quality of life / living costs in switzerland vs uk ?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by robert_cyrus, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. robert_cyrus

    robert_cyrus

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    friend of my girlfriend's has recently got herself a new job in zurich, similar job as the old one, but gone from £17k to equivalent £51k. a nice jump in salary !
    my girlfriend is now considering an opportunity to work for 6 month's in our zurich office. (both gf and friend are french, and fluent in english, so language is not a problem).
    what's the quality of life, and the living expenses like over there ? and are the wages really 3 times the equivalent in the uk ?, cos that's a very good reason for me to follow !
     
    robert_cyrus, Jun 20, 2004
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  2. robert_cyrus

    The Devil IHTFP

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    Yawning is free in Switzerland, which is just as well because you'll be doing plenty of it.
     
    The Devil, Jun 20, 2004
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  3. robert_cyrus

    wolfgang

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    If you could live in London then most other cities should be a lot cheaper and that include Zurich too if one believe in all these cost of living ranking order you read in newspapers.

    Never been there. If you get some relocation fee as well then don't see why not.
     
    wolfgang, Jun 20, 2004
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  4. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Robert, wages are indeed substantially higher than in the UK and taxes are generally lower (this would certainly be true in the Zürich area – the lowest tax rates are in canton Zug, which is why house and apartment prices are so high down there). My overall tax rate in canton Basel-Land is about 20%. The cost of many things in Switzerland is less – cars (and car insurance), petrol and CDs, for example! Moreover, Mehrwertsteuer, Swiss VAT, is levied at 7.5% on most things.

    So, why aren't we all zillionaires? Well, I'm not because I'm one wage-earner feeding, clothing and housing four adults. With two adults earning and no dependents, things will be much better. Accomodation is very expensive in Switzerland (but no more so than in London). Food, however, is much more expensive (and the selection is much poorer) - Swiss agricultural subsidies make the EU's look downright mean (your taxes at work). And medical insurance (compulsory) is expensive and becoming ever more so (but the service is excellent). You'd have to get used to life on a much smaller scale. Zürich, by far the biggest city, has only about half a million people (Basel, No.2, doesn't even make 200,000). The shops are smaller, the selections of goods are smaller, and there are no giant shopping centres (some get close to "big"). And many of your favourite hi-fi marques are unrepresented here!

    Overall, with two jobs and no dependents, I think you'll be just fine. And with the new Swiss-bilateral agreements, it's quite easy to get in now (much of the work permit rigmarole has gone).

    I can't comment on James's yawning attack, as I don't know his reasons – perhaps he's merely bought into Harry Lime's famous comment (in “The Third Manâ€Â) that, in 500 years of peace, all Switzerland has given the world is the cuckoo clock (and even that's wrong, because cuckoo clocks come from the Schwarzwald in Germany!). But clearly Switzerland isn't for everyone – if you're used to a vibrant music scene (where “musicâ€Â= the stuff that most ZeroGainers apparently regard as such), you might be disappointed, but I really can't comment. And if you like paddling your toes at the seaside, it's a long way to go. But if you like skiing, mountain scenery and magnificent public transport to get you there, you'll be fine.

    In the 14 years since the Tones have been polluting Swizzieland, the place has got worse, crime-wise. I was amazed when I went into my first DIY store and found an almost complete absence of burglar alarms, deadlocks and the like. Alas, they're now all too prevalent, and houses even in peaceful villages such as ours get “doneâ€Â. A professional couple I know have been done twice in 10 years, once in Basel and once in Zürich. There has even been a spate of shooting recently in Basel. However, given that every able-bodied Swiss male has a fully automatic SIG assault rifle and ammunition at home, I'm astounded that half the population isn't routinely slaughtered.

    The Swiss have this reputation as cold fish, wary of foreigners. I can only say that we've never found this. Although the language in Zürich is Züritüütsch (you have to remember that Standard High German is a foreign language in Switzerland – and Swiss German in its many forms is so different as to be almost a different language), English is widely spoken (about 50% of the Swiss population have some knowledge of English). Stick to English and forget French; it might be an official language, but it'll get you nowhere on this side of the Röstigraben (the imaginary moat that divides the Suisse Romande (French-speaking Swizzieland) from German (sort of)-speaking Swizzieland). The Zürchers recently started a major row by starting to teach foreign language at primary school level – and the language was English. The Suisse Romande was livid, but the Zürchers were unrepentant – if they're going to teach a language, they said, they'll teach one which actually has some use.

    Quality of life? Very good. Hope that helps, but if you've any specific questions, please let me know, and I'll see what I can find.
     
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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  5. robert_cyrus

    The Devil IHTFP

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    See what I mean about yawning? And that's him trying to sell the place.

    Magnificent public transport, yippee, Switzerland here I come.
     
    The Devil, Jun 21, 2004
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  6. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I was? I hadn't noticed. And, no, quite honestly, I don't see what you mean. So please tell us, James, and we'll all know. Or is it just that when you like something (such as Mana) you really like it, and if you don't like something (such as Switzerland), you really don't like it?
     
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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  7. robert_cyrus

    The Devil IHTFP

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    I just think that it is one of the most boring countries I've visited. Everyone seems to be in bed by about 9.30 pm. Perhaps they've all shot themselves out of desperation.

    Say one was planning a fun w/e away with the wife...

    Paris? Berlin? Barcelona? Prague? Budapest? Rome? Vienna? Dublin? Amsterdam? etc...

    But Geneva or Zurich???? Hmmm. Tough call.

