Luxembourg vs. Switzerland: two countries with high salaries and living standards

Which is better? Which country offers higher salaries, more job opportunities, and a better quality of life? How do they compare and contrast? In this article, we will provide a comparative analysis of Luxembourg and Switzerland across multiple aspects to help shed light on these questions.

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One key detail to note first is that Switzerland is part of the Schengen Area, allowing travel to the country with a visa or residence permit from any European country within this zone. However, Switzerland is not a member of the European Union. This distinction has significant implications for travel, work, and residency opportunities when comparing Luxembourg vs. Switzerland.

Luxembourg vs Switzerland: briefly about the main things

Luxembourg and Switzerland stand as two European powerhouses, each offering unique advantages to residents and visitors alike. With Luxembourg boasting the highest salaries in the European Union and Switzerland renowned for its unparalleled quality of life, the choice between these two nations can be challenging.

In the following sections, we will venture into the key factors influencing this decision, from cost of living to job opportunities, providing insights to help you make an informed choice between Luxembourg and Switzerland. We will start by exploring the territory and population of both nations.

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
One of the world's smallest countries landlocked in northwestern Europe.
Swiss Confederation
A small landlocked country located in west-central Europe.

Population and territory

We begin our comparative analysis of Luxembourg and Switzerland by examining their size and population. Luxembourg, one of the smallest countries in Europe, covers only 2,590 square kilometers. It's so small that you can drive from its northern to southern borders in just an hour and a half. In contrast, Switzerland is significantly larger, spanning 41,290.7 square kilometers, enough to fit Luxembourg about 16 times within its borders.

square kilometers – territory of Luxembourg
square kilometers – territory of Switzerland

When it comes to population, as expected, Luxembourg is much less populated. Luxembourg has a population of approximately 660,809, whereas Switzerland had 8,815,385 inhabitants. This means Switzerland has roughly 13 times more residents than Luxembourg.

population of Luxembourg in 2023
population of Switzerland in 2023

It's interesting to look at the population growth of both nations. Although Switzerland saw a larger absolute increase in population — an increase of 860,723 people since 2012 compared to Luxembourg's increase of 135,956 people — Luxembourg experienced a higher relative growth. Luxembourg's population grew by 25.90%, while Switzerland's population grew by 10.82% over the same period.

Expat population

In terms of its composition, it is interesting to note that Luxembourg had a large percentage of foreign-born population on January 1, 2023, an impressive 52.57% of which the majority were of Portuguese and French nationality. Switzerland, on the other hand, had 30.20% of its population of foreign origin, a much smaller but still considerable percentage.

General vibe compared

When comparing the general vibe of Luxembourg and Switzerland, several cultural and lifestyle differences stand out, alongside some notable similarities.

Cultural heritage and festivals

While Luxembourg and Switzerland share similarities in their high standards of living and cultural diversity, they each offer unique experiences shaped by their languages, climates, and lifestyles. Luxembourg’s intimate and community-focused atmosphere contrasts with Switzerland’s blend of urban sophistication and natural attractions, providing distinct options for those considering a move or a visit.

What are the similarities?
Both countries boast rich cultural diversity and multilingual populations.
Luxembourg and Switzerland have high standards of living and excellent public services.
Each nation hosts many festivals, celebrating their heritage and modern influences.
Both countries provide top-notch education and healthcare systems.

Quality and cost of life

The next two aspects we'll analyse are the quality of life and the cost of living in both countries, two extremely important elements that often go hand in hand.

Quality index

Assessing the well-being trends of European citizens is quite complex due to the subjective nature of this aspect. However, European Union statistics provide some insights. One such metric is the Global Life Satisfaction Index, where Europeans rate their life satisfaction on a scale from 0 (very dissatisfied) to 10 (very satisfied).

Netherlands vs Luxembourg quality of life
Source: Eurostat

According to this index, the average in Europe is 7.1 points. Luxembourg scores well with a rating of 7.2 points, slightly above the European average. Switzerland stands out significantly, leading the list with a rating of whole 8 points!

Cost of living

Now, let's examine the cost of living in Luxembourg vs Switzerland. Both countries have a high cost of living, but to understand the extent, it is useful to use reference indexes. Numbeo provides the world's largest database on the cost of living, and its data and indexes give us a clearer picture.

Numbeo offers several indexes, all based on a comparison with costs in New York City. Their most comprehensive index, the "Cost of Living Plus Rent Index," estimates consumer goods prices, including rent, in comparison to New York City.

Netherlands vs Luxembourg cost of life
Source: Eurostat

The "Cost of Living Plus Rent" index compares data from 260 of the most important cities in Europe, revealing that Switzerland has the highest cost of living. The top six positions are held by Swiss cities: Geneva, Zurich, Basel, Lucerne, Lausanne, and Lugano. While Luxembourg also has a high cost of living, it is significantly lower than that of Switzerland. Luxembourg City ranks at number 27.

Other interesting indexes are the Groceries Index, the Restaurant Price Index, and the Local Purchasing Power Index, in which Luxembourg is better positioned. This suggests that while both countries are expensive, the cost of everyday goods and services, as well as the purchasing power, are more favorable in Luxembourg compared to Switzerland.

Trains and buses
Public transport in Luxembourg is completely free, learn why in our article
Read the article

Employment and job opportunities

We have reached a crucial point: employment and work opportunities. Both Luxembourg and Switzerland offer extensive opportunities, but each excels in different areas.

Top industries

  • In Luxembourg, the most developed industrial sectors include financial services, technology and communications, logistics, and transportation. Luxembourg is a global financial center and a key logistical hub in Europe, with strong investments in digital innovation and aerospace.
  • Switzerland, on the other hand, stands out in financial services, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, luxury watchmaking, technology and innovation, and precision machinery and equipment. Switzerland is known for its financial stability, advancements in healthcare and biotechnology, and excellence in engineering and high-quality products.

