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Swiss Housing – the hardest and easiest places to find a home

2 days ago

Recent government figures show a 13% rise in the number of vacant homes over the 12 months to June 2018.
The number has more than doubled since 2009 when there were close to 35,000 vacant dwellings. By 1 June 2018, there were more than 72,000, a vacancy rate of 1.62%1
This might sound like good news for home buyers and renters, however it depends on where you hope to live.
The municipality of Horw_© Laurentiu Iordache _ Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
Drilling down to a regional level, home-shortage hot spots begin to appear. Greater Geneva (0.6%) and Lausanne (0.7%) have the lowest vacancy rates, followed by greater Basel (1.0%), Zurich (1.0%) and Bern (1.2%).
Drilling down further to the 392 municipalities with

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The hardest and easiest places to find a home in Switzerland

3 days ago

Recent government figures show a 13% rise in the number of vacant homes over the 12 months to June 2018.

The number has more than doubled since 2009 when there were close to 35,000 vacant dwellings. By 1 June 2018, there were more than 72,000, a vacancy rate of 1.62%1
This might sound like good news for home buyers and renters, however it depends on where you hope to live.
Drilling down to a regional level, home-shortage hot spots begin to appear. Greater Geneva (0.6%) and Lausanne (0.7%) have the lowest vacancy rates, followed by greater Basel (1.0%), Zurich (1.0%) and Bern (1.2%).
Drilling down further to the 392 municipalities with populations over 5,000, reveals even greater differences.
Three towns (Horw, Hünenberg, Bourg-en-Lavaux) have no vacant properties, 37 places have rates

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Some Swiss Rail ticket machines set to disappear

5 days ago

© Hai Huy Ton That | Dreamstime.com Ticket machines once replaced many of the people selling ticket from counters. Now the internet and mobile phones threatens ticket machines. As more and more people use dash past ticket machines with an electronic train ticket in their pocket, Swiss Rail is looking at phasing out some machines …

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Welfare fraudster risks expulsion from Switzerland

7 days ago

After listening to the culprit claim she had committed the fraud to help her family, the judge sentenced her to deportation, according to the newspaper 20 Minutes.
© Edward Olive | Dreamstime.com
For the judge, the woman’s latest act of fraud, claiming unemployment benefits while working, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This was the woman’s third welfare fraud offense.
She would have been deported earlier if she hadn’t been pregnant. Previously, her husband had been deported but returned to Switzerland in 2016 under the family reunification system.
Before the fraud began, the family had already received CHF 240,000 in welfare.
The woman, a citizen of Kosovo and mother of five children, who has lived in Switzerland for 19 years along with her parents, said she has no family in

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Some Swiss Rail ticket machines set to disappear

7 days ago

Ticket machines once replaced many of the people selling ticket from counters. Now the internet and mobile phones threatens ticket machines.
© Hai Huy Ton That | Dreamstime.com
As more and more people use dash past ticket machines with an electronic train ticket in their pocket, Swiss Rail is looking at phasing out some machines according to various newspapers including 20 Minutes.
The 150 machines selling fewer than 20 tickets a day have been singled out, reported Keystone-ATS. These machines will not all disappear. There are other criteria such as providing ticket access to children and the disabled along with the proximity of other machines.
Each machine costs CHF 30,000 and Swiss Rail has recently invested CHF 30 million in new machines.
In 2018, 38% of tickets bought were electronic

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New long-haul budget airline from Basel launches fundraising

7 days ago

The idea is simple. Keep costs low by flying point-to-point, thus avoiding costly hubs, use one model of aircraft to contain pilot and aircraft maintenance costs, and charge passengers for everything from coffee to checked-in luggage. Southwest Airlines was first to launch the model and copycats like EasyJet followed.

First transatlantic flight of an Airbus A321LR © Airbus

Now a new, yet to be named, airline plans to offer direct flights from Basel-Mulhouse to cities in North America, with flights to the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East and Brazil from several continental european airports to follow.
The venture, using the working title “Swiss Skies” headed by a pilot and three industry veterans, launched its bid

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Swiss agricultural policy costs households 2,500 francs a year, according to study

7 days ago

Switzerland’s agricultural sector costs the country CHF 19.9 billion while contributing only CHF 3.4 billion, concludes a study published by the think tank Avenir Suisse.
© Denis Linine | Dreamstime.com
The CHF 19.9 billion cost is made up of tax breaks and direct federal and cantonal payments to the sector (4.9b), the cost of artificially inflated consumer prices due to import restrictions (4.6b), environmental damage (7.3b), and the cost to export businesses (3.1b) from agricultural trade restrictions.
At 51% of farm receipts, Switzerland has the third highest level of farm subsidies in Europe after Norway and Iceland.

