For members


How much do you need to earn to afford a house in Switzerland?

Properties are expensive in Switzerland and out of reach for most families. Here’s how much you should earn to turn a dream of home ownership into reality.

Swiss properties are among the most expensive in Europe.
Only high-earners can afford to buy a single-family home in Switzerland. Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Real estate prices have been soaring in Switzerland in recent years, continuing to climb even during the coronavirus pandemic when much of the country’s economy came to a standstill.

While many experts feared that real estate market in Switzerland would collapse during the health crisis, the opposite has happened: price of properties went up by 5.5 to 5.6 percent.

Prices vary from one region to another, but the average for Switzerland is about 1.25 million francs for a single family home — price that is out of reach for middle-class people.

The most expensive regions for real estate are in or near urban centres of Zurich, Geneva and Basel. But  some relative “bargains” can be found in Switzerland as well, especially in rural areas of some cantons.

For instance,  a single-family home in Jura costs about 587,000 francs — the cheapest price in Switzerland, according to one study.

Glarus is slightly higher at 771,000, francs, followed by Valais at 783,000 francs. 

READ MORE: In which Swiss cantons are homes the cheapest – and the most expensive?

It is perhaps not surprising, given how expensive properties are here, that Switzerland has the lowest proportion of home owners in Europe — just over 41 percent.

One major reason for such a low rate of home ownership — and high real estate prices —  is scarcity of land.

Switzerland is a small country with little land left to be developed and the development of whatever land is available is strictly regulated; for instance, agricultural land can’t easily be used for construction.

And as Switzerland’s land is not expandable, “residential real estate will continue to appreciate in value”, Stefan Fahrländer, chairman of the board of Fahrländer Partner, a real estate consultancy firm in Zurich, said in an interview.

The only thing to stop prices from rising would be “a massive regulatory intervention or sharp rise in interest rates ”, he said.

Another reason for the shortage of  homes is “because there are more and more people in the country”, according to Roman Ballmer from Zurich property firm Lazi.

“Even in 2020, the year of the pandemic, immigration increased and fewer people left the country”, he said.  “For the few homes for sale, there are more and more auctions, with properties selling well above the original asking price”.

So how much should you earn to be able to buy a house?

This would depend on the kind and size of property, as well as its location.

Generally speaking, the minimum annual income allowing to purchase real estate in Switzerland should be 200,000 francs, Fahrländer said.

However, the property would be on the outskirts of cities and “not necessarily new and upscale”.

While the 200,000-franc annual salary (or salary with income from investments) is not rare in a Swiss household where both spouses work full-time, it is above the average wages — about 63,000 francs — of  middle-class families . This salary level is higher than almost anywhere in Europe, but still not enough to afford a home.

Those earning less than 200,000 francs a year usually “can get their own housing only by inheritance”, Fahrländer noted.

This particularly impacts young families.

“Young people can save as much as they want but if they don’t inherit, their dream of owning a house will not come true”, according to Ballmer

READ MORE: Why do so many Swiss prefer to rent rather than buy their own home?

Member comments

  1. I would also argue that Swiss housing is also extremely inflated. Ultra low interest rates and extra loose lending conditions are a major factor behind why Swiss housing is expensive. It’s worth noting that Switzerland isn’t isolated. If you go to more dynamic and populated markets you will see similar price levels i.e. London and Paris.

    The lack of housing stock isn’t being caused by immigration or a lack of land. This is completely wrong. The lack of housing stock stems from housing wealth being monopolised by wealthy individuals within Switzerland who have access to cheap credit.

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For members


How to avoid wasps this summer in Switzerland

Milder winters and springs mean we see more wasps in Switzerland this summer. Here is how to legally (and successfully) avoid them.

How to avoid wasps this summer in Switzerland

If you feel like you are never alone anymore – because there is always a pesky little wasp around – and the number of nests has grown significantly this summer, this might be the case.

As the planet gets hotter and winters and springs have milder temperatures, there are more wasps than usual buzzing around Europe this summer.

In France, pest control companies even call 2022 the “year of the wasp”, as The Local France reported.

More wasps are buzzing around – and they are angry

There is an abundance of wasps this summer even in Switzerland and they are not exceptionally good-natured right now, according to Daniel Cherix, a leading insect specialist at the University of Lausanne. The more wasps there are, the more in competition they are for food sources — which includes your outdoor barbecue food or bottle of soda.

The hot weather makes it easier for the wasps to work more hours feeding the larvae. However, the longer and harder they work, the more tired and hungrier they become.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland is abuzz with ‘tired and angry’ wasps

This means that, just like their human counterparts, they need to rest and eat, making a beeline for the nearest food source.

“If there is no prey, they have to fly longer. So they will start to get tired and angry”, Cherix said, which doesn’t bode well for the nearest available human.

This situation is expected to worsen until the autumn; until then, the wasp colonies will continue to get bigger and presumably angrier and more tired.

How can I avoid wasps?

Even though the number of wasps is rising in Switzerland, only two of the nine local wasp species are attracted by human food. Additionally, they are all peaceful as long as you don’t get too close to their nest, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment says.

The government also states several measures that can be taken to avoid wasps. It reiterates, though, that if any of these animals are nearby, it is vital to “behave calmly and not to make hectic movements that could make the wasps feel threatened”.

wasp nest bee hive

Some nests are harmless and shouldn’t be disturbed. (Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash)

Wasps can be kept away by insect screens, covering food and drinks served outside, drinking sweet drinks with a straw when outdoors, and removing and cleaning dishes and food after eating out. The Environment office also recommends removing fallen fruits under fruit trees in the garden to avoid attracting was.

People can also spray individual wasps (but never nests!) with water to get them to fly away.

READ ALSO: Swiss study says bee-harming pesticides present in 75 percent of honey worldwide

To prevent nesting, it’s important to close small openings in and around your house. Wasps like to nest in dark, shelter places, such as attics and any holes in the buildings. Recognising a nest early can help you prevent it from growing and adopt the proper measures – such as calling specialised assistance if necessary.

What to do if I find a wasp nest in my home?

There are specific rules of conduct to be followed if you find a wasp nest, especially since wasps will attack if they feel their nest threatened. Wasps stings are usually harmless unless you are allergic, but they can be painful.

A relocation could be necessary if the nest is near homes with children, allergic people or the elderly. If it is harmless or summer is close to ending, though, many specialists will advise you just to wait it out – wasps will die when it gets cold.

A specialised service needs to be hired if the nest needs to be relocated.

The last resort is to kill the nest using chemicals, but this needs to be done by specialists with federal approval to use such biocides. In some cantons, environmental protection rules forbid using chemicals without a proper license.