Living in London vs. Living in Zurich: A Quick Comparison

Living in london vs living in zurich titlecard

Are you torn between the bustling city center of London and the serene charm of Zurich’s city centre? If you’re an expat or planning a move, deciding between living in London vs. living in Zurich is no small feat.

It’s a choice that impacts your average after-tax salary, job opportunities, and your hunt for that perfect one-bedroom apartment. London, often compared to Zurich and many other cities, offers diverse living experiences, but its living expenses can be daunting.

Zurich, on the other hand, boasts a reputation for its high living costs but offers excellent public transport and a unique living comparison.

Zurich is about 10% more expensive than London. You need around 6,603.6 Fr. (5,934.8£) in London to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with 7,300.0Fr. in Zurich

Join us as we dissect the factors to help you make an informed choice and effectively cover your living expenses in either vibrant city.

What’s The Quality of Life in London Compared to Zurich?

Selfie of a man with the London Bridge

When comparing the quality of life in London to Zurich, several key factors come into play. Zurich emerges as the preferred choice for many due to its higher quality of life index, which reflects a superior overall living experience for its residents.

This index considers various crucial elements, including purchasing power, safety, healthcare, climate, cost of living, property price-to-income ratio, traffic commute time, and pollution. Zurich boasts a quality of life index of 178.15, outshining London’s score of 126.90, according to Numbeo.com.

One significant aspect contributing to Zurich’s higher quality of life is its lower unemployment rate. This implies that Zurich offers more work opportunities and economic stability than London.

The unemployment rate, which represents the percentage of the labor force without work, is a crucial metric in evaluating a city’s job market and overall economic health.

European dollar and a coin from London

When it comes to financial matters, Zurich also takes the lead with a higher average after-tax salary. This indicates that residents in Zurich enjoy more substantial income and purchasing power compared to their counterparts in London.

Zurich boasts an average after-tax salary of $7,737.18, while London lags behind with an average of $4,326.51.

Now, let’s see the specific aspects of living comparison:

1. Housing: Zurich’s higher quality of life extends to its housing market. When looking for a one-bedroom apartment, Zurich’s property prices to income ratio may be more favorable than London’s, making it a more attractive option for those seeking accommodation. You can consult a real estate agent in Zurich for assistance in finding suitable housing options.

2. Cost of Living: Zurich’s superior quality of life is also reflected in its cost of living. While it may have a higher cost of living than some other cities, it offers a better quality of life. Residents often find that their higher average salaries in Zurich comfortably cover living expenses.

3. Transportation: Both Zurich and London have efficient public transport systems, especially in their respective city centers. Zurich’s public transport network is known for its reliability and convenience, contributing to its high quality of life. London’s public transport system, particularly in Central London, also offers many options for commuters.

4. Job Opportunities: London and Zurich, as major European hubs, provide diverse job opportunities across sectors like finance, technology, media, and more. However, variations exist in the job markets and employment conditions.

Learn about salaries and taxes in Zurich in the dedicated article.

My Take on London vs Zurich; Quality of life: Regarding quality of life, Zurich emerges as the clear winner, offering a better overall living experience, ample job opportunities, and greater financial stability. While London has its own unique charm and opportunities, Zurich’s advantages are undeniable, making it a top choice for those seeking a high-quality and rewarding life.

Read about salaries in London in the dedicated article.


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London vs Zurich: Cost of Living Comparison

The Big Ben tower  in London

When it comes to the age-old debate of London vs Zurich, one of the most significant factors to consider is the cost of living. Both cities are renowned as some of the best cities in the world, but the disparity in living expenses can make a world of difference.

In the London vs Zurich showdown, London takes the lead with the cost of living 7% less expensive than its Swiss counterpart.

This means more possibilities to stretch your hard-earned money in London while enjoying the vibrant city life. The ability to cover living expenses with less money means you can explore the city’s diverse culinary scene, vibrant public transportation, and the many public places London offers.

Below is a table showing the cost of various essential items in Zurich:

Some of the costs you need to know when comparing London vs Zurich include the average rent, food expenses, transportation costs, and miscellaneous expenditures.


