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Old 27.07.2015, 22:24
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Having read some of the previous posts, I see there is a wealth of knowledge in these forums. I am weighing up the idea of moving my family to Geneva, but really have no idea about the salary. I currently earn 130k US, and the salary offer is in the region of 135 CHF. I understand the difference in cost of living and housing, but my employer may help subsidize in this area. What I really want to think about is the quality of life and experience for my family living in the Geneva area.

We may look at living in France and commuting into Switzerland as we are dual US EU citizens. I have been told that the rents are far lower and both of us speak French. My question is really, can we have a comfortable standard of living and still save for retirement on a net salary of 5,000 CHF?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I currently live in Tampa FL.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 27.07.2015 at 22:34. Reason: merging consecutive posts
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Old 27.07.2015, 22:34
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Re: Salary

Somebody with more knowledge on the cost of living in U.S., especially FL, is going to be able to give a better answer than me, but I'd expect your $130k to go a lot further in U.S.

135k CHF isn't a low salary, it's well above average, but it's nothing special. You can live well and save, but you'll have to budget, especially if you're used to eating out.
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Old 27.07.2015, 22:40
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Re: Salary

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...the salary offer is in the region of 135 CHF....My question is really, can we have a comfortable standard of living and still save for retirement on a net salary of 5,000 CHF?
What sort of deductions are you estimating to net 5K from that kind of gross?

I know you didn't specifically ask about cost of living, but here are some threads that I think cover the topic nicely, including links and examples of actual expenses. The first one is a bit old, but quite comprehensive and worth a look. The second is more recent:

Cost of living - help needed to get it right

Cost of living in Switzerland-with examples

There are more than 100 threads that talk about cost of living. Some might be relevant to you and others not, but do have a read through the more recent ones. There's a LOT of good advice in there:

http://www.englishforum.ch/search2.php?q=cost+of+living

Hopefully you can compare your own current costs and lifestyle using some of this info, and determine whether the move is for you.
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Old 27.07.2015, 22:56
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Re: Salary

Thanks for the help. I used this on line calculator http://www.lohncomputer.ch/, but took off what I expected to have left over after housing. I think the net figure comes out at around 8.6k CHF or 9k if commuting. I budgeted around 3-4k for housing and then insurance etc. I came up with 5k as a conservative estimate.

The family and I do not require a lavish lifestyle. We do not eat out much, but do like to live in a nice house and save money on vacation. I was wondering if the 5k would enable us to cover supermarket food, maybe eating out once every couple of weeks, wine/beer, utilities, petrol for car and other essentials. Not having a mortgage would mean that I would need to save money not being invested in property. I have lived in the UK and in Washington DC and believe it or not those places are cheaper than Tampa for groceries and utilities!
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Old 27.07.2015, 23:44
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Re: Salary

It won't be a rich lifestyle but you won't starve either. Geneva is overcrowded and expensive so you will probably need to live in France and spend hours in the traffic (it's HORRIBLE, search the forum as it's a huge factor on whether to live in France or not and commute) or pay insane amounts of taxes and rents.


That said, if your wife finds work later then you can really live the dream but with 1 salary you are just OK.

You said you have a family so did you look up the cost of education/childcare?
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Old 27.07.2015, 23:48
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Re: Salary

And remember you will also get 300 a month (taxable) per child family allowance.
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Old 28.07.2015, 00:23
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Re: Salary

This is a realistic salary calculator, run by the government,

http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/en/index/themen/03/04/blank/key/lohnstruktur/salarium.html

Maybe think about living at Nyon or Yverdon les Bains, and commuting by Swiss train.
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Old 28.07.2015, 09:42
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Re: Salary

You would not be able to move to France straightaway. The criteria for getting a G (cross border) permit is that you must have permanent residency status in France AND already be living in a French border zone for at least 6 months. As you have EU nationality you're not limited to living in Geneva so think about living in Vaud, Neuchatel, Valais or even Fribourg cantons where rents are cheaper and you get more for your money. Also if you must have a house - most people live in apartments here - then trying to find one in Geneva will not only be difficult but expensive rent-wise too as there simply aren't that many of them available.

On that salary - if you live outside of Geneva - you would fill in a tax return and not pay tax at source. In which case there are deductions you can claim back like travel expenses, health insurance premiums, etc, which can bring your tax bill down.

What you also need to consider is the US side of things. As US nationals you're required to continue filing US tax returns and may owe the US tax on top of Swiss ones. To open a bank account anywhere outside the US you will need to sign a W-9 form so said bank can send the account info on to the IRS and if any "foreign", i.e. outside of US, account/s come to more than $10,000 at any time of the year they will have to be reported on a FBAR form.
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Old 28.07.2015, 14:37
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Re: Salary

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....
On that salary - if you live outside of Geneva - you would fill in a tax return and not pay tax at source. In which case there are deductions you can claim back like travel expenses, health insurance premiums, etc, which can bring your tax bill down.....
When you are paid at source default deductions exist which are pretty generous. I know lots of cases where people paid more tax when they did a tax return instead of paying at source (for the same salary). SO overall that probably won't play a huge difference anyway on his financials.
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Old 29.07.2015, 19:47
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Re: Salary

Thank you very much to everyone for this great information. To answer a couple of questions on the post, I will be getting school fees included in the package and we will probably need a house with some space. I have two young, high energy boys and a dog who will be coming with us!! Having done a bit more research into prices of groceries (thanks for posting the resource) it seems as though everything costs roughly the same in CHF as it does in USD.