The cost of high consumer prices is based on international price comparisons, and the environmental cost brakes down into the cost of greenhouse gas emissions (0.4b),

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New long-haul budget airline from Basel launches fundraising

8 days ago

The idea is simple. Keep costs low by flying point-to-point, thus avoiding costly hubs, use one model of aircraft to contain pilot and aircraft maintenance costs, and charge passengers for everything from coffee to checked-in luggage. Southwest Airlines was first to launch the model and copycats like EasyJet followed.
First transatlantic flight of an Airbus A321LR © Airbus
Now a new, yet to be named, airline plans to offer direct flights from Basel-Mulhouse to cities in North America, with flights to the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East and Brazil from several continental european airports to follow.
The venture, using the working title “Swiss Skies” headed by a pilot and three industry veterans, launched its bid to raise US$ 100 million in Basel this week, with plans to launch in the

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Vaud to cap health insurance premiums at 12 percent of income

12 days ago

© Bernhard Richter _ Dreamstime.com Starting in September 2018, health insurance premiums in excess of 12% of income in the canton of Vaud will be covered by the government. From the beginning of 2019, this percentage will be reduced to 10%, increasing the number of people who qualify and the size of the subsidies, according …

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Vaud to cap health insurance premiums at 12% of income

14 days ago

Starting in September 2018, health insurance premiums in excess of 12% of income in the canton of Vaud will be covered by the government. From the beginning of 2019, this percentage will be reduced to 10%, increasing the number of people who qualify and the size of the subsidies, according to the newspaper Le Matin.
© Bernhard Richter _ Dreamstime.com
The new system will replace the current system of health insurance subsidies.
The subsidies cover only basic, not complementary insurance, and the money is paid directly to the insurance company, which reduces the invoice to the insured person. The subsidy is based on a reference premium rather than the actual premium, and both income and assets are considered in the calculation.
To qualify a typical family of 4 would need to earn less than

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Switzerland ranked 11th for global arms exports

14 days ago

In 2016, Switzerland exported CHF 412 million of weapons, according to the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO).
© Brett Hondow | Dreamstime.com
This ranks Switzerland 11th globally, according to RTS. The five largest importers of Swiss weapons were Germany, South Africa, the US, India and Pakistan.

Weapons exports made up only 0.14% of Switzerland’s total exports in 2016, said the SFAO.
The SFAO report said that all war material exports in 2016 which were checked by the SFAO were correctly authorized in accordance with the War Material Act and the War Material Ordinance.
At the same time, SFAO described how some exporters are adept at finding and using loopholes to get shipments to particular destinations. Tricks include shipping half made products to intermediary countries, granting

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Daylight savings likely to go in Switzerland

21 days ago

After a public consultation where 84% of 4.6 million people across the EU called for an end to daylight savings, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said millions “believe that in future, summer time should be year-round, and that’s what will happen”.
© Marekusz | Dreamstime.com
The European Parliament said it is “crucial to maintain a unified EU time regime”. This would most likely mean Switzerland would also drop the practice, despite being outside the EU. In February 2017, Switzerland’s Federal Council said it would follow neighbouring countries if they made the change, according to 20 Minutes.
Daylight savings has faced opposition in Switzerland over the years. In 1978 52% of Swiss voters rejected it. Most urbanites were in favour of it while voters in most more rural areas

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Young Swiss far less worried tech will take their jobs than in other countries

21 days ago

A recent report shows only 34% of young Swiss are concerned the jobs they take will eventually disappear compared to 79% in the US, 74% in Brazil and 76% in Singapore.
© Sheng Zhang | Dreamstime.com
The main worry is the impact of rapid technological change. Fear levels are mirrored in the response to another question: what kind of job would you like to have? Jobs in IT and tech are viewed as extremely attractive by the vast majority of young people in the US (75%) Brazil (72%) and Singapore (75%) but by only 43% of young Swiss.
In addition, Swiss youth are less likely to dream of starting a business. Only 39% say they would like to start a business compared to a majority in the US (56%) and Singapore (53%), and 45% in Brazil.
The report gives two hypotheses for why young Swiss are less

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Costs of owning a home in Switzerland set to rise for some

21 days ago

Currently, home owners in Switzerland must pay tax on fictional rent, calculated based on a home’s size and location. At the same time home owners get to deduct mortgage interest and home maintenance costs from their taxable income.
©-Stefano-Ember-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
The system was designed to bring the taxation of home owners into line with that of renters. The logic is sound. Renters must pay rent out of their after tax income, while homeowners get to enjoy their their homes tax free, a kind of tax free accommodation dividend.
But not everyone likes the current system. Those who have paid off their mortgages and pay little tax deductible interest are the biggest losers.
The subject has aroused

