This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please read my disclosure for more details(Last Updated On: December 2, 2019)
In 2018, I spent a total of $23,492.29. I know that amount appears monstrous to some of you, but it’s actually a reasonable amount. I’ll explain why in this post.
Firstly, Switzerland is an expensive country to live in. According to UBS, Zurich and Geneva are the world’s two most expensive cities, beating out New York and Oslo among others.
As someone coming from Toronto, I was shocked at the prices in Switzerland when I first came here. A meal at McDonalds will cost you $20-30 dollars. McDonalds!!!!
My 2018 Expenses
So here is how I spent my money in 2018:
Dance – $2,651.50 – 11%
You all know I love to dance and it’s my *main* source of exercise. I normally pay around $200-300 a month for dance classes. I do both classical dance and tap dance. This year’s numbers are a bit inflated because I also decided to take some special dance classes in Italy and a yoga retreat (which I put under dance for simplicity) in the UK. Yes, this girl loves to travel.
Sometimes I wonder if I should find cheaper hobbies. This year, I will likely bring this cost down because I won’t be making those dance trips anymore. But I’ll still dance just as much.
Entertainment – $260 – 1%
This includes a snowshoeing trip in France. A meditation retreat in the Swiss alps. a yoga/brunch event by the lake. One trip to the hot springs with my boyfriend before he left for his world tour. And finally one night at the hotel for a ski trip (to celebrate finishing my Master’s). Also I spent some money at a friend’s birthday party.
Overall I feel my entertainment costs are quite low. It’s an average of $20 a month which is chump change. I’m not a super social person and I hate going out to clubs, etc. Staying home or doing some sort of sports or something in nature are my favourite pastimes. And most of these activities are free or very low cost.
Food – $2,157.56 – 9%
I spend, on average, $200 per month on food. This is mostly because I cook at home and don’t eat a whole lot. My major vices are: Swiss chocolate and Swiss cheese. I only eat out a few times per year but when I do it tends to be expensive (like $50 or more).
In 2019, I’d love to eat healthier. And I’d love to eat out less. Have cheaper meals because I don’t particularly *love* Swiss food. My preference is Asian food and *spoiler alert* the Asian food in Switzerland isn’t all that great.
Housing – $9,296.00 – 40%
Unsurprisingly, housing is my biggest expense. Housing is notoriously expensive in Switzerland. Currently, I’m paying around $900 for a tiny studio apartment (less than 200 square feet). It’s in a very convenient location but it’s really not worth the price.
In 2018, I moved 3 times. I also lived at my boyfriend’s for free for a bit while I was in between homes (lol). So yes, that’s how I saved a couple grand on housing.
Yeah, finding housing in Switzerland is super hard. I don’t really want to move again.
I’d love to bring this cost down in 2019. The only way to really do that is to move to a lower cost area (France?!) or getting a roommate (my boyfriend?!).
Insurance – $1,739.50 – 7%
As a student, my insurance was only $100 a month. Now it’s jumped to $350 a month and I’m so angry about it! Since I’m a PhD student, I’m no longer eligible for the cheaper plans. *Sigh*
No real way to bring this cost down. Nope. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Other – $1,418.37 – 6%
This is catch-all category for expenses that don’t fit elsewhere. In 2018, my “other” category consisted of:
- Language classes (I’m trying to become fluent in Spanish)
- Fortune telling services – I’m Asian and I believe in fortune telling… yes, I know what you’re thinking.
- Birthday gifts
- Vitamins/probiotics – gotta stay healthy people!
- Laundry + household supplies
- Hang gliding gift for my boyfriend’s birthday
- School supplies
This year, I will probably spend around the same. I love studying Spanish. I might see my fortune teller again when I go back to Canada. Gifts are a recurring thing that I can’t really skip. I mean I could but it’s not nice.
Phone – $388.20 – 2%
I’m on a bring-you-own-phone plan and it’s quite cheap. I was previously on a $20 for unlimited everything plan but I upgraded and now it’s $40. Still very cheap and very worth it.
I’ve got this contract for another year, so no way to reduce this cost!
Sailing – $228 – 1%
Yes, you’re probably thinking my hobbies cost me a lot of money. For 200 bucks a year, I get unlimited access to sailboats, kayaks, stand-up paddles, AND free lessons. FREE lessons!! Sometimes even private ones.
I’m definitely renewing my membership next year.
Shopping – $1,533.74 – 7%
This is a disaster of a category but is not as disastrous as meets the eye.
I’m not a shopaholic, I swear! In fact, of this “shopping,” only $18 of it relates to clothes. And it was two new skirts! That’s it, I swear!
The rest of the money is made up of shoes, underwear, and my new MacBook. I really needed a new computer after my old one died. It lasted me 7 years.
Next year, this expense will definitely have to come down because I won’t be making any major purchases. Going to stay frugal from now on!
Snowboarding – $429 – 2%
I bought a season ski pass and it allows me to snowboard whenever I want. It’s paying off well because a day pass is already between $50-70. Since I’m a student, I can go at least once or twice a week. I have definitely gotten my money’s worth.
Definitely buying this pass again this year!!
Yes, I know my hobbies are expensive! I’m a firm believer of “buy experiences, not things.” Don’t kill me!
Transit – $296.40 – 1%
This is quite low. I average $25 for transit. I try to walk whenever I can and living in the city centre helps a lot.
This year, the transit cost will probably stay the same or even go lower because I found a new way to buy train tickets for cheaper in Switzerland.
Travel – $2,734.02 – 12%
Also not as bad as it looks. In 2018, I did the following:
- 2 week language course in Spain
- Weekend yoga trip in UK
- 1 week dance camp in Italy
- 1 week holiday with my boyfriend in Italy (he paid)
- 5 days in Amsterdam with a friend visiting from Canada
- 2 weeks in Canada and US (this included FinCon in Orlando, another conference in Chicago, and a week in Toronto with my family)
- 4 days in Greece with my bestie
I love travelling and it brings me great joy. In 2018, I visited Greece for the first time ever. It was great.
I’m hoping to visit at least 2-3 new countries in 2019, as well as making one trip to Canada. I would love to visit Iceland. It’s been on my bucket list for a while. But it’s expensive, so we will see 😉
Tuition – $360.00 – 2%
Scandalous right? Full time student pays only $360 in tuition. That’s one semester of my Master plus one semester of my PhD.
This amount will stay the same for the next few years as I do my PhD. I get paid for it, so I don’t mind paying this small tuition.
I seriously recommend studying abroad. It’s a wonderful experience. On top of getting an enriching experience and developing life schools that I couldn’t develop at home, I’m also actually saving money. A similar Master in Canada would’ve costed me $100K and I didn’t pay a penny in Switzerland (I received a scholarship).
For more details, read the following:
- Why I Decided to Pursue A PhD Against My Parents’s Wishes
- How I Graduated Debt-Free After 6 Years of University
- 10 Life Lessons I Learned From Doing A Master Degree Abroad
2018 was an awesome year. I started off with an amazing trip to Thailand/Laos/Cambodia. Then I spent a few months finishing up my Master degree.
The summer was crazy, I almost went broke when I had to move and a bunch of unexpected expenses came up.
Then my PhD started and I had a bunch of unexpected travel.
I’m hoping that 2019 is equally as awesome!
Happy new year folks!
You may also like
- Top 10 Things To Do In Lausanne – Advice From A Local
- How To Travel To Switzerland For Cheap
- How Much I Spent In One Year Living In Switzerland
- 7 Reasons Why I Hate Being A Foreigner In Switzerland
- 10 Surprising Things That Happened When I Moved Abroad to Switzerland
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