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Old 19.02.2015, 13:44
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Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Hello,

This is my first post on this forum. I would like to say thank you as the forum has been very helpful in finding information about life for expats in Switzerland. I have a verbal offer for a job in pharma in Basel (waiting on paperwork) and I am trying to calculate a budget for a family of 4 for the area. I have based this on internet searching and this forum, but I would like anyone's opinion if it is roughly accurate or way off, am I forgetting something unique to Basel? We would not own a car, and living in SE England for 10 years we are used to a small house. We would be planning on sending our son (7) to local school and our daughter (2) might go to nursery 1 day a week.
  • Annual Salary: 120K CHF
  • Monthly Salary after deductions (13M) CHF 7,938.00
  • Insurance CHF 1,100.00
  • Groceries CHF 1,200.00
  • Transport CHF 250.00
  • Rent CHF 3,000.00
  • M Phones CHF 100.00
  • Internet+ Landline CHF 160.00
  • Utilities CHF 100.00
  • Clothing CHF 100.00
  • Entertainment CHF 200.00

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Dave
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Old 19.02.2015, 14:03
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Hi Dave

here are standard budgets; perhaps you've seen them.
http://www.budgetberatung.ch/Familien.74.0.html

I think your transport costs are too low. You might like to look at the Basel Transport company's Website (sorry, I'm not from there and don't know its name) but also at
http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and.../partners.html
http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and.../children.html
http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and.../children.html

Remember that it is considered normal, here, for school-children to travel to and from School alone (walk and public transport). And, fast forward some years, and they will be zipping around by public Transport themselves. If you and your wife each have a proper country-wide ticket, you will have a ball discovering Switzerland. The gap in life-quality and freedom is enormous, from a ticket that is year-long go-as-you-please just for your city, or for the whole country. Put the other way around, the country-wide ticket is a lot to pay out, but remarkably cheap in relation to the prices of the city tickets. And once you have that, you can save a fortune on family outings which, with a GA (country-wide ticket) and a picnic, you can even do for free.
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Old 19.02.2015, 14:12
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Thank You Doropfiz,

That is exactly the kind of insight that I am looking for. I hadn't considered nationwide tickets.
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Old 19.02.2015, 14:42
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

There will be certain other costs like parking, Billag, Car insurance, income tax.

But 120 K CHF brutto is quite sufficient for a family of 4 and you would have a decent living. eduction is free, public transport is great.
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Old 19.02.2015, 14:56
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

I'm a family of 4 although not in Basel..

I think you are in the correct ballpark for sure.

Insurance : (you mean medical?)
Maybe a little high? I'm 830ish per month for pretty good cover.
Other insurance like liability, home contents and legal, I paid annually (90, 350, 90)

TV licence/Billag -- it's not cheap, 600/700 per year?

Others like entertainment, clothing, grocieries.. Well you'll soon find out, all doable but shop around, learn the good places
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Old 19.02.2015, 15:46
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

You're off to a good start, OP. Here are two more threads that might help you with estimating 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
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Old 19.02.2015, 15:52
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

hi Dave, here's another opinion recognising that SFr 120k is very sufficient to live nicely in Basel.
1. Health insurance - you can go inexpensive at SFr 800 for bare bones insurance, but suggest you get coverage valid for other Cantons and EU assuming you and family will be traveling to UK etc. Shared ward is ok, budget around 1000 per month. Suggest you take a higher deductible 'Selbstbehalt' and lower monthly fee unless someone in family has chronic issues
2. Groceries - too low if you are meat eaters. However, you can make your number if you hop across the border weekly and buy expensive stuff like meat, fish and dairy in Germany or France (and you get VAT back also)
3. Transport - too low, suggest you get local tramline monthly or annual card which are a good deal. Google BVB and TNW for local networks.
4. Phone and internet - you might consider skipping the whole landline, just get mobile phone (cheaper, esp. if most calls are local and to only few preference numbers) and bare bones internet access. Big savings here.
5. Clothing at 100 francs a month - married with two kids? Don't think so, but again buy in Germany and France to have any chance to hit your number.
6. Maybe think about budgeting savings, added pension contribution, etc. Also ask if you employer has any added goodies like lunch or SBB ticket subsidies, REKA checks, etc.
Wish you and family a wonderful experience in moving to Switzerland!
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Old 19.02.2015, 15:56
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

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TV licence/Billag -- it's not cheap, 600/700 per year?
Expensive yes but not quite that expensive. it's 460 chf per year.

I agree that health insurance shouldn't be more than about 7-800 for a family of 4 as kids insurance is much cheaper than adults.

The OP could save a lot on grocery shopping by going over the border to Germany or France for a lot of it. We don't spend 1200 a month for 3 ( essentially all adults) and we do all our shopping in Switzerland.
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Old 19.02.2015, 16:11
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Irrespective of budgets or whatever else, the most striking thing to me in this calculation is the guy is going to earn Chf 120'000.-- per year yet only allows Chf 2'400.-- for entertainment per year, and that's spread over 4 people, so effctively Chf 600.-- per person.

It begs the question, why bother working if you only allow Chf 600/person for entertainment !
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Old 19.02.2015, 16:41
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Thank you all for your input, there are definitely some recalculations that I will need to make. Regarding shopping in Germany or France, how practical is this? Do you have to go deep into them or is a quick hop across the border sufficient?

