Living in Canada vs. Switzerland: What Should You Choose?

a metro view of living in Canada with various mode of transportation.

After reviewing a list of countries you wish to shift to, Switzerland and Canada seem at par. You, however, need to make up your mind on where to relocate between the two. The high-quality milk from Switzerland is tempting, while the vast land and beautiful Canadian landscapes are heartwarming. Which of the two countries will you choose?

Switzerland stands out on the quality of life, but the cost of living is a little higher than in Canada. The unemployment rate is low in both countries, with most of the jobs in Switzerland being unskilled. If you are looking for job satisfaction and a good salary, Canada is the place for you. The people are friendly and welcoming, while the landscape and scenery are breathtaking.

Switzerland and Canada have a high work/life balance score, but that could be how far it gets regarding similarities between the two countries. This article explores the differences between the two to help you make an informed choice.

Living in Canada vs. Switzerland: Main differences 

a gloomy view of the building in Canada.

Choosing to live in either Canada or Switzerland will be influenced by your motive behind the shift, lifestyle, and critical analysis of the different variables that affect our lives.

Below is an in-depth analysis of these variables and how each of them scores in the two countries:

Quality of life 

The World Happiness Report 2022 placed Switzerland at position three while Canada ranked fifteenth. This report evaluates different parameters in ranking the countries. The main factors considered include how happy a country’s citizens are daily, their perception of corruption, and dystopia.

From the analysis, people living in Swiss are happier and more contented than Canadians. If your motivation is to move to a more relaxed country where the social support scale is higher, then Switzerland would be your choice.

In 2021 the life expectancy in Switzerland stood at 83.9 years, while in Canada, it was 82.66 years. Although the expectancy in both countries has improved, Canada came in trailing.

Below is a glimpse of the life expectancy in Switzerland over the last three years:

a graph of life expectancy in Switzerland.
Source: macrotrends.net

The maternal mortality rate in Canada has declined over the years, with the latest report showing 8.3 deaths in 100,000 people. In Switzerland, the rate was 5 deaths in every 100,000 women. This shows that although the rates have declined in Canada, they are still higher than those in Swiss.

When evaluating a country’s quality of life, you need to determine how well the country stands economically. To do that, you check their GDP per capita, which will give you an idea of how well the country performs.

In 2021 Switzerland’s GDP was at $93,400, while Canada’s during the same period stood at $52,000. In comparing the two economically, you need to consider several other aspects, including the population and the size of the country. Canada has around thirty-eight million people, while Switzerland has eight million. 

Security is paramount when evaluating a country you wish to relocate to; Switzerland is among the top countries with the lowest crime rates.

You will need to be more proactive security-wise when living in Canada.  The 2018 Global Peace Index placed Switzerland at position twelve while Canada trailed.

A study by Numbeo showed both countries offer a high quality of life; however, Switzerland ranked higher.

Natural beauty 

Canada and Switzerland are naturally beautiful, so choosing one over the other will be determined by your perception of beauty. 

In Canada, you’ll find all types of landscapes, from deep valleys, vast forests, big rivers, rocky mountains, and meandering roads, allowing you a better view. 

Some of the notable beauty features in Canada include:

  • Niagara falls in Ontario
  • Great Bear rainforest
  • Aurora Borealis
  • Icefields in Alberta
  • The Northwest Passage in Nunavut
  • Banff National Park in Alberta

Switzerland, on the other hand, is also beautiful in different aspects. The most outstanding beauty in the country is in the lakes and rivers that have beautiful villages atoned around them, making them more beautiful.

In addition, these features pronounce Switzerland’s natural beauty:

  • Moiry Icefall
  • Trummelbach falls
  • Rhine falls
  • Lauterbrunnen valley
  • Oeschinensee

The striking features in Switzerland are the water bodies and the landscapes surrounding them; Canada offers a variety of features as it has all types of landscapes. If stargazing and Milk Way viewing is your tea, Canada fits the bill.

Cost of living 

The cost of living is the top factor to evaluate when looking for a country to call home. For example, Switzerland has a higher cost of living than Canada, by 30%. 

