Do the Swiss also complain about high prices, or is it only foreigners?

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
Do the Swiss also complain about high prices, or is it only foreigners?
Do foreigners in Switzerland complain more about the cost of living than the Swiss? Photo by Peter Lengacher via Pexels.

It is no secret that the cost of living in Switzerland can be exceptionally high and take some getting used to. Whilst this is an issue that mostly annoys foreigners, the Swiss can also be heard grumbling about high prices.


There is a widespread stereotype that foreigners often (and sometimes rightfully) complain about the steep prices in Switzerland, which often annoys the locals.

But is there any validity in this stereotype?

Well, to start off, prices in Switzerland are notoriously high (so they do warrant some discussion every now and then whether you’re a foreigner or Swiss).

This is due to several reasons, including very high average wages (meaning that businesses have to pay their employees more), mandatory health care, a progressive tax system and generous welfare benefits, to mention but a few.

But is it fair to say that the Swiss are immune to complaining about their country's high cost of living and that foreigners do most of the moaning?

In the context of this article, when referring to the "Swiss," we are discussing a diverse group of individuals with varying backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Our intention is to explore general tendencies within the context of high prices in Switzerland, but it's important to recognise that the Swiss, like any other group of people, are not a monolithic entity.

Wise to avoid being a chronic complainer

First things first, while it's entirely understandable that high prices in Switzerland can be a source of frustration (whether you’ve just moved to the Alpine nation or have been living here for years), non-stop complaining about prices will likely annoy your Swiss friends.


Complaining about a host country's prices, especially when living there by choice, may be viewed by the locals as being a little disrespectful as guests and hosts rarely share the same privileges.

So, while it's expected to have a moan about prices in any country every now and then – and especially during a cost-of-living crisis – try not to overdo it. 

Instead, it is always a good idea to focus on all the positives Switzerland has to offer, such as the quality of life, stellar healthcare, outstanding transport system and natural beauty right at your doorstep wherever you go.

Do the Swiss complain about high prices?

Let's bust this stereotype open right away - yes, the Swiss absolutely complain about high prices, and cost of living issues aren't a concern reserved for foreigners.

While the Swiss are accustomed to their country's high cost of living, it doesn't mean they are immune to its impact on their daily lives.

A quick browse online shows that many Swiss are indeed concerned about prices and cost of living.


According to an article by Schweizer Bauer, more and more people living in Switzerland are expressing their dissatisfaction and worries around high prices.

Price regulator Stefan Meierhans told the newspaper that he received 60 percent more complaints last year than then year before, with most people concerned about the high energy prices.

But while energy prices are a just cause for concern for many Swiss – and Meierhans received 2,368 reports (30 percent of reports) stating as much – healthcare (13 percent) and telecommunications (5.5 percent) costs also play on Swiss minds.

In fact, the price of healthcare and medicine in Switzerland has been a topic discontentment for years.

The Swiss often complain about high drug prices, as shown in a report by Tages-Anzeiger, yet their behaviour is somewhat contradictory.

Though medicine in Switzerland is considered too expensive by the Swiss (and is more expensive than in neighbouring countries), they still choose to buy brand-name drugs over generic, unbranded alternatives.

You’ll also hear some Swiss complain about the local prices after they return from their monthly cross-border shopping trip where the significant price differences will have been on full display.


READ MORE: The benefits (and challenges) of the strong Swiss franc

But Switzerland’s neighbouring countries aren’t the only source of price envy. If you listen closely, you are likely to hear some Swiss complain about cheaper living in other cantons.

It is no secret that life in some cantons (Valais and Jura I'm looking at you) can be more comfortable when you consider taxes or rent, and the Swiss like to let you know about it.

High prices are a legitimate talking point

It's important to remember that the cost of living is a vital issue for most people living in Switzerland, and both foreigners and the Swiss have equally valid reasons to discuss and address concerns related to rising costs.

The country's high prices are a legitimate talking point in the broader public debate because they touch on economic equity, social welfare, policy considerations, regional disparities, consumer protection, international comparisons, and much more.

As a Swiss person with many foreign friends living and working in Switzerland, I for my part, have not made the observation that foreigners complain any more than the Swiss do.

If anything, it would be the Swiss who are a lot more vocal (and confident) in expressing their worries surrounding current cost of living issues (specifically housing, healthcare and energy cost).

READ MORE: Where in Switzerland rent prices are increasing the most

High prices are a concern that transcends nationality and impacts anyone living in Switzerland. Therefore, the national debate on affordability and economic stability can only benefit from a diverse range of voices – as long as all participants voice their concerns in a civil and respectful manner.

What do you think? Share your own views about the subject of high prices in Switzerland in the comments section below.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also