Study: a fifth of Swiss spy on neighbours

More than a fifth of Swiss people make a habit of spying on their neighbours according to a new study.

Study: a fifth of Swiss spy on neighbours
22 percent admit to watching their neighbours. File photo: Chase Elliott Clark

The survey, conducted by a research company on behalf of, asked more than 1,000 people across Switzerland their views on spying and being spied on.

Some 22 percent admitted to keeping an eye on their neighbours using binoculars, cameras and cameraphones, or through the spyhole of their front door.

The most popular reason for spying was to check out a neighbour’s plants (28 percent), followed by how they renovate their home (24 percent), and the way in which they behave with their children (18 percent) and partner (13 percent).

Those that do the most spying are in the 15-29 age bracket, while those aged between 60-74 are the least bothered by what their neighbours are up to.

The survey also asked respondents if they felt observed, with 48 percent of young people saying they do, against a national average of 40 percent.

The figures are far higher than the actual 22 percent who said they spy, either indicating that the Swiss are slightly paranoid about being watched, or that fewer people admit to spying on their neighbours than actually do.  

People said they felt the most watched on their balconies and terraces, followed by the living room, the kitchen, the stairs and the bedroom.


Speaking to The Local, spokeswoman Nina Spielhofer said the topic of neighbours is “very important for most people” in Switzerland.

Still primarily a country of renters, many people live in close proximity in city apartment blocks and like to have balconies and terraces on their properties.

“You always hear from people, ‘yeah I think my neighbour is looking on my balcony sometimes’ and we just wanted to get more thorough information about that,” she said.  

“We were surprised that so many people feel observed, and we didn’t quite expect that so many people would be so honest and say that they sometimes do observe their neighbours.”

Spielhofer said they were also surprised that young people felt the most observed and did the most spying themselves, speculating that this could be because they are “the digital generation with smartphones”, technology which gives them more means to spy.

She also said how close people live to others was “definitely a factor” in the results.

Some 43 percent of people in cities felt observed, compared with 38 percent in the suburbs and 36 percent in the countryside, she said.

Those in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino felt the most watched, at 53 percent.

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In which Swiss canton can you find a rental bargain?

The cost of renting an apartment in Switzerland varies largely from canton to canton. Here's where you might find a bargain.

In which Swiss canton can you find a rental bargain?
Sign on this Swiss building says "for rent." Photo: FRED DUFOUR / AFP

Rented accommodations are most expensive in the Swiss canton of Zug, according to a study by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Average monthly rents for a three-to-four room property in the tiny canton, which is home to dozens of multinational companies, is 1,883 francs.

Due to its low tax rate, Zug is a major target for millionaires – with the most per capita in Switzerland.

READ MORE: Which Swiss canton has the most millionaires?

Average monthly rents for a three to four room property in the two cantons ranged between 1,486 and 1,508 francs in 2019.

In the second place is the canton of Zurich (1,663 francs per month), followed by Schwyz (1,612 francs) and Nidwalden (1,553 francs).

Geneva and Vaud are next on the list, with average monthly rents of 1,508 francs and 1,486 francs, respectively.

Where can I find a cheap rental deal?

In contrast, the same size apartment in Jura costs 967 francs — the lowest rate in Switzerland — and 1,000 in Neuchâtel.

The Swiss average for a three to four-room dwelling is 1,362 francs, the OFS reported.

READ MORE: Reader question: How do I challenge my rent in Switzerland? 

This chart shows how your canton rates in terms of rents.

For most tenants in Switzerland — 62 percent — the monthly rent ranged between 1,000 and 1,999 francs, while a quarter of households paid a monthly rent of less than 1,000 francs.

Switzerland had 2.3 million tenants in 2019, while 1.4 million people owned their homes.

An earlier study showed that residential property prices continue to climb in Switzerland despite the pandemic, having increased by 2.5 percent in 2020.

Both owned and rented housing is most expensive in the Lake Geneva region, which encompasses cantons of Geneva and Vaud.