Fire in Switzerland, too good to be true?


That’s insane…:sob: We pay 970 in Zurich for one kid and two half-days…


I would love to see a canton-by-canton breakdown of this as a function of salary! e.g.

I would guess that for those with 1 or more preschool kids, subsidies could make as much difference as tax differences in moving cantons, etc.

@_MP, blog post idea? In the world of major English-language Swiss personal finance bloggers, you are the only one with kids who doesn’t have a crazy Google salary (i.e., a level where subsidies are 0CHF), I think. :wink:


I wouldn’t necessarily limit myself to that. And no, altought we know that chances of being checked by customs are low, I’m not suggesting you evade taxes (VAT) and duties. I do, in fact, declare my goods myself, if necessary. Don’t forget that Switzerland has low consumption taxes like VAT. If you (have to) pay Swiss VAT and duties on import, the sheer differences in prices will often overcompensate that VAT. Even if you’re not maximizing VAT refunds from foreign retailers.

Suppose, I’m only shopping for “luxury” goods at a tax rate of 7.7% (as opposed to 2.5 reduced tax rate on groceries etc.), then it holds for

total purchased (CHF) -> VAT on import
150 -> 0
299 -> 0
301 -> 23.20
450 -> 34.65
600 -> 46.20

So assuming I’ve already bought a 299 CHF worth of goods, these would be tax-free, within the tax-free allowance. I can then decide whether to limit myself to that tax-free amount - or to carry on shopping for more, so the VAT tax would kick in.

If go buy and import another 300 CHF of goods, I would pay 46.20 CHF in taxes on everything. That’s just slightly more than 15%. So if I can save more than 15% on average on these 300 CHF worth of goods purchased abroad, it makes sense to bring in more - even though I have to pay import duties. And the higher the overall amount, the even lower this percentage figure will be.

15% of savings by cross-border shopping seems more than realistic.
Especially if you factor in VAT refunds from foreign retailers.

PS: It would also hold true for goods taxed at the reduced rate, maybe even more. In principle, due to the lower tax rate, and often due to the nature of goods and their price differences. I just bought a fair trade banana at 2.95 CHF/kilo from my local coop. Aldi Süd in Germany seems to have them on offer for 1.90 CHF (1.69 EUR). That’s 36% less. :astonished:


It is 300 CHF/person/trip, so the limit can be higher depending on the number of people in the car. If you can, try to go shopping with friends, you will reduce the footprint per person for the trip and you can even share the price of transportation.

This calculator is not accurate, it just gives you an idea of the price that you will have to pay. In our case, I was surprised when I discovered that I had to pay way less than the amount that the calculator gave me.


I am too lazy to cook, so I rely on canteens, restaurants, and salads from Coop. Needless to say, I easily spend 30 CHF per day on average. But of course it saves me time. You save money, but you spend time on shopping abroad and cooking.

Just out of curiosity, imagine I was your family, like a brother, and also I lived nearby, so that I could always pop in for dinner every day (or I would just take it to my place if you prefer to have privacy with your wife :smile:). How much would you charge me per meal in order to happily do this? You would be responsible for buying enough food and cooking and doing the dishes.


I think it is the right choice to not cook if you really don’t enjoy it. It does not have to take too much time though. Lets say you make big batches (12-15 portions) of bolognese sauce, lentil curry or some other stew and freeze it in portions/meals. You can also make a big batch of rice that will last a few days in the fridge.

We shop once a week at the local lidl.

Salads from coop also have a LOT of plastic so there is a lot of rubbish produced as well.

You are welcome to pop in for dinner anytime :smile:


It is not only a matter time and money, I like to know what I eat, if it is healthy or not. Eating well is part of the FIRE journey I think, if you retire and you are in bad shape, there is no point to retire. You can always find restaurant that will sell you “healthy” food, but you will not be 100% sure that it is really healthy, and also “healthy restaurant” means expensive restaurant. Moreover, it does not take that much time when you have to cook for 3-4 people, it actually is as long as for one.

