20 brand new surprising facts about Switzerland

Traditional Swiss House

I spent my entire childhood and teenage years in Switzerland, and I thought that I knew this place pretty well. After having lived abroad for a decade, I catch myself stunned almost on a daily basis as I find out new surprising facts about Switzerland.

Thanks to our awesome community and my own observations, I have collected an immense number of interesting and surprising facts about Switzerland. Today, I am going to hit you with some facts from the worlds of real estate, food and everyday life:

Only one-quarter of Swiss own their own homes.

Swiss Home Door with Newspaper Slot
 

This makes sense because a single family home will easily cost $1 Mio., with lenders requiring a 20% down payment.

 

Most homes and almost all apartment buildings have bunkers, a result of the Cold War concerns of nuclear war.

 

Along the same lines, every citizen is required by law to own a bomb shelter or have access to one. For instance, our apartment building has one in the basement next to the bicycle storage room.

 

Windows are not screened. But then again, mosquitos are few.

 

There are virtually no door knobs. Instead, most doors have handles which are easier to "handle" when you are hauling stuff - no pun intended!

 

"Unfurnished" apartments are what the term implies. We found out the hard way as we had to live in the dark before finally installing light fixtures!

Light Fixtures in Swiss Apartment
 

Outgoing mail cannot be left in the mailbox - it has to be dropped off at the postal office or in a yellow postal box.

 

At grocery stores, fruits and vegetables have to be weighed and labeled prior to checking out.

 

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Virtually every household is charged a monthly tax for receiving of radio and television broadcasts. Even if you do not own a TV set or radio, it is assumed that you have access to one somehow, somewhere!

 

ATM's will not dispense cash unless you take your card out of the machine first.

 

Tips are not expected. I usually only leave tips because I cannot stand change in my pocket...

Kornhaus Cafe in Bern
 

Milk can be bought in bags, Tetra packs, and plastic bottles. You can also fill up your own container when you buy it fresh from the farm.

Milk Cans in Switzerland
 

A tall moccha at Starbucks costs $6, while a draft beer is half the price.


 
Starbucks - Newly Swissed
 

Groceries are priced fair, but restaurants make out like bandits!

Typical Restaurant in Switzerland

 

There are no free refills, which explains why Europeans do not like to have their sodas dilluted with ice!

 

The best quality cheese is labeled for export. Nonetheless, the remaining cheese is very delicious...

Swiss Goat Cheese For Sale
 

Switzerland has no national flower, animal or tagline. However, most cities or towns have taglines, and Zürich used to claim to be "Downtown Switzerland"!

Zurich Street Poster Downtown Switzerland
 

The typeface Helvetica was created in Switzerland, which might be surprising unless you knew that "Confoederatio Helvetica" is the original Latin name for this country.

Swissness - Confoederatio Helvetica
 

Swiss army knives are red so they can be seen in the snow.

Victorinox Swiss Army Knife

 

Got you stunned? Now, download our e-book with 77 interesting facts about Switzerland:

77 Facts about Switzerland - e-book from Newly Swissed

Check out our facts collection about Switzerland's lakes and mountains or learn additional surprising facts about Switzerland. Still want more? Here is yet another post with lots of surprising facts about Switzerland.

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19 More Signs That You’re Becoming Swiss
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Dimitri Burkhard

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Newly Swissed GmbH
As the founder, editor and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of the Swiss Travelwriters Club.

Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.
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