The costs of daycare in Switzerland

By Baptiste Wicht | Updated: | Switzerland, Save

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

Daycare is a large portion of the budget for many people in Switzerland. Indeed, daycare can become quite expensive quickly, especially if you have several children.

So far, we have not put our son in daycare, but we think we may do it next year. So, I wanted to delve into the costs of daycare in Switzerland.

I only talk about daycare facilities, not about day moms, nannies, or other ways to ensure people are taking care of your child. I may speak of these in another article if people are interested.

Daycare in Switzerland

Daycare in Switzerland is highly regulated. They can only employ professionals and must be approved by the county and the canton.

Generally, these facilities have an excellent reputation. You can put your child there for a half-day or a full day. Normally, you can use daycare from Monday to Friday.

Most daycares are subsidized by the county they are in. However, they are also some private daycare facilities, but they will be significantly more expensive.

Generally, people must use daycare until their kids are about four or five years old. Kids go to state-funded kindergarten at four years old, but this is not full-time at first. Starting from six years old, kids are at school every day.

In this article, I focus on subsidized daycares. There are also some private daycares, not subsidized. I will not focus on these here. Private daycare is significantly more expensive, but sometimes it is the only option available to some parents. Or some parents prefer private daycare facilities.

Daily costs of daycare

Let’s start with the actual costs of daycare. I talk about daily costs for one child. Generally, a half-day costs about half the price of a full day, but it depends on whether your child eats there or not.

Daycare prices vary significantly from one canton to the other. And so do the subscriptions. Even from one county to another, you will find differences in prices.

It is also essential to check some conditions. For instance, some daycares will charge you extra based on your child’s age because they could eat more. I will take the base price for my examples, but be aware that it could get more expensive.

Most daycare facilities will give you a reduction if you place more than one child with them. For instance, 20% off for the second child and 30% off for the third child is a typical reduction.

The subsidies from the county are based on the income of the parents. With a low income, you will pay little per month, while you may pay significantly more with a significant income.

The way they compute this determining income is quite complicated. They do not consider the taxable income but rather a different definition of the net income, generally augmented by a part of your wealth. You can find the details on each creche website.

I obviously cannot make a list of all the daycares and their prices, but I will take two examples. I took these two randomly, I do not know them, but the prices are available on the website.

First, I took the Crèche Perollino in Fribourg. The prices for families from Fribourg range from 18 CHF per day to 86.55 CHF per day. Here are a few examples:

  • With 50’000 income: 18 CHF per day
  • With 80’000 income: 32.95 CHF per day
  • With 100’000 income: 52.70 CHF per day
  • With 150’000 income: 86.55 CHF per day
  • With 200’000 income: 86.55 CHF per day

I also took another example with the Ajenol daycare network, around Lausanne. The prices range from 17.33 CHF to 132.60 CHF. Again, here are a few examples:

  • With 50’000 income: 27.72 CHF per day
  • With 80’000 income: 52.44 CHF per day
  • With 100’000 income: 67.28 CHF per day
  • With 150’000 income: 111.78 CHF per day
  • With 200’000 income: 132.60 CHF per day

So, we can see that two daycare facilities can have significant differences. I also found some significant differences in daycares in the same city.

If you only need one day a week in daycare, daycare should be reasonable in your budget. However, this can quickly become expensive for people who need it frequently. For instance, here are the rounded monthly prices for one day a week in Fribourg (assuming four days a month):

  • With 50’000 income: 72 CHF per month (864 CHF per year)
  • With 80’000 income: 131 CHF per month (1581 CHF per year)
  • With 100’000 income: 210 CHF per month (2529 CHF per year)
  • With 150’000 income: 346 CHF per month (4154 CHF per year)

For me, this is still a reasonable part of a budget, but this will depend on how much you have left at the end of the month.

And if you need five days a week:

  • With 50’000 income: 360 CHF per month (4320 CHF per year)
  • With 80’000 income: 659 CHF per month (7908 CHF per year)
  • With 100’000 income: 1054 CHF per month (12648 CHF per year)
  • With 150’000 income: 1731 CHF per month (20772 CHF per year)

At this point, the numbers become significantly higher. Even with a 150’000 income, some people could not absorb an extra 1731 CHF per month.

And if you have several children, daycare will likely be the biggest category in your budget.

Daycare and Taxes

You must note that you can deduct daycare costs from your taxable income.

This deduction will help relieve some of the costs. However, this makes it more complicated to estimate the actual costs of daycare.

