Are tax savings worth the commute?

Pfäffikon (SZ) or Baar (ZG). These two are probably the best in terms of taxes/housing/commute cost combination.

Yep - Baar is reasonable as well.

It is funny how people try to optimize their coffee consumption but then ignore the possibility to reduce their tax burden by 5-15%… taking a train for 20-30 minutes a day is hardly torture :slight_smile:

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I would say it really depends on the circumstances. Let’s say that most jobs you will find in Zurich and that’s also the place you like to go for a walk, shopping, eating out, entertainment, meeting friends etc. (don’t forget the airport)

If you decide to live in Zurich, you can choose to live just 5 min away from your workplace. That means daily commute takes you 10 min. If you come from Zug, that’s 20 minutes in the train. The train goes once every 30 min, so often you also have to wait for it or plan ahead, let’s say 10 min per day. Plus then switch to another S-Bahn or tram, which is another 15 min. That means daily commute of 80 min. If you live in Pfäffikon that’s 30 min with the train, a total commute of 100 min.

100 min - 10 min = 90 min per day.
90 min per day * 240 days per year = 360 hours per year, or 15 days!

So if you earn 50 CHF per hour, then this commute time will cost you 18’000 CHF per year. I don’t think you will make it up in taxes!

I can give you my example, the cost of Kanton + Gemeinde Income Tax:

  • In Zurich I pay 30’000
  • In Kilchberg I would pay 24’000
  • In Zug I would pay 18’000
  • In Freienbach SZ I would pay 14’500
  • On top of that 10’000 Bundes Tax, regardless of place

So would I move to Zug to save 12’000 per year? Not really, and I’m really paying big taxes. So a person with much lower income should not even start this calculation.

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if you live near a station …and work near another station.

…that’s why one of the office of Google is 50 from a Train station.

I save about 1k a month on taxes. My commute is 50 min, but it’s hardly any problem for me. In fact I prefer to live in the countryside, as it’s more family friendly and calmer, more nature, etc.

De gustibus non est dispotandum.

Of course you can discuss somebody’s preferences. If they prefer to buy Louis Vuitton bags for 5000 CHF or buy 5 Starbucks Lattes every day, will you not be tempted to question their choices?

Like I said, it depends on the circumstances. I guess you save a lot by being in Zug thanks to being married and having a kid, which boosts your tax savings. If you found a job next to your flat for the same salary and suddenly saved 1 hour every day, I’m sure you would be very happy about it. Studies show that long commute makes us miserable.

Well the SZ delta is already 15k per year (and you ignored things like wealth tax, etc).

Also you say “my hour is worth 50 chf”, which great and true for a freelancer. However, most folks have a fixed income and that doesn’t move if they sit on a train or not after their workday is over. So it is more a question of what could you have done instead with the time. For instance, I love to read and I like podcasts – that is something that I do regardless and doing that while sitting on a train is perfectly fine.

Long story short, yes it is always about preferences but my main point is that many folks are not even actively thinking about this trade-off – and instead jump straight to hard-won saving wins like the “no more on-the-go coffee”.


The calculator I used includes wealth. Wealth tax is normally included in Gemeinde & Canton tax.

True, but some people work for 80% - they could increase to 90 or 100. At some companies paid overtime is possible.

I tried to listen to some podcasts on the train. It’s very loud in the train, so you have to put the volume high, my ears start to ache after some time. I mean, it’s like watching a movie on smartphone. Sure, some people do it, but to me it’s just exhausting. I only do it when I’m bored to death. But sure, yeah, it’s an option to reduce wasted time. You just have to make sure to always have something to read or listen to, every day. Then you can listen to that podcast on “how to find more time” :smiley: .

I really thought it through and I think that commuting to save on taxes rarely makes sense. It may make sense if there are some special circumstances (I like countryside, I like to read books on the train). I’m sometimes shocked how long a way to work some people have (some spend 1 hour in a car, and I guess in USA that’s the norm). I think you should strive to reduce that wasted time, at best live close to your workplace.

A nice bose noise canceling headset and you are set for long train rides and flights

Lastly, I find commuting by car a torture and i would never do that daily. But knowing exactly when to leave to catch the next train etc is super doable.

Plus this is all about the accumulation period. Once you hit fire the whole calculation changes again.


Commute is not a problem for me. Apart from late night and very early morning, it’s the only time when I have time for podcasts or book reading. So in some sense I’m even glad that I have a commute. The only annoying thing is 14 chf train ticket to Zürich.

PS. @Julianek, This deserves a fork. // Bojack: done

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sorry for the joke…but you sounds like a person I know that’s saying more or less of the same and has 2 young and noisy children at home…

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I moved 70km away from my working place and increased my savings rate from 18% to 34%. Totally worth it.

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trust me, he knows what he’s talking about…i’ve got 2 as well and it’s an interesting juggle. on the upside you do get immune to noise so might be able to save on those Bose :smiling_imp:

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Maybe I am weird or something, but am I wrong in translating this as “Home is not a place where i can be quiet or reload my batteries”?
Just asking, maybe you have indeed a very tight schedule at home (in this case i’d be wrong). But if not, then i would suggest focusing on that.
I know that you have a young son, and as a parent I know as well how difficult sleep deprivation can be if your child does not sleep well. In that case i would focus on this as a first priority: the single biggest improvement in my wellbeing since i am a parent is when my son finally did his nights and sleeps now from 7 pm to 7 am…

Again, maybe i am totally wrong and off topic, but it strikes me as odd to read during commute “because i cannot do it well at home (or at difficult hours)” instead of “because i have to use intelligently my time during commute”…

Back to the topic: I guess everything has its price, and everybody would increase their commute time if the the financial incentive was high enough. But everything is in the “high enough”. In my case commuting makes me unhappy: it is a drain of mental energy, so that after arriving at destination i need at least 30 minutes to get back my thoughts in order…
Sure, there would be a price high enough to do it anyway, but is it 10k per year? Not likely…

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Lucky you. My son sleeps from 9 pm to 7 am with 2-3 wake ups in the night. So after all the cleaning, chores, cooking food and so on, there’s not much time for reading left. To collect 8h of sleep, I need to be in bed at latest 11 pm.

In the morning I need to prepare myself to work and get my son to kindergarten, so the only time for reading I have is my commute. I’m not sure if this schedule can be more optimized, unless I pay someone to do my chores. In any case, I’m not complaining because time with my son is the greatest thing in my life.

Interestingly, I find time to make 1.5h workout 4 times a week, so the schedule is tight, but I consider this investment in my health and stress relief. I could probably optimize more for reading, but I prefer to spend the time with my family and late in the evening at the gym.

In any case, as I mentioned, 1h commute is not a big deal for me. Most of my career I was commuting about an hour to work, so it’s not anything particularly new or hard to me.

All these explanations that you guys make sound like rationalizations to me. It’s like you turned off logic and turned on some defense mechanisms. Yes, I have to travel 1 hour to work and from work. But it’s nothing bad, because I’m used to it.

I know it’s tempting to pocket the tax savings for what seems to be doing nothing (sitting on the train). But I’d rather actually do something in that time and have a choice of what I am going to do, and not be a slave of my commute.

It might be rationalization. I don’t care to be frank, as I don’t have a problem with my commute. I enjoy listening to podcasts and reading in the train.

I don’t feel like slave, but I understand other people might have bigger problem with this.

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