If you are considering moving to St.Gallen, this is probably one of the two most important things you are going to search for. The second is salary levels in St.Gallen and they go hand in hand when you have to decide whether the famously high salaries of Switzerland will afford the infamously high living costs.
Trouble is that as you have probably found, almost all of the info you have found online is either a national average or it is focused on life in either Geneva or Zurich area. Salaries in St.Gallen are lower than in either of these areas but thankfully so is the cost of living. There is also a large disparity across the country.
Single person: CHF350/mth is just about the bottom end of the scale for a single room studio apartment, but don’t expect any luxury. Reasonable studios and 1/2 room apartments go from about CHF 500 to 800 with the upper end being CHF 1200. For students, you may want to consider joining into a group of 3-4 people and for CHF 400 each you could get a very nice shared apartment with all the mod-cons. These prices are for unfurnished places as there are very few furnished options. Add about CHF 2-300 per month on for furnished apartments, but it may just be cheaper to pop to IKEA when you arrive.
Couple: Starting a about CHF550 for rock bottom 2 person studio apartment, but reasonable quality would be between CHF 700 to 900. Bear in mind that many landlords won’t rent to you if they think that the apartment is too small for the number of people. So don’t think you can squeeze a family of 4 into a 1 room apartment to save money. The immigration office will also regret family visas if they think that your accommodation is too small.
Family (3-4 people): You need to start looking at apartments marked 3 rooms (zimmer) or upwards. The cheapest I have seen is about CHF 800/mth but if you have a child you should think of the area and basic hygene standards and start budgeting for CHF 1100 upwards. Nice 4 room apartments start at around CHF 1500 up to CHF 2000 depending on the area.
And if you budget is above this then you probably don’t need my advice 🙂
City bus: CHF 67/mth or about CHF 650 for the year gives you unlimited city wide (zone 10) travel on any transport. You need a 1/2 price card (halbtax) to buy the 12 month version though.
Parking: Bluezone (roadside around the city) costs CHF 106/mth but don’t forget that you need to budget for parking at your apartment. This is rarely included and can cost anything from CHF 50-200/mth depending on the part of the city. Landlords rarely include the parking for free but often have it as an extra rental cost.
The actual cost of food is pretty standard around Switzerland if you shop at the Coop or Migros. The big difference is when eating out. A cheap hot meal will cost about CHF 15-20, an average restaurant will be CHF 30 and a nice place will CHF 50. The one Japanese restaurant can get up to about CHF 80-100 per person though unless you plan to leave hungry 🙂
In case you don’t want to do your research else where, this is the amount I budgeted monthly for one working adult for some of the other generic costs:
– Groceries CHF 500
– Health insurance CHF 250
– Health costs CHF 100
– Mobile phone CHF 50
– Facilities (TV, phone, internet, water, etc.) CHF 400
– Miscellaneous CHF 1000 (trust me, this part disappears quickest of all in Switzerland)