If you’re asked to describe a perfect alpine village, chances are you’ll describe Switzerland. Breath-taking mountainscapes and that brilliant blue sky that forms a backdrop of all our best skiing dreams, Switzerland deserves its reputation as the spiritual home of winter sports, and the home of the quintessential alpine lifestyle.
One of the reasons for this enviable reputation is the meticulous care taken by Swiss authorities to ensure the character and heritage of these alpine towns and villages is preserved. Villages remain true villages thanks to strict rules over development and foreign ownership, towns have enough local life to remain as genuine working towns.
While this can be seen as an obstacle to those seeking to embrace the Swiss lifestyle, it's the most effective way to ensure that heritage and character are preserved.
Is it possible to buy a ski property in Switzerland if you’re not Swiss?
The short answer is yes – but there are caveats. Homes can be purchased in traditional tourist areas – which include many ski resorts. The key cantons available to foreigners are Bern, Graubünden, Uri, Obwalden, Vaud and Valais.
Are there any other restrictions on buying a ski property in Switzerland?
There are. Foreigners buying property in Switzerland are governed by the Lex Koller (the Koller Law). This law restricts the type of property available to overseas nationals. Most property sold to foreigners is under 200 m2.
Property seekers will also find it difficult to buy a new build in Switzerland. The Lex Weber (Weber Law) restricts the use of property in any areas where second homes make up 20% or more of the real estate. On one hand this can be a little frustrating, but it’s invaluable to ensure the character and charm of Swiss alpine villages is maintained.
Is there anywhere I can buy a new build in Switzerland if I’m not Swiss?
The Swiss authorities understand that people enjoy the prospect of a newly build ski property for many reasons. For some, it’s the pleasure of being able to create your ideal interiors, to your exact specifications, others simply prefer the conveniences of a more modern build.
Many people particularly like the new wave of hotel style resorts. These developments offer all the convenience of a hotel - bars, restaurants, spas, ski rooms etc. - along with the bliss of being in your own apartment with everything just as you like it.
Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos
One of the best examples of this is Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos, and it just happens to be one of the developments that enjoys special dispensation for exemption from Lex Koller. Put simply this means that both Swiss nationals and overseas nationals have “identical, unrestricted rights and obligations to acquire apartments at Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos complex” (source: Residences Davos Fact Sheet).
Anyone familiar with the Hard Rock brand will know it’s a byword for luxury with a difference. There’s an innate sense of cool to any Hard Rock premises and this has been translated beautifully into the Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos. You’ll find Woods Bagot designed interiors, breath-taking mountain views and a host of facilities designed to pamper and please your inner rock god or goddess.
Facilities at the Hard Rock Residences Davos
- Rock Spa™Designed to soothe your mind, body and soul the Rock spa has all you’d expect from a luxury hotel. Enjoy the vitality pool, whirlpool and yoga studio as well as Hard Rock exclusives like the Body Rock™ gym and innovations like the world's first immersive music massage treatments.
- Gold standard bars and restaurantsSwiss twists on Hard Rock classics are the mainstay of the playlist at Hard Rock Davos’ restaurants. You can enjoy chilled family style dining or opt for a dreamy terrace view, and as the night draws on there are plenty of places to spin your apres ski dreams.
- The Fifth Rooftop TerraceIt’s hard to imagine a better place for a rooftop terrace. Relax and drink in the landscape as you sip your favourite drink with a backdrop of 360° views of some of the most beautiful mountains in the world,
As well as gourmet delights and glamorous nights, Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos have all the practical facilities you need. You’ll enjoy the convenience of private parking and a ski room, as well as a host of event facilities to help you celebrate or innovate.
As Marika from the Residences at the Hard Rock Hotel Davos says, "the combination of the Hard Rock brand, the allure of Davos, and the exemption from Lex Koller means we have managed to attract many international buyers to the property - so many that there are now only 7 units left to sell."
What taxes will I pay on a Swiss holiday home?
Another significant factor for people looking for a ski property in Switzerland is the nuances of international tax law. Under the Swiss Double Taxation agreement which applies in over 100 countries property owners are protected from paying tax twice. Income from renting out the property is paid locally, and must be declared in the country of residence, but is not paid again.
Foreigners owning a property in Switzerland pay taxes to three bodies - the Federal Government, the Canton, and the Commune.
A simple guide to taxes on your Swiss ski property
Property owners in Switzerland pay tax at three levels - Federal Government, Canton and Commune. These are the main taxes to be aware of
- Income taxIncome from the property is taxed at each level, regardless of whether you are renting your property. It’s based on what’s called “imputed” (implied) income which is calculated by offsetting the high season rental value against the low season rental value.
- Wealth taxWealth tax is paid to the Canton, it’s based on a range of assessment criteria and is usually lower than the value of the property itself.
- Property taxThe majority of Cantons where foreigners can buy levy an annual property tax.This is based on the tax value of the property, and detailed by each Canton on an individual basis.
- Capital gains taxProfits from property sales are liable to Capital Gains tax. This is paid to the Canton and the figure drawn from the original purchase price in relation to the final sales price. The cost of any renovation or improvement work is deducted. It varies from Canton to Canton.
- Inheritance taxGifting of property to a spouse is tax free in each of the 26 Cantons, and free to a direct descendant in all but 4. GIfting a property to a third party is subject an inheritance tax of between 15 and 55%
Finding your ideal Swiss ski property
The benefits of ski property in Switzerland are clear - superb skiing, some of the most famous and enjoyable skiing in the world all protected by intelligent rules on ownership that preserve character and charm.
These rules do mean that property can be hard to come by, and staying ahead of the market can be difficult. Property can move pretty quickly, especially in sought after developments with high appeal to both the rental market and second home seekers.
One of the best ways to find your perfect Swiss ski property is to join our property alert system - we can tailor your search to your exact requirements, and help you find exactly the right place to soak up some of that Swiss serenity.