5 Things I hate about Switzerland

Posted on Categories FIRE, Spending, Switzerland
5 things I hate about Switzerland

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

Small houses in Switzerland
Small houses 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

Train next to moutains in Switzerland
Train next to moutains in Switzerland

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.

Conclusion

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 ?

15 thoughts on “5 Things I hate about Switzerland”

  1. I couldn’t disagree with any of those versus the US except for your complaint about health insurance being expensive. I pay $1309 per month for me and my wife here versus your $235. Excuse me but that seems ridiculously low to me, what you pay! The other stuff is high, sure, but you are getting a huge bargain on the insurance I’d say, by US standards anyway.

  2. I guess health insurance subsidizes hospitalization for does don’t have insurance. It is okay in my opinion. The problem with collecting taxes is they are never spent where they should be. That’s a problem with politicians all over the world. In my state additional property taxes goes towards funding unsustainable pension obligations. As long as there is a need based taxes …it should be okay.

    1. I agree that for hospital, health insurance is great!

      The problem is that people are using it for very small thing. Oh, I got a splinter, let’s go to the doctor, my insurance will pay… The health insurance should not cover this. This drives the price up.
      Yes, it’s difficult to understand exactly what is done with each tax we pay.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. “Oh, I got a splinter, let’s go to the doctor, my insurance will pay”. This is how it work in Germany. In Switzerland the deductible is there exactly to motivate people to keep the costs down.

        1. Hi Zoltan,

          I didn’t know it was the same in Germany. The problem is that some people are choosing the smallest deductible and still go to the doctor for splinters :s
          But most people are indeed not doing that because of the deductible! Which is very good.

          Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. I think what you are not considering is that in Switzerland salaries are also much higher than in other countries. And while we pay a lot for health insurance so do most other people, they are just often deducted in a different way – for instance in the form of taxes. Could the system be better and cheaper? Yes, but we also get a lot for our money.

    And regarind public transport I would completely disagree: Switzerland has one of the best and in comparison not very expensive public transport systems in the world. Have you been to the UK for instance? For the price of a GA here you might be able to travle in the greater London area for a year. Do you have a “Halbtax”? Because the price you show is probably the price without and the Halfprice Ticket makes sense very quickly. You can also get great offers with “Sparbillete” if you do a bit of planning. If you commute for work and get a yearly ticket it acutally isn’t that expensive per trip (and don’t forget that you can deduct it from you taxes).

    1. Hello Nina

      I’m considering this. I have a good Swiss salary that I guess would seem very high to a lot of other countries. Yes, some countries pay even more than us in health insurance. And some countries pay much more tax than us. We get a lot for our money if we use it. I never had anything reimbursed by my health insurance in more than 10 years. I very rarely go to the doctor. So I’m only using my deductible. And yet, the price still increases steadily every year. All this because some people are abusing the system and the system can be abused. We should get less and pay less. The mandatory health insurance should only cover very few things that people could not cover themselves, hospital for instance.

      No, I’ve never been to the UK ;) Interesting that the greater London area has actually more people than Switzerland. I’m sure our system is not the worst, but it feels really bad to use it. We soon have to take the train. We chose the train only because my previous company would not cover car fees for the trip. That’s their loss, but it ends up being about three times more expensive than going by car.
      Half Price plan is actually a great bargain. It does make sense quite quickly indeed ;)
      I’ve only used once sparbillette (supersaver tickets :P). My problem is that they are not always accessible. But they do offer nice bargains again. I’ve also used many times the daily cards from my county. For a reasonable price, I can travel all day.
      If you commute by work every day and you do a long trip, a GA makes sense, but it depends where you live. In my village, public transportation is very few times a day. I cannot use it for work. For people like me that have a car, public transportation feels insanely expensive because it’s always cheaper to take our car.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. One thing that I find extremely lousy in Switzerland (being a father of two) : (nearly inexistant) paternity leave.
    Most companies give one or two days only. One day to drive future mommy to the hospital, one to get her back, I suppose. And don’t talk about false alerts…
    According to the law, no day off needs to be granted at all for daddy !
    You usually get more days off for a wedding ! (3 in my company)
    That’s how Switzerland encourages parenting…

    1. Oh yes, I forgot about this one. I’m not yet a father but plan to be one one day. My company allows me 5 days paternity leave I think. I completely agree that this should be improved. At least 2 weeks ago for the father should be necessary.

      Thanks for stopping by JB!

      1. Oh guess what… They just updated the rules today… daddies get 5 days off too now in my company… dammit we were just 5 months early this year… :D

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