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Switzerland 2000: Rent goes up, food gets cheaper

There is good news and bad news for consumers in Switzerland: Fresh food products, phone calls and air travel will become cheaper next year, but rent and insurance will go up.

This content was published on December 30, 1999 - 08:36

There is good news and bad news for consumers in Switzerland: Fresh food products, phone calls and air travel will become cheaper next year, but rent and insurance will go up.

Insurance payments and rent will probably pose the biggest financial burden for the average person. Health insurance will go up in all 26 Swiss cantons, with experts predicting an average increase of 3.8 percent. Some insurance companies are expected to raise their premiums by as much as 15 percent.

Switzerland does not have a state health insurance scheme but law makes it compulsory for every registered person living in Switzerland to have health insurance.

Following a new round of mortgage rate hikes late last year, rent will likely go up by 6.5 percent for most of the 70 percent of the population who live in rented accommodation.

Not quite as bad, but still noticeable, will be higher prices for cigarettes, coffee and newspapers. The Swiss may soon have to fork out SFr3.37 ($2.25) for a cup of coffee – and that does not include a re-fill.

If the federal health authorities have their way, tobacco prices will also go up slightly to reach the average European Union price for a packet of cigarettes.

And if that were not enough, car insurance will also see a price hike on January 1st, even though the automobile lobby has tried to put a break on the premium developments.

There is, however, also some good news.

Switzerland’s largest telecommunications network operator, Swisscom, will lower its access rate next year, and that will more than likely lead to a drop in costs for phone calls as Swisscom’s rivals – particularly in the mobile phone market -- have traditionally passed on those cuts to consumers.

Stiff competition and a saturated market will allow the Swiss to book cheaper air travel in 2000, says Swissair spokesman Jean-Claude Donzel.

Food and retail experts in turn predict a drop in food prices in a move that would adjust Swiss price tags to those of EU member states. Fresh food and dairy products will become generally cheaper, but prices may still see some fluctuation depending on the harvest situation.

From staff and wire reports.

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