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The costs of daycare in Switzerland

Baptiste Wicht | Updated: |

(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 quickly become expensive, especially with several children.

Our son goes to daycare once a week. 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 municipality 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 municipality 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 attend state-funded kindergarten at four, 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 for some parents. Or some parents prefer private daycare facilities.

Daily costs of daycare

We start with the actual costs of daycare. I talk about the daily costs for one child. Generally, a half-day costs about half a full day, but it depends on whether your child eats there.

Daycare prices vary significantly from one canton to the other. And so do the daily prices. Even from one municipality 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 municipality 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 kindergarten’s website.

I cannot list all the daycares and their prices, but I will take two examples. I took these two randomly, 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 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 the 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 monthly.

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 is 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 shows how much we can save on daycare costs.

Municipality and canton taxes

You can also get a deduction for the municipality 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 care for 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 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 following:

  • 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.

We can 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

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 already pay 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 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.

Overall, I do not think that daycare is that expensive when you consider how challenging it is to take care of many children. 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.

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Baptiste Wicht started thepoorswiss.com in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. Since 2019, he has been 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.

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28 thoughts on “The costs of daycare in Switzerland”

  1. Hi,
    thanks for the interesting article. I would like to mention that it is worth adding the slower career growth to the financial considerations of weather it is worth to work or not. If I don’t work because of daycare costs I will slow down my career and my growth of income in the future. This is of course hard to calculate, but it adds to the costs of NOT sending my child to daycare.
    Best

  2. Thank you for making this information available.
    Which age does this apply to? I’m assuming later years become cheaper.
    How much should I budget for Kindergarten (4-7 years) and primary school (7-10, I’d assume)? And are these typically half- or full-day?

    1. Hi FireFan,

      Good question. Daycare is indeed before mandatory school. You start mandatory school at 4, but this is not for every day.
      At 6, you start primary school, which is every day.
      If you are Swiss, this should be almost free (you need to pay for some stuff, but tuition is free). If you are a foreigner, I have no clue.

      1. You are correct! I just checked, and indeed, mandatory schools have the same costs for everybody! I was thinking about universities which are often more expensive for foreigners.

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