No news here, Switzerland is expensive. You’ve probably heard this before.
Seriously though, I would make a withdrawal at the cash machine of an amount that might have lasted me a week at home and find myself out of cash within a couple of days. It just disappears.
Now that there is a financial crisis just knocking on the door, you should be very careful with your spending.
Now that I’ve convinced you that saving money is mandatory, here are the top 10 ways to save money when you’re living in Switzerland!
#10. GO CRAZY OVER FREE SNACKS
Everything free is worth its weight in gold.
About once a week there’s some sort of giving away in larger train stations like Basel SBB. Orange juice, sweets, milkshakes, pasta sauce, a towel, even Lindt chocolate around Christmas and Valentines Day!
Chocolate factories hand out samples but since they make you pay entrance, I don’t like to count those. However, the Kambly biscuit factory in Trubschachen lets you dig in until you explode. At no extra cost.
Trust me, you won’t make it through their whole selection in one go. Even if you arrive on an empty stomach.
#9. STICK WITH FREE ACTIVITIES
Nothing in life is free. Or is it?
You’d be surprised. If you pay attention and know where to look, you can find plenty of free things to do:
FREE THINGS TO DO IN SWITZERLAND
- Join a free walking tour in different cities across the country.
- Spend some quality time with the bears in Bern – figuratively speaking.
- Visit a free wildlife park in Zurich, Aarau, Winterthur, St. Gallen, Interlaken and many other places.
- Check out old towns, churches, and free museums.
- Visit the Appenzeller cheese factory in Stein and stuff your face with free samples.
- Join a tour of the Bundeshaus (House of Parliament) in Bern.
- Take a stroll through botanical gardens and parks.
- Head out to Schaffhausen and visit the Rhine Falls, Europe’s largest waterfalls.
- Take a refreshing dip in a lake.
- Hike until your feet fall off. After all, that’s what Switzerland is famous for.
#8. Get the monthly/annual ticket.
Swiss public transport is supposed to be one of the best in the world. If you’re a tourist it’s a bit of a scam with the prices of someday tickets but as a resident, you can take advantage of buying in bulk. For example, a day ticket for Baselstadt and Baselland was around CHF 17 (£11.60). A young person monthly ticket was CHF 50 (£34)
If you know you’ll be travelling further than your local canton regularly, you should consider a half-fare or a GA travelcard. I bought a 1 year half fare card for CHF 175 which then gave me 50% off all future train fares (and some bus and boat fares too) in Switzerland. I made back my money in just a few trips and have probably saved hundreds of Swiss Francs.
#7. Consider living/shopping across the border.
If you live near a border town, shop there.
Basel is right on the Swiss/German/French triple border and a number of my colleagues commute internationally daily or at least go over the border to do their food shopping.
Mövenpick ice cream? We all know that costs at least CHF 10 in Switzerland, but in Germany, the same thing costs the equivalent of CHF 3.50.
#6. Always ask for a student discount.
Most museums and modes of transport (cable cars etc.) offer some sort of student discount. I made a huge saving by taking out health insurance (compulsory for Swiss residents) with a company that gave student exemptions, SwissCare.
I was paying per quarter what others were paying per month. Most student discounts tend to be few francs off a museum fee or something but it’s still very satisfying to make a saving in Switzerland.
#5. Free coffee.
Starbucks is about double the already extortionate price it is in the UK and coffee tends to come in small cups everywhere else. Head to a mobile phone shop like Sunrise or Swisscom with a simple question and take advantage of the coffee machines for customer use while you wait!
#4. Taxes.Oh Taxes
You may have to pay a large amount of taxes if your income is quite high. If you can reduce your taxes, you will save money each month for the rest of your life.
There are only a few things you can do to reduce your taxes. The first thing you should do is contribute to your third pillar. Doing so can make a significant difference in your taxes.
The second thing is to make sure that you deduct everything you can in your tax declaration:
- Meals that are taken at work
- Costs for commuting
- Costs for formation
- Health costs
Another thing you can do is to make a voluntary contribution to your second pillar. If you are in a large income tax bracket, this could be a good investment. And you can also use your second pillar to bring some stability to your net worth.
If you want more information, read this guide about taxes in Switzerland.
If you have a car, it will weigh heavily on your budget. You have to pay for the gas and the maintenance of the vehicle. And you also have to pay for the car itself.
If you have a car loan or are leasing for your car, the easiest way to save money each month is never do it again. You may not be able to do it now, because you should not break the lease contract.
You will save a lot of money by purchasing your car in cash. And this will help you choose a car that you can afford.
The very best way to reduce your car expenses is to downsize your car. If you have a big luxury car, you may save a lot of money by taking a cheaper and smaller car.
Finally, you can also make sure you do not pay to much for your car insurance. If your car is getting old, you may not need full collision insurance, for instance. And you may want to compare the prices of the other insurances. You may be able to save money each month simply by changing your car insurance.
#2. Health Insurance
Another huge item in a Swiss budget is the bill for health insurance, but there are ways to reduce the price of your health insurance.
First of all, you need to make sure you use the correct deductible. Many people still use deductible other than 300 CHF and 2500 CHF. But only these two deductible amounts make sense. It is easy to decide. If you spend more than 1800 CHF per year for health expenses that the insurance will take into account, you need to take a 300 CHF deductible. For the rest, the vast majority of the population, a 2500 CHF deductible is the best choice.
Then, you also need to change your base insurance regularly. There is almost no difference between different health insurance providers for the base providers. Indeed, the law mandates the coverage of these insurances. There are some differences in customer support in some cases. But generally, you want the cheapest base insurance you can find.
Take into account that prices are often changing. And the cheapest insurance one year may be the most expensive the next year.
If you want, you can also consider changing your insurance model. There are some cheaper models like Telmed. With this model, you have to call your insurance in advance, and they will tell you where you should go.
Some insurances also have options where you can only go to one pharmacy. You can save some money with some of these models.
More tips about saving money on your health insurance:
#1. Book hotels last minute using rooms.ch
Planning an overnight trip in Switzerland?
Chances are you don’t want to go if the weather’s bad anyhow. So why not wait until the last minute and book your hotel on the Swiss Budget Hotels website, where last-minute rooms around the country go for CHF 99 for two people?
If you’re in a paid position, lucky you. Salaries in Switzerland are higher than the rest of the world for a reason. For instance, the fees for a luxury escort service in Switzerland are starting from 500CHF. Every once in awhile don’t focus on the money and just enjoy yourself.