Childcare costs in Switzerland

How to budget for high childcare costs in Switzerland

A lot of working parents worry about high childcare costs in Switzerland. Parents often ask me if they should look for private or public childcare provision. These are some of the questions I get from parents about childcare options in Switzerland:

Is state-maintained childcare cheaper than private care?

The answer very much depends on the age of the child. For children under 4 years, childcare is very much seen as a private matter and  usually not covered by the state. Children can attend privately managed Swiss, bilingual or international nurseries or pre-schools. 

Can I put my 12-month old into nursery?

A number of private nurseries offer childcare from as young as 6 months. However, prices can be eye-watering! For children below 18 months, you might be looking at a steep CHF 2300-2500 for 5 days per week, from 6.30am to 6.30pm. After 18 months, prices may still be around  2000-2300 francs for a full week.

What about childcare in the French-speaking parts? 

The French speaking cantons offer afterschool care or parascolaire. In places like Geneva, demand far outstrips supply and parents may struggle to even find a slot for lunch. 

What about after-school care costs for school-aged children?

Children in Switzerland usually start their education at 4 years in Kindergarten. Local authorities in most places offer maintained childcare for school-aged children. Initially, fees can be as high as in private schools, as school days the first 2 years of Kindergarten are normally limited to half-days. 

If you need lunch and full afternoon cover you might be looking at around CHF 80-100 per day. In other words, state Kindergarten might cost you around 350-400 francs a week.

As students attend more afternoons from the second year of Kindergarten onwards, costs will decrease as you will only have to pay for a ‘short’ afternoon. Costs for lunch and after-school care after 3pm are around CHF 50-70, depending on location.

Please note that the lunch and after-school facilities might not be on the school premises, but at a short distance from school!

If you are lucky enough to live in the city of Zurich, you might benefit from one of the newly launched day-school facilities, which offer lunch and after-school care at a reduced cost.

Looking at costs for lunch and after-school care, is private school the better option?

Not necessarily. When you add lunch and after-school provision, you can expect 5000 plus francs on top of the paid tuition which is around 22.000- 30.000 per year, depending on the school and age. However, unlike most local schools, private schools offer lunch and after-school care facilities on their premises. For younger children, fees in private schools might be equal or even lower, as Swiss school hours tend to be very short. Once children are older, private school fees are likely to be substantially higher by comparison.

I have 2 children and we work full-time. Does it make financial sense to employ a Nanny?

If you have 2 or more school-aged children, and you would like your children to attend local school, having a nanny might be the more economical option. A nanny can also take your children to after-school activities and might be able to stay longer than usual 6-6.30pm closure time at local after-school care. Additionally, having a nanny gives working parents greater flexibility in school holidays.

If you are looking for a nanny, LivingSwitzerland is a partner of, the leading Swiss nanny agency:

Do you need more guidance for working parents in Switzerland? Read on:

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