Le News

Le News

The newspaper Le News is a free, quality, local English language newspaper launched on 31 October 2013. Le News fills a gap in local Swiss media for the numerous English-speakers living and visiting Switzerland. In late January 2015 we decided to put our print medium on hold and focus on our digital media presence.

Articles by Le News

Switzerland moves closer to taxing flights

A Swiss parliamentary commission, tasked with looking at the introduction of an environmental tax on flights departing from Switzerland, recently voted in favour a such a tax. A majority of 17 to 8 members voted in favour of the move. The tax would range from CHF 30 to CHF 120 per passenger depending on flight distance and class.

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Swiss National Bank expects annual profit of 49 billion francs

According to provisional calculations, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) expects to make a profit of around CHF 49 billion in 2019. Most of this comes from the rising value of the SNB’s foreign currency positions (+CHF 40 billion) and a valuation gain on gold holdings (+CHF 6.9 billion).

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Facebook’s Libra has failed, says Switzerland’s president

Facebook’s plan to launch its digital currency Libra is unlikely to succeed Ueli Maurer, Switzerland’s president, told SRF. Maurer doesn’t think central banks will accept the basket of currencies underpinning the cryptocurrency. “The project, in this form, has thus failed” he said.

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Swiss government makes it easier to get paid for work done on the train

From 1 January 2020, it will be much easier for Switzerland’s 38,000 federal government employees to get paid for working on the train, according to the newspaper Tages-Anzeiger. Until the beginning of this year, working on the train on the way to and from work was only rewarded in exceptional instances and even then it was only partially counted.

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Unemployment in Geneva higher than neighbouring France

In December last year, the Observatoire statistique transfrontalier published unemployment figures for the French region surrounding Geneva. French unemployment calculations follow the method used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which include all job seekers, according to Tribune de Genève.

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Swiss visit doctor less often than most of Europe

In 2017, an average Swiss resident visited a medical professional 4.32 times, according to data recently published by Eurostat. Only residents of Denmark (4.30), Sweden (2.77) and Cyprus (2.09) went to see a doctor less often. The average number of visits across those European countries with 2017 data was 6.84.

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Money for nothing – Swiss government gets paid to borrow

Imagine borrowing CHF 105,500 but only having to repay CHF 100,000 in 20 years time, including interest. You’d get an interest free loan plus an extra CHF 5,500 to keep. This is what the Swiss federal government will do on 20 December 2019, except it will borrow CHF 196.6 million by issuing zero interest bonds at a price of 105.5%. The government will generate a CHF 10.25 million windfall.

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Another month of falling prices in Switzerland

Swiss prices fell by 0.1% in November 2019, the sixth time in 12 months. But not everything is cheaper. Prices fell in December 2018 (-0.3%), January 2019 (-0.3), July (-0.5), September (-0.1), October (-0.2%) and November 2019 (-0.1). When combined with the low inflation experienced in the other 6 months the 12-month price drop is -0.1%.

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Some Swiss import duties could be axed

Swiss import duties on a number of industrial products might disappear if a plan put forward by Guy Parmelin, Switzerland’s economic’s minister, is approved by the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament. The changes are expected to benefit businesses and consumers by around CHF 860 million a year. On the other hand, the government will miss out on collecting roughly CHF 500 million a year of revenue from import duties.

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Switzerland’s skilled worker shortage worsens

At 30 September 2019, Switzerland had 79,000 job vacancies and 225,000 unemployed workers. This combination of unemployment and job vacancies can largely be explained by two things. The first is frictional unemployment, the period spent in between jobs. This typically increases when there is a lot of job changing. The second is a skills mismatch. Employers cannot find the skills they need among those seeking work.

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1 in 10 Swiss hospitals facing financial difficulty

Around one hospital in ten in Switzerland could end up in financial difficultly, according to a report by PWC. In addition, 37 of the 44 hospitals surveyed will not be profitable enough to remain competitive over the next five to ten years, predict the authors of the report.

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Number of jobs reaches all-time high in Switzerland

Unemployment rose in the third quarter of 2019, however, there have never been more jobs in Switzerland. The total number of jobs in Switzerland rose to 5.137 million at 30 September 2019, a level never seen before. The figure was 1.3% higher than at 30 September 2018 and 0.3% higher than 30 June 2019.

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Federal Council paves way for VAT refund on Billag fee

At its meeting on 27 November 2019, the Federal Council set out its plan for the refund of value-added tax (VAT) on Switzerland’s radio and television licence, formerly known as Billag. Between 2010 and 2015, VAT was charged on Swiss television and radio licences.

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French-speaking cantons biggest winners from next year’s fiscal transfers

The amount of money paid by “rich” cantons to “poor” ones will rise by CHF 61 million to CHF 5.3 billion in 2020, according to a recent government press release. The only French-speaking canton paying will be Geneva. All of the rest will see the sums they receive rise compared to 2019. In 2020, Geneva will pay CHF 275 million, down slightly from the CHF 300 million it paid in 2019.

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Swiss government cuts drug prices by 100 million francs

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) recently announced it had reduced the price Swiss healthcare providers and patients will pay for 257 drugs by 16.3%. These lower prices, which take affect on 1 December 2019, are expected to save CHF 100 million annually.

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Swiss remain the richest in 2019

According to a recent report by the bank Credit Suisse, the Swiss are worth more on average than the residents of any other nation. The bank’s annual Global Wealth Report calculates average net worth per Swiss adult to be US$ 564,653 (CHF 560,643) at mid-2019. The median figure was US$ 227,891 (CHF 226,273).

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Raising Switzerland’s retirement age – big differences of opinion

Switzerland’s government has long discussed the importance of raising the retirement age to ensure the financial viability of the pension system. However, it is not clear whether voters would support such a plan. According to a survey by Deloitte, an accounting and consulting company, raising the official retirement age might not find majority support among Swiss voters. Some groups are firmly against the idea.

