Switzerland home to the 5 most expensive European cities, index reveals

Switzerland home to the 5 most expensive European cities, index reveals

While many have acknowledged that the high quality of life in Switzerland comes at an equally high price, sometimes data comes along that makes the cost of living even more crystal clear: according to the latest Cost of Living Index by Numbeo, of the five most expensive cities in Europe, five are Swiss.

Five most expensive cities in Europe are all Swiss

To create the biannual index, Numbeo calculated the cost of renting, groceries and eating out in 174 European cities. The data service used New York as a benchmark in each category, meaning if a city scored 110 points overall, it is around 10 percent more expensive than the Big Apple.

For 2024, one country dominated the top of the ranking, with all of the top five most expensive cities being located in Switzerland. Basel retained its position at the top of the ranking, with Numbeo calculating that the city is around 20 percent more expensive than New York and around 31 percent more expensive than the most expensive non-Swiss city, which was the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.

Swiss cities took top spots in almost all categories

Basel stood out among Swiss cities for having the highest cost of groceries in Europe and placing in the top six in all other categories. Zurich followed Basel in second place, with Lausanne in third, Bern in fourth and Geneva in fifth.

The data noted that while the cities in the alpine nation offer some of the highest purchasing power in Europe, thanks to high salaries, said wages allow businesses to charge more for rent and other essential goods, leading to equally high living costs. This was reflected in each category, with Geneva and Zurich placing first and second for restaurant prices, and only behind London for rental costs. 

10 most expensive cities in Europe

In all, here are the cities in Europe with the highest cost of living, according to Numbeo:

  1. Basel, Switzerland (120,2)
  2. Zurich, Switzerland (118,3)
  3. Lausanne, Switzerland (117,7)
  4. Bern, Switzerland (110,5)
  5. Geneva, Switzerland (109,8)
  6. Reykjavik, Iceland (88,5)
  7. Trondheim, Norway (86,3)
  8. Bergen, Norway (84,5)
  9. Stavanger, Norway (82,5)
  10. London, United Kingdom (80,1)

For more information about the study, check out the Numbeo website.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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