Zurich vs Munich (salary/costs perspective only)


I currently live somewhere else in Europe and I’m planning to move to Zurich or Munich around the second semester. Currently I’m weighting all the benefits and drawbacks of both places to make the final decision. I am married and have a small baby. She’ll be 1.5 year old by when we move.

I would like to know if someone here has experience with both cities (or surroundings) and would like to share your thoughts about the salary/costs differences. In simple terms, is the higher salary in Zurich overweighted by the higher costs?

The comparison is ONLY about salary/costs. Of course taxes are also included in the discussion since it’s very different, I’m aware of that. Also childcare costs (~30k in Zurich. In Munich it varies a lot depending on whether private or public is taken).

I only know my company pays considerably less for the same job in Munich than in Zurich.

Can you give an idea on numbers? Maybe percentage

Without being able to give you an specific numbers (you also don’t specify your field of work).:

Single person: Zurich and Switzerland in general should be a no-brainer. Higher salary, lower taxes and costs aren’t that much higher, depending on your accommodation.

I suspect the advantage will probably flip, the more children and stay-at-home wives you have. Child care is insanely expensive, food is expensive, family benefits aren’t that much higher.

Yes indeed. That’s what I want to find out. The point where it flips. I suspect that one child is already not that far.

About my field I didn’t say because I thought people from other fields could also give an idea by telling the relative numbers in their fields. My field is a bit too specific so it’s a bit hard to find people working in it to comment here I suppose. I work with Analog IC Design Engineering or ASIC Design. So it’s kind of a specific field in hardware. But anyway, I was expecting someone could share experience in whatever field, just relative numbers.

There is a website from the swiss government which allows you to pretty specifically calculate your expected salary :

For cost of living, you would have this website to give you an idea :

Not sure how good, but will definitely give you an idea.

Finally, you can check your taxes here :

However, I would ask your future employer for a simulation of your net salary and the AHV/pension and all you will have to pay. In general, they will do that for you.

Also with pillar2, there can be over 10% of total comp difference that people don’t always ask about when doing salary discussions.

With 1 kid? You’re overthinking it lol. Take zurich this is a nobrainer.

If your wife doesn’t work, she will provide the child care - this is the swiss way of life - and then you don’t have to pay for overpriced private child care. Plus you get a big tax break for it (dual income couples are heavily penalized taxwise). And from age 4 you have to hand over the kids to the free public education system. So worst case with your parameters you’re in for maybe 2 years of private child care at most. Peanuts compared to CH/DE pay difference over say a decade of work.

Well, she won’t work and she won’t provide the childcare. She’ll be studying for 4 years. So my idea was to use these 4 years in DE with cheaper childcare and move to CH only after that so she would be already on school (free). I don’t plan to spend a decade in DE :wink:

In general I was looking more for a comparison between the cities on salary. Say a person knows that was getting in the same position X in Munich and now gets X*2.5 in Zurich for example. Just an example.
About the “Swiss way of life”, the taxation help, costs of living and so on, all that I’m already informed about it. Specially because my wife is Swiss and we go there often. In any case, thanks for it.


there’s your #1 financial problem. Not cost of life difference between zurich and munich. Both are expensive cities actually to not just work and not care for the kids

besides universities are mostly remote for the foreseable near future anyway

And will she even work after it? That’s not certain!

Make sure you have a prenup before moving, because the legal default here is she owns half of your income, half of your assets accrued during the marriage. And that’s whether she works or not, provides childcare or not. if you make 120k engineer salary, she makes 60k on you! Not bad for 0 hours worked eh. Oh and plus guaranteed child support and likely and spousal support for decades to come

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there’s your #1 financial problem.

Look. I don’t want to be rude. I didn’t talk about “financial problem”, did I? It is far from being the best situation financially. No doubts. I also didn’t want to get into details about it because that’s totally irrelevant for the topic. Her studies was a family decision we took in order to improve her situation and eventually our financial situation, and most importantly, life situation as well.

Make sure you have a prenup before moving, because the legal default here is she owns half of your income, half of your assets accrued during the marriage. And that’s whether she works or not, provides childcare or not. if you make 120k engineer salary, she makes 60k on you! Not bad for 0 hours worked eh. Oh and plus guaranteed child support and likely and spousal support for decades to come

Yes, she’ll work. Thanks for worrying about that.
Have you maybe considered that I was in her position a few years ago, I was studying while she was working? There’s much more to be considered than just what I said here. Let’s stick to the topic :wink:


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That’s uncalled for, please be respectful. They explained the situation and that’s their choice (and most people enjoy a trustworthy relation with their spouse, and take everyone’s well being into account…)


hell yeah, you f*cked dude

Well, probably just another guy that got cheated by his ex-wife and is getting his money… whatever. Choose better next time :wink:
Thanks for the advice. I wasn’t expecting such imbecile comments here.

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nope still have all my money :slight_smile:

but i’ve seen enough suckers losing everything to women

How’s her swiss german? And field of study? Outside of a few areas I can count on one hand’s fingers, this investment into education at this stage of life, especially abroad, will not pay off for her here. So, there’s a very real chance you’ll get yourself a stay at home mum or something. Pocketing your 60k/y and stuff…

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Focusing on your initial question, does it have to be Zurich? Can it be Zug or other lower cost of living/tax places? What expected income levels do we talk about here?

I’m somewhat convinced that with the lower salary plus higher tax rate Munich will be most likely the worse choice.

Maybe. That’s was also my first thought but then I remember about the 30k of childcare. But maybe you’re right. It all depends on the salary levels. That’s what I was trying to get a feeling.

I know that with my experience and in my field it could be possible something in the range of 120k in Zurich. What I still don’t know is how much that translates in Munich because glassdoor numbers vary a lot. So that’s why I tried to get some experience here.

That’s an option. I am also taking Zug and Schwyz into consideration because of the taxes. I just took Zurich because that’s where she would maybe study (Winterthur) and where she’s from.

In IT this would very likely translate to 60k - 80k EUR in Munich minus 45% taxes…

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45% taxes seems a bit harsh, you will be able to deduct a lot for the dependents AFAIK.

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Education is indeed free as of Kindergarten, but childcare ISN’T if you let the kid full day.
In Zurich Kindergarten 1 is from 8:30 to 11:30; for KG 2 you add 2 “afternoons” from 13:30 to 15:30 or something. The rest (Hort + Mittagstisch) needs to be paid and can cost up to 1500 CHF monthly if both parents work full-time. Same story for school, maybe 1200 CHF/monthly.

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