Federal taxes

First, you can deduct daycare costs from the direct federal tax.

You can deduct a maximum of 10’1000 CHF per child from your taxable income. You can only deduct the expenses if both parents are working. So, if you put your child in daycare to get a day off, you will not get this deduction. And the deduction needs to be justified.

Important: As of 2023, the maximum deduction will go up to 25’000 CHF per year per child.

This first deduction is primarily interesting for high-income earners. Indeed, many people in Switzerland pay very little in federal taxes. Also, to reach the maximum deduction, you would have to use daycare many days a week and have a significant income.

How much you will save will depend on your marginal tax rate at the federal level. I discuss the marginal tax rate in my article about Swiss taxes. This rate indicates the tax rate of your future income. If your marginal tax rate is 10%, you will pay 10 CHF in taxes for each 100 CHF extra income. We also use it to compute the effectiveness of tax deductions.

Here are a few examples based on the 5-days a week and estimated marginal tax rate:

  • With 50’000 income (15%): 648 CHF in potential savings
  • With 80’000 income (20%): 1581CHF in potential savings
  • With 100’000 income (25%): 2525 CHF in potential savings
  • With 150’000 income (35%): 3535 CHF in potential savings

I say potential savings because you may not even pay that much federal taxes. Again, this is a gross estimation because this will highly depend on your possible deductions and your actual tax rate. Also, since we are using only part of the taxes, your marginal tax rate is likely lower than this. Nevertheless, this gives an idea of how much we can save on daycare costs.

County and canton taxes

You can also get a deduction for the county and cantonal taxes.

This deduction is generally more interesting since most people pay significantly more taxes at these levels than at the federal level. And if you are also paying church taxes, it will also get deducted since this is generally a percentage of the cantonal taxes.

Again, both parents must be working or unable to take care of their children to be eligible for this deduction.

As is everything in Switzerland, the deduction depends on each canton. Here are a few maximums:

  • 10’000 CHF in Basel
  • 12’000 CHF in Fribourg
  • 25’000 CHF in Geneva

Here are a few examples based on 5-days a week and grossly estimated marginal tax rates for Fribourg:

  • With 50’000 income (15%): 648 CHF in potential savings
  • With 80’000 income (20%): 1581CHF in potential savings
  • With 100’000 income (25%): 3000 CHF in potential savings
  • With 150’000 income (35%): 4200 CHF in potential savings

These numbers are a big estimation since many factors are at play here!

Putting everything together

Finally, we can compute the estimated actual cost of daycare for five days a week in Fribourg:

  • With 50’000 income (15%): 3024 CHF per year
  • With 80’000 income (20%): 4788 CHF per year
  • With 100’000 income (25%): 7123 CHF per year
  • With 150’000 income (35%): 13037 CHF per year

Again, these are estimations, and the actual costs are likely to be higher given the high estimate of the taxes deductions.

Also, I have taken the French-speaking part of Switzerland as an example. But the German-speaking part is generally more expensive, with lower deductions. You can usually expect a 100% difference between cheap and expensive places.

For instance, people in Zurich pay more than 3000 CHF per month per child for daycare before counting tax deductions. This is a massive difference from Fribourg.

If you want to reproduce this estimation for your costs, you will need:

  • The cost per day of daycare, based on your income
  • The maximum deductions in your canton
  • The marginal tax rate at the federal level
  • The marginal tax rate at the cantonal level

You should get a good idea of how much daycare will cost you.

Working or not?

Many people wonder whether it is worth working if they have to put their kids in daycare.

I only talk about the financial side of things. Some people prefer working, and some prefer taking care of their kids. This is a fully personal decision. But some people wonder about the financial side, so we will cover that in the article.

Once again, many factors are at play here, and it is not easy to get a complete answer.

Let’s take our estimation from the previous section again:

  • With 50’000 income (15%): 3024 CHF per year
  • With 80’000 income (20%): 4788 CHF per year
  • With 100’000 income (25%): 7123 CHF per year
  • With 150’000 income (35%): 13037 CHF per year

Let’s say these are the numbers with a single income. The question is, how much income do we need to make it worth it financially.

First, the income needs to be higher than the price of daycare. So, the higher the income of the working spouse, the more the second spouse must make to make it worth it.

Then, an extra income will have several consequences.

First, this will make daycare more expensive unless you are already at the maximum price. For instance, adding 50’000 CHF to an income of 50’000 CHF would more than double the cost of daycare. So, you need to make more to cover the price of daycare.

