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Everything that changes in Switzerland in March 2020

Coronavirus dominates the news and the changes scheduled in Switzerland in March. But there is some good news on the horizon as well.

Everything that changes in Switzerland in March 2020
SWISS airline is restricting flights to and from Italy in March. Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP

Better internal rail travels and improved connections between Switzerland and Italy

On the night of March 1st, the seven-month test phase started on The Ceneri base tunnel in Ticino. If successful, a new train service linking Zurich with Milan will begin in December.

READ: How the new Léman Express train link will ease Geneva's traffic woes 

New parliamentary session

The parliament is starting its spring session on March 2nd, with 246 deputies convening in the two chambers of the Federal Assembly. But spectators and lobbyists will not be allowed to participate in the discussions to respect the government guidelines limiting public gatherings to less than 1,000 people. 

Depending on the coronavirus situation in the country, Swiss government will decide on March 15th whether to lift, modify, or extend the restrictions on large public events.

READ MORE: LATEST: More cases of coronavirus confirmed in Switzerland

Coronavirus impacts air traffic

SWISS is reducing the frequencies of its services to and from Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice. It is also restricting flights to Milan, Bologna, Turin, Verona, Venice, Trieste and Genoa. These changes will be in place until the end of March.

The taxman cometh!

Tax declarations are due on March 15th at the latest for Swiss residents. For cross-border workers, the rules may vary, depending on their country of residence.

READ: Everything that changes in Switzerland in February 2020 

Good news for Swiss tenants

Starting this week, the benchmark interest rate applicable to lease contracts has been lowered by 0.25 percentage points to 1.25 percent, the Federal Housing Office announced.

Under certain conditions, tenants will be able to claim a reduction in rent of almost 3 percent

READ MORE: This is how much it costs you to change apartments in Switzerland’s cities

An estimated 2.2 million households in Switzerland are able to apply for a rent reduction – although only a fraction of those eligible are expected to apply for it. The Swiss Tenants Association (MV) has prepared a sample form which can be filled out to lodge a request. 

New parking tickets in Zurich

As of March 1st, parking police in Zurich will no longer issue paper tickets. Instead, they will leave a slip with a QR code on it. 

When the QR code is scanned on a smart phone or other device, the amount can be paid. 

While this may make things more convenient, observers have warned that the QR codes are easier to forge. Police have warned motorists to check that the slip looks official – i.e. with a hologram and colouring/design – and to pay their fines only at official sites. 

Traveling to France with kids will get cheaper

From March 23rd to May 17th, children up to age 15 will be able travel on Swiss Federal Railways from Switzerland to France for a promotional price of 29 francs.

Bye bye winter!

Daylight saving time will begin at 02:00 AM on Sunday March 29th. Swiss clocks will go forward an hour as summer time begins


 

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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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