The cost of owning our house after a year

By Baptiste Wicht | Updated: | Investing

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)

Many people are wondering how much our house is costing us. But, it was difficult to answer that question before we lived inside for a while.

After one year spent in our house, I want to summarize all the fees we have paid. I only compare what changed. For instance, we still pay about the same electricity as before, so this does not change. But heating is different, and we have to pay for water, for instance.

Hopefully, this will be useful for people wondering how much it costs to live in an owned house.

One-Time Expenses

First, I want to cover one-time expenses. These are expenses related to the purchase of the house. We will not have to pay these expenses again unless we buy a new place.

Withdrawal taxes

The first expense we had to pay was the withdrawal taxes. We used part of our second pillar and part of our third pillar for the downpayment of the house.

In total, we withdrew:

  • 50’000 CHF from our second pillar.
  • 17’500 CHF from our third pillar.

When we withdraw money from retirement funds, we pay progressive taxes. It means that we pay a low tax rate for a low amount, and as the amount goes higher, so does the tax rate for the higher amounts.

As with everything in the tax system of Switzerland, we have to pay taxes at different levels. This system gets complicated very quickly. For our example, keep in mind that we are married and in the canton of Fribourg, the numbers will be different for each canton and marital status.

At the federal level, we paid 129.80 CHF. This tax was computed as a fee of 0.9615% of the total 67500 CHF. And we only have to pay 20% of that.

At the cantonal level, we paid 1’475 CHF. The first 5000 CHF is without taxes. The subsequent 40’000 CHF are taxed at 2%, and the following 22’500 CHF are taxed at 3%.

Finally, at the county level, we paid 1180 CHF. In our county, we pay 0.80 CHF for each  1 CHF taxed by the canton. So, 0.8 times 1’475 CHF is 1180 CHF.

We also paid a fee of 500 CHF for the withdrawal from our second pillar, AXA. This fee is outrageous, way too expensive. It is already a bad second pillar with very low returns and high fees.

So, in total, we paid 3284.80 CHF to withdraw money from our second and third pillars.

House Transfer Fees

The most significant bill, by far, we had to pay was the fee for the official property transfer. I do not understand how this can be so expensive. In my head, all they have to do is change a name on a few items on a computer.

In total, we paid 23’315 CHF for this bill. I still cannot believe that. This fee has two parts, some fixed fees, and some proportional fees. By far, the most expensive part is the proportional fees.

For the proportional fees, we paid 1.5% of the house’s value to the canton. And then the same for the county. That’s 3% of the value of the house wasted. So, this part accounted for 21’450 CHF. And the rest is all the fixed fees.

Notary Fees

Another large one-time fee is the notary fee. For our house contract, we paid 3400 CHF for the notary. Considering the little amount of work involved, that is already a high fee. However, compared to the land register, this is fair.

Regular fees

Now, I want to compare the regular living fees inside our owned house to renting our apartment. Regular fees represent the cost of living in our house that will pay for many years to come.

Some of the fees did not change at all. For instance, we still spend about 1200 CHF per year on electricity. We do not use more electricity in the new house, which is excellent. We pay about 400 CHF for water per year. This bill was included in the charges for the previous apartment and should be about the same.

Mortgage interests

When you own your house, you are replacing rent with mortgage interests. We currently pay 305.10 CHF per month for our mortgage. This amount is only the interest of our debt. Amortization is not an expense since it moves money from cash to real estate. Amortization is not lost and not changing our net worth.

These interests are really low. We are pretty happy about our 5-year mortgage conditions. Once it is finished, we will likely switch to a SARON mortgage. At this point, our interest rate will likely increase.

Over the years, this amount of interest will slightly go down since we do about half of the amortization directly. So each year, our debt goes down slightly, and we pay lower interests.

If you want to learn more, I have an entire article about mortgages in Switzerland.

House insurance

When you rent, you have to pay the insurance for objects inside the apartment and civil responsibility. When you own, you still have to pay these two insurances, but you have two extra insurances.

First, you have to pay the cantonal building insurance (ECAB in the canton of Fribourg). This building insurance is at the cantonal level, so you do not have to choose which one you use. For this, I pay 312.65 per year.

And we also have to pay a second house (or apartment) insurance for the things the cantonal insurance does not cover  (mainly the kitchen). For this, I pay 420.80 CHF.