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Referendum to ban tobacco advertising in Switzerland reaches 100,000 signatures

An initiative demanding a ban on tobacco advertising has collected 109,969 valid signatures, more than the 100,000 minimum required to launch a popular vote, according to RTS. The planned vote entitled: “Yes to the protection of children and young people against tobacco advertising” demands the federal government ban all forms of tobacco advertising towards children and young people.

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Swiss upper house calls on executive to end marriage tax penalty

In Switzerland, some married couples pay more tax than unmarried ones, something referred to as the marriage tax penalty. The issue has been doing the rounds of the halls of Switzerland’s government for around 30 years. On 28 February 2016, a vote to change the current system was narrowly rejected by 50.8% of voters.

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Vaud’s 2020 budget – higher spending, higher taxes

The Swiss canton of Vaud has managed to balance its 2020 budget with a small surplus of 76,000 francs. This is the 14th time in row that the canton’s budget has been in the black. At the same time planned spending is up by 2.43%, well ahead of Swiss inflation – prices were lower in September 2019 than they were in September 2018.

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Number of people with debt problems rises in Switzerland

The number of people with debts in default continues to rise in Switzerland. At the end of July 2019, 561,000 people, 6.5% of the population, were unable to service their debts according to the price comparison website comparis.ch. The figures, based on data from the credit analysis company CRIF include those who have failed to make repayments and are being pursued by creditors or have declared bankruptcy.

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No rise is health premiums expected in 10 Swiss cantons in 2020

Every year, Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) gives projections of compulsory health insurance premiums for the coming year. After years of rising premiums, many will be relieved by the small projected increases for 2020. Across all of Switzerland, the average premium is expected to rise 0.2% to CHF 315.40 a month.

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Geneva’s 2020 budget 590 million francs short

Next year the canton of Geneva plans to spend CHF 9,143 million. However, forecast revenue is only CHF 8,553 million, leaving a shortfall of CHF 590 million, according to a cantonal government press release. The canton’s finances have been hit hard from both sides.

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Swiss upper house rejects parental leave plan

Switzerland’s government been grappling with the politics of extending universal tax-funded parental leave for a number of years. Some are pushing for paternity leave for fathers and others for a shared pool of parental leave, which mums and dads can apportion.

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Tobacco consumption costs Switzerland 5 billion francs a year

Health care in Switzerland is funded by a mixture of taxes and health insurance premiums. Much of the insurance premiums paid are compulsory with no discounts offered to non-smokers. According to figures recently published by the Swiss association for smoking, the annual direct medical costs of smoking are CHF 3 billion (2015), or CHF 350 per person.

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Housing vacancies rise in 20 Swiss cantons

Recent figures show an annual 4.2% rise in the number of vacant homes in Switzerland, extending a trend that started 10 years ago, according to the Federal Statistical Office. At the start of June 2019, there were 75,323 vacant homes, representing 1.66% of Switzerland’s total stock of homes.

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New 100 Swiss Franc Note Coming Soon

The note’s design is inspired by Switzerland’s tradition of humanitarianism, represented on the note by water. The note remains blue but is much smaller than the existing one, making it easier to fit into wallets.

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Swiss Trade with Much of South America should Soon be Tarif Free

A deal agreed between EFTA and the South American Mercosur bloc, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, with a combined population of 260 million, is close to signing. EFTA includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Under the deal, 95% of Switzerland’s CHF 3.6 million annual exports to the bloc would be tarif free.

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Swiss unemployment down in second quarter of 2019

In the second quarter of 2019, the percentage of Switzerland’s population working rose by 1.1% and the percentage unemployed fell to 4.2%, based on the higher International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) measure. In the second quarter of 2019, 5.1 million people were working in Switzerland, 60% of the population. The number working rose 1.1% compared to the previous year, particularly among women (+2.0%).

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Swiss health insurers to send patients to pharmacy first

Swiss healthcare is typically ranked the world’s second most expensive, as a percentage of GDP, after the US. In Switzerland, compulsory health insurance premiums cover 37% of healthcare costs. Much of the rest is covered by tax payers and non-reimbursable out-of-pocket payments by individuals.

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Swiss taxis Europe’s most expensive

In a recent comparison of taxi fares across Europe, Geneva and Zurich were the most expensive. In the study, which focused on the total cost of a taxi journey from the airport to the centre of town, Geneva (€36 – CHF40) and Zurich (€63 – CHF70) fared better than Milan (€105) and London (€104), which had the highest total journey costs. However, this is only because Zurich and Geneva airports are close to the city centre.

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Swiss Central Bank under Pressure as Franc Rises

Swiss Franc Exchange Rate

Yesterday, the Swiss franc reached its highest level against the euro in two years. The EUR/CHF exchange rate reached 1.097 on 24 July 2019, a rate not seen since early 2017. Upward pressure on the franc is partly being driven by expectations of interest rate cuts by eurozone and US central banks. In addition, the franc is considered a safe haven currency and typically rises when global risk perceptions rise.

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Number below poverty line rises in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the revenue poverty line is income of CHF 27,108 (US$ 27,490) a year for someone living alone and CHF 47,880 (US$ 48,550) for a family of four. In 2017, the percentage of Switzerland’s population living below the poverty line was 8.2% or 675,000 people. In 2016, the percentage was 7.6%.

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Switzerland number one for expat pay and stability

In 2019, Switzerland came top overall in a ranking of destinations for expatriates to live and work, moving up from eighth last year. Singapore, which had held the top spot for four years in the HSBC’s list of the best countries for expatriates, dropped to second place.

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Swiss health insurance deductibles to remain changeable annually

One idea for containing rising healthcare costs was to remove the possibility of changing health insurance deductibles every year, making it possible only every three years. If people are able to switch from high to low deductibles annually then they can save money by opting for a high deductible one year, while postponing visits to the doctor until the following year when they opt for a low one.

