Switzerland vs USA: Where Life Is Better?

Aerial shot of lake and vity in switzerland

The United States and Switzerland are two of the most prosperous countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean they’re similar in every sense. Switzerland is a stable, prosperous country, while the US is known as the land of opportunity with plenty of jobs to go around, a low cost of living, and a lot of freedom.

By comparing the quality of life, education, healthcare, work-life balance, wages, and cost of living, we can get a better idea of which country is the best place to call home. While Switzerland ranks superior in education, work-life balance, and wages, the United States offers more opportunities and diversity.

If you’re looking for a change and new experiences, the US is the better choice. However, if you want a slower pace of life with great pay and benefits, then Switzerland is the place for you.

The United States of America and Switzerland are thousands of miles away from each other, but the two countries are often compared to each other due to their similarities in the political and economic systems, as well as their quality of life.

When it comes to deciding where to live, there are many factors to consider. Some people might prefer a big city with lots of action and excitement, while others might prefer a smaller quiet town. Then there are the outdoorsy types who want to be surrounded by nature and those who crave constant change and new experiences.

So, which country is better for a living – Switzerland or the United States? This article will compare the two countries by looking at their economies, healthcare, education systems, and living standards.

Also read our comparison between living in Switzerland vs Canada.

Switzerland vs the USA 

Building skyscrapers  in the US

Pros and Cons of Living in Switzerland

Living in Switzerland can be one of the most unforgettable experiences a person could have. There are many reasons why people consider it one of the best countries to live in throughout the world. While it is known for its banks and beautiful landscapes, what exactly are the pros? On the flip side, what are some things you will miss when you move here?


  1. A highly developed country
  2. Incredibly high quality of life
  3. A highly skilled workforce
  4. High salaries
  5. Excellent transport system
  6. Healthcare is free; the healthcare system is universal, meaning it covers all Swiss citizens
  7. Great variety of cuisines
  8. Advantageous location
  9. Jobs are plentiful
  10. Affordable and high-quality education
  11. Fresh air and no pollution
  12. Strict laws concerning drug use
  13. The unemployment rate is among the lowest
  14. Good work-life balance


  1. Expensive
  2. Must learn a foreign language
  3. Heavy taxes
  4. Challenging to buy property as a foreigner

Pros and Cons of Living in the US

Living in the United States of America has its pros and cons, but we believe it’s still one of the best places to live in the world.


  1. Highly developed infrastructure
  2. The cost of living is cheaper than in Europe (not in all US cities)
  3. Stable government
  4. A large variety of jobs both in high-tech and service industries
  5. Good work opportunities, even for unskilled workers
  6. Advanced medical care in most areas
  7. Varied and interesting culture and history
  8. Less strict immigration laws, a more welcoming country overall


  1. High cost of living
  2. High levels of pollution, especially in large cities and industrial areas
  3. The crime rate is higher than in many other countries, especially violent crime including murder and assault
  4. Even though healthcare is cheaper overall, it’s still expensive without insurance
  5. Housing prices are high and often unaffordable for many people, especially in cities like New York or San Francisco
  6. Challenging to get around if you don’t have a car

Switzerland vs the USA: Should you move to Switzerland from the US?

Person and their pet dog crossing the street

Switzerland vs the US: quality of life

Switzerland and the United States have qualities that look similar. Both countries offer all sorts of possibilities for their citizens and, in turn, attract many immigrants, business people, and tourists from various places in the world. However, the quality of life offered in one country over the other varies.

While the quality of life in the US is high, it doesn’t quite compare to Switzerland. In a study done by Numbeo, Switzerland was rated as having a higher quality of life than the United States.

The study took into account various factors such as safety, pollution, health care, purchasing power, and housing.

One reason for this may be that Switzerland has a much lower crime rate. In fact, it is one of the safest countries in the world. According to the 2018 Global Peace Index, Switzerland is the 12th most peaceful country out of 163 countries. The United States, on the other hand, ranks 128th.

Also read: Living in Switzerland as an American: all you need to know.

The cost of living in Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries globally when it comes to the cost of living. The cost of living in the entire country is comparable with New York, which is by far the most pricey place in the US.

Furthermore, the quarterly cost comparison shows that Switzerland’s consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate has been 2.8% for the past six months. It’s projected to increase further and reach 3.3% in the next quarter. This contributes to the rapid increase in prices, especially in housing and energy.

Denmark takes first place with a CPI inflation rate of 1.4% for the previous six months, while the US has a CPI inflation rate of 1%.

A meal at a restaurant costs between 15-20 Swiss francs (CHF), while a cup of coffee will set you back another 5 CHF or so. Utilities are expensive, with electricity costing more than 10 CHF per kWh.

