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Living costs for Geneva
Living Costs The average living cost is a sum of estimated prices of rent, meals & groceries, utilities, transportation, and entertainment.
The cost of living in Geneva is expensive, at approximately CHF 3,500 per month; however, it seems affordable since the average monthly salary is CHF 5,340. Living costs in Geneva depends on your lifestyle and the type of housing you choose.
As the most expensive place to rent in Switzerland, the average renting prices in Geneva are:
- CHF 3,800 for a standard 4.5 room apartment
- CHF 2,700 for a standard 3.5 room apartment
- CHF 1,800 for a standard two-room apartment
When it comes to student apartments in Geneva, they are often somewhere around 22-42m². Even though the renting market is highly competitive in Geneva, you can find rooms for rent under CHF 1,000 if you look thoroughly.
Monthly utilities (heating, electricity, water, garbage…) for a person living in a 45 m2 (480 sqft) studio cost approximately CHF 122, while for an 85m2 apartment, it can reach CHF 200.
Prices obviously vary whether you prefer eating out or buy groceries to prepare food yourself. For a night out, it also depends on the restaurant. A basic lunchtime menu, including a drink, can cost about CHF 30. Dinner for two at an Italian restaurant that includes appetizers, main course, wine, and dessert costs approximately CHF 113.
Average prices for a drink can be CHF 20 for a cocktail, CHF 5 for coffee and sodas, and CHF 7 for a 0.5 beer. A week’s worth of food (bread, pasta, rice, eggs, vegetables, cheese, deli meats for sandwiches, and some assorted fruit) will cost you around CHF 75-100 in Switzerland.
In Geneva, an extensive network of bus, tram, train, and boat services enables the general public to travel around the entire region. Transportation can be expensive, but there are usually monthly travelcards. A regular ticket for 60 minutes costs 3 CHF, and you can switch between buses, trams, and boats. For several bus or tram journeys, you can get a day pass for 10.60 CHF or a monthly public transport ticket for CHF 60.
If you prefer to go around by taxi, the start tariff is approximately CHF 6, and a basic charge for a trip on a business day would cost CHF 36 for 8 km. (5 miles)
Getting a Student Visa
Since Switzerland is a part of the Schengen zone, a Schengen visa will win you the right to go to the country, but if you want to stay there as a student, you must take a few more steps. The procedures are different for EU/EFTA and non-EU/EFTA students.
After getting the acceptance letter, follows the process of setting an appointment with the Swiss embassy or consulate in your country. The procedure takes time, so make sure to set the appointment six months prior to your studying. The processing time for the short stay visas is around 10-15 days, and for long stay visas, eight to ten weeks.
For each document required, you have to provide the original along with three copies. The papers should be in English or in one of Switzerland’s national languages (German, French, Italian, or Romansh). If they are not in one of these languages, you will need a certified translation of those documents.
Switzerland Student Visa Requirements
- The completed and signed application forms for a long stay visa (D type) in one of the languages mentioned above.
- Passport – valid three months beyond the planned stay.
- Four passport-size biometric photographs.
- Letter of acceptance (certificate of enrollment) issued by a Swiss university.
- Paid visa application fee.
- Proof of payment of the registration and tuition fees (for the first year of your studies).
- Proof of sufficient financial coverage: copies of bank statements or a letter from the bank provided by you or your supervisor. Funds are supposed to cover living costs in Switzerland for the duration of schooling (21,000 CHF or 19,200 EUR at the beginning of each year of your studies).
- Scholarship/Loan proof (if available) from an institution that proves that the scholarship or loan will cover all expenses for the study.
- Letter of motivation, which should also include your professional plans for the future.
Submitting the Switzerland student visa application
After filling the application and completing all required documents, you should submit them in person at the Swiss embassy/consulate at the designated time of your appointment. Along with submitting your documents, you are required to pay the Swiss student visa application fee.
After receiving your Swiss Student Visa
You may enter Switzerland after you receive a student visa. Within the first two weeks of arrival, you have to register at the local Residents Registration Office of your canton as well as visit the cantonal migration office in order to obtain a residence permit form.
B permit (a biometric card) is the type of residence permit for student stay. Prior to that, you will receive an attestation that allows you to open a Swiss bank account. It will take up to 8 weeks for your B permit to be processed.
Student Visa Validity
The student visa or the B permit obtained in Switzerland initially is valid for one year. After one year, you have the option to extend it. However, updated proof of income is required in order for your student visa to be extended.
If you’re a student who wants to study in Switzerland but are not quite sure what are the steps of the student visa application process, you are advised to read the following resources on Everything You Need To Know about getting a visa for Switzerland.
Find out all you need to know about work permit regulations for working part-time (during studies) and full-time (after graduation) in Switzerland.
Work while studying in Switzerland
For many international students in Switzerland, working while studying is an ideal option. Still, that is not recommended by some universities since it can distract and affect your academic work. With job boards and other advisory services, other schools facilitate job searches to help students. During the school year, students’ working hours are limited, and there are a few requirements they need to fulfill.
How many hours are international students allowed to work per week?
International students can work up to 15 hours a week in part-time jobs. But during semester holidays students can work full-time.
When are students allowed to start working?
Students from outside the EU/EFTA countries may start working only 6 months after starting their degree program.
Is there a work permit required for students working part-time?
Citizens from EU-27/EFTA states do not require authorization for short-term employment up to three months or 90 days per the calendar year. For an extended time, they will have to earn a residence permit. Third-country nationals are obliged to submit numerous documents to prove their eligibility for a work permit in Switzerland.
What job can I get as a student in Switzerland?
During your years as a student, there are many part-time jobs that you can do. For most students, employment in retail, restaurants, and others are sought-after options. However, a lack of language skills (in German, French, or Italian) can limit your employment chances.
Work after graduation in Switzerland
Upon your graduation, you have the right to look for a permanent job in Switzerland. Prior to that, a residency permit that allows you to search for a job should be obtained. The permit is only valid for 6 months, and it cannot be extended.
What requirements do students need to fulfill in order to receive a residency work permit?
In order to receive the residency work permit, you have to provide proof that you:
- Have graduated.
- Are financially able to support your say.
- Have secured housing.
Are students allowed to work during this 6 months period?
During this six month period, graduates can work up to 15 hours a week. These rules do not apply for EU/EFTA nationals as they benefit from the freedom of movement under bilateral agreements.
How difficult is for international students to find a permanent job after graduation in Switzerland?
A non-EU/EFTA can get a job in Switzerland only if there are no qualified individuals from within the Swiss labour market or from an EU/EFTA state that apply for the position. Employers are required to show that they made “big efforts” to find qualified applicants from EU/EFTA countries or nationals who already have a permit to work. Furthermore, employers must show why those with priority to get the job were not suitable candidates for the position.
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