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A family apartment in Geneva close to twice the price of one in St. Gallen

On average, renting a 4.5 room apartment of 100 to 110 m2 costs CHF 3,820 a month in Geneva. The same apartment in the Swiss city of St. Gallen costs CHF 2,004, 52% of the price, according to a report on rents in Switzerland’s ten main cities by the price comparison website Comparis. For an apartment of this size, Geneva (3,820) is the most expensive, followed by Zurich (3,073), Lausanne (2,850), Basel (2,660), Bern (2,600), Luzern (2,430), Winterthur (2,400), Lugano (2.110), Biel (2,050) and St. Gallen (2,004).

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Income inequality declines in Switzerland

In 2016, before the effects of taxes and welfare, the highest earning 20% of Swiss households made on average 40.8 times what an average household in the bottom 20 percent made, an inequality measure known as the S80/S20. However, after taxes and welfare, including low income support, health insurance subsidies, pensions and disability benefits, the same income ratio fell to 4.4.

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Steep drop in thefts in Switzerland

Comparing 2018 to 2012, thefts in Switzerland fell by nearly half, according to the Federal Statistical Office. In 2012, there were a record 219,000 thefts recorded in Switzerland. By 2018, the figure had fallen to 112,000, a drop of 49%.

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Swiss health insurance deductibles to rise automatically

Today, Switzerland’s parliament decided to bring in a system of regular increases in the deductibles for basic compulsory Swiss health insurance, according to the newspaper Le Matin. However, a plan to raise the the minimum deductible to CHF 500 was rejected by a clear majority.

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Why there is so much egg pasta in Switzerland

Strolling through the pasta aisle of a Swiss supermarket, someone new to Switzerland might conclude that the locals prefer egg pasta over the eggless variety. And, while that might to some extent be true, there is another reason.

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Average Swiss rent barely rises over 7 years

Recently published data show that close to 60% of households in Switzerland rented their home at an average cost of CHF 1,329 per month in 2017. Average monthly rents ranged from CHF 752 for a studio up to CHF 2,323 for 6 rooms or more.

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Swiss unemployment rate rises

There are various ways to measure unemployment. Switzerland’s standard measure looks at the number of people registered with unemployment offices across the country. By this measure Switzerland’s unemployment recently reached a 10 year low of 2.6%. Today, another unemployment measure was published. It shows a 0.1% increase in unemployment over the fourth quarter of 2018 to 4.6% or 227,000 people.

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Switzerland’s federal surplus even larger than expected

In October 2018, government number crunchers revised Switzerland’s federal forecast budget surplus up from CHF 0.3 billion to CHF 2.5 billion. Today, Bern announced that provisional calculations for 2018 now show a surplus of CHF 2.9 billion, CHF 0.4 billion more than last year’s revised figure. The increase was driven by strict spending discipline and higher than expected receipts, according to the press release.

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Nearly Half of Swiss Admit to Stealing


Either at work, at a restaurant, on public transport or in a shop, nearly half of Swiss admit to stealing, according to a survey by moneyland.ch. 49% of the 1,500 questioned in the survey admitted to pocketing something without paying.

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Half of Swiss happy with their finances

A recent survey suggests that half of Swiss residents are satisfied with their financial situation. 6% said they have trouble making ends meet. In addition, 28% expect their finances to improve in 2019. Fewer women (25%) are optimistic than men (33%). 18% expect their finances to worsen and 54% expect no change.

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Swiss unemployment lowest in 10 years

Switzerland’s unemployment rate, now 2.6%, hasn’t been so low for 10 years, according to the latest figures from Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). A weakening of the Swiss franc helped boost Switzerland’s economic growth, creating more jobs.

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Question of the week: do we still need a standard retirement age?

Reaching the official retirement age1 is an important milestone for many people. Some look forward to it while others dread it. Some dreading it would prefer to continue working either because they enjoy their work or would like the extra income. Some feel they are being systematically and unfairly labelled too old to work.

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Police Warn of fake Swiss Franc Notes

Swiss Francs

Since the beginning of December 2018 more and more counterfeit 100 Swiss franc notes have been appearing in the Swiss canton of Valais in and around Sion and Conthey. The fake notes, which the local Police say can be spotted if compared to real ones, have been making their way into circulation via shopping centres, kiosks and service stations in the Sion and Conthey region.

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No Relief for Swiss Renters as Mortgage Rates Barely Move

Apartments Zurich

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it remained at 1.50%. The last time it dropped was 2 June 2017 when it fell to 1.5%, its lowest level since 2008.

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Switzerland’s electronic motorway vignette to be optional


This week, Switzerland’s Federal Council decided the planned electronic motorway vignette will be optional. Drivers will be able to choose. Anyone wanting to drive on Switzerland’s motorway network must first buy a vignette, a road tax sticker introduced in 1985, which must be displayed on the windscreen. It currently costs CHF 40.

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Swiss Unemployment Benefits Cut for a one-day filing delay


Switzerland’s unemployment benefits might be generous but they are strictly policed, as one recipient recently discovered. For a period of up to approximately two years after losing a job, most workers in Switzerland receive 70% of their former salary up to a maximum of CHF 88,200 a year – the amount paid varies depending on circumstances1.

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New Swiss broadcasting fee starts next year

After a referendum in March 2018 threatened to axe Switzerland’s costly broadcasting fee, the government put forward a counter proposal, which was adopted when 71.6% of voters voted to keep the fee. On 1 January 2019, the lower fee contained in the government’s plan will come into force. Next year, instead of CHF 451, each household will need to cough up CHF 365.

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Investigating suspected welfare cheats – where to draw the line


On 25 November 2018, Swiss will vote on whether to accept laws allowing detectives to uncover welfare fraud. Currently, there is nothing specific in Swiss law covering the practice. In the past, investigators have been used to gather evidence on disability and accident beneficiaries. Between 2009 and 2016, detectives were used on around 220 investigations a year, of which around two thirds were found guilty of fraud.