However, it’s worth noting that Swiss wages are relatively high, so you will earn enough money to cover all necessary costs and above.

The cost of living in Zurich is high due to the relatively high cost of housing and transportation. For example, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom is 1,926 CHF. For Geneva, it’s 1,123 CHF. A 3-bedroom apartment will cost an average of 2,752 CHF per month in Zurich.

Expenses (CHF) in an average Swiss city with an average gross income per month of 6,250 CHF:

  • Taxes 850
  • Rent 1,200
  • Health insurance 330
  • Retirement insurance 550
  • Other insurances 100
  • Telecommunications 150
  • Transportation 460
  • Other health costs 180
  • Food 450
  • Shoes and clothing 130
  • Household, hygiene articles 300
  • Entertainment, recreation, culture 700
  • Total: 5,400

In the end, you will have 850 CHF either to save or to spend on leisure.

Read our guide on cost of living in Switzerland.

The cost of living in the US

The cost of living in the United States is higher than in most developed countries but far lower than in Switzerland. However, it varies greatly depending on where you live. The main reason is housing prices, which are significantly higher than the average in other developed nations.

A simple meal costs $20 or less in certain parts of the country but will easily cost $100 or more in large cities like New York.

14 of the 20 most expensive US cities are located in California, with San Francisco and San Jose being first and second on the list. Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, and Honolulu are also among the most expensive cities in the country. 

15 of the 20 least expensive US cities are located in the south, with McAllen, Texas being first on the list. South Bend, Indiana; Rockford, Illinois; and Springfield, Missouri are the top three least expensive US cities to live in.

Read our guide on the cost of living in the US vs Switzerland.

Social security in Switzerland

Switzerland has a robust social security system that provides basic living, healthcare, and education. Switzerland’s Social Progress Index is ranked as the leading among the world’s top nations in quality of life. The Swiss social security system is funded by employee and employer contributions and general taxation. 

The Swiss government also provides some level of financial help to those who cannot work because of age or disability.

Social security in the US

Social security benefits vary widely among different states and even regions within states. While some areas provide generous amounts of social security income to their citizens, like California, others offer little or no help whatsoever, like Alabama.

Read our comparison between living in Switzerland vs Canada.

Education in Switzerland

Though parents must pay for textbooks and materials for their children’s schooling, education is free up to the university level.

The country also has a 99% literacy rate, meaning that almost everyone can read and write. Besides, Switzerland claims some of the best universities in Europe. Primary education is mostly free, but universities aren’t.

Both local and international students will need to pay tuition fees between 400 CHF to 3,800 CHF per year, depending on nationality and university.

Education in the US

Education at all levels is good in the US. Yet, K-12 schooling can vary widely from one district to another. Nonetheless, students at American universities must pay a high price for their education. There are no affordable or free universities in the US like in many European countries.

Housing in Switzerland

Housing costs are very high in Switzerland. The average price of an apartment is nearly $900,000. However, some Swiss citizens receive housing subsidies that cover about half of their rent if they can’t afford it. This makes rent prices more reasonable to about $500 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Expect to pay at least 1,200 CHF for a single-bedroom apartment as a foreigner. Plus, it might be challenging to find an affordable apartment if you’re looking for something in a major Swiss city.

Read about current house prices in Switzerland.

Housing in the US

Housing varies widely in the United States, depending on where you live. For example, housing costs are sky-high in New York City and San Francisco. In Texas and the Midwest, the cost of living is much lower.

Work-life balance in Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the most highly industrialized countries globally, with a high standard of living. Though salaries are higher than average, work-life balance is promoted as part of the culture. Employees are expected to enjoy their free time and spend it with family and friends.

Work-life balance in the US

Many people take advantage of flex time policies and other benefits that allow them to balance their home lives more effectively with their careers. What’s more, many companies offer generous maternity leave policies that enable parents to spend quality time with their new babies. This is while still receiving a paycheck.

US average salaries

While it is possible to earn a six-figure salary in the US, only 11% do. The median annual household income in the country is $57,652. This is enough to live comfortably in most places, but not all.

In expensive areas like New York and San Francisco, it’s possible to find yourself unable to cover your basic expenses with that amount of money.

Read more about salaries in the US.

Swiss average salaries

An average person earns between 5,000 CHF and 6,000 CHF ($5,433 – $6,520) gross per month or 60,000 CHF and 72,000 CHF ($65,204 – $78,245) per year.

While the median salary is 119,000 CHF per year, which means that half of the population is earning less than 119,000 CHF, and the other half are making more than 119,000 CHF. 