The cost of most expenses in Switzerland is higher than in Canada, and these include:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Clothes
  • Entertainment
  • Leisure
  • Transport

Here is how the two countries compare in the cost of living:

a graph showing the comparison on the cost of living in Canada and Switzerland.
Source: livingcost.org

Switzerland is among the top countries in the world with a high cost of living. The high cost is attributed to the good perks that people working in the country are remunerated. The better the pay, the higher the cost of living since the people can afford it, they are charged for it.

Housing in Switzerland is expensive, with Geneva and Zurich being the most pricey. An apartment in Geneva ranges from $1,300- $2,000 depending on location in terms of proximity to the city.

Rent in Switzerland is 40% higher than in Canada, which extends to all housing sizes.

The cost of meals in restaurants is also higher in Swiss than in Canada. Located in the heart of Europe, Switzerland boasts diverse cuisines that come at a price. According to Numbeo, restaurant prices in Geneva are higher than those in Toronto by approximately 50%.

Groceries and overall consumer prices are higher in Switzerland than in Canada. Switzerland is considered among the top most expensive countries in all aspects.

If you choose to relocate to the Swiss, ensure you are getting an attractive package that will sustain the high expenses in the country. 

Read about taxes in Switzerland in this overview. Also, check out our guide on cost of living in Switzerland.

Visas and residence permits

a band march on the street of Canada.

If you’re from the EU/EFTA, you can visit Switzerland at will; however, if you plan on turning it into your second home, you need to get a residence permit.

Switzerland expects you to acquire a residence permit in the first fourteen days of your stay if it goes beyond ninety days.

There are two types of permits in Switzerland Type B and C. Type C permit is the permanent one that allows a non-Swiss to work and live in Switzerland without any restrictions.

On the other hand Type B permit is accorded for particular reasons such as having special skills or reuniting with family members.

Canada has different avenues you can use in becoming a resident; they include:

  • Express entry
  • Provincial nominees
  • Family sponsorship
  • Caregivers
  • Start-up visa
  • Quebec skilled workers program

Any of these paths will accord a Canadian residence, but you have to follow due process to qualify.

Given Switzerland’s high quality of life and salaries, the demand to relocate to the country has remained high over the years. This has led Switzerland to limit the number of migrants allowed into the country, which has made the process a bit hectic.

On the other hand, Canada is open to receiving people from across the globe as long as their relocation is justified and follows due process. 

Can you move to Switzerland without a job? Learn in this article.


Canada has a higher unemployment rate than Switzerland; this is attributable to the friendly rates that Swiss offers. Switzerland has most foreigners on the temporary permit, which helps it cushion itself from any economic uncertainties by revoking the permits to protect the locals.

Both countries have opportunities in various fields, and getting a permanent resident is easier if you’re good at what you do. 

Industries with higher opportunities in Canada include:

  • Agriculture
  • Service
  • Technology
  • Energy 
  • Manufacturing

Canada is sparsely populated and relies on migrants to fill the job gaps. Getting a job is easy in the country if you have the right qualifications.

Competition for job opportunities in Switzerland is stiff, given that the country is known for high salaries. However, the country welcomes foreigners willing to work in the country, especially experts in top positions.

Industries with more opportunities in Switzerland include:

  • Engineering
  • Information technology
  • Hospitality
  • Finance 
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Research
  • Project management

If you have skills in any of these industries, you can secure employment better than in others.


Switzerland is a magnet for attracting top talent in various industries, given the attractive pay employers in the country are willing to offer. Different cantons in Swiss dictate the minimum wage applicable to them, but as a country, it doesn’t have a minimum rate.

Below is a breakdown of the minimum acceptable rates for different cantons in the Swiss:

a list showing the breakdown of the minimum rates for different cantons in the Swiss.
Source: wageindicator.org

Across different industries in Switzerland, the average annual salary is $116,000, which translates to a monthly average pay of $9,600. This is a high rate compared to Canada; it’s even higher in some sectors.