    And what about the classical music scene in Switzerbore? What famous symphony orchestras are there?

    There's nothing going on there at all, ISTM.
     
    The Devil, Jun 21, 2004
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  8. robert_cyrus

    julian2002 Muper Soderator

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    didn't charlie chaplain used to live there?
    cheers


    julian
     
    julian2002, Jun 21, 2004
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  9. robert_cyrus

    auric FOSS

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    A rather good if informal and slightly roundabout way to meaure of cost of the living in far off lands.

    Auric:)
     
    auric, Jun 21, 2004
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  10. robert_cyrus

    michaelab desafinado

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    Places for a fun w/e away aren't always the greatest places to live James. I'm very happy living in Portugal now but if I had the choice between London or Zürich I'd choose Zürich every time - and I know both cities pretty well. IMO the quality of live in Switzerland is miles better than in the UK.

    If you think Switzerland is boring then you've been to the wrong places. I've spent a fair amount of time in Zürich, Zug, Luzern, Basel, Bern and Geneva and they all have a pretty happening nightlife. The only place I didn't get on with quite as well as the rest was Geneva.

    The only thing I'd miss in Switzerland (coming from Portugal) would be beaches and the sea...but the mountains and the skiing would compensate :)

    Michael.
     
    michaelab, Jun 21, 2004
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  11. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Clearly you haven't been here for a long time,James. So long that your memory is failing you - it was never 9.30, it was 10.00. All I know is that my girls come home at the weekend at all sorts of odd hours, so clearly the place can't be too dead.

    And what famous symphony orchestras are there in Glasgae, pray tell? Or in, shall we say, Lisbon, where Michael lives? Or anything other than major cities? The Zürich Tonhälle Orchestra is pretty good, as good as any orchestra outside a major European metropolitan centre. The Basel orchestra is also good. And Basel has the Schola Cantorum Basilienis, one of the places to go if you want to learn baroque and earlier on original instruments.

    In any case, is this not the pot calling the kettle black? I remember one European guidebook, which listed each city under various headings. Under "Sins" for Edinburgh, it had "you have to know somebody".
     
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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  12. robert_cyrus

    The Devil IHTFP

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    The Royal Scottish National Orchestra is based in Glasgow. Edinburgh is a tiny little place with nothing much happening, AFAICT. Very pretty, though.
     
    The Devil, Jun 21, 2004
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  13. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Och, yon's a guid wee band, right enough, laddie. But the Zürchers would be in the same class. Their recorded performances with David Zinman have been excellent.
     
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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  14. robert_cyrus

    The Devil IHTFP

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    I've clearly misjudged the fun-loving Swiss. A happening place after all.

    ;-)
     
    The Devil, Jun 21, 2004
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  15. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Here's tae us!
    Wha's like us?
    Gey few, an' they're a'deid!

    (Hmm, perhaps you're right...)
     
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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  16. robert_cyrus

    robert_cyrus

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    ah. did i say zurich ? it's Geneva ! (mind like a sieve ...)

    ok, so what's Geneva like ?
     
    robert_cyrus, Jun 21, 2004
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  17. robert_cyrus

    The Devil IHTFP

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    Geneva's in Switzerland. See above for full details.
     
    The Devil, Jun 21, 2004
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  18. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Geneva is different. For a start, it has a foreign population approaching 40%, courtesy of all those international organisations and their hordes of fonctionnaires internationales, with their high, tax-free salaries. It is physically quite small, and very attractive, clustered around the old town on the south side of Lac Léman. Rents are very high, but as the place is nearly completely surrounded by France, it's possible to live over the border and get cheaper accomodation, although those darn fonctionnaires internationales have pushed up the prices a bit, to the disgust of the local French communes. Food is also cheaper in France. Curiously, petrol isn't but diesel is, considerably.

    If Geneva night life doesn't suit, there are plenty of places in France - casinos, night clubs - all within easy striking distance. And Chamonix-Mont Blanc and some of Europes most spectacular vertical real estate is a short drive away. And if you really want to paddle your toes, the Camargue is only 5 hours away by car.
     
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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  19. robert_cyrus

    HenryT

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    How about the Geneva based "Swiss Romande Orchestra" (to give them their English name)? They're in the top 20 of world's greatest orchestras, so fair to middling I suppose. :)

    http://www.osr.ch/en/english.htm

    Conductor Charles Dutoit, Swiss born, although he doesn't seem to spend much time there.

    Back on topic, any place which has a decent public transport network is definitely worth considering on a quality of life basis for me, as someone who has no choice but to use public transport... :( Only thing that does count against Switzerland for me is the weather, I'd prefer somewhere a bit warmer. :)
     
    HenryT, Jun 21, 2004
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  20. robert_cyrus

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I'd forgotten about the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Henry, I guess because they've fallen a bit since their glory days with Ernst Ansermet. But, yes, they're still pretty good.

    Stick around, it's getting warmer. We can see that even in the 14 years we've been here. Much less snow in winter. When we had to have a new (oil) heating system put in, we were amazed to see how much smaller was the new one. The heating people explained that, as the trend is for winters to be shorter and less cold, it's simply no longer necessary to build bigger systems. Another interesting factor is that bird migrations are getting later and many of the traditionally migratory birds have stopped migrating altogether.

    Last summer was amazing - one place in Graubünden (E. Swizzie) hit (or was hit by) 41.5°(C!!!). I asked my wife (Melbourne girl) whether she could ever remember such a long hot spell in Oz. She couldn't. Welcome to the Swiss Riviera!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2004
    tones, Jun 21, 2004
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