Then, we are talking here about the net costs of daycare, so we need to talk about net income. Adding income will also increase your taxes significantly. Going from 50’000 CHF  to 100’000 CHF income will likely add between 5000 CHF and 10’000 CHF in taxes to your expenses. So, you need to add this to the cost of daycare.

On top of that, you need your net income to match these two costs (daycare and extra taxes), not your gross income.

For one child, unless you add a small income to a substantial income, working and using daycare is worth it financially.

With several children, it gets more complicated. For instance, with four children and a working spouse with 150’000 CHF income, you would need more than 50’000 CHF in extra net income after taxes to make it worth it.

Once again, this is only the financial side of things. Other factors come into play when making that decision. But you should not ignore the financial side either.

Conclusion

Overall, daycare costs in Switzerland can quickly become a large part of one’s budget. But some tax deductions can release some of the bills.

I do not think that daycare is that expensive. But compared with several other European countries, it is true that daycare is quite expensive, probably the most expensive of all European countries. And many couples do not use the daycare because of its price.

I hope this article gave you an idea of the daycare costs and what needs to be considered.

If you have children, you may be interested in how to save money with infants.

Baptiste Wicht is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

19 thoughts on “The costs of daycare in Switzerland”

  1. The day care system caters to poor people aka as middle class. Thus it encourages poor people to have kids and people earning money to delay or give up having kids. This is the road to poverty. Kids from poor families will usually stay poor and kids from well off families tend to be well-off. One wonders why Swiss are uneducated and need to import qualified work force from abroad. Consider both parents make 200k/year At 3k/month and 3 kids you are at 9k per month if you have three kids. That’s a big chunk of your income and it’s not a solution. You need to be creative otherwise the state will rip you off: home working, grand parents, external help at your home, etc.

      1. Really? Let’s say the gross income is 35k per month and net income is 20k. At around 3k per child and month you’ll be going into 50% of your disposable income. Doable, but I would call this robbery. The reality is that even with such income you are still middle class.

  2. I have a question: what does it mean one qualifies if both parents are working or studying? Does it mean both parents have to be full time employed or full time studying to qualify for the above? In my case I was the single earning member and my kids were in a day care centre while my wife was taking evening German classes and also preparing for other certification courses from home. In addition she was preparing for an interview and taking online lessons for the same and also applying for jobs to get one in this highly competitive job market. However the steueramt denies us this exemption saying the parents are not both full time employed or studying? Is this fair? It takes so much to get a job and preparation is immense and with small kids at home all the time, how difficult it is to concentrate and prepare and this is not acknowledged, Additionally this helped our kids with integration with Swiss Culture and be prepared for the Swiss schooling system especially since we come from India. What are options for me? How can you help?

    1. Hi Viveik,

      I don’t know if it is fair, but your experience meets my expectations of what would happen. it’s important to realize that most of the tax laws in Switzerland are archaic, especially when it considers women working.
      You can of course appeal to the canton and share all the data about your case (certifications and online lessons).
      But in most cases, I would be surprised if cantons were to give a deduction for daycare without two full-time parents.
      There could be partial deductions if the total working time is 150% for instance.

  3. I found your article very different from my reality… In my municipality (in the canton of Zurich) an household income from 110’000 per year, no longer qualifies for childcare support. So a couple working full time with a total income of 110’001 per year needs to pay 30’015 per year in childcare…

      1. Although we pay 30K per year for daycare (1 child), the maximum amount deductible in our taxes per child is 10’100 (worth adding that to your text). So in practical terms it reduces 10k the taxable amount, which means around 1’200 less in taxes…

        1. Hi,

          That’s quite bad indeed. I didn’t know Zurich was so far out in this case. At least, there is an advantage to being in Fribourg.
          And you probably have a lower marginal tax rate in Zurich than in Fribourg, so this makes a massive difference.

  4. Thanks for this interesting post. Actually, I’ve also done the math when I had my kid 5 years ago. In Vaud canton, I was paying around 1600 CHF/month for 4 days. 2 days were in the daycare and 2 in “acceuillante en millieu familiale” which is also official but less expensive (max 7.5 CHF/hour).

    In Switzerland there is always this concept that wife has to stop working or reduce strongly her activity to take care of the children.

