You don’t need to be a parent to know it’s expensive to raise kids in Switzerland – heck, you don’t even need to be a Swiss resident to be aware of the cost of living pressures in the Confoederatio Helvetica.
We reached out to our most valuable resource – our readers – to get an idea of the true nature of raising kids in Switzerland, as well as to get an idea on how to save.
From minimising family holidays to ordering clothes online, here’s what you said about how to keep costs down while raising kids in Switzerland.
Kids in Switzerland: How much does it really cost
The first question we asked was about whether or not the rumours were true, i.e. was Switzerland actually expensive for raising children or whether the costs of doing so had been exaggerated.
Perhaps surprisingly, the responses were shared relatively evenly across the spectrum – although our option “It’s just a myth, it’s not expensive at all” attracted zero percent of the response.
The rest of our responses however showed an even split, with a third of respondents each saying Switzerland was “incredibly expensive”, “expensive” or “manageable, if you know how”.
How does Switzerland compare?
Raising children is never cheap, so we asked if our readers could compare Switzerland to abroad.
Most of our respondents said that the cost in Switzerland was comparable with other expensive countries, like the US, Denmark and Belgium.
The biggest cost was childcare – an issue we’ve covered previously on The Local.
One respondent, Margaret, said that the additional costs were not offset by the higher wages.
“It is much more expensive, salary here might be three times (elsewhere) but kids’ costs are more than six times for pre-kindergarten and ten times for school! Crazy!”
Another, Charlotte, had some simple advice: “Switzerland is too expensive for kids”.
How to save with kids
So, is a life of ruinous poverty inevitable once that pregnancy test result comes back positive?
Some of our readers answered in the affirmative. MK told us “(there are) no savings with kids”.
Another told us that saving money was not an option. “It is impossible as if you try to provide for child, such as sport or private lessons, you cannot save money – those things are essential for me and my kids.”
Others, however, said that it was possible to raise happy kids and also save on things like public transport and clothes.
“Definitely get the SBB Junior Karte. For 30CHF/year, your child travels with you for no extra cost,” Judy said.
Clara said integration was essential for anyone who wanted to save.
“Do everything local! Learn the language and integrate with the Swiss. Occasionally shopping in Germany helps, but is not a must. There are so many free kids indoor and outdoor facilities in Basel, I cannot ask for more!”
Marta said it was definitely possible – albeit with a fair amount of organisation.
“Browsing second-hand shops, buying and selling on internet second-hand sites, always looking out for reduced and sale items eg. reduced Christmas wrapping paper in January,” Marta said.
“Child activity car-sharing, washing machine and dishwasher on after 21h (for a) cheaper rate of electricity… checking the time/day of half-price supermarket items…many bakeries sell previous day’s bread half-price.”
Otherwise, expensive – and not so expensive – extracurricular activities were the next to go, with family events, amusement park visits and holidays among the most frequently sacrificed by our readers.
What more could be done?
Aside from winning the Swiss Lotto or raising the next Roger Federer, what more can be done to reduce cost pressures for parents in Switzerland?
Our readers called upon the government to grant additional subsidies – whether in the form of cash payments or tax exemptions – for parents with young children.
Children in kindergarten. Image: Depositphotos
Charlotte called upon the government to “Reduce the cost of daycare, subsidise babysitters in case of sickness (and provide a) higher monthly children money payment.”
Childcare was a big cost for many of our readers. Another respondent said that Swiss authorities should “make childcare like Kita free of charge.”
Judy said that the parental leave scheme should be expanded and improved. “Better parental leave, longer periods and with full pay, like Scandinavian countries. Make childcare a priority with more room for more kids.”
Tell me more, tell me more…
Is there anything we’ve missed? Drop us a comment on social media or in the comment section below to let us know your tips for raising kids in Switzerland. If you’d prefer to talk to us directly, send us an email at [email protected].
A version of this story was originally published in November 2019.