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Costs of owning a home in Switzerland set to rise for some

23 days ago

Currently, home owners in Switzerland must pay tax on fictional rent, calculated based on a home’s size and location. At the same time home owners get to deduct mortgage interest and home maintenance costs from their taxable income.
© Stefano Ember | Dreamstime.com
The system was designed to bring the taxation of home owners into line with that of renters. The logic is sound. Renters must pay rent out of their after tax income, while homeowners get to enjoy their their homes tax free, a kind of tax free accommodation dividend.
But not everyone likes the current system. Those who have paid off their mortgages and pay little tax deductible interest are the biggest losers.
The subject has aroused political debate for many years. In 2012, a vote to scrap this fictional rent for pensioners was

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Swiss Job Numbers Up but too Few Qualified Workers

23 days ago

In the second quarter of 2018, the number of jobs in Switzerland rose to 5.048 million, a 2.1% increase on the second quarter of 2017.
©-Catalin205-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
Regions rising the most were Lake Geneva (+3.0%), north west Switzerland (+3.0%), central Switzerland (+2.4%) and Zurich (+2.1%). Rises in job numbers in eastern Switzerland (+1.6%), Mittelland (+1.3%) and Ticino (0%) were lower.
Sectors with the highest vacancy rates were IT (4.0%), information and communications (3.1%) and electronics and watch making (3.0%). All were up sharply since Q2 2017.
Finding qualified staff was increasingly difficult in sectors such as electronics and watch making, where 40% of employers found it difficult

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Swiss job numbers up but too few qualified workers

24 days ago

In the second quarter of 2018, the number of jobs in Switzerland rose to 5.048 million, a 2.1% increase on the second quarter of 2017.
© Catalin205 | Dreamstime.com
Regions rising the most were Lake Geneva (+3.0%), north west Switzerland (+3.0%), central Switzerland (+2.4%) and Zurich (+2.1%). Rises in job numbers in eastern Switzerland (+1.6%), Mittelland (+1.3%) and Ticino (0%) were lower.
Sectors with the highest vacancy rates were IT (4.0%), information and communications (3.1%) and electronics and watch making (3.0%). All were up sharply since Q2 2017.
Finding qualified staff was increasingly difficult in sectors such as electronics and watch making, where 40% of jobs were difficult to fill with qualified graduates. Other sectors faced with the same challenge include IT (31%),

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Swiss study recommends 38 weeks of parental leave

26 days ago

A referendum calling for four weeks of paternity leave is currently working it’s way through the system.
©-Aleandr-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
This week, a government commission gave its verdict on the vote, recommending two weeks of paternity leave instead of the four set out in the referendum’s text. Their commission’s main concerns are centred on the impact on companies and the cost of funding it.
A recent Swiss study, which looked at literature published on the effects of parental, maternity and paternity leave between 2010 and 2017, concluded with a recommendation of 38 weeks of parental leave.
The advantage of a shared pool of parental leave is that it allows mums and dads to decide who is going to

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Swiss study recommends 38 weeks of parental leave

28 days ago

A referendum calling for four weeks of paternity leave is currently working it’s way through the system.
© Aleandr | Dreamstime.com
This week, a government commission gave its verdict on the vote, recommending two weeks of paternity leave instead of the four set out in the referendum’s text. Their commission’s main concerns are centred on the impact on companies and the cost of funding it.
A recent Swiss study, which looked at literature published on the effects of parental, maternity and paternity leave between 2010 and 2017, concluded with a recommendation of 38 weeks of parental leave.
The advantage of a shared pool of parental leave is that it allows mums and dads to decide who is going to take time off. Systems offering generous leave to mums but not dads are inherently biased in

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The secrets of the new 200 Swiss franc note

28 days ago

Switzerland began updating its notes starting with the 50 franc note in April 2016. It then issued the new 20 franc note in May 2017, and the new 10 in October 2017.
The newest note to grace Swiss wallets, pockets and purses is the 200 franc note, which was launched on 22 August 2018.

– Click to enlarge
Switzerland’s ninth banknote series moves away from the depiction of well-known personalities instead depicting typically Swiss characteristics. Each characteristic is communicated via an action, a Swiss location and other graphic elements, which include a hand, a globe and an object.
Instead of the portrait of the nineteenth century Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz on the current note, the new 200 reflects

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The secrets of the new 200 Swiss franc note

29 days ago

Switzerland began updating its notes starting with the 50 franc note in April 2016. It then issued the new 20 franc note in May 2017, and the new 10 in October 2017.
The newest note to grace Swiss wallets, pockets and purses is the 200 franc note, which was launched on 22 August 2018.