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Swiss Divorce Rates Continue to Climb


By 2017, 40.5% of those married in 1987 were divorced, compared to 33.2% of those married in 1977 and 24.7% of those married in 1967. Divorce in Switzerland starts early. 9.4% of those married in 1987 were divorced after five years, as were 8.1% of those married in 1977 and 4.8% of those who tied the knot in 1967.

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Swiss Health Insurance Costs to Rise Further in 2019

Health Insurance

More bad news for Swiss household budgets was released today for residents of all but three Swiss cantons. Health insurance premiums in 2019 will be on average 1.2% higher than in 2018 across Switzerland as a whole. However, within this figure there are significant cantonal variations.

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Vaud to cap health insurance premiums at 12 percent of income

Starting in September 2018, health insurance premiums in excess of 12% of income in the canton of Vaud will be covered by the government. From the beginning of 2019, this percentage will be reduced to 10%, increasing the number of people who qualify and the size of the subsidies, according to the newspaper Le Matin.

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Swiss study recommends 38 weeks of parental leave

Mum and Dad

This week, a government commission gave its verdict on the vote, recommending two weeks of paternity leave instead of the four set out in the referendum’s text. Their commission’s main concerns are centred on the impact on companies and the cost of funding it.

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The secrets of the new 200 Swiss franc note

Franc Swiss note

Switzerland began updating its notes starting with the 50 franc note in April 2016. It then issued the new 20 franc note in May 2017, and the new 10 in October 2017. The newest note to grace Swiss wallets, pockets and purses is the 200 franc note, which was launched on 22 August 2018.

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Majority favours later retirement for women, according to survey

In Switzerland, the official retirement age for women is 64, a year earlier than it is for men. A poll by gfs.bern shows that around two thirds are in favour of raising the retirement age of women to 65. Only 16% are against the idea, with a further 18% somewhat against it. Men (78%) are more in favour of the change than women (54%), according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.

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TV Recording could be under threat in Switzerland


With TV recording there’s no need to miss programmes just because they’re on at the wrong time. And, when it’s time to watch them, it’s easy to fast forward through the adverts, something that can’t be done when watching live. In Switzerland, television recording is offered by big distributers, such as Swisscom, Sunrise and UPC. Broadcasters don’t provide it.

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Swiss VAT might rise to fund lower company tax rates

Historically, Switzerland has offered certain foreign companies special preferential tax deals in order to attract them. In response to international pressure, the current system is to be phased out replacing preferential tax rates with lower universal ones in the hope that these companies will stay.

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Swiss Offshore Wealth Management Sector still World’s Largest by far


A report by The Boston Consulting Group highlights the size of Switzerland’s personal offshore wealth management sector. Total personal offshore wealth grew by 6% to reach US$8.2 trillion in 2017. US$2.3 trillion (28%) of this was managed in Switzerland. The top three offshore centres: Switzerland ($2.3 trillion), Hong Kong ($1.1 trillion) and Singapore ($0.9 trillion) made up more than half (52%) of the total.

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Vaud Plans Tax Cuts


The residents of Vaud are among the highest taxed in Switzerland. In 2016, a single person in Lausanne earning CHF 100,000 paid CHF 16,050 in cantonal and communal tax on top of CHF 1,840 of federal tax. This was the fourth highest across all of Switzerland’s 26 cantonal capitals, and almost triple Zug, the lowest, where the figure was CHF 5,750 – see chart below.

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No relief for Swiss renters

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it remained at 1.50%. The last time it dropped was 1 June 2017 when it fell to its lowest level since 2008.

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Fribourg – moves to axe government pensions for life


Switzerland’s government is working hard to find ways to fix a looming state pension shortfall. Two politicians in the canton of Fribourg have decided to seek savings by attempting to cut lifetime government pensions granted after short stints in the job, according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.

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Switzerland’s vote to change its monetary system – sensible or silly?

Swiss franc

Sometimes Swiss voters are presented with questions that only specialists are equipped to answer. The vote on 10 June 2018 to change their monetary system appears to be one of these. On the surface it appears simple. Upon closer inspection it contains much complexity and uncertainty, compounded by a widespread misunderstanding of how the financial system works – banks do not act simply as intermediaries, lending out the deposits that savers place with them, nor do they multiply central bank money.

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Swiss Rail drops plan to put Wi-Fi in trains

Swiss Rail wifi

Swiss Rail has dropped plans to install Wi-Fi in its trains, according to the newspaper Le Matin. After a survey revealed that customers would only use on-board Wi-Fi it was free, the company decided there was no justifiable way to cover the cost, according the the newspaper. Swiss Rail is not prepared to bear the costs the mobile operators would charge them for the service and cannot not justify adding the cost to ticket prices.

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Disability welfare – fraud investigations expected to save 170 million

By January 2018, the number receiving disability welfare in Switzerland had dropped to 217,200, 40,300 fewer than in 2006 when the number reached a record 257,500. Switzerland’s Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) attributes the reduction to an occupational rehabilitation programme started in 2008, and disability welfare fraud investigations.

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Child care tax deductions set to rise in Switzerland

Switzerland’s Federal Council, or cabinet, plans to increase the maximum annual deduction for child care costs to CHF 25,000 per child, up from CHF 12,100. This would allow parents to deduct up to this amount from their income for federal tax purposes but would not affect canton and commune taxes. Deductions could not exceed the amount spent.

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Internships – Switzerland’s Young Socialists caught preaching one thing and practicing another

Intern Young Socialists

In collaboration with the Swiss union Unia, Switzerland’s Young Socialists have launched a protest against the exploitation of interns. To get on the career ladder, many young people feel compelled to take internships offering little or no pay. The Young Socialists are demanding interns be better paid. Recent data from the Federal Statistical Office shows that 23% of young workers (15-24) are on short-term contracts, 41% of them interns.

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Switzerland most expensive for meat


Switzerland has the world’s most expensive meat according to a survey compiled by Caterwings in Germany. The survey, which looks at meat prices in 52 countries, ranks Swiss prices at the top across all meat categories. On average, Swiss shoppers pay 142% more than the average across all meat categories.

