We help you get rid of the Swiss myths
There is a fair amount of common myths or misconceptions about Switzerland. Over the years, we’ve heard them all and they have proven to be persistent little myths that are hard to get rid of. In this article, we’d like to shed some light on this matter and address the top 5 myths about Switzerland, in no particular order, informing you properly so you can make an informed decision about purchasing your dream home in Switzerland– and obviously show off all that newly acquired Switzerland knowledge at the next family barbecue…! Without further ado, let’s start:
1. FOREIGNERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BUY SWISS REAL ESTATE
This statement is false because foreigners are most certainly allowed to buy Swiss real estate. Every myth is based upon a certain truth though and in fact, there are certain rules and restrictions to keep in mind when buying Swiss real estate as a foreign national. First of all, a clear distinction must be made between foreign nationals living in Switzerland, and those living abroad:
You live in Switzerland?
As an EU/EFTA citizen living in Switzerland, you’ll have a Swiss residency or settlement permit (B or C permit) and enjoy the same rights as Swiss citizens when it comes to buying real estate, meaning you do not need a permit to buy. For those of you living in Switzerland and being third-country nationals, things are slightly more complicated. You do not require a permit to buy a main residence (e.g. single-family house or owner-occupied flat) or building land where you live if you meet the following requirements:
- You hold a valid residence permit, generally a B permit for foreign nationals.
- Living in that main residence for as long as you hold residence in that location.
- If you wish to build on the land that you have purchased, you must do so within one year.
You will require a permit in order to purchase the following types of apartment:
- Holiday apartment
- Housing unit in an apart hotel (hotel with flats)
- Second home
Owning real estate in Switzerland does not confer any entitlement to a residence permit.
You live abroad?
If you live abroad, you may purchase real estate in most of Switzerland, but certain restrictions apply. These vary from Canton to Canton. We make sure that at every listing on our website it is clearly stated whether the property can be bought by foreign nationals living abroad, so you do not have to worry about getting your hopes up for nothing. Please talk to us for to know which restrictions apply exactly for the object you’re interested in.
2. SWITZERLAND IS EXPENSIVE
Don’t get us wrong: generally Switzerland is not a cheap country to reside in. However, things are not as black-and-white as they may seem at first glance. If we take the Worldwide Cost of Living 2018 (by the Economist Intelligence Unit), we see that Switzerland is most certainly in the top 10. But did you ever realise that Paris is actually more expensive than Zurich?
And there’s also the question: what do you get for your money? Surely a Ferrari is more expensive than a Fiat, but you get what you pay for as well in performance.
Look at Switzerland in a similar way in terms of pollution, healthcare, safety, climate and general quality of life. You could live in an amazing apartment with a view over the lake or the mountain (or both…). During the winter you can go skiing every weekend, during the summer you can sail on the lake or go to France or Italy in a minute. Take a look at the facts below as well, comparing Geneva to London:
- The price-to-income ratio in Geneva is half of that in London.
- The pollution in Geneva is half of that in London as well…!
- The quality of life in Geneva is roughly 50% higher than that in London.
- Geneva rates higher in safety, healthcare and climate too.
- The average rent/month in Geneva is equal to that in London
- The average purchase price/m2 in Geneva city centre, is actually significantly lower to that in central London
Last but not least: tax is generally a lot lower in Switzerland compared to the rest of the world. In some Cantons, such as Valais, inheritance tax is as low as 0%, making emigration to Switzerland in certain cases most certainly a worthwhile consideration.
3. SWITZERLAND IS ALWAYS COLD
In Switzerland we have a proper land climate. That means that there are 4 clear seasons, each one with it’s particular weather. Winters being the coldest, and Summers being the warmest. Obviously, at higher altitudes the average temperatures will be lower than down in the valleys, hence the existence of glaciers.
The mountains also contribute to the fact that there’s considerable difference in climate in between the various Cantons. The Canton of Valais – house of popular ski-resorts such as Verbier, Nendaz, Crans-Montana and Zermatt- have a very sunny climate despite their excellent snow conditions in Winter. In the city of Sion for example (the capital of Valais), a total of 2235 hours of sun where measured in 2017. To put that figure into perspective: London (United Kingdom) has a mere 1632 of sunshine on average (similar to Zurich, in fact) and Porto (Portugal) 2463 hours of sun. So, in Valais we’re quite similar tot Portugal in sun hours! You surely wouldn’t call Portugal cold now, would you?
The amount of sun in Valais also explains also the sides of the valley are covered in wine-yards. In fact, you’ll find plenty of excellent local wines and an impressive number of Apricot yards in summer. If you ever get the chance, go and buy some Apricots (or ask to pick them yourselves…!) at one of the many direct sale stalls alongside the country roads; you won’t be disappointed!
4. IN SWITZERLAND THEY SPEAK SWISS
The official languages in Switzerland are German, French and Italian. There is a fourth language, Romansh, which is an official language in dealings with persons who speak this language. Btw: the German spoken in Switzerland differs slightly from the German spoken in Germany, which is why the Swiss version is often referred to as ‘Swiss German’.
5. IN SWITZERLAND EVERYBODY…
knows how to yodel, eats Swiss cheese and chocolate for lunch and the hills are covered with purple-white cows with ‘Milka’ written on them.
Yes, yes and absolutely yes!