Switzerland’s ninth banknote series moves away from the depiction of well-known personalities instead depicting typically Swiss characteristics. Each characteristic is communicated via an action, a Swiss location and other graphic elements, which include a hand, a globe and an object.
Instead of the portrait of the nineteenth century Swiss writer Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz on the current note, the new 200 reflects Switzerland’s scientific expertise.
The old 200 franc Swiss note_ © Yr0777 _ Dreamstime.com
The

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Swiss Health Insurance Companies Aim to Make it Easier to Break Contracts

August 19, 2018

Swiss health insurance companies are aiming to change laws to make it easier for them to unilaterally end complementary insurance contracts, according to the newspaper Le Matin.
© Andrii Yalanskyi | Dreamstime.com – Click to enlarge
Health insurers have managed to get this possibility included in a project aimed at revising Switzerland’s laws on insurance contracts, set for discussion by a parliamentary committee this September.
If included, the changes would allow insurance companies to terminate contracts without justification before their end dates. This could be costly for people with existing conditions.
The change is aimed at complementary policies, not compulsory basic health insurance.
The consumer institute

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Swiss health insurance companies aim to make it easier to break contracts

August 17, 2018

Swiss health insurance companies are aiming to change laws to make it easier for them to unilaterally end complementary insurance contracts, according to the newspaper Le Matin.
© Andrii Yalanskyi | Dreamstime.com
Health insurers have managed to get this possibility included in a project aimed at revising Switzerland’s laws on insurance contracts, set for discussion by a parliamentary committee this September.
If included, the changes would allow insurance companies to terminate contracts without justification before their end dates. This could be costly for people with existing conditions.
The change is aimed at complementary policies, not compulsory basic health insurance.
The consumer institute FRC describe the move as an unacceptable diktat.
A spokesperson for insurers told the

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Switzerland’s young socialists restart the debate on first class train seats

August 2, 2018

Recently, members of the young socialists raised the debate of the social inequalities associated with two ticket classes again while on trains travelling between Fribourg and Bern.
©-Justforever-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
They complain that at periods of peak demand second class carriages are overflowing, while first class ones often have space and spare seats.
Yvan Rime, co-president of the young socialists in Fribourg told RTS that space on trains should not be a privilege only for the rich. In addition, he says that two carriage classes creates a social barrier and prevents intermingling.
Up until 1956, Swiss trains were even more divided. Before then there were first, second and third classes.
While

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Switzerland’s young socialists restart the debate on first class train seats

July 31, 2018

Recently, members of the young socialists raised the debate of the social inequalities associated with two ticket classes again while on trains travelling between Fribourg and Bern.
© Justforever | Dreamstime.com
They complain that at periods of peak demand second class carriages are overflowing, while first class ones often have space and spare seats.
Yvan Rime, co-president of the young socialists in Fribourg told RTS that space on trains should not be a privilege only for the rich. In addition, he says that two carriage classes creates a social barrier and prevents intermingling.
Up until 1956, Swiss trains were even more divided. Before then there were first, second and third classes.
While some second class passengers might relish extra seating and the chance to meet a Federal Council

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Economiesuisse warns of economic dangers of vote against foreign judges

July 30, 2018

© Nattanan726 | Dreamstime.com The business and industry association Economiesuisse says the up-coming vote on 25 November 2018 on self-determination puts the Swiss economy at risk. The Swiss People’s Party led initiative entitled: Federal law instead of foreign judges, aims to cement the primacy of Swiss law over international law by adding a clause to Switzerland’s …

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Switzerland’s special tax deals less attractive from 2021

July 28, 2018

© Gregl87 | Dreamstime.com Foreigners who don’t work in Switzerland can benefit from special tax deals known as lump sum taxation, or for fait fiscal in French. Instead of paying tax on their worldwide income and assets their tax is calculated based on their living expenses. When someone becomes Swiss they automatically lose eligibility. The …

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Accident and emergency patients might soon be charged a pre-treatment fee

July 27, 2018

The Swiss government is looking hard to find ways to reduce the cost of health care. One idea is to make accident and emergency patients pay a CHF 50 fee before treatment.
© Hai Huy Ton That | Dreamstime.com
National counsellor Thomas Weibel put forward a parliamentary initiative to levy a CHF 50 charge at the time of hospital admission. The measure aims to dissuade people from going to accident and emergency with minor ailments. Hospital treatment is expensive compared to a visit to a family doctor.
In 2015, the cost of an average hospital visit was CHF 427, more than twice the cost of a visit to a family doctor.
Children and patients sent by a doctor would be exempt from the charge.
Some health professionals support the accident and emergency admissions charge idea.
According to the

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