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Some Swiss train fares to fall in June

Swiss Rail

This week, ch-direct, an association of public transport providers that sets ticket prices, announced there would be no ticket price rises in 2019. Instead the prices of some tickets will fall slightly on 1 June 2018. The price small cuts on standard fares in June relate to the shift from 8.0% to 7.7% VAT at the beginning of the year.

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Taxes – one in seven in some Swiss cantons has unpaid tax

Tax Debt

The cantons of Neuchâtel (14.7%) and Geneva (14.6%) have the highest percentages of taxpayers owing money, according to the newspaper SonntagsBlick. Fribourg (12.6%), Bern (9.5%) and Luzern (6.5%) complete the top-five. Vaud (5.9%), Basel-City (5.5%) and Zurich (2.4%) are further down. Aargau (2.0%) and Uri (1.0%) sit at the bottom with fewest with oustanding tax payments.

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Healthcare costs rise further in Switzerland


Statistics published today show a further rise in Swiss healthcare costs. In 2016, spending on healthcare rose by 3.8% reaching over CHF 80 billion, 12.2% of GDP. In 2015, Swiss healthcare spending was equal to 11.9% of GDP. The challenge of rising healthcare costs is not confined to Switzerland. In the UK in 2015, healthcare costs rose 3.6% to reach 9.9% of GDP.

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Swiss welfare recipient made to repay 173,000 francs

Swiss Francs

In some parts of Switzerland welfare payments are effectively loans that must be repaid when the recipient’s financial situation improves. According to the Aargauer Zeitung, a welfare recipient in the commune of Klingnau in the canton of Aargau received a bill of 173,000 francs after he came into some money. A windfall of 173,000 francs is rare, according to Rolf Walker, head of administration at the commune.

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Food consumes far less of Swiss budgets than it did 25 years ago

Swiss Food Budget

Comparing the most recent statistics on Swiss consumer inflation to those in 1993 reveals a steep drop in the percentage of spending allocated to food. When statisticians calculate consumer price rises they look at the prices of a standard basket of goods. In 1993, food and non-alcoholic beverages made up 14.3% of the value of this standard basket. By 2018, the percentage had fallen to 10.4%, a 27% drop.

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Swiss government set to remove ‘mariage tax penalty’

Marriage Tax Switzerland

In Switzerland, married couples file one combined tax return. Because tax rates rise in line with income it means that second incomes of married couples are taxed at a higher rate than those of single cohabitating ones. Those campaigning to have this changed argue that it is unfair and acts as a disincentive for second income earners.

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Raising Switzerland’s retirement age – like death and taxes

Retirement Switzerland

Last week, State Councillor Peter Hegglin (PDC/CVP) withdrew his motion demanding Switzerland’s retirement age automatically rise with life expectancy. He argues that Switzerland urgently needs to find a way to ensure the financial health of its pension system and raising the retirement age is the main way to do this.

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Switzerland’s parliament rejects plan to cut health insurance discounts


Switzerland has a system of compulsory health insurance. Residents must choose an insurer and pay. Those who don’t are automatically signed up and sent a bill. Other than shopping around, choosing a policy with an excess, a sum that must be covered out of your own pocket before the insurance kicks in, is one of the few ways to reduce your premium.

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Switzerland – a definition of middle class

Iakov Filimonov

A recent survey calculates 60.1% of Switzerland’s population was middle class in 2015, a figure that has remained broadly stable since 1998, reaching its highest in 2009 (61.3%) and lowest in 2013 (56.8%). But what is middle class in Switzerland? According to Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office, it is anyone living in a household with a gross income between 70% and 150% of the gross median income.

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Swiss federal finances – surplus of billions in 2017

© Jean-michel Feinen | Dreamstime.com

While many national governments, such as the US and UK, regularly spend more than they collect, Switzerland managed a CHF 2.8 billion surplus in 2017. In addition, CHF 2 billion of withholding tax is expected, which would push the surplus up to CHF 4.8 billion.

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Vaud – vote on divisive dental tax and care plan

On 4 March 2018, voters in Vaud will vote on a plan to provide basic universal dental care funded by a tax on salaries. The initiative entitled: Reimbursement of dental care, Pour le remboursement des soins dentaires in French, claims that 10% of the population avoid the dentist because of the cost. They also claim links between poor dental health and cancer, diabetes and premature births. Their plan envisages the creation of a network of polyclinics that would provide basic dental care, but not orthodontics, crowns or dental implants.

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Switzerland tops latest financial secrecy index

Kevkhiev Yury Dreamstime.com

While Switzerland isn’t the most financially secretive nation in the Tax Justice Network’s recently published report, its combination of size and secrecy pushed it into first place, the worst rank in the Financial Secrecy Index 2018. Size is factored in because it measures the damage a nation’s financial secrecy has on the world, says The Tax Justice Network.

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Swiss real estate risk falls two quarters in a row, says UBS

Regions with Price Correction and Exposed Regions

The UBS Swiss Real Estate Bubble Index declined in the last quarter of 2017, the second quarterly decline in a row. Prices are considered balanced when the index reaches zero. Between zero and 1 is considered a price boom, between 1 and 2 is considered at risk and above 2 a bubble. At the end of 2017 the index sat at 1.32, still in the zone where there is a risk of a price correction.

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Swiss cross-border shopping not always worth it, says study


In 2015, Swiss residents made 24 million shopping trips abroad. The average Swiss-based cross-border shopper travelled 69 kilometres to shop in a neighbouring country, 55 kilometres further than they did when shopping in Switzerland, according to a study published by Credit Suisse.

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Push to extend shop opening hours to 8pm in Geneva


The Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) in Geneva wants shopping hours in Geneva to be standardized and extended. In general, French-speaking Switzerland has stricter laws on opening hours that the rest of Switzerland. For example a Migros store in Zurich is open until 9pm every night except Sunday. A similar store in Geneva is only open until 9pm one day a week. The rest of the week it shuts between 6pm and 7:30pm.

