non-EU students) CHF 61.- CHF 99.-
Rent deposit (refundable) CHF 500.- CHF 1,000.-

Living in Zurich and Winterthur

The city of Zurich is Switzerland's most important cultural, commercial, and financial center, and only a mere 20-minute train ride away from Winterthur. Its regional catchment area (canton of Zurich), of which Winterthur is part, is home to around 2 million people. The primary language spoken in the canton of Zurich is a German dialect called “Züritüütsch”. However, all locals understand German and many understand and speak French and English as well.

Winterthur, home to Zurich University of Applied Sciences, has a population of over 100,000, making it the sixth-largest city in Switzerland. Formerly an industrial center, Winterthur is now a campus town of ever-growing importance. It is a safe and student-friendly city with a vibrant cultural scene that appeals to all tastes. Winterthur’s art scene has achieved international recognition thanks to its many museums, art galleries, and an extended photography museum. There is a wide choice of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and cinemas in the old town and the nearby converted industrial zone. The ZHAW School of Management and Law campus is just a few minutes away from the city center and train station.


Switzerland is literally in the heart of Europe, making it a convenient starting point for visiting major destinations throughout the continent. Many European cities can be reached in under two hours by air. While Zurich is home to Swiss International Airlines, there are also a number of budget airlines flying from Basel or Zurich airport. In addition, the rail system in Western Europe is very well developed and train connections are frequent and convenient.

Zurich Central Station is 20 minutes away by train from Winterthur and it takes just 15 minutes to reach Zurich airport.