    This has lots of consequences : First and second pillars are very impacted, you stop your career progression (with less income at the end) and try now to find a decent job after a 10 years hole in your resume…

    Most people don’t understand how important it is to contribute to second pillar (specially if you don’t plan to retire early) and in case of a divorce (50% of probability in Switzerland), the working person in the couple will have to pay a lot…

    In my specific case, even if financially it was nearly a non-sense (without speaking about the logistic aspect and the need to have 2 cars), we’ve chosen to work my wife and myself at 80% and 100% , then 80% and 90% and now 90% and 90%.

    If at lower percentage your gross income in greater that 86 KCHF/year, impact on the pillars is minimal, you still have enough to enjoy live and even some time to spend with your children without damaging your career progression and your retirement !

    1. Hi Torvi,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your story and numbers!
      You are absolutely right, there are other things at play than money. I can imagine that having a 10-year hole in a resume is a nightmare.
      As also pointed out by other comments, we still have a very patriarchal society here in Switzerland :(
      This is quite sad given that we are quite advanced in many ways, but definitely not for that one.

      Even part-time working is not encouraged in Switzerland.

  5. Interesting topic, thanks!

    One question though, could you precise what is meant by “both parents must be working or unable to take care of their children to be eligible for this deduction”? For example if one parent works for 80% and the other works for 60%, do they still qualify for the deductions?

    1. Hi M,

      I meant that if one parent is not working, the household cannot claim any deduction.
      However, I would expect cantons to use prorata if parents are not working full time. This has to be validated by your canton, but I would expect in your example that you can still claim 60% of the deductions since that should be the maximum when nobody is at home.

  6. Thanks for the great article! I just wanted to note that the daycares in geneva (and I assume other cantons) close for a few weeks every year, so if you are two working parents you need to find and pay for alternative childcare for all those weeks. There are also not enough public spots so many families are forced to use private day cares.

  7. Hi Baptiste,
    It’s indeed a difficult and complicated topic.
    I would especially correct one of your assumption, no people don’t put kid in private day care only because they have a lot of money and don’t care about spending more.

    In our case (in Lausanne at the time) we register our future kid for public day care 6 months before expected birth date, the earliest allowed and we got a spot when the kid was 1 year and a half… In the meantime we had no choice than paying more than double for private day care that where the only day care with available spot and only one day per week. By the time we got the spot in public the second kids was on the way and the following kids have a secure spot. On top of that, beside we were right in the city center with the public day care 20 meters away from our home, we got a spot at a different day care completely outside the city center, at the total opposite direction or our way to work. We did the nightmare of organization for about a year, driving the car in the traffic jam every day when we planned to only use public transport to go to work in the first place. Then we decide to have a third kid. We took every aspect into consideration and decide that my wife has to stop working completely as she was earning too much less than me. There was no viable solution economically to split the work time and to have a better organization not to end up seeing each other only late in the night when the kids where almost in bed. So we can say once again that the society push the stereotype of the 100% working dad and 100% home mum.

    On the good side, this situation gave me the opportunity to find a better job in another region and we moved where we can afford a better apartment for the family. But it’s always with some regret that there was no good option to have both some time with the kids at home and the possibility to stay in the area we where both coming from. When all kids will be at school most of the week we will decide if we can come back, my wife could get a new job and maybe split the work time eventually. But in the meantime housing price and rental are getting higher and higher, expense for the family are getting higher, while income is more or less the same or with only marginal improvement between years. So the come back seams always more difficult to plan with the time passing, but it’s another story.

    1. Hi eluc,

      Thanks for sharing your story. This is indeed a great reason to use private daycare if there are simply no spots available in public ones.

      I completely agree that the situation in Switzerland really forces people to follow either two high incomes and full daycare or 100% home mum or dad. Compared to the options available in some other countries, it’s quite poor. It must be difficult to be in that situation! I hope you will be able to move back some time!

  8. Hi Baptiste,

    Thanks for the article!

    I think we shall mention that daycare if needed until age of four and after that we have a state-funded kindergarten for half day (full day must be bought).

    For comparison, in canton of Zurich (example of Thalwil), cost of daycare is about 3000 CHF per child. We have three kids… So, paying 9000 CHF per month (or the same amount split over more years as not all children will need daycare the same time) sounds crazy. Comparing to other European countries (I can compare with Germany and Finland) Switzerland looks very old fashioned when we talk about daycare and women employment.

    Keep up your great work, Baptiste!

    1. Hi Andrey,

      That’s a good point, starting from four, people don’t need full-time daycare anymore. I will mention that in the article.

      Is 3000 CHF for public daycare or private daycare? I am guessing at this price, you have no deductions from the state. That’s quite insane.

      Yes, it’s definitely old-fashioned.

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