The cost of living in Switzerland is high. Despite the attractive perks, before accepting any offer, you need to evaluate whether the figure will afford you a comfortable lifestyle in that location. Different cities have varied costs of expenses and utilities. The most expensive cities to live in Switzerland include:

Here’s a look at the common job opportunities and the average salaries you can expect in Switzerland:

JobAverage monthly salary (CHF)
Top management15,000
Legal advisors9,000
Software Engineers7,500
Skilled Technicians7,300

Canada may not match the salaries offered in Switzerland, but it has many opportunities, and it’s more friendly to foreigners skilled in their craft.

Entry-level salaries in Canada stand at C$31,900 annually, while the more experienced migrants attract around C$90,000 annually.

Here’s a glimpse of average wage rates in the common industries:

a chart showing an average wage rate in the regular industries.
Source: canadianbusiness.com

It’s easier for semi-skilled migrants from any part of the world to land a job in Canada than in Switzerland. Over the years, Canada has developed different programs to attract migrants to the strained job markets.


a feast of local cuisine in Switzerland.

The way of life between the two countries is different because people are accustomed to different ways of life. For instance, dairy farming in Switzerland is a big and open industry. It’s easy to spot cows moving on with their business as their bells attract your attention.

Dairy farming in Canada is also big but is structured and more confined; you’ll hardly spot the cows. The industry is so big that Switzerland allows the sale of raw milk on the farms while Canada doesn’t allow it.

Your shopping experience in Switzerland will be different compared to Canada. Most malls in Swiss cantons are closed by Saturday 4.00 pm, and the sales personnel are not very accommodating.

Canada is a friendly nation, and the people smile more often. Chit-chats between strangers and salespeople will mark your shopping experience.

Booze drinking culture in Switzerland is less controlled than in Canada. Beer is freely sold in the grocery stores from way back, while in Canada, the culture is just settling in.

Read the worst things about living in Switzerland.


Switzerland has four official languages: German, Italian, French, and Romansh. The prominence of any language is dependent on your location. For instance, French is commonly spoken in the Romandie part of Switzerland. German is the most common language, with 60% of the population using the language.

45% of the Switzerland population are well versed in the English language across the country. 

Switzerland is at the heart of Europe, and as such, it welcomes people from the entire region hence the multilingual culture. 

Canada has two official languages, English and French, with 75% of the population using English and the rest preferring French.

Canadians are friendlier to foreigners than the Swiss people. Switzerland people are more reserved and inclined to mind their business with minimal tolerance for small talk. 


Switzerland has an impressive healthcare system funded by premiums from those signed up, social insurance, and direct payments. Healthcare is a decentralized function in Switzerland, with each canton having its rules governing the system’s running.

The healthcare cover is mandatory for anyone residing in Switzerland, where everyone is expected to be covered by any of the approved insurers.

Since the system is decentralized and customized to each canton, what is covered under the public fund may vary from one canton to the next.

Mostly the system covers:

  • Hospitalization
  • Prescription drugs
  • Specialist consultations

Canada also has a functional healthcare system that is publicly funded but tailored and decentralized to each province. The Canadian federal government funds the system in the provinces on a per capita basis.

The Canadian system covers primary care visits, consultations with a specialist and hospitalization, and prescription drugs.

In both countries, private health is an option that can save you money and give additional benefits when it comes to medical services. We recommend Cigna Global for expats in Switzerland and Canada.

Best cities to live

Both Canada and Switzerland have beautiful and big cities that host foreigners. The cities have functional municipals that offer resources and all utilities necessary.

Transport within Switzerland cities is more diverse with cycling being a vibrant culture, and there’s enabling infrastructure, while in Canada’s most cities, cycling is almost non-existent.

Public transport in Switzerland is fully functional, making it easier to survive without a car. In Canada, public transportation isn’t as vibrant, and since the cities are large and less congested, there’s always a need to own a car.

Some of the best cities to live in Switzerland include:

  • Geneva
  • Bern
  • Basel
  • Lugano
  • Zug
  • Lucerne
  • Winterthur

The best cities to live in Canada include:

  • Ottawa
  • Oakville
  • Vancouver
  • Calgary
  • Burlington
  • Halifax
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