With that said, average salaries are significantly higher in Switzerland than in the US.

When it comes to a good salary in Switzerland, a decent income will be between 6,000 CHF ($6,520) and 9,000 CHF ($9,780) per month. In Zurich and Geneva, employees receive higher compensation.

For example, casual, low-skilled workers can easily have a salary of $5,433 per month in Switzerland. At the same time, a high school teacher can enjoy over $10,000 per month. An accountant with 5 years of professional experience makes, on average, around $108,670 annually.

Starting from 100,000 CHF, you earn well above average in Switzerland. Salaries starting from there are considered good.

Here are some examples of average decent salaries for various jobs in Zurich:

  • Doctor: CHF 110,000–130,000
  • IT: CHF 115,000–120,000
  • Lawyer: CHF 111,600
  • Engineer: CHF 108,500
  • Marketing Officer: CHF 90,500
  • Civil Servant: CHF 85,800
  • Journalist/Editor: CHF 85,200
  • Police Officer: CHF 82,200
  • Draftsman/Architect: CHF 75,000
  • Translator: CHF 73,200
  • Postal Worker: CHF 66,600

Read more about salaries in Switzerland.

Besides, taxes are significantly lower in Switzerland than in the US. Here is an in-depth guide on this topic.


Food is an important part of any culture, and both the United States and Switzerland have their own unique culinary traditions. Swiss food is known for its simplicity, while American food is often more complex and unhealthy.

Swiss cuisine typically consists of fresh ingredients that are locally sourced. The most popular Swiss dishes include cheese fondue, raclette, rösti, and Zürcher Geschnetzeltes.

In the United States, there is a great variety of food options available. American cuisine is a mix of different cultures and includes dishes from all over the world. Some popular American dishes include burgers, pizza, tacos, and barbecue.

Integration in the society

Switzerland isn’t a leading country when it comes to integration into society. Despite its ability to attract and retain foreign workers, only a few manage to fit into Swiss society.

Nonetheless, it was ranked as the number one country for international workers in 2018. Switzerland is clearly mastered its image as one of the best countries to work in. In contrast, the United States was on the spot 32nd.

There are a number of programs and initiatives in place to help immigrants to make Switzerland their home. The United States, on the other hand, is known for its hectic immigration process. Yet, the Swiss culture isn’t very welcoming of foreigners.

Switzerland vs the USA: Job opportunities

People walking on the streets of Netherlands

Job opportunities in Switzerland

According to a recent OECD report, Switzerland requires a workforce of over two million people. On average, 46% of the Swiss population is employed. In terms of unemployment, the country is in a relatively stable position.

Job seekers in Switzerland have a fairly good chance of finding a position in renowned Swiss companies like:

  • Nestlé,
  • Novartis
  • Glencore
  • UBS, and
  • Credit Suisse

All these companies contribute significantly to the country’s economy.

Construction industry jobs in Switzerland play a significant role in the country’s economy and comprise approximately 5% of the workforce. About 15% of these workers are foreigners.

It’s also worth noting that unemployment in Switzerland is one of the lowest in the world and currently stands at 2.2%.

Learn about current in-demand jobs in Switzerland.

The table below depicts the average monthly salary in Switzerland in different industries:

IndustryMonthly salary (before tax) CHF
Accommodation and food service 4,412
Administrative and support services5,328
Arts, entertainment and recreation6,549
Financial and insurance9,286
Human health and social work 6,406
Information and communication8,724
Professional, scientific and technical 7,873
Source: Average Salary Survey

Are you thinking about working in Switzerland? Check out the in-depth comparison between living and working in Germany and Switzerland. To have better chances for employment in Switzerland, learn which jobs are in-demand right now.

Job opportunities in the US

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the healthcare industry is the largest employer. The Labor Statistics mainly categorizes jobs by what kind of occupation they are, rather than by what industry they are in.

Getting a job in the US is easier than in Switzerland. The unemployment rate was just under four percent in 2019, which is lower than the global average of around five percent. In Switzerland, the unemployment rate was a little over three percent in 2019.

The US fares a little better than Switzerland in terms of job security. The average tenure for workers in the US is around five years, whereas it is four years in Switzerland.

Hereby is some data showing average annual salaries for various industries where foreigners stand a good chance of getting a job:

Aerospace and defense$124,480
Oil and gas extraction$118,470
Petroleum and coal products manufacturing $114,490
Industrial machinery manufacturing$113,070
Computer and electronic products manufacturing $110,890
Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing$110,890
Construction equipment manufacturing$110,250
Office and other general merchandise stores$107,370

Read more about living in Switzerland as a US citizen.

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