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Average House Rent: London vs. Zurich

Photo of a dim-lit ouse in Zurich

Average rent in London is notably more affordable, allowing you to find a comfortable place to call home without breaking the bank.

In London, the average rent for new tenancies was £2,039 monthly in June 2023. This figure reflects the considerable expenses of renting an apartment or house in the UK’s capital. The rising rents in London are a notable trend, with a substantial 11.2 percent increase compared to 2022. This increase in rent prices can pose challenges for individuals and families looking for affordable housing options in the city.

You can also read about how to rent in London as a foreigner to inform yourself better.

On the other hand, Zurich, being the most expensive Swiss city to rent in, presents its own set of rental costs. Apartment rents in Zurich typically range between CHF 1,500 and CHF 6,000 per month.

The wide range in rental costs is influenced by location, apartment size, and the specific community or neighborhood within Zurich. Rental expenses in Zurich are generally high, which is a characteristic of many major Swiss cities.

My Take Regarding House Rent: London vs Zurich

When comparing these two cities in terms of average house rent, it’s essential to consider your personal and business needs, as well as your preferred location and community.

London and Zurich each offer unique opportunities and lifestyles, but their housing markets can significantly impact your budget. Depending on your circumstances and priorities, you may find that one city aligns better with your financial expectations and housing requirements than the other.

Food Expenses: London vs Zurich

Photo of a local in Zurich

London, often perceived as a bustling and diverse city, has its merits regarding food costs. Despite being known for its relatively high living expenses compared to other parts of the country and Europe, London maintains a competitive edge in terms of affordability, even in the city center.

On the other hand, Zurich is renowned for its strict rules and regulations, which are reflected in the cost of living, including food costs. A typical fast food meal in Zurich, at places like McDonald’s or Burger King, can set you back around 15 CHF, which is approximately 17 USD. This exemplifies how costs in Zurich tend to be higher than in many other European cities.

However, London stands out as a more budget-friendly option in this comparison. It is approximately 10% cheaper than Zurich, inclusive of food costs. London is an attractive choice for those looking to enjoy a diverse culinary scene without breaking the bank.

My Take About Food Expenses: London vs. Zurich

Regarding food expenses, London offers a more economical option than Zurich, even in the city center. While Zurich may have higher food costs due to its stringent regulations and overall higher cost of living, London’s affordability can make it an appealing destination for those looking to balance their budget while enjoying the rich tapestry of culinary offerings the city offers.

Transportation Costs: London vs. Zurich

When it comes to transportation costs, there is a notable difference between London and Zurich. In terms of price, transportation in London tends to be on the higher side compared to Zurich. Whether you’re relying on public transport or using private means, you can expect to pay more in the bustling city of London.

Taxi Rides: London vs. Zurich

Let’s start by looking at taxi rides in both cities. If you plan to take a taxi, be prepared to open your wallet wider in London. The start price for a taxi in London is $4.06, whereas, in Zurich, it’s notably higher at $6.83.

The price per kilometer in London is $2.97, which is again more expensive than Zurich, where it costs $4.34 per kilometer. This could significantly impact your salary if you rely on taxis for daily commutes.

Public Transport: London vs. Zurich

However, the quality of transportation services can also play a role in the overall experience. While London may have higher costs, it often offers a more extensive and efficient public transport network. On the other hand, Zurich boasts a reputation for punctuality and reliability, which adds to the quality of transportation there.

When it comes to public transport, Zurich shines in terms of price. It is generally more affordable than in London. This is good news, especially for families with children who might use public transport frequently. Most people in Zurich can comfortably use public transport without straining their budgets.

Which is Better? London vs. Zurich Transportation Cost

In contrast, London’s public transport can be costly, which might prompt most people to consider alternative options, such as owning a car. Surprisingly, private transportation in London can be more cost-effective than in Zurich. So, if you prioritize the convenience of a private vehicle and have the means to pay for it, London might be the better choice.

Things to Do in the City Center of London and Zurich

Sunset in London

Expats in both London and Zurich have a plethora of activities to enjoy in the city centers. Whether you’re looking for cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, or simply want to soak in the local atmosphere, these cities offer a wide range of options.