We have a decent lifestyle here and would probably have a similar standard of living in Geneva, if it were not for the astronomical rents! We currently pay a mortgage of $2k pm, but that would increase to two and a half times that amount. 4.5k - 5k CHF/month for a comparable place. Some kind of housing allowance would be the only way to convince me to uproot the family I think.

Thanks everyone for the great advice and help.
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Old 29.07.2015, 20:15
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Re: Salary

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...Having done a bit more research into prices of groceries (thanks for posting the resource) it seems as though everything costs roughly the same in CHF as it does in USD...
If you're frequent meat-eaters you'll find a big price difference (at the big 3 of Coop, Migros and Denner) unless you catch things on sale. But with sales and the 50% discount when products are reaching the sell-by date you can get close.

Also note that you can't buy most OTC meds like ibuprofen or Tylenol in the supermarket here. The pharmacy charges an arm and a leg for it. You can buy 100 tablets of ibuprofen at Wal-Mart for 4 bucks. Here you get about 10 tablets for CHF 7.95.
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Old 29.07.2015, 20:53
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Re: Salary

Look at the following websites to get an idea of rental prices in Geneva and also other cantons. Bear in mind that the room count doesn't include things like kitchens, bathrooms, etc. Geneva does include kitchens, but the other cantons don't. So saying you want a room for the boys, one for yourself and one for guests plus a living/dining combined room you'll be looking for 4.5 and upwards - 5 up for Geneva probably.

www.immoscout24.ch
www.immostreet.ch
www.homegate.ch
www.home.ch

How long are you thinking of being here? Because if it's more than a couple of years and given your kids are quite young it may be better to put them into public schools here rather than international/private and so would save that cost - and maybe could be switched over to higher rental instead.

What breed of dog do you have? Switzerland has quite strict dog ownership laws and you will need to do a mandatory SKN course - theory and practical - within a year of your dog's arrival.

For food/shopping comparisons again look at the following websites to get an idea of costs:

www.migros.ch
www.coop.ch
www.aldi-suisse.ch
www.lidl.ch
www.denner.ch
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Old 29.07.2015, 21:04
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Re: Salary

We will probably stay a minimum of 4 years. Good idea about the schooling, but I do not think they will shift to accommodation. It is an agreement with a private/international school. As for the dog, what is SKN? We have an English Shepherd. Good info about the rooms, I was wondering about that.
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Old 29.07.2015, 22:04
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Re: Salary

SKN is the name of the mandatory course for all dog owners here in Switzerland. It's a two-part course - theory and practical. If you have owned dogs before you may be able to be excused from the theory part of the course - contact the cantonal veterinary office about this - but you will need to do the practical part. Every time you acquire a new dog you will need to do the practical part of the course again.

More here (in French):

http://www.blv.admin.ch/themen/tiers...x.html?lang=fr

You can also find a list of approved SKN trainers on the BLV website.

The theory course is available in English online if you wish to do it that way.

Online BLV approved SKN theory courses

Swiss dog laws are regulated at Federal, cantonal and communal levels so you will need to not only know the Federal rules, but the ones for the canton and commune you live in too. More in this article:

http://www.helloswitzerland.ch/-/dis...with-your-pets

There are many, many threads down in the Pet Corner of the forum regarding the course. Use the search option for "SKN course" and you'll find them.

Use the cross border tool you'll find here to see what you need to do to bring your dog over with you:

http://www.blv.admin.ch/themen/04670...x.html?lang=en

When arranging for accommodation check and double check that your pet will be welcome. If possible get it written into the rental contract and also expect to pay a few francs more on your personal liability insurance to cover any doggy damage.

I also suggest, if you do decide to take up the job offer, that you get hold of a copy of "Living and Working in Switzerland" by David Hampshire. It's full of useful info for both before and after you make the move. You can order it from your local bookshop or via the Internet.
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Old 29.07.2015, 23:32
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Re: Salary

More on Geneva's cantonal dog law can be found summarized by Tier Im Recht, here:

http://www.tierimrecht.org/de/tiersc...recht/genf.php

The TIR site is in German only, but the link to the GE law text is given at the top of the page; that will be in French.

You mention you have an English Shepherd - how big is he/she? This is important because under the GE law any dog of more than 25kg or 56cm must stand a basic comportment test, once you have passed the test you will need to apply for a permit. An English shep could fall into this category.


This is Section 3, article 27, 28 of the GE Loi sur les chiens.

Contact the cantonal veterinary office for details.

There are other points you should understand, such as where and when leash laws apply, limit to the number of dogs that can be walked at the same time, etc. If you don't speak French (or German, from the TIR site), have someone who does translate the regs for you.


(I am not in GE so am not familiar with the test nor the permit process - nor with local authorities' interpretation of the law or attitudes towards enforcement.)

---

All the best as you settle in.

Last edited by meloncollie; 29.07.2015 at 23:45.
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