Hi, I am Claudio, a 25-year-old guy from Bergamo, Italy and this Autumn (2023) I volunteered at Alpiness Coliving (October 2023 to December 2023). In this blog post I will try to break down in 6 categories how much I spent in the past 10 weeks living at Alpiness Coliving in Switzerland.
For each category I will provide a description, including my personal experience, and an overview of the respective expenses. In the final section I will show you the total amounts, including some graphs. If you are just interested in the numbers and want to skip directly to the final part click here(link to conclusion paragraph).
I am writing this article hoping it could be useful in the future for nomads travelling on a budget or for future volunteers. This blog post is not about my wonderful experience as volunteer at Alpiness, but if you are more interested on this topic you can read Sunny, the other Autumn 2023 volunteer, who wrote a post on Mapmelon.
Disclaimer: As a volunteer I did not pay for accommodation (I worked 15h / week in exchange) and I did not pay for laundry (3chf) so these costs will not be part of my expense report.
Budget for living in a swiss coliving by expense category
Family dinners are of the best things happening at Alpiness. While participation is not compulsory, everyone has been happy to join in, including vegetarians (Ben and Fabienne are mainly vegetarians) and people with food allergies.
These are the basics rules: from Monday to Friday you (or very often your cooking team) are in charge of cooking one dinner, including doing the groceries and cleaning the kitchen afterwards.
Hence 5 dinners per week (frequently even more because of spontaneous family dinners on the weekends) are covered by family dinners. If you’re curious and want to learn more about how family dinners work, there’s a dedicated blog article on this topic.
Every time a dinner is cooked, the cost is evenly distributed on Splitwise among the people eating. Over the past 10 weeks, I’ve had 50 family dinners and calculated that the average cost is 5.9 CHF per meal, totaling around 30 CHF per week. Actually, the average price is even lower because there are leftovers 1-2 times per week, providing a free lunch opportunity. Additionally, if you’re vegetarian (not my case yet), your expenses will be even lower since the meat cost won’t be billed to you on Splitwise.
For the rest of the meals during the week, so breakfasts, lunches and the 2 weekends dinner you will have to go for your own groceries.
Prices in Switzerland are higher compared to average europeans costs, but with pasta, veggies and legumes I was able to stay on the cheap side. My breakfast expense was almost zero because I brought a big pack of fette biscottate from Italy and I was just using shared jam and tea from the coliving shelves.
During your stay in Les Haudères, the little village where is located Alpiness, you will have 3 options to do groceries, respectively in order of distance:
- Denner, Les Haudères -> small sized supermarket, where you can find most of the stuff. It is 5 minutes walk from the coliving
- Coop, Evolene -> medium sized supermarket, 5 minutes by car or public bus (free bus for the people staying in the house) from the coliving
- Coop, Sion -> huge supermarket where you can find everything. Usually we go there once a week after a climbing session at the gym (35 minutes by car)
My average was less than 30 CHF per week, thus if you count breakfasts as free, for 7 meal a week (5 lunches, 2 weekend dinners) is about 4 CHF per meal.
Transportation costs and tourist tax
During your stay you will have to pay for tourist tax which is 2.5 CHF/day for a max of 50 days, so max 125CHF which is the price I payed for my 10 weeks volunteer experience at Alpiness. By paying the tax you will not only contribute to the local mountain community but you will also get a public transportation pass for the whole valley, which is very convenient for reaching the most interesting spots around.
If you want to go down all of the valley to Sion the pass will cover only up to the town of Vex, so you will have to pay extra 6 CHF.
Even if the public transportation is very efficient and wide spread sometimes it is better to take the car, for example to do the groceries in Evolene, to go to the climbing gym near Sion or to do an hike not in the valley. During my stay there were always at least 2 cars, Ben and Fabienne’s van (4 seats) and another 5 seats car (usually Austris’ car). When we take someone’s car, we simply share the cost of fuel and add it to Splitwise.
The average weekly expense was 12.5 CHF for public transportation (125 CHF tourist tax spread in 10 weeks) and 4,3 CHF for shared car fuel, so in total about 16 CHF per week.
Restaurants and bars – eating out in Switzerland
During my stay I had a pretty frugal life, in fact I went to the restaurant, the pizzeria 2 minutes by walk from Alpiness, just once. The rest of the expenses were some couple of nights at the Dent Blanche pub in Evolene where we had beers, snacks and played darts.
I just went once to the Petit Cafe, the pub only 50m from the coliving, but I wished I had gone more because it has a very nice local mountain pub vibe and it has table games.
I went also a couple of times to the Coop restaurant near Sion after the climbing gym, but I included it in the personal groceries due to laziness.
My average expense on restaurants and pubs was 11 CHF/week, extremely cheap for Switzerland. I would say it is very easy to stay frugal at Alpiness because with people from all over the world each family dinner is like going to a restaurant. 🙂
Experiences and Outdoor activities
If you are coming to Alpiness there is an high chance that you are mountain lover and the upside is that is very cheap to have a great time in the mountain, even in winter with the magic pass at 399 CHF for the whole season. (Note: to get this price, you need to buy it in advance… buy it in May for the upcoming winter season to get the cheapest price)
In the last 10 weeks I went outdoor climbing, trekking, snowshoeing all for free. I have to say I brought a lot of my own sports gear, like via ferrata kit, avalanche kit, snowshoes and Austris, the longest coliver so far, is a living climbing store, he has ropes, splits, etc… (thanks a lot Austris again).
Another great thing about Alpiness is that Ben and Fabienne recently have bought a lot of sports gear and they are renting for very cheap prices, for example I went once ski touring and I just payed 20 CHF for skis, skins, boots and poles.
My average expenses on experiences were 17 CHF/week, mostly spent at the climbing gym, but also bowling, wine tasting and playing darts at the pub.
I am not a big drinker, I usually had 1-2 coliving beers per week. The only 2 exceptions were the wine tasting day in Sion and the Halloween party, two of the best experiences of my last 10 weeks (I am not assuming any linking between fun and more drinking) which I included in the experiences category n5.
A beer at Alpiness costs 2,5 CHF, I spent an average of **4 CHF/week** for this category.
Conclusions – Full budget for 10 weeks in Switzerland
Just a side note, I added 50 Swiss francs in cash to my total expenses, which I withdrew in Sion upon my arrival. I consider this a reasonable amount since most places accept cards. To avoid losing money due to currency conversion, I personally used Revolut, a service I highly recommend.
But enough talk, here we are at the final section, the moment of truth. The question is: Is it really possible to live cheaply in Switzerland?
I will let the numbers speak for themselves:
If you are not a volunteer you will have to budget about an extra 900chf per month for the cheapest shared room and 3 CHF per load of Laundry, so the total would be about 1300 CHF per month, a very close number on the one advised on Alpiness website FAQ section .
If you are a data nerd and want to see the spreadsheet with all the costs in detail here is a link to it.