Things to Do in the City Center of London:

Photo of the London bridge at sunset

Visit Historic Landmarks: Explore iconic places like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace.

Walk Along the Thames: Enjoy a scenic stroll along the River Thames.

British Museum

Museums: Visit world-class museums like the British Museum (many of which have no cost).

Shopping on Oxford Street

Shopping on Oxford Street: Shop for fashion and more on one of London’s busiest streets.

West End Theatre

West End Shows: Catch a famous musical or play in the theater district.

Hyde Park

Parks: Relax in beautiful parks like Hyde Park and Regent’s Park.

Rooftop Restaurant in London

Dining: Savor diverse cuisines at local restaurants (prices vary). The cost of meals depends on the restaurant or dish.

Nightlife in Soho

Nightlife: Experience the vibrant nightlife in Soho and Shoreditch.

Tate Modern

Art Galleries: Explore contemporary art at Tate Modern and the National Gallery.

Historic pub in London

Historic Pubs: Enjoy a pint at traditional British pubs. Some of them offer unlimited data or wifi.

Walking tour in London

Free Walking Tours: Doing this won’t cost you money. Join guided tours to learn about the city’s history (often free, but tips are appreciated).

Giraffee at London Zoo

Family-Friendly Attractions: Visit the London Zoo or the Science Museum with your family.

Boat ride on the River Thames

Boat Tours: Take a boat ride on the River Thames.

Music festival in London

Cultural Festivals: Attend various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

Camden Market

Streets Markets: Explore markets like Camden Market and Borough Market.

Zurich employees

Educational Institutions: Learn about the prestigious schools and universities in the UK.

Jobs and Careers: Learn about job opportunities and salary levels in London. You can find numerous jobs in London since it is a busy city.

Read this guide on in-demand jobs in London.

Nightlife in London

Night Walks: Enjoy nighttime walks through well-lit streets.

Things to Do in the City Center of Zurich:

Person walking in Zurich

Lake Zurich: Take a walk along the beautiful Lake Zurich.

Old Town (Altstadt)

Old Town (Altstadt): Explore the historic streets and architecture.

Swiss National Museum

Swiss National Museum: Discover Switzerland’s history and culture.

Bahnhofstrasse street

Bahnhofstrasse: Shop on one of the world’s most exclusive shopping streets.

Swiss Chocolate

Eating Swiss Chocolate: Taste Swiss chocolate at renowned chocolate shops.

Museum in Zurich

Art Museums: Visit Kunsthaus Zurich and other art institutions.

Elephant at Zurich Zoo

Zurich Zoo: Spend a day with family at the zoo.

Zurich tour guide

Free City Tours: Join free city tours to learn about Zurich’s history. Some tours require payments, but the cost is not that expensive.

Person applying in Zurich

Career Opportunities: Learn about job opportunities and salary levels in Zurich. If you are in the following industries, you are likely to find a job faster:

  • Banking
  • Chemicals 
  • Insurance
  • Watch manufacturing
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food retail
Front facade of a university in Zurich

International Schools: Explore schools for expat families.

Zurich nightlife

Nightlife: Enjoy nightlife in Zurich’s Langstrasse and Niederdorf areas. Listen to live music.

fondue and raclette

Swiss Cuisine: Try traditional Swiss dishes like fondue and raclette.

Swiss Watch

Swiss Watches: Visit watch boutiques and museums.

St. Peter's Church in Zurich

St. Peter’s Church: Climb the tower for panoramic views.

Zurich Opera House

Opera and Theater: Attend cultural performances in Zurich.

MFO Park

Family-Friendly Activities: Visit parks and family-oriented attractions.

Zurich at Night

Night Walks: Explore the city’s illuminated streets at night.

Final Thoughts Living in London vs. Zurich

In conclusion, living in London vs. Zurich is a personal choice that depends on various factors, such as the quality of life, the cost of living, the transportation costs, and the things to do in the city center.

Both cities have pros and cons and offer different opportunities and lifestyles for expats. Therefore, it is important to research and compare different aspects of living in these cities before making a decision.

If you want to learn more about living in London vs. Zurich, click the links below to access the sources we used for this article. By doing so, you will also help us keep this blog afloat and provide you with more informative and engaging content.

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