Switzerland conjures up many images. On one side, there are majestic mountains, delicious fondue and chocolate, big banks sheltering people’s money, precision watches, and an orderly society. On the other, heart attack–inducing prices: $8 USD coffee or beer?! $50 steaks?! A $15 menu at McDonald’s?! $35-40 hostel beds?! WTH!
Switzerland is rated the most expensive country in the world to visit, with Geneva and Zurich being two of the ten most expensive cities to live in.
And because it is so expensive, it’s easy to see why so many people skip over the country and wait until they are older and (hopefully) wealthier. When I mentioned I was visiting Switzerland on a budget, many people shook their head and wished me good luck with a “poor soul to think he can do that” expression.
I’ll admit I was worried. While I’ve found that not all “expensive” destinations need to be tough on the wallet (though some are unavoidably expensive), Switzerland seemed daunting, having a strong currency and high taxes, and being a mecca for rich banks, international organizations, wealthy residents, and tax shelterers.