While I really like Switzerland and I plan, and hope, to spend all my life here, there are some things I really do not like about it. In this post, I am going to discuss the five things I hate about Switzerland.
I am not about to leave Switzerland and I hope I will never have to. There will be a post coming up about the things I love about Switzerland and they will be more numerous ;) But I think it is important to realize that no country is perfect. Some things should definitely be improved in Switzerland.
Of course, these things will probably be different from one person to another. I know that there are some things in the list that some people like. Please tell me what you do not like about Switzerland in the comment!
1. Health insurance system
In Switzerland, health insurance is mandatory. That means every Swiss people is insured for health issues. The idea is great, but the execution is not great at all.
First of all, it is incredibly expensive. I am using the highest deductible (2500 CHF) and I am paying 235 CHF per month for my insurance. If something happens, each year, I still have to pay the first 2500 CHF. In the last 5 years, I have never got anything from my insurance. I paid 10’000 CHF of insurance and about 4000 CHF in health fees. One of the reason it is so expensive is that people like me that do not use it pay for people who are using it too much. There are people who go to the doctor if they have a small fever. And that drives up the cost of health for everybody. Health insurance should only be mandatory for large things. It should not cover fever, cold or a scratch on the ass.
Second, it is getting more expensive every year. In 2014, I was paying 209 CHF for my insurance. It is a 12% increase over four years. This is much more than inflation in Switzerland. Again, mostly because people are abusing the system. And another problem is that the cheapest insurance is never the same each year. So you should change health insurance each year. This is what the system encourages you to do. This is a big pain.
And this is also a business for insurance advisor. You can change your insurance until one month before the end of the year. By the end of the year, advisors will try to call you many times to make you change insurance. They tell you always the same thing, you can can save a lot, blah, blah, blah. They just want the commission. And they rarely offer you the cheapest insurance. Since it is mandatory, it should be the same state insurance for every person in Switzerland. But when the Swiss people voted about that, they said no (to my distress…).
The fact that everybody has health insurance is good. But mandatory health insurance should only cover important things (not a damn cold…). And it should be the same insurance for everybody. And it should be managed by the state.
2. The Billag tax
This is probably the single thing that I despise the most about Switzerland. The Billag tax is here to pay for Swiss and Television. I do not have anything against this. But I do not watch TV and I do not listen to the radio. Actually, I do not even TV channels at home. I only watch TV Shows and Movies. No need to waste time with advertisements. And in my care, I much enjoy my music and not the crap that is generally the current fashion of music. I really do not understand popular music these days.
The problem is: Even if you do not consume any Swiss Radio or TV, you have to pay the Billag tax. This is nonsense. The tax is 450 CHF per year. Entirely wasted. And the worse is that we could have changed this. In 2018, we had to vote to cancel this tax. The Swiss people refused to let of a tax. We actually like paying tax in Switzerland it seems! The only good thing about this vote is that the tax is going to be reduced to 365 CHF starting from 2019. Still too much, but a small saving nevertheless.
3. Real Estate in Switzerland
I am not fond of Switzerland Real Estate. Houses are extremely expensive. In my region, you rent a four bedroom villa for about 2000 CHF. You can buy it for at least 600’000 CHF. And these are the lowest price here. And my region is not very expensive compared to some parts of Switzerland. That is already a price-to-rent ratio of 25. Which is considered high already. Some regions and cities have much higher price-to-rent ratios. There is another big issue of owning a house in Switzerland. Even if you live in your house, you pay a tax as if you were getting a rent out of it. It does not make sense. No wonders Switzerland is one of the country with the lowest home owners. The only advantage is that home loans are currently very low.