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Swiss fact: nearly half of Swiss rental properties owned by individuals

If you rent a home in Switzerland it is more likely to belong to an individual than a big real estate company or pension fund. In 2017, 49% of residential rental properties in Switzerland were owned by individuals, according to Statistics published by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office. The highest rate of rental home ownership by individuals was in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino (71%). The lowest rate was in the Lake Geneva region (41%).

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Swiss rents could fall 10%, says UBS


In a report published today entitled: rents losing altitude, UBS says asking rents for apartments will probably drop by up to 10% over the next three years. Competition in the rental market is getting even fiercer. By mid-2017, 2.4% of all rental apartments were vacant. This level was last exceeded in 1998, when 2.8% of rental apartments stood empty, says the bank.

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Swiss VAT rate to fall in 2018

Toscawhi Dreamstime

The current rate of 8% is set to drop on 1 January 2018. Temporarily increased by 0.4% in 2011 to shore up funding for disability welfare, the rate will revert to 7.7%. The 0.1% difference between the new rate and pre 2011 rate of 7.6% is a new increase that will be used to help finance rail infrastructure.

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How much more you need to earn in Switzerland to breakeven

Recently published international price comparison numbers show just how expensive life is in Switzerland. The price of a standard basket of items, including food, clothing, accommodation, healthcare, transport, education and other regular expenses, was far higher in Switzerland than in the rest of Europe.

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Poverty risk high for Swiss pensioners despite high spending


A recent OECD study, which looks at retirement, shows the relatively large amount spent on pensioners in Switzerland. Switzerland consumes 11% of its GDP on retirees, compared to 9% across OECD nations. Despite this high spending, the risk of poverty is higher in Switzerland than across the OECD. According to the organisation, 19% of those over 64 in Switzerland are at risk of poverty, compared to an OECD average of 13%.

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Airbnb charges some customers more than others, particularly the Swiss


Many Swiss residents travel to neighbouring eurozone countries for their holidays. These countries are close and Swiss francs go far there. However, to get the most out of a strong currency you need a good exchange rate. If a Swiss resident presenting euro cash at a checkout in Germany or France was told they couldn’t pay in euros because they live in Switzerland – “I’m sorry sir but you live in Switzerland, you must pay in Swiss francs at our inflated exchange rate” – few would return. But this is what Airbnb does.

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Swiss village offering to pay people to live there inundated with applications

After the Swiss mountain village of Albinen hatched a plan to pay parents (CHF 25,000 each) and children (CHF 10,000 each) to move there, it has been inundated with applicants. Articles about the offer have been published by Time, The Sunday Times, The Sun, El Pais, and many other publications. Rather than celebrating, the picturesque town’s administration is unhappy. It published a statement on its website accusing the media of false reports that have created unnecessary fuss and confusion.

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Amazon coming to Switzerland

Amazon Prime

According to the newspaper Bilanz, Amazon has signed an agreement with Swiss post to provide rapid customs clearance. The head of postal customs, Felix Stierli, confirmed discussions with the company.A maximum customs clearance time of 3 hours will allow 24-hour delivery, one element of Amazon’s Prime offer.

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Where an average Swiss household spends its income


A recent report from Switzerland Federal Statistical Office shows how an average Swiss household spends its income. In 2015, the mean income was CHF 9,946 per month, including all forms of income and any 13th month payment received at the end of the year.

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Swiss still richest, according to Credit Suisse

1 Franc

The Credit Suisse 2017 Global Wealth Report, shows total global wealth rose 6.4% to USD 280 trillion in 2016, taking it to the its highest level since 2007, before the financial meltdown in 2008. Globally, average wealth per adult was USD 56,540. In Switzerland, the same figure was USD 537,600 (CHF 533,000), close to ten times the global average, placing Switzerland in the lead, if Iceland – with unreliable data – is ignored.

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Health insurance rise in 2018 even higher, according to new calculation

Health Insurance

At the end of September the Swiss government announced an average nationwide health premium rise of 4% in 2018. This government calculation is rather narrow. It only looks at the price of standard compulsory insurance, including accident cover, for an adult with a CHF 300 deductible. Price comparison site bonus.ch calculates that this policy configuration only applies to 18.3% of residents.

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Swiss government says it has a plan to contain healthcare costs

As next year’s health premium bills find their way into Swiss mail or email boxes, the reality of another round of price increases starts to bite. Earlier this week, Switzerland’s Federal Council unveiled 38 measures that will be considered as part of a plan to tackle Switzerland’s rising health costs. A final plan will be presented next spring, according to 20 Minutes.

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End of tax-free online shopping delayed by a year


Last year Switzerland’s government announced plans to change the rules on charging VAT on imported goods. Currently, most things ordered abroad and sent through the post to Switzerland that attract VAT of less than CHF 5, are waived through customs free of charge.

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Swiss government announces TV tax cut ahead of vote to eliminate it

Swiss TV License

On Wednesday, the Federal Council said it will cut Switzerland’s TV-Radio tax from CHF 451 to CHF 365 annually from 2019. According to Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, the cut is made possible by cost savings from simplifying the system and an increase in the numbers who will pay it – everyone will soon pay, not just those with a receiving device.

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The new 10 Swiss franc note hand mystery


The third in a series of gorgeous new Swiss franc bank notes will be released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on October 18th. The 10-franc note keeps its yellow colour, but most everything else in the design and construction is different. What’s most remarkable about the new bank note? Not the 40 centimes or so it takes to make each note, nor that each note is projected to last only about a year. Not the sophisticated security measures, including multiple layers of transparent and inked polymers, paper and other materials, plus other features embedded to combat counterfeiting – all this is done in Zürich by Orell Füssli.

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3 million francs of gold and silver found in Swiss sewers

Call it “dirty money” if you wish, because there’s about CHF 3 million in gold and silver found each year in Swiss sewage. But no one is going to get rich, according to a just-published report by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag). Recovering the estimated CHF 1.5 million in gold, and the same in silver, that passes through Swiss wastewater each year, wouldn’t be cost-effective, says the report. On the bright side, the concentrations measured pose no environmental or health threat.