That is a tricky question, I would have a hard time to make my family pay for that, but if it is everyday, you might start to think about it. But when you cook for 3-4 people, adding just one person does not add much time, and for the budget, it will not change much unless you cook expensive stuff (premium meat, fish), for the dishes, we have a dishwasher, so it does not change anything for us. In the end, this would not affect the time you spend on cooking and this would affect just a bit your budget, but you would enjoy the visit of your family everyday… that has no price, if you enjoy the company of your family everyday :sweat_smile:


Then you also have to enjoy to eat it. I would not like to eat the same stuff for 5 days in a row! When I do cook spaghetti bolognese or a pizza, I do use the full pan or both decks of the oven, but even then it lasts for 2 days max (2 people).

For sure! I agree with that. Still, I’m not such a great cook and I just don’t feel like doing it every day. So I only cook like 1-2 per week, and when I do, I really enjoy the food. Or when I visit my parents and my mom cooks every day, man, that’s the best :stuck_out_tongue: .

Yes, of course. A poke bowl with raw fish and other quality ingredients will cost 30 CHF. But I don’t sweat it and buy it, because it’s tasty and doing it myself would mean buying so much stuff and then managing that I eat all ingredients before they expire…

I was expecting this kind of answer. That’s not what I was looking for. Then imagine I was just your FIRE friend, living nearby, and I would like a plate of your your delicious cooking every day. I’m trying to get an answer here, because if you would say something like “10-15 CHF”, then if we tried this is reality, I would be super hyped about this deal, but you would not keep this arrangement for long. :wink:


I think these types of calculators are usually based on taxable income after deductions.


Dare I say that this “give me convenience or give me death” attitude is exactly the opposite of “Mustachianism”…


It depends.
If the time saved is used to enjoy yourself while doing something else or/and even to create more money, then it’s indeed not.
It shouldn’t be just about pure frugality, there needs to be balance - I believe.

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So should I close my account? :joy:

My goal is early retirement. If I can make more money by outsourcing chores like cleaning and cooking, will you blame me?

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10 % VAT on grocery? Can you check your receipts please? Wikipedia says otherwise:

5.5% for most groceries

Anyway I fully agree with you that you can save a lot, even if you don’t get taxes back (or if you pay them here as well). Gernan government is trying to scare us by imposing aminimum amount of expenses before giving back VAT (as Italy already does), but in the end taxes are not the problem here…

Anyway I’d like to add a warning to everyone reading this. Beware of how much meat you try to import. You are only allowed 1Kg per person. After that, they will make you pay a “fine”.


No, that does sound rational. Your wording of being “too lazy to cook” and ready to pay 100’s of CHF/month extra in food costs just struck me as against the ethos of this forum - which is totally fine! everyone’s situation and preferences are different.


The market says from ~27 CHF/meal (spot price):

With some kind of (longer term) subscription I believe it could go down to ~15-20 CHF/meal at somebody’s home, maybe even different “neighbor” on specific days of the week :slight_smile:

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That’s actually an interesting startup idea: “airbnb for homemade meals” :wink: . Instead of ordering from a restaurant, where a guy has to bring it in his car in a single-use plastic box, you can pick up a tupperware box from a neighbor and return it on the next day.

So a retired person, who anyway cooks for themself, could cook a few more meals and make a few bucks.


My mum would rake billions :slight_smile:


Cool, thanks for the breakdown, interesting.

  • Looks like you’re well hacking childcare. With an 82k salary you get reduced 200 CHF + 30% of the price, right? but that’s only if your wife would work, otherwise, you cant use the -200 CH benefit.

  • Have you checked if you can benefit from LAMaL reduction? check it here, for Ticino But I guess there’s something similar in your Canton.

  • Also, I understand what you mean by buying groceries in FR, we do the same in IT and get back around 10% (Avg.) some things are taxed 22% some others 4% (like vegetables) so we typically average 10% return. Plus, prices in IT are way lower thatn in CH

  • I didn’t see any budgeting for eating out, or clothing or “other expenses” or holidays etc…

In any case, well done!
we can’t manage to reduce costs below 65k per year.
Family of 4
We just can’t get subsidy for LAMaL nor for child care and taxes are higher,

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Devils advocate jumping in :innocent:
Will you still outsource it when retired? If not, start getting used to it and dry to see the fun part of if (at least for cooking, cleaning is another topic :grinning: )


I do cook maybe twice a week. When I’m retired then probably I will cook more. Then I will pay more attention to my budget. You’re right about cleaning, as long as it’s cheap I will try to always get someone to do it for me :slight_smile: .