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VERDICT: How to save money when raising children in Switzerland

We asked you about raising children in Switzerland - where the biggest costs lie and where to save. You gave us plenty of specific tips - as well as some important big-picture advice.

VERDICT: How to save money when raising children in Switzerland
Image: PATRIK STOLLARZ / AFP

You don’t need to be a parent to know it’s expensive to raise kids in Switzerland – heck, you don’t even need to be a Swiss resident to be aware of the cost of living pressures in the Confoederatio Helvetica

READ: Everything you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland

We reached out to our most valuable resource – our readers – to get an idea of the true nature of raising kids in Switzerland, as well as to get an idea on how to save. 

From minimising family holidays to ordering clothes online, here’s what you said about how to keep costs down while raising kids in Switzerland. 

Kids in Switzerland: How much does it really cost

The first question we asked was about whether or not the rumours were true, i.e. was Switzerland actually expensive for raising children or whether the costs of doing so had been exaggerated. 

Perhaps surprisingly, the responses were shared relatively evenly across the spectrum – although our option “It’s just a myth, it’s not expensive at all” attracted zero percent of the response. 

The rest of our responses however showed an even split, with a third of respondents each saying Switzerland was “incredibly expensive”, “expensive” or “manageable, if you know how”. 

How does Switzerland compare?

Raising children is never cheap, so we asked if our readers could compare Switzerland to abroad. 

Most of our respondents said that the cost in Switzerland was comparable with other expensive countries, like the US, Denmark and Belgium. 

The biggest cost was childcare – an issue we’ve covered previously on The Local. 

Study: Shortage of childcare a problem in Switzerland

One respondent, Margaret, said that the additional costs were not offset by the higher wages. 

“It is much more expensive, salary here might be three times (elsewhere) but kids’ costs are more than six times for pre-kindergarten and ten times for school! Crazy!”

Another, Charlotte, had some simple advice: “Switzerland is too expensive for kids”. 

How to save with kids

So, is a life of ruinous poverty inevitable once that pregnancy test result comes back positive? 

Some of our readers answered in the affirmative. MK told us “(there are) no savings with kids”. 

Another told us that saving money was not an option. “It is impossible as if you try to provide for child, such as sport or private lessons, you cannot save money – those things are essential for me and my kids.”

Others, however, said that it was possible to raise happy kids and also save on things like public transport and clothes. 

“Definitely get the SBB Junior Karte. For 30CHF/year, your child travels with you for no extra cost,” Judy said. 

Photo: Depositphotos

Clara said integration was essential for anyone who wanted to save. 

“Do everything local! Learn the language and integrate with the Swiss. Occasionally shopping in Germany helps, but is not a must. There are so many free kids indoor and outdoor facilities in Basel, I cannot ask for more!”

Marta said it was definitely possible – albeit with a fair amount of organisation. 

“Browsing second-hand shops, buying and selling on internet second-hand sites, always looking out for reduced and sale items eg. reduced Christmas wrapping paper in January,” Marta said. 

“Child activity car-sharing, washing machine and dishwasher on after 21h (for a) cheaper rate of electricity… checking the time/day of half-price supermarket items…many bakeries sell previous day’s bread half-price.”

Otherwise, expensive – and not so expensive – extracurricular activities were the next to go, with family events, amusement park visits and holidays among the most frequently sacrificed by our readers. 

READ MORE: Zurich the ‘world’s most expensive city for dating’

What more could be done?

Aside from winning the Swiss Lotto or raising the next Roger Federer, what more can be done to reduce cost pressures for parents in Switzerland? 

Our readers called upon the government to grant additional subsidies – whether in the form of cash payments or tax exemptions – for parents with young children. 

Children in kindergarten. Image: Depositphotos

Charlotte called upon the government to “Reduce the cost of daycare, subsidise babysitters in case of sickness (and provide a) higher monthly children money payment.” 

Childcare was a big cost for many of our readers. Another respondent said that Swiss authorities should “make childcare like Kita free of charge.”

Judy said that the parental leave scheme should be expanded and improved. “Better parental leave, longer periods and with full pay, like Scandinavian countries. Make childcare a priority with more room for more kids.”

Tell me more, tell me more…

Is there anything we’ve missed? Drop us a comment on social media or in the comment section below to let us know your tips for raising kids in Switzerland. If you’d prefer to talk to us directly, send us an email at [email protected].

A version of this story was originally published in November 2019. 

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COST OF LIVING

Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

Sure, there are many adverts on the internet that claim to offer cheaper this and that, but more often than not, clicking on the link could cost you even more money (and time). However, there are also credible sites in Switzerland that will actually help you spend less.

Six no-gimmick websites that help you save money in Switzerland

When you live in an expensive country like Switzerland, getting more bang for your buck (or franc) may seem like an impossible feat.

Some residents of border areas save money by shopping for groceries in France, Italy, or Germany, where most products are much cheaper.

But not everyone in Switzerland has access to these stores and some people may actually prefer to support their own economy, even if it costs more.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the cost of living in Switzerland

These six sites will not help you save money on everything, but they will help you in that direction.

Comparis.ch is an independent comparison platform that provides well-researched and impartial information on best deals in a variety of areas.

They include lowest prices for insurance (health, life, travel, car, and others); properties (including loans and mortgages); vehicles; and mobile phone and internet plans.

You can also find price comparison for various electronics; toys; beauty and wellness services; car and motorcycle accessories, and other products and services.

Moneyland.ch is another, though similar, cost comparison website, where lowest prices for banking, insurance and telecom services can be found.

Like Comparis, Moneyland will often produce reports ranking certain products and services, such as healthcare and insurance plans, which can give you a valuable insight on how to save in Switzerland. 

We can’t tell you which of the two resources is better; visit both and see which one fits your needs. Both have a English-language pages, as well as producing reports in Switzerland’s national languages. 

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

Toppreise.ch

This comprehensive portal also lists prices for hundreds of products in a wide range of categories, including electronics; household items, and appliances; clothing and jewellery; and even wine.

You can get good deals on wine if you look around. Image by Holger Detje from Pixabay

Bonus.ch

This site compares prices of items ranging from foods to body care products at Coop, Migros, and Lidl.

The prices may not always be up to date (and may change as the war in Ukraine and inflation progress), but the site will nevertheless give you a good idea of which products are cheapest where.

READ MORE: 13 things that are actually ‘cheaper’ in Switzerland

Consumer sites

While these websites aim primarily at protecting and defending consumer rights, they also have some useful information on how to save money on various purchases.

For instance, the Swiss-German chapter, Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz has advice on how to save on customs taxes when purchasing goods online in foreign countries.

In the French speaking cantons, Féderation  Romande des Consommateurs has information on where in the region you can pick your own strawberries and save money while doing so, and in Ticino, Associazione consumatrici e consumatori della Svizzera italiana has similar information.

If you visit these consumer sites regularly, you will find helpful advice on how and where to spend less on certain products and services at that particular time.

Find out where picking your own strawberries will save you money. Photo: Anna Tarazevich / Pexels

And then there is this…
 
If you want to know how much the price of communal services such as water and waste management is in your commune and how it compares with other Swiss municipalities, you can check it out on this official government website.
 
It doesn’t tell you per se how to save money on these services but it is a useful resource nevertheless.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Why is Switzerland so expensive?

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