8 things expats in Switzerland need to know about in September 2023
With Swiss National Day and the school summer holidays now a distant memory, people in Switzerland are preparing for all that September has to offer. From possible rises in the cost of living to the arrival of autumn, here are eight things to know about this September.
1. Cost of health insurance in Switzerland to rise
In a change that will affect all residents, at some point this September the government will announce whether the cost of health insurance in Switzerland will rise when premiums are renewed for 2024. While last year already saw the cost of basic health insurance rise by 6,6 percent on average, providers have warned that further price rises are inevitable because of the heightened cost of healthcare.
The “inevitable rise” will likely lead to an increase in the number of people switching providers in an attempt to secure a better deal. At the same time, many in parliament have called for a public insurance provider to be established, although this is unlikely to happen in the short term.
2. Reference interest rate to be published
On September 1, another cost of living lever is expected to be pulled - although this time, it isn’t expected to do much. On this day, the Federal Housing Office is expected to publish the latest reference interest rate for Swiss mortgages.
The rate is used to determine how much the cost of renting a house or apartment in Switzerland may increase - or decrease in some cases. The rate was raised on June 1, increasing from 1,25 to 1,50 percent. This change allowed landlords to raise costs by an average of 3 percent for half the renting population.
This time, however, the rate is not expected to increase. However, experts have forecast another rise for the end of the year.
3. Swiss election campaigns reach top gear
Thanks to the Swiss Federal elections on October 22, no referendums will be taking place in the alpine nation this September. Instead, political parties will start to ramp up their campaigns in the hope of getting more seats in the National Council and Council of States.
While still subject to change, current polling would suggest that the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) is on course for their eighth-straight victory at the federal elections with around 28 percent of the vote. The party expected to improve its score from 2019 by in part using an anti-immigration message. The Social Democratic Party (SP) is expected to come second, while the jury is still out regarding who between the FDP, the Middle and the Green Party will win third.
4. New Swiss data protection law
Again on September 1, Switzerland is expected to enforce the new Data Protection Act (DSG). The new rules should enhance the rights of individuals in regard to how their data is collected on the internet, as well as provide transparency as to how the data is used and sold.
For more information about the changes, please visit the official website (in German).
5. Swiss holidays in September
After Swiss National Day, Assumption and the end of the school holidays, some may have thought that Switzerland had used up all of its holidays for the year. Nevertheless, Switzerland will see a number of public holidays over the next 30 days.
First, the city of Zurich will awaken to the sound of gunfire on September 11, as Knabenschiessen gets underway. The holiday - meaning “shooting boys” in English - is the largest youth rifle shooting competition in the world, dating back to the 17th century and consisting of thousands of 12 to 16-year-olds trying to showcase their shooting skills.
Then, on September 17, a number of cantons are due to celebrate their version of Thanksgiving at the Swiss Federal Fast (Eidgenössischer Dank-, Buss- und Bettag, Jeûne fédéral, Digiuno federale). This is an interfaith feast celebrated on the third Sunday of September - although Geneva has its own version, Jeûne genevois, that is celebrated on September 7 this year.
6. Swiss cows begin their descent to the valleys
If you have a friend who can “talk until the cows come home”, you’ll notice that they might be a bit quieter from September 9, as that is when the first Swiss cows will come down from the valleys to shelter at lower altitudes, having spent the past few months grazing on high alpine pasture. The tradition is central to alpine folklore and sees the cows dressed up for the occasion with bells, paint and flowers.
The event musters one of the most iconic images of Switzerland, so it is well worth a trip to the mountains to see it. To see where and when the nearest ones are taking place, check out the MySwitzerland website.
7. Term begins at Swiss universities
We may have already sent the kids back to school in August, but the larger children are also set to return to the classroom in force this September, when Swiss universities begin their first term. All 11 of Switzerland’s highest institutions, the Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts and a number of other technical colleges are due to begin teaching on September 19.
Are you attending university for the first time this year? Here’s our guide to getting started!
8. Start of autumn in Switzerland
Finally, while we may have to say a fond farewell to swimming in the lake for another year, people across Switzerland will soon be able to enjoy all the things that autumn brings. Due at 9.49am on September 23, the start of the autumnal equinox, people across the country will be looking forward to the first fallen leaf, bag of hot chestnuts and other signs that autumn has arrived.
Whatever the weather brings and the season has to offer, we hope you have a fabulous 30 days!
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