So, in total, we pay 733.45 CHF per year or 61.12 CHF per month extra by owning our house.

Heating

We have a nice fire place in our house to complement heating system
We have a lovely fireplace in our house to complement the heating system

Currently, we pay about 200 CHF per month for heating. However, this is likely to change next year. We are expecting lower than 150 CHF per month.

The reason is that most of our heating bill is still based on the consumption of the previous owner that seemed to be using the heating system quite heavily. So, the bill should be lower once we learn to use the heating system better.

Nevertheless, this is significantly more than what we paid before (about 50 CHF per month). But we have a much higher volume to heat.

So, at this point, we pay about 150 CHF more per month to heat our house than for our apartment.

Taxes

Most people believe that when owning, you pay fewer taxes. But this is not correct, at least not right now and not for most people.

When you own, you can deduct your interest payments from your taxable income. So, this will reduce your taxes. In my case, I can deduct 305.10 CHF per month.

However, you also have to add a virtual rental income to your taxes. In our case, the tax office evaluated this rental income at 1217 CHF per month. So, this gets added to my taxable income.

So, in total, I have 911.90 CHF extra virtual income per month with the house. With my marginal tax rate of about 40%, I pay 364.76 CHF additional taxes per month because of the house.

In the past, this was often different because interest rates were much higher, so you could deduct more money than the rental value.

Renting vs Owning

So, with this, we can do a quick summary of buying vs renting in our case.

This table compares with our previous apartment:

Rented Apartment Owned House
Rent 1360 0
Heating 0 150
Taxes 0 364.76
Mortgage 0 305.10
Insurance 30 91.12
Power 100 100
Total 1490 1010.98

In total, we save 479.02 CHF per month by owning our house!

Does that mean that owning is necessarily better than renting? No! This summary only takes into account the direct costs of each option. But in practice, we also need to consider the opportunity cost of the downpayment amount. And, we should not forget about maintenance fees that can weigh a lot in the balance.

Also, renting such a house in our neighborhood would cost about 2500 CHF. And there are almost no such assets on the market (one of the reasons we bought in the first place).

Again, this is only what we directly paid during a year!

If you want to see the whole picture, you can see my article about buying vs renting in Switzerland.

Conclusion

This article should give you a good summary of what you can expect to pay for owning a house for an entire year. In practice, this will be different for each household since each house and apartment is different.

Again, this is not enough to say whether we should buy or rent. The goal was to share the numbers we now have after one year so that people get an idea of what they can expect if they buy a house or apartment.

Overall, we believe we had a good deal with this house. It is not an excellent investment for returns, but it will save us money in the long term. And anyway, we are happy in our house, which is what matters in the end!

If you want to learn more about owning a property, I have a guide on buying a house or apartment in Switzerland.

What about you? How much are you paying for your house per year?

Baptiste Wicht started thepoorswiss.com in 2017. He realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

49 thoughts on “The cost of owning our house after a year”

  1. Hi Mr Poor Swiss,

    It was with great interest that I read this article about your house purchase, in this case with the Swiss perspective. I also bought a house last year and the expenses are outrageous like the ones related with the property transfer. You really need to be “rich” to buy a house…

    In Portugal we have a lot of direct and indirect taxes not only when you buy the house but also every year. It’s the premium you have to pay for the “luxury” of having your own house… But In Switzerland taxes are really complicated, you have to be some kind of an expert to deal with it all or have someone to help you.

    Your house insurances are crazy! 733 CHF per year is a lot just for something that is more for peace of mind and that we never want to use.

    I see that your consider your house in the net worth value. Do you use this NW value to calculate your FI number? In my case I prefer not to consider the house in my NW and keep things simpler maybe because I’m not calculating my FI time since I’m not really concerned. If FI arrives I will know it for sure. :)

    All the best,
    Luis Sismeiro

    1. Hi,

      It’s indeed complicated and expensive to deal with this. I wish they would be simplifying and especially unifying between cantons.

      Actually, I don’t mind some of the insurance on the house. If there is a fire or something like this, the damage can be huge. It’s cheap insurance for this kind of cover.

      No, I have a second net worth number, my FI Net Worth. And I use this number of my FI ratio. Excellent question! And indeed, my house value does nothing for our FI net worth and FI ratio.

      Thanks for sharing, Luis!

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