Even renting is very expensive here. And what I dislike the most is that mostly owners are protected. The rental leases are highly binding. You can only change apartment on set dates around twice a year. And you have to pay a big guarantee for the rent. In Switzerland, rent are indexed to a reference interest rate. If the reference goes down, rents should go down. But you have to ask for the going down. It means that hundreds of thousands of people are paying too much because they never ask for the reduction of rent. I can guarantee you that once the reference goes up, all the rents will go up without having to ask for it…
Overall, renting and buying a house in Switzerland is very expensive. And eve with very low-interest rates, it is not a very good investment to buy a house in Switzerland. Currently, I do not think it is a smart investment move to buy a house in Switzerland for living in. If it is the only way to live exactly where you want, it is another story. And if you buy to rent to other persons, it could be interesting. I am not entirely set on this subject. I just do not like the current state of real estate in Switzerland.
4. Swiss Public Transportation
I hate Swiss Public Transportation system. I did not realize this until I went to other countries. It is not the worse quality for sure. But the price is insane. It is not public transportation, it is rich transportation. To go from my home to the city center, it cost 7.60 CHF. It is only a 20 minutes trip. And if I want to go back, I have to pay it again. No return ticket… Come on! Trains are even more expensive. A return ticket from my city (Fribourg) cost 84 CHF! That is a one hour and a half train. If you do not have an all-inclusive subscription, it is always better to take your car.
I am not the only one thinking like this. I have discussed this issue with many of my friends. They all think the same. If you live somewhere you need to have a car, it is pointless to take the public transportation. Even going to the airport and paying the parking for several days is cheaper than going in train.
I have tried the public transportation in Paris, in Berlin, in the US and in China. Everywhere it is better than in Switzerland. Our buses are changed way too regularly. But who cares if the bus has new seats every year… If I could pay 5 times less and take a bus that was 20 years old, I would! Another big problem in my opinion is for the train company. Before it was a public company from the state. Now it is a private company, but principally by the state. So the state is forcing the company to make profit for the state. In many countries, the state is actually financing the public transportation to be public.
So yes, trains are always on time. Yes, they are generally clean and comfortable. But the price you pay for this premium is just insane. Everybody wants you to take public transportation, but nobody wants to lower its price…
5. Swiss Banks
Most foreigners are aware of Swiss banks. They have been know to be a tax heaven for many years. Although this is not entirely true anymore. This makes most foreigners think that Swiss banks are great. But they are not. In fact, Swiss bank offer is quite poor. Fees are high and interests are low.
Currently, Switzerland bonds have a negative interest. And the best interest rate you can currently get in Switzerland in a savings accounts is 0.5% but only under certain conditions. And checking accounts have up to 0.05% interest. Awesome, right ? And it has been going down for a while now. Several banks are thinking of applying negative interest rates. Even third pillar accounts (retirement account) have incredibly low interests.
And the offer for credit cards is not very great either. They offer very low bonus or very high fees. When you compare with the US, it is really a joke.
Only my emergency fund is in a bank account. If I find a better yielding account, I will switch to another bank. If they start with negative interest rate, I will invest most of it to avoid the negative yield.
These are the things I hate about Switzerland. The public transportation system is probably the one thing I dislike the most about Switzerland. It is simply way too expensive. It is too fancy. I am also very vocal against the Billag tax. It is probably the bill that I hate paying the most every year. Because you pay for it even if you do not use any of the service it is used to finance. As for real estate and the health insurance system, it is really too expensive. It is very hard to become a house owner in Switzerland compared to many countries. And finally, Swiss banks have an international reputation, but they do not offer anything good to normal citizens. They are just rich banks for the rich.
However, these things are far from enough to make me not like Switzerland. I like living in Switzerland a lot. I like the mountains, the lakes, the calm, the chocolate, the cheese and many other things. However, I wish these five things could be improved. You may have noticed that I did not mention the expensiveness of Switzerland. I think it is not so bad because salaries are also high. And if you look for it, you can find cheap things in Switzerland :)
If you are interested, you can also read about the 11 things I love about Switzerland ;)
Do you agree with me ? Is there something else you hate about Switzerland ?