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Cuckoo? Switzerland offers Europe's best living standards

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.


Cosmo Condina | The Image Bank | Getty Images

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 elevated nominal wages averaging 72,000 euros ($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.

Oslo Norway
fitopardo.com | Getty Images

Living costs in Europe's cities (highest to lowest):

  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 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

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

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