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Talk of cutting Swiss pensions paid to foreign residents


According to Le Matin, Jean-Luc Addor, a parliamentarian and member of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), wants to know what savings could be made if pensions paid to those abroad were adjusted for living costs in those countries. According to the newspaper, after the rejection of the vote to reform Swiss pensions, Addor said that the rejected reform was aimed at guaranteeing the financing of the pension system over the coming years, as well as maintaining the level of payments.

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Swiss 2018 health premiums unveiled. Brace yourself.

Yesterday, the Swiss government released health insurance premiums for 2018. There are price hikes across the board, particularly in French-speaking Switzerland. Next year, the price of standard compulsory insurance for an adult with a CHF 300 deductible will rise 4% on average. The cost varies by canton. Prices rises range from 1.6% to 6.4%. Health premiums for children will rise by an average of 5%, more than those for adults.

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Survey offers clues to why Swiss rejected last Sunday’s pension reform


A survey by Tamedia offers clues to why 52.7% of Swiss voters rejected the pension reform plan that was put to a vote last Sunday. 20% of those voting “no” thought it was a pseudo reform that didn’t go far enough, while 26% felt it left too much of a burden on younger taxpayers. In 1981, when the life expectancy of an average Swiss woman was 79.2 years, the average time spent collecting the state pension was 15.2 years. Now an average Swiss woman can expect 21.3 years of state pension – life expectancy has risen to 85.3 years and the current official retirement age is 64.

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Swiss want TV tax cut by half, according to survey


Some who move to Switzerland might not be aware that they are almost certainly required to pay one of the world’s highest broadcasting fees. An annual Swiss licence costs CHF 451.10 per household. A successful vote in 2015 changed the rules on who must pay the fee. From 2019, it will be compulsory for anyone with a primary or secondary residence in Switzerland to pay it, effectively making it a tax on all households. At a new lower price of CHF 400 It will become a little cheaper.

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Housing in Zurich and Geneva only moderately overvalued, says UBS

The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index 2017 describes housing in Zurich and Geneva as only moderately overvalued. The two Swiss cities rank 6th (Geneva) and 9th (Zurich) in a list of 20 selected global cities.
The top eight: Toronto, Stockholm, Munich, Vancouver, Sydney, London, Hong Kong and Amsterdam are all classified as bubble risk. Only Chicago is undervalued.

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Geneva and Lausanne remain Switzerland’s toughest home markets

Home vacancy rates in Switzerland’s main cities have all risen over the last few years, bringing some hope to those looking for a place to live. The latest 2017 data confirm this trend. While these percentage shifts might appear big, very low vacancy rates underly them. On 1 June 2012, none of these cities had a vacancy rate above 1%. Zurich (0.29%), Bern (0.48%), Basel (0.13%), Lausanne (0.28%) and Geneva (0.21%) were all well below 1% vacancy rates

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Switzerland’s home ownership illusion


When 10-year mortgage interest rates fall to 1%, home ownership becomes a very attractive alternative to renting. A recent report on home ownership shows why home ownership remains out of reach of the average Swiss household despite very low interest rates.The report, by Credit Suisse, says that despite the strong desire for people to own their own home, fewer and fewer households are able to afford them as the years go by.

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Switzerland’s most expensive apartments in Zurich, Maloja and Lavaux

According to data from comparis.ch, Switzerland’s most expensive apartments are found in Zurich, Maloja – home to Saint-Moritz, and Lavaux-Oron. One square metre will cost you CHF 12,250 (US$ 13,000) in Zurich, CHF 11,500 in Maloja and CHF 11,250 in Lavaux-Oron. Lavaux-Oron contains posh parts of Greater Lausanne, such as Lutry, and the UNESCO-listed wine terraces of Lavaux on the shore of Lake Geneva.

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Finding a place to rent getting easier in Switzerland

A recent Credit Suisse report, entitled: Tenants Wanted, says capital continues to flow into Swiss real estate, boosting the supply of rental properties. Against a backdrop of negative interest rates at Switzerland’s central bank, investors continue to plough money into constructing new residential properties. At the same time, declining immigration has hit the demand for rental apartments.

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Number of vacant homes rises again in Vaud

At 1 June 2017, 3,650 empty homes, of which 2,655 were for rent and 995 for sale, were on the market in Vaud. This brought the vacancy rate to 0.9%, a rise of 0.1% compared to the year before. This rise follows an increase of 0.1% in 2016 from a rate of 0.7% in 2015. The market is considered balanced when the vacancy rate reaches 1.5%. The last time it was above this mark in Vaud was in 1999.

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Swiss franc outstrips other currencies over last 117 years

Recent analysis by Credit Suisse, London Business School and Cambridge Judge Business School shows the Swiss franc’s enduring strength. The reports says that for a small country with just 0.1% of the world’s population and less than 0.01% of its land mass, Switzerland punches well above its weight financially.

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Swiss Rail to launch app that lets you pay when you arrive

CFF Smartphone

Swiss Rail plans to test a new smartphone app that will charge you when you arrive. The app will automatically search for the cheapest fare once the journey has ended, promising users the lowest possible fare. The new app, which will be added to Mobile Preview, will be tested in 2018.

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Switzerland not the most expensive in Europe for some mobile packages

Yesterday, the price comparison website Verivox published a study comparing mobile phone costs across 13 european countries. On most measures Switzerland was the most expensive, and by a wide margin. A plan including 100 minutes of talk and 1 Go (gigaoctet1) of data per month costs an average of CHF 25 per month in Switzerland

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Mortgage reference rate falls opening way for Swiss rent cuts

Real Estaes

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it dropped 0.25% to 1.50%. The interest rate used to set the reference rate was the average rate on Swiss mortgages at 31 March 2017 of 1.61% which rounds to 1.50% under the rounding rules, which round to the nearest quarter of a percent.

