Swiss Life Hacks #2

“This should become a list of things you can optimize in order to greatly reduce your expenses. Please add any ideas! And if you are good, provide an example to quantify this!”**

As proposed in the old thread, I’m starting a new thread for new ideas. Please start a separate thread if you’d like to dive deeper into one of the hacks :blush::+1:

** copied from @nugget

  1. Use less: dishwasher and laundry detergent. I read of someone using half as much as before each time up to the moment that dishes weren’t clean any more, then added just a bit. Also: no name detergent.

just by chance i recently tried to compare prices between laundry detergents per one laundry. Although the overal consumption of these products is rather low, the price difference between something like mbudget and a brand can be up to 20x.
But then I dont know so much on how they are different, and what other cost it may have to use the cheap stuff?

I’d focus on the big items:

  • housing cost
  • taxes
  • childcare
  • transport/cars

The savings on those items are likely to far outweigh potential savings from everyday items.

Then once expenses are tuned, avoid obsessing over them and turn attention to making more money instead of reducing costs.


Nugget, I posted an answer in the detergent thread :slight_smile:

Phil I agree that the big three will have the single biggest impact. - Do you have practical advice? I have one on housing:

  1. Housing: try to find a deal on housing (rent or own). They do exist, for me it was a combination of: involving collegues and friends, searching with other means than the big websites, thinking about what is important and not important for me. (Also sticker shock upon immigration :sweat_smile:)
  1. For recent immigrants:

3.1. Being imposed a la source / Quellensteuer: you might have to do a tax report, in spite of what everyone will be telling you. If not: check if it would be beneficial.
3.2. Tax preparation service seems to be very cheap by what I’m hearing.
3.3. Third pillar: don’t put it off the first year, catching up later is not possible.

Optimizing the small things is a question of habits and as such can generate significant automatic savings in the long term. So please share those too :blush:

What does this mean?
Certainly not cheaper than doing it yourself :sweat_smile:

Except it might be, in the next few years it seems a change in regulation is coming.

… my collègues seem to pay about 100 CHF, can’t say for sure because I did it myself but I did spend HOURS and am not sure I deducted everything I could have and not sure I filled everything in in the right way (also moving between countries within the year complicates things).

If I could do it again I would have asked someone for help for the first year in Switzerland and then do the following ones by myself.

Should be easy from the second declaration on…

Thanks for the info on third pillar regulations possibly changing!

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That sounds very low, haven’t heard of such amounts from anyone I know.
If it’s been just that, that is indeed probably worth it for the “first filing”. :slight_smile:

Yes seems low to me too… maybe it’s a special deal for follow up declarations :thinking:

Any details/references on this? I hadn’t heard about this?

  1. Buy medicine if you go to France, much cheaper than in Switzerland or Germany

4.1. Genetics generally are the same quality as name brand / original developer (exception to my knowledge are thyroid substitution medications, where the brand should not just be switched because uptake differs between brands, check for your medication)

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I was shocked recently comparing the drugs for babies in Geneva.
1 box of sérum physiologique 40*5 ml cost 22 chf in a pharmacy in Geneva. If you happened to pass by France, it will cost 8-10 euros for 4 boxes of the same brand.

This is well-know in Switzerland unfortunately. You can also compare generic/basic drugs prices between Switzerland and France, you will end up paying 4-10x more in Switzerland… This is why there is a lot of resident that are purchasing their drugs in France/Italy/Germany.

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Don’t even start with drug prices. I used to travel regularly for work to the US and was astonished by what you could buy over the counter there. Then there were the huge amounts. I remember buying a bottle of 500 paracetamol tablets for about $12. Not sure if you could even buy 24 in Switzerland for that price.

Yes crazy. As to neighbouring countries, France seems a particularly good deal for medication, being also way cheaper than Germany in my case. Maybe someone knows about Italy.

About paracetamol, package sizes have purposefully been reduced in several countries because people are taking to much, leading to deaths by liver failure. Smaller package size seems to reduce the incidence.


Contraceptive are a 3rd of the price in France, Nicotine patches a quarter of the price.
Good to know for people with a 2500 chf insurance deductible : Get your prescription in France. As you won’t get it paid back by your health insurance anyway, at least you won’t pay so much for your medicines.

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Does it work cross-border?
I mean prescription of a doctor from one country being materialized in another? :slight_smile:

Is there any way to avoid the super high costs for the Kita/Crèche when having a small child in Switzerland?

I find that the system is still biased toward having a stay at home mother model if end of the day you pay 3000-3500 for having the little one being the whole day away while the adults work.

Not talking here about workarounds with importing the parents from time to time :slight_smile:

  1. Get subsidized if you have low income
  2. Don’t send them to Kita at all (i.e. find an alternative)

Point 2) I was more curious about ideas.
I have friends that imported periodically their parents to help out, not sure if others creative ideas exist.
I also come from a culture where mothers have always been part of the workforce.