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COST OF LIVING

How disposable income is falling in Switzerland

Disposable income - the money left over after compulsory expenses like health insurance premiums and taxes - is declining in Switzerland.

How disposable income is falling in Switzerland
Photo: Depositphotos

Cost of living has become a major concern in Switzerland, with rising prices straining the budgets of many. The Swiss Federal Office of Statistics on Tuesday released the Household Budget Survey, which looks at household expenditure in a variety of areas. 

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

Annual household disposable income dropped from CHF7124 to CHF6984 – a decrease of two percent. Compulsory spending made up around 30 percent of gross average income. 

While this is an average figure across the country, the report also shows widespread differences between the wealthiest and the poorest Swiss. 

READ: The cost of parenting in Switzerland and how to save money

Couples with children average CHF9787 per month, while the corresponding monthly amount is CHF3417 for people over 65. 

The survey took into account responses from across Switzerland on figures from 2017. 

Where does the money come from?

All in all, the average Swiss household brings in CHF9917 per month. Of that, on average around 75 percent comes from work income, with another 20 percent coming from pensions and other social security payments. 

Approximately five percent comes from money made off investments, while the final 1.5 percent comes from spousal payments such as alimony/child support. 

Where does the money go?

The majority of the disposable income in Switzerland goes towards housing and energy, with CHF1463 (20 percent) spent in that area.

Other common areas of expenditure are on transport CHF742, 636 on food and drinks, and leisure costing CHF577. 

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Of the 30 percent of expenditure that goes towards compulsory costs, around 12 percent goes towards taxes, followed by 10 percent to social security and 6.5 percent to health insurance. 

Finally, Swiss households on average save around CHF1428 per month. 

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COST OF LIVING

Can I have a fire in my backyard or courtyard in Switzerland?

The winter months are on their way and the weather is getting colder. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard, can you light a fire?

White marshmallows toast over a fire
If you want to toast marshmallows in your backyard in Switzerland this winter, first make sure it's OK. Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Even if you own a property, the rules for what you can and cannot do in Switzerland can be relatively restrictive. 

As we covered in the following article, laws or tenancy rules can prevent you from doing several types of activities in your own backyard, including felling trees or washing your car. 

You can also be prevented from certain activities on particular days. For instance, rules, bylaws and tenancy arrangements may prevent you from mowing your lawn or hanging out your laundry on a Sunday. 

READ MORE: What am I allowed to do in my backyard or apartment courtyard in Switzerland?

As the weather gets colder, you might be tempted to stock up the fire pit, fire basket or fire bowl with wood and set it alight. 

The rules for lighting fires are also relatively complex. What you are allowed to do will depend on your canton, your tenancy arrangement and the type of fire. 

Can I light a fire on my own property in Switzerland? 

If you’re living in one of the few Swiss houses to have a fireplace, then you are presumably allowed to use it, unless tenancy regulations prevent it at certain times. 

You are also usually allowed to have a barbecue or grill either on your balcony or in your backyard, provided the noise and smoke is not excessive. 

READ MORE: Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Switzerland?

Whether or not you are allowed to have a fire in your backyard however will depend on the rules in your canton. 

You are generally prohibited from burning any waste in Switzerland, other than typical forest or garden waste (i.e. wood, grass, twigs, sticks and leaves). 

That however can also be restricted at certain times of the year.

In Zurich, for instance, fires in backyards are only permitted from March to October, meaning that you will need to find other ways to stay warm in the winter months in Switzerland’s most populous canton. 

Even if lighting fires is permitted, you may want to check with the rules of your rental contract to see if you are technically allowed a fire. 

What about fires in the forest or open parks? 

A campfire might also sound like a nice way to spend a winter evening, but this may be restricted or completely prohibited depending on the circumstance. 

There is no federal ban on fires in forests and other outdoor areas, provided you are not burning waste (other than garden waste etc) and you are not producing excessive emissions. 

The rules are the same on August 1st, Swiss National Day, where special bonfires usually require a permit. 

Note that there are special rules for burning old Christmas trees, which is prevented by law. 

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