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Switzerland: What can you expect to spend the most money on in 2023

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 28 Oct, 2022 Updated Fri 28 Oct 2022 12:21 CEST
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Financially harder times lie ahead for Swiss households. Image by Andrew Khoroshavin from Pixabay

Switzerland is expensive at any time, but next year promises to stretch household budgets even more, making you dig deeper into your pocket to pay for essential goods and services - here's which prices are likely to rise the most.

If you have got used to working out your household budget in a certain way, attributing a set amount each month for each expenditure, you are in for a shock.

You have probably noticed already that you spend more money on food and other common household goods than you used to. But this is just a foretaste of what lies ahead in 2023.

This is where the bulk of your money will go next year:

Electricity

Depending on where you live, your bills could soar by up to nearly 50 percent.

For instance, in parts of Vaud, “the vast majority of our households will pay 49 percent more than currently", according to the local electricity supplier.

Substantial increases — between 42 and 46 percent —will also hit Basel residents, as well as those living in Zug (39 percent).

In other parts of the country, hikes will be lower, but still significant — about 22 percent in Geneva, and 26 percent in Zurich and Lausanne.

How much more you will end up paying in comparison to your current spending will depend not only on your place of residence, but also on how much electricity you use — whether you will try to reduce your consumption as recommended by the government, or  continue living the way you did before the energy crisis struck.

READ MORE: What the Swiss government is asking you to do to save energy

Energy in general has registered the highest spike of all the consumer goods: 28 percent.

Within that category, fuel oil went up a whopping 86 percent, gas increased by 58 percent, petrol by 28 percent, and wood by 26 percent.

Health insurance

After four years of relatively stable premiums, the rates on the Switzerland’s obligatory basic health insurance (KVG / LaMal) will jump by 6.6 percent on average in 2023.

Many people, however, will pay more than that — again, depending on where they live.

The highest, above-national-average premiums will hit Neuchâtel (+9.5 percent), Appenzell Innerrhoden (9.3 percent), and Ticino (9.2 percent).

Residents of Zurich will see their premiums increase by 7 percent.

In Vaud and Valais, the rates will hover just below the national average, at 6.1 percent, and in Bern by 6.4 percent. Geneva and Basel, on the other hand, will see their premiums rise by a relatively ‘low’ 4.2 and 3.6 percent, respectively.

READ MORE: Which Swiss cantons will see the biggest increase in health insurance premiums?

Food

While it is almost certain that you will spend more at a grocery store, the exact amount is hard to predict as prices fluctuate based on a variety of factors, in addition to inflation and supply.

Generally speaking, up to now the price of pasta rose by 13 percent, cooking oil by 11 percent, and butter and coffee by 10 percent each.

Next are fish (9 percent); poultry, milk and yogurt (5 percent); bread and eggs (4 percent); and beef (3 percent).

Among non-foods, the price of toothpaste and other dental hygiene products rose by 12 percent, and clothing and shoes by 4 percent.

READ MORE: Pasta up by 13 percent: How food and energy prices in Switzerland are rising

Heating

Apartment dwellers will see their heating costs increase by an average of 100 francs per month, especially in buildings heated by oil or gas, or ones that are poorly insulated.

Not all Swiss households depend on gas for heating, and a possible gas shortage would hit harder in cities with large percentages of homes heated with gas.

For instance, in Solothurn, 65 percent of residential buildings depend on gas for heating. That proportion is 60 percent in Biel, 55 percent in Lucerne, 51 percent in Zurich, 47 percent in Bern, 46.2 percent in Geneva, and 43 percent in Basel.

However, this increase will affect some tenants more than others, depending on what kind of rental agreements they have.

That is because there are two types of contracts: those based on flat rates for utilities, including heating, and those — more common ones — where the tenant is responsible for ancillary charges (Nebenkosten in German, frais accessoires in German, costi aggiuntivi in Italian) that include heating as well.

In the former case, when you pay a flat rate for your ancillary services, the annual amount is fixed in your rental contract. Usually, the flat rate is similar to the actual costs incurred, based on the prices of the three past years.  

Next, year however, this calculation will no longer hold true for either landlords or tenants, and will likely have to be re-calculated to reflect the current energy crisis.

In the latter case, tenants themselves are responsible for paying the ancillary costs — either to the landlord or directly to the utility company, depending on the terms of their rental agreement.

"It is necessary to be careful and to put this money aside, so as not to find yourself in a difficult financial situation when the bill comes”, said Carlo Sommaruga, president of Swiss Tenants’ Association.

READ MORE: Swiss tenants face higher heating costs

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Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2022/10/28 12:21

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