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Swiss healthcare ranked third globally for preventing death

Swiss Healthcare

A study of data from 195 countries from 1990 to 2015 published recently in the medical journal The Lancet, ranks Switzerland’s healthcare system third. The analysis looked at mortality rates from causes that should not be fatal in the presence of effective medical care. It considered both healthcare access and quality and was designed with the aim of normalising for local environmental and behavioural risks.

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Big debts at 18 because parents didn’t pay Swiss health insurance bills

A recent article in the newspaper 20 Minutes highlights the nasty surprise some young people experience when their parents fail to pay their health insurance premiums. Turning 18 is one of life’s key milestones. It corresponds with the end of school and entry into a new world. In Switzerland it is also a health insurance milestone.

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Poor not being pushed out of Swiss cities

It is widely believed that as the price of real estate climbs those on low incomes are forced out of city centres. A study by the University of Geneva, commissioned by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office focused on the period between 2010 and 2014, shows this is not true in Switzerland.

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Swiss have never moved as much as they did in 2015

In Switzerland, more than a million people moved house in 2015, 12.1% of the population. The figure has never be higher, according to a report called Immo-Monitoring published by Wüest Partner. The home moving covered around 490,000 dwellings. Of those who moved, 344,000 stayed in the same commune (Gemeinde) while the other 659,000 changed municipality.

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New 50 Swiss franc note wins international beauty contest

The new 50 franc note, launched last year, was voted the best new bank note in 2016 by the International Bank Note Society, a society founded in 1961. Nearly 120 new banknotes were released worldwide in 2016. The Swiss 50 only narrowly beat the Maldive Islands 1000 Rufiyaa bill, Argentina’s 500 Peso jaguar, and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 5 Pound first polymer note.

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Fall in Swiss property prices accelerates

Over the year ending 31 March 2017, apartment prices across Switzerland dropped by 6.8%, according to a property price report published by the Zurich-based research and consulting firm Fahrländer Partner FPRE.

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A fifth of Swiss can’t cope with an unexpected expense of 2,500 francs


In 2015, 21.7% of Switzerland’s population was unable to cover an unexpected expense of CHF 2,500 within a month, says a report from the Swiss Federal Statistics Office. Single parent families were the least able to cope with 46.1% of them falling into this camp. Single parent families were followed by single people under 65 (27.1%) and two-parent families (24.0%).

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Swiss rents 40 percent too high, according to bank’s calculation

Rent-Switzerland © Elxeneize | Dreamstime.com

According to the bank Raiffeisen, if rents had followed the path prescribed in the Swiss Code of Obligations, they would be much lower. Their figures show that changes in interest rates have not flowed through to renters. If rents had fallen in step with mortgage interest rates they would be 40% lower than they are currently.

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Proposal to remove Swiss home-owner tax rejected

Property-tax-Switzerland, © Ronnie Wu | Dreamstime.com

In Switzerland, those who own the home they live in must add imputed rent to their income when calculating their income tax. This means owner-occupiers are taxed for living in their own homes, an odd concept for some who are new to Switzerland.

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Bank drops plan to loosen Swiss mortgage restrictions

Source: Raiffeisen

The bank Raiffeisen has dropped its attempt to reduce minimum deposit requirements for home loans, according to RTS. Last autumn, it unveiled plans to reduce loan deposit requirements. However, last week, the bank announced that FINMA, Switzerland’s financial regulator, was opposed to the idea.

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Those over 25 may pay more for Swiss health insurance

The Swiss States Council commission on public health endorsed a plan that could lead to higher health insurance premiums for those over 25. Swiss health insurance providers are required to pay into a communal pot to spread risk between insurance companies.

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Swiss fact: Switzerland has one of the world’s lowest home ownership rates


In Romania, 96.1% of the population owns the home they live in. In Switzerland the percentage is 37.4%. Home ownership rates vary significantly across the country. The lowest rates are found in the canton of Basel-City (16.0%) and Geneva (18.3%). Relative to these two cities, home ownership abounds in Valais (57.2%), the highest. Vaud (31.4%), Zurich (28.5%), Bern (39.9%), and Luzern (34.8%) are all in between.

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Swiss mortgage rates climb in 4th quarter


After reaching a historical low in the third quarter of 2016, rates started rising in the fourth quarter. Rate increases hit mortgage tenors of five and ten years. Compared to Q3, fixed mortgage rates on loans of ten years went up an average 0.2% to 1.62% according to price comparison website Comparis.ch.

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Swiss regulator does not want to loosen mortgage restrictions


Swiss financial markets regulator Finma is not planning to loosen mortgage lending directives, according to its director Thomas Bauer, after the bank Raiffeisen expressed a desire for looser lending rules. In an interview with Zentralschweiz am Sonntag, Bauer said that this could allow certain households to get mortgages that they wouldn’t be able to service over the long term.

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Swiss rents drop, substantially in the Lake Geneva region


Rents have dropped across Switzerland, declining substantially in the Lake Geneva region, according the the property consulting firm Wüest Partner. According to the firm, Swiss rents in the second quarter of 2016 were 1.6% lower than the same quarter in 2015. Geneva saw rents drop by 8.3% over the same period, while the region around Lake Geneva, known as the arc lémanique, saw a fall of 7.2%.

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Swiss home vacancy rate climbs to 15-year high


Switzerland has around 4.4 million homes. In 2000, 52,608 (1.49%) of them were vacant. By 2003, this number had dropped to 33,039, a vacancy rate of 0.91%. After fluctuating between this level and 1.07%, the rate started to climb in 2014 to its current rate of 1.30%, its highest level in 15 years.

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Swiss government plan to reduce doctors’ visits


Some Swiss politicians would like to focus minds on the costs of going to the doctor to reduce the number going for the most minor of reasons. Their plan would require deductibles to rise annually in line with increases in the cost of basic health insurance. Higher deductibles, they think, would put people off going to the doctor unecessarily, reducing pressure on the health system.

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