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'Everything is expensive': What worries you the most about life in Switzerland

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Daniel Wighton - [email protected]
'Everything is expensive': What worries you the most about life in Switzerland
Photo: Depositphotos

From the rising cost of living to job insecurity, our readers told us what they were most worried about heading into 2020.


At the end of 2019, we asked readers of The Local Switzerland what worried them the most heading into the new year. 

The question came after the release of Switzerland’s annual ‘worry barometer’, which showed that pensions and health insurance costs were the top two concerns for the Swiss

With 2020 now marked at the top of our calendars, we’ve broken down what worries our readers - many of them internationals but also plenty of born-and-raised Swiss - the most about living in Switzerland. 

When asked to select which issue worried them the most, more than a third (34.6 percent) told us that job security was their major concern. The cost of living in Switzerland was second, attracting one in four responses. 

Pensions (19.2 percent), environmental issues (11.5 percent) healthcare costs (7.7 percent) and crime (3.8 percent) rounded out the list. 


Job security 

While Switzerland’s unemployment rate is currently the lowest its been for a decade, the greatest worry of our respondents was about job security. 

READ MORE: An essential guide to being unemployed in Switzerland

Foreign workers are particularly concerned, saying they lack the job security of the Swiss-born. 

Michelle, from Lucerne, said: “Being an immigrant, I worry there’s not much opportunity to move if I lose my job or if it is an unhealthy environment”. 

Securing long-term work is also difficult. Ewa told The Local that “getting an employment contract for more than a year is difficult”, while Shivendra said: “I am an expatriate and my contract is limited”. 

Hernan said this was a real problem, particularly for older workers. “I am approaching 50 years of age and it is very frightening when job tenures have become increasingly short”. 

Looking for jobs is also a major concern in Switzerland for foreigners. Swati said that qualifications did not seem to matter. 

“I am a third-country national, and even with two university degrees in Switzerland, it is impossible for employers to even look at my applications.

READ MORE: Swiss with ‘foreign-sounding' names 'less likely to get job interviews' 

Cost of living

Several respondents complained about the cost of food and rents, while healthcare premiums were also heavily criticized. 

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

One major complaint was about daycare costs, which when added to frequent daycare shortages in the country, have been identified as a major problem. 

Colleen, from Basel, told The Local: “We are expecting our second baby in April and I will likely be unable to go back to work (which I do now with one child) because my salary cannot justify the daycare costs for two children.”

Mihael, a programmer from Baden, summed it up succinctly: “Everything is expensive”. 

Rising worries or an easing of concerns?

Another question we asked of our readers was whether their worries were rising, falling or staying about the same.

The vast majority of our respondents said their concerns were getting worse over time, with a few others saying they were unsure or that they had not been in the country long enough to know. 

Image: Depositphotos

While some of the concerns were personal - i.e. a result of having more children or taking on a mortgage - in other cases blame could be laid at the feet of the government. 

Jovian told The Local that rising tax as well as inflation were fuelling concerns. 

“I am becoming more and more worried about these aspects each year as the taxes become higher, the inflation becomes higher,” he said. 

“I get taxed more as a foreigner which makes it less worth while to live in Switzerland with my family, as opposed to a more equalitarian culture like in Austria or Germany”.

Can we fix it?

We also wanted to know how our readers would tackle the problems should they have the opportunity to have a quick word with the Swiss Government. 

One frequent suggestion was for the government to step in and regulate the cost of necessary household items like food, while also restricting increases on childcare and rental costs. 

Another suggestion was to remove restrictions on importing cheaper goods and services from abroad, thereby creating competition to keep Swiss prices down. 

Kandati said a major change would be to remove restrictions on foreign workers, letting them help themselves. 

“They should not restrict skilled people to get jobs by not processing the work permits of third country nationals,” Kandati said. 

“It will be a big loss to Switzerland (if they leave).”

Jovian agreed. 

“(Switzerland should) have a uniform set of laws to grant citizenship to all EU citizens instead of double standards and stop increasing the taxes on the young,” he said. 

“Force the elderly to act responsibly and work if they need more money. 

“It would also help to give the young an option to opt out completely from the pension system. I can take care of myself better than the state can”

Photo: Depositphotos

What, me worry? 

Finally, we asked our readers to give us the low down on what they never worry about while living in the Confoederatio Helvetica.

Perhaps surprisingly, the results were incredibly diverse - with many of the responses contradicting the worries of others. Some respondents said they never worried about money, while others were not concerned at all about job security. 

Philippe in Geneva said employment prospects were not something which kept him up at night. 

"Job security. I'm not worried to risk to lose my job, and even if I do, I know I'd be able to find another one rather quickly,” he said. 

Others said war was not a concern - calling up Switzerland’s famous neutrality - while economic stability was also a load off plenty of our respondents’ minds. 

The number one response was by a long way “security”, with Switzerland’s low crime rate and safety first culture a winner. 

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And finally, Julia from Geneva said the number one thing she never had to worry about while living in Geneva was “being happy”, which has to be perhaps the best endorsement of Switzerland that we’ve ever heard. 


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