How to get a job in Luxembourg: application, interview, contract

Working as a foreigner

Both countries continuously attract professionals from around the world, although Switzerland, being larger, has a higher rate of labor immigration. In 2022, Switzerland welcomed 13,273 people for work purposes, while Luxembourg accepted 30,204.

Netherlands vs Luxembourg immigration
Source: Eurostat
BYOB (Bring Your Own Business)

Both Luxembourg and Switzerland are ideal countries to take your business there or to start one, if you want more information on this subject we recommend a couple of sites with information on it, one for Luxembourg and one for Switzerland.

Professions in-demand in Luxembourg vs. Switzerland

The following table shows the most in-demand professions in both countries, with data sourced from Luxembourg's ADEM (Agence pour le Développement de l’Emploi) and Schengen News website.

Top demanded jobs in both countries in 2024
🇱🇺 Luxembourg🇨🇭 Switzerland
Analysis of loans and banking risksHealthcare Specialist / Nurse
Bank customer managementElectrician
Office and middle management in the financialCarpenter
Paving and restoration of pavementsProject Manager
Management and engineering industrial researchersSoftware Developer
Production management and engineeringPolymechanic
Installation and maintenance of industrial equipmentService Technician
Caregiver Assistant / NurseLogistics Specialist
PsychologistAutomation specialist

Minimum wages and salaries

Luxembourg and Switzerland have unique approaches to minimum wages. In Luxembourg, there are two minimum wages: one for unskilled workers and another for skilled workers. The minimum wage for an unskilled worker aged 18 or older is 2,570.93 euros, while for a skilled worker, it is 3,085.11 euros in Luxembourg.

We have previously covered the possible salaries in Luxembourg in our article
Read article
Minimum wages in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the minimum wage is not applied at the national level but rather at the cantonal level (with some cantons offering a minimum wage and others not) and through collective labor agreements (CLA) of certain companies, regardless of the canton of employment.

Canton of Neuchâtel

Minimum wage per hour is 21,09 CHF.


Minimum wage per hour is 20,60 CHF.


Minimum wage per hour varies between 19,75 and 20,25 CHF.


Minimum wage per hour is 24,32 CHF.


Minimum wage per hour is 21,70 CHF, but it varies based on sectors.
So, the minimal payment one can expect by law in both countries will be
16 to 19,28
euros per hour is the minimal wage of the worker in Luxembourg
20,6 to 24,32
euros per hour is the minimal wage of the worker in Switzerland

Taxation of the income

Addressing the topic of taxes is complex due to the many variables involved. However, a starting point to shed some light on this area is the top marginal income tax rates. Comparing both countries, Luxembourg's highest tax bracket is 45.80%, which is 6.3% higher than Switzerland's top rate of 39.50%. Nonetheless, both countries are within a medium range compared to the rest of the European Union.

Netherlands vs Luxembourg income
Source: Eurostat

This provides an initial perspective, but many other factors must be considered. It is advisable to seek professional advice tailored to individual circumstances to get a comprehensive understanding of tax implications.

Before and after taxes

If you would like to get an idea of how much tax you would have to pay in Luxembourg, take a look at our service. We have created an income calculator, that explains a lot.

Relocation procedures and options

Relocating to a new country involves a myriad of questions and considerations. When contemplating a move to Luxembourg or Switzerland, one might wonder about the visa requirements, residency permits, and the overall process of settling into a new environment. These are the common procedures required.

Popular grounds for relocation


How to choose where to relocate between Luxembourg and Switzerland?

Relocating to a new country is a significant decision that involves considering numerous factors, including quality of life, cost of living, employment opportunities, and personal preferences. Luxembourg and Switzerland both offer advantages and challenges.

🇱🇺 Luxembourg's best and not-so
Luxembourg boasts the highest minimum wages in Europe, providing a strong financial foundation for workers.
The country offers a vibrant, multicultural atmosphere with a large foreign-born population, making it welcoming to newcomers.
Luxembourg provides special visas, such as the European Blue Card, for highly qualified workers, facilitating easier relocation for professionals.
The low corporate tax rates make Luxembourg an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and business owners.
The country has a highly developed healthcare system, ensuring access to quality medical services.
Luxembourg offers free public transportation, making it easy and cost-effective to travel within the country.
While not as high as Switzerland, Luxembourg's cost of living is still considerably high, especially when it comes to renting prices.
The top income tax bracket in Luxembourg is significantly high, and the taxation is progressive.
The cost of housing in Luxembourg is quite steep, and it can be challenging to rent property on a budget, especially in the capital.
Obtaining a student visa requires proving substantial income, which can be difficult for foreign students. Additionally, students are limited to part-time work during their stay.
You might need to be persistent to acquire a permit and the citizenship afterwards. It requires a continuous living in the country and language skills, but not only.
🇨🇭 Switzerland's pros and cons
Switzerland ranks highest in Europe for quality of life according to the Eurostat Life Satisfaction Index.
Despite the absence of a national minimum wage, salaries in Switzerland are generally very high.
Switzerland's public transportation system is world-renowned for its efficiency and connectivity, reaching even the most remote areas.
Switzerland has the highest cost of living in Europe, impacting daily expenses significantly.
Although lower than Luxembourg's, Switzerland's top income tax rates are still quite high.
Despite high salaries, the Swiss job market can be very competitive, especially in specialised industries.
Certain regions in Switzerland experience long, cold winters, which can be challenging for those not accustomed to such climates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which country has a higher cost of living, Luxembourg or Switzerland?

How does the quality-of-life index compare between Luxembourg and Switzerland?

What are the main industries and job opportunities in Luxembourg vs. Switzerland?

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