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Study says Switzerland offers Europe's best living standards

But a higher living cost in a country's major cities doesn't necessary mean a better standard of living

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 12:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 April, 2016, 1:57pm

Head for the Alpine delights of Switzerland to enjoy its trademark chocolate and cuckoo clocks – and Europe's highest standard of living, according to international salary-comparison website Glassdoor.

In its study, released Thursday, the site researched the purchasing power of salaries across Europe, using the U.S. as a benchmark.

Standard of living index (best to worst):

1.Switzerland

2.Denmark

3.Germany

4.US

5.Sweden

6.Netherlands

7.Finland

8.Norway

9.Ireland

10.Austria

11.UK

12.France

13.Belgium

14.Spain

15.Italy

16.Portugal

17.Greece

18.Estonia

Costs of living are high in Switzerland, but high nominal wages averaging 72,000 euros (US$81,313) compensate, according to Glassdoor.

By comparison, wages average only 13,000 euros in the Baltic nation of Estonia.

"Adjusting salary data to take into account differences in relative prices within countries tends to narrow the differences in wages across countries, but Switzerland and Estonia remain at opposite ends of the spectrum," the Glassdoor report, which was conducted with Llewellyn Consulting, said.

Switzerland pricier than New York

Despite the example of Switzerland, countries with high costs of living in their major cities do not necessarily offer the highest standard of living, Glassdoor said.

It highlighted Norway and the U.K., which scored indifferently in the standard of living index but whose capitals were respectively the third- and fourth-most expensive major cities in Europe.

Cost of living in European cities (from most to least):

1.Geneva

2.Zurich

3.London

4.Oslo

5.Bergen

6.Copenhagen

7.Paris

8.Dublin

9.Stockholm

10.Helsinki

Glassdoor compared the cost of living in different cities by estimating the average price of consumer goods and rental prices.

It found Geneva and Zurich were the only major European cities more expensive to live in than New York, by 3 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.

London had the highest rents in Europe, but was still 7 per cent cheaper to live in than New York..