As far as entertainment goes, I might have to increase that number, but my family and I prefer outdoor activities for entertainment. Going on walks and such. With a two year old, going to the movies or a nice sit down dinner is a rare treat.

Your advice is invaluable. I have tried to find as much as I can, but there is no substitute to hearing from people who live there. It's good to know that the consensus is that 120K is comfortable, although I think I need to factor in a larger travel budget!

Thank you all again.
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Old 19.02.2015, 16:43
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your clothing budget is extremely tight, unless you have already stocked up for the next few years.

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Regarding shopping in Germany or France, how practical is this? Do you have to go deep into them or is a quick hop across the border sufficient?
.
quick hop, using public transport, is totally doable. Of course, that limits shopping the amounts you can physically carry, and prices go down if you go further away from the border.

Of course, you can also consider living across the border. Would need a car then, but 120K goes a lot further, especially for housing.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 19.02.2015 at 18:13. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 19.02.2015, 17:00
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

If you earn 120k or more, you will be "invited" to submit a tax return, even though you're on PAYE (Quellensteuer). This is normally beneficial if you have children, but only if you fill in the tax declaration correctly. Otherwise it can give you a nasty surprise at some point down the line. Until you know the ropes, save every single bill and receipt, just in case. If you're the sort who prefers to delegate such tasks to a professional, then be prepared for a generous accountant's bill (say CHF1000) as well. If you have financial interests in UK (property, mortgage, income, savings etc), then you may need to do a spot of tax optimisation, because these will affect your Swiss tax. Best to get it right from the outset if you can.
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Old 19.02.2015, 18:06
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

I know you say you don't need a car BUT for a family of 4 it may prove both helpful and cheaper.

You can buy a good quality, well maintained, reliable family car for 5,000chf - budget 500-700chf for insurance and 300chf for road tax per year. You'll get 2 years (cheap) motoring without too much hassle. It will give you the flexibility to shop in France/Germany for expensive items (meat/alchohol being the biggest savings); take trips out to explore without the burden of so many tickets. How much fun will it be getting back from somewhere with pushchairs and tired children after a walk?

Finally - it may allow you to live in a less central but cheaper location.

(Although I fully accept you don't need to have a car in Switzerland)

We spend around 150chf per week (split 100/50 Migros/local butcher) for 2 people. We generally buy larger bits of cheaper cuts - slow cooked brisket being a favourite - and buy very little processed food. That budget does not include alcohol!
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Old 19.02.2015, 18:19
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Grocery bill is higher if you are buying lots of diapers and children related items. The clothing is also more expensive therefore buying across the border makes sense and is very easy. Items are much cheaper and you get easy tax return. There is a tram and buses which go in neighboring German and French cities.

Good luck with all the preparations. There are great outdoor activities and places for children.
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Old 19.02.2015, 18:21
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

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I know you say you don't need a car BUT for a family of 4 it may prove both helpful and cheaper.
What @dodgyken said. Public transport is very good, but it does start to become offputtingly expensive if there is more than one of you. A day in the mountains can set you back over CHF100 in train tickets, and that's before you've paid for the cable car etc.

Most Swiss people have cars, and there's a reason for this.
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Old 19.02.2015, 18:25
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Good news! I have found you more money...

You should get a family allowance payment per child of 200 Francs a month

"Familienzulagen" check it out for Basel
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Old 19.02.2015, 18:41
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

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Regarding shopping in Germany or France, how practical is this? Do you have to go deep into them or is a quick hop across the border sufficient?
There's a new crossborder tramline stopping at german commercial centre in weil am rhein right over the border, so...

For transport you'll need local yearly abo 760 fr x 2 people, maybe half-price card for trains (150 per year), so calculate maybe 1200 per adult per year including some trips.
Children in school should have local transport for free and trains are less expensive i think.
Now if you want the general abonement that's about 3600 year/adult, buy this only if you travel very very often in different places, it's roughly the cost of buying and mantaining a car (for 2 people it's 600 CHF a month, you can have a nice car with that). Traveling in 4 greatly reduces the cost of car ownership compared to public transport, for example you could live with only 1 transferable abo in the family for local transports, ditch everything else and use the car.

Internet+tv+phone triopack: 160 CHF a month only if you need 300 mbit/s, you should ditch the home phone and save money. you get a 40 mbit/s for 100 CHF.
You could spend more on the mobile phones if you use it a lot (if you get flatrate for example), or you can get a good enough abonement for 29CHF.

Also don't forget you should get family allowances for children (in university too).
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Old 19.02.2015, 20:48
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Again, thank you guys. Your advice has given my wife and I some things to discuss, especially regarding having a car and cross border shopping. I was also unaware that there is a child allowance. Is that like child tax credit in the UK?

It is also really comforting to know that there is a friendly forum for expats. I wish there was something like this when I relocated to the UK ten years ago!
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Old 19.02.2015, 21:12
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Oh... Well, now that we know you're not a Brit but are instead from the US.... Just wait. Someone will be around to tell you how you'll never get a bank account.

You might want to preempt that and start reading the finance forum.
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Old 19.02.2015, 21:28
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Re: Budget For Family of 4 in Basel

Don't forget to budget for stuff like winter sports.

Clothing, equipment hire/purchase, lift passes etc etc all add up for a family.

Not sure whether your general clothing allowance is enough. Winter boots etc for growing kids can wipe out 100 CHF in one hit.
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