The Swiss Apartment Rules

Did you know that the Swiss have rules that restrict many activities that most of us would find totally normal? The Swiss apartment rules are particularly strict, so we’ve always been thankful that we live in the countryside with no direct neighbours.

Today my husband was preparing for the big 4th July Party that we are hosting on Monday. Part of this involved a bit of garden work – we have a large linden tree in the garden, it’s yellow flowers are pretty for about 30 seconds before it sheds the flowers onto the grass. Raking the flowers and leaves takes a lot of time and effort so we bought an electric leaf blower/vacuum last year.

He was thankfully almost finished with the work when a neighbour came by to tell him that the use of a leaf blower is not allowed until November. Just what we should do with a leaf blower in November, when the leaves start falling in early summer, I don’t know. Maybe we could use it to blow the first snow away.

We have never met this neighbour, in the two years we have been living in this house, so it was a surprise when she said, “I am asking you very gently to stop using this machine”.

It was the first time that we have fallen foul of the Swiss obsession with rules and regulations – we have found that here in the French speaking area of Switzerland the Swiss seem to be less stuffy about their rules. We were warned about these rules before we moved to Geneva. Some of these rules are similar to those in Germany – such as not cutting the grass on Sundays – but other regulations were rather more restrictive. Such as the rule that prohibits showering after 10pm or even flushing the loo.

As many of these rules are limited to those who live in apartments – such as the bathroom ones – and as we live in a house, it has never affected us. Similarly, we can use the washing machine whenever we wish to. Many city apartments have a communal washing machine, the usage of which is strictly regulated. The tenants have a time slot in which they may use the laundry room. This would be a nightmare for me as I would find it hard to be so organised to wash on one or two set days of the week. What do you do if you have small children, or if a child is ill and you need to wash bedding?

One evening I was in town with friends and we were chatting as we arranged another meeting. A Swiss man stopped and told us that it was already after 10pm. We nodded and agreed that he was correct, it was indeed after 10pm, almost 10.30pm in fact, before realising that he was scolding us for talking too loud. We weren’t THAT loud – honest. It does take some getting used to that someone would actually tell you that you are being too loud, or that you should not be using a leaf blower – although we can be thankful that they did as some Swiss citizens simply call the police.

The Swiss are fond of their rules, and when you live here you have to abide by them, even the rules that you think are ridiculous. So my husband put the leaf blower away and fetched his trusty rake to finish the rest of the garden work.


  • MsGenealogist

    That would drive me INSANE. The washing machine thing … Ugh, I am getting worked up just thinking about the ‘ill child’ scenario (happened to us only ten days ago and yes, we live in a flat). Why is it like this? When did the rules thing begin – has it always been thus, with the individual rules adjusting over the years as new noisy appliances were invented? More info please!

    • MmeLindor

      I googled for HOURS the other day and could not find out when and where it started. Will have another look and see if I can find out.

  • Tracey Bennett

    My initial reaction was horror at all the rule abiding but after a moment’s thought it actually sounds quite lovely. Communally enforced peacefulness. Better than living next door to a summer full of riotous bbqs? Wonder what they’d make of my chickens and their 6am alarm call ….

    • MmeLindor

      Chickens and other livestock seem to be fine – we can hear the bells of the goats as they graze in a nearby field. It is quite relaxing in the evening.

  • Madness

    When we lived (in a French speaking canton) in Switzerland we were the only under 60’s in our block and were allowed to use the washing machine for two days in a row every TWO weeks! Thankfully no children or I would have lost my mind. No tumble dryer so it was basically two full days of laundry and waiting for one load to dry before hanging the rest all around our apartment. They were week days too so if I’d been able to work would have been impossible.

  • Muddling Along

    I remember the rules about using air conditioning (something about only being able to take a couple of degrees off the outside temperature) when I was working in Geneva on a project – thought I was going to expire of the heat and colleagues ended up sleeping in the bath to stay cold

    The Swiss definitely like their rules

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