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Old 19.01.2011, 13:42
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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Thanks for a very nice post about a subject that usually gets on our nerves.

Come on guys, give him a thanks you "click"

As a single person in the cheapest area of Switzerland, you would need CHF 2,500 just to exist.

You can lower your living costs by sharing an appartment.
I agree, unfortunately. When I was doing my internship this summer, my salary was 3500 CHF. I thought it was HUGE, back home in Romania a family of 3 would've gone by comfortably, no issues whatsoever. And even though I had been living in CH for a while, I thought 2 people would be 'pampered'. Fortunately, I got my feet on the ground with the first paycheck and first expenses . Mind you, my rent was only 850 CHF (living in Neuchatel) but income tax was a bit higher, I also didn't pay health insurance as an EU student. I was left with more or less 2700-2800 CHF and I assume you'll be left with that amount too, if you take out the 1000 CHF mortgage. Trust me, it's barely enough to get by. And when that Billag damned bill came, all for one year, almost 500 CHF, we had to cringe. So weigh your options carefully, it is possible that your wife might get a salary herself and then you won't be in such a tight budget. 400 CHF for groceries is also a bit tight, we spend around 600 CHF a month, but we eat meat. What else...rubbish tax, Viteos (electricity and gas), fuel, vignette, parking spot...oooph, there are a LOT of things to be considered.

Also, I am bit amazed at your offer, because in Neuchatel for example i know for a fact that salaries for PhD are huge (5-6000 before taxes) is this for a part time? If not, maybe other cantons have better offers and you could try another university...?
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  #22  
Old 19.01.2011, 13:42
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Hi technix. I came here from Australia to do a PhD about 6 years ago. Whilst I didn't have a mortgage / wife to worry about, my starting salary was low, somewhere in the mid-30s, yet I survived. Most of your estimates look reasonable, give or take a little. You should be OK as long as you have a bit of a cushion somewhere. If your wife cannot find work too quickly this will also make it tough. You won't need 80,000K (or the legendary 120K), but you will need to be careful.

Best of luck with the decision.
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Old 19.01.2011, 13:45
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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His tax at 10% will cover that. Being married and earning 3,850 a month will mean he pays maybe 3% tax in Zurich. Social contributions are in the region of 6-7%.
I am not so sure. I pay my students similar salaries but what ends up in their accounts is much less after deductions. These salaries have increased over past few years so now some do manage to save money if they live in student housing, but then again they don't have 1000 CHF monthly payments back home.

If it is any consolation, OP will get these deduction plus 19% contribution from the University back, when he leaves, but this whole idea is just asking for trouble.

More time will be spent on finding the cheapest bread and milk than doing research, which is not why people start a PhD
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Old 19.01.2011, 13:46
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Technix, you could have some help if you can find an appartment to share with a third or an other couple. that could be a way to reduce expenses...

Good luck.
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Old 19.01.2011, 14:03
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

The first year PhD salary in ETH Zurich was 67k pre-tax in 2010. It will go up a bit in 2011. I am posting this here, because it's actually public information. It doesn't come up with searching without serious google-fu applied, though.

The salary is paid in 12 installments, not 13.

If you are flexible on where you live, you can save a bundle on rent (compared to living in Zurich). However, 1200CHF per month could still be too low. Keep in mind that your registration and tax will be a lot simpler if you stay in Kanton Zurich, though.

Also, you'll want to jog down to the University of Zurich cafeteria for lunch and save about 4CHF per day
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Old 19.01.2011, 14:38
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Agree with the others on getting a shared accomodation, a room in a 3-4 room apartment should cost CHF 800-1000 p.m. Lots of students in Zürich who live this way.

And welcome from a fellow Indian!
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  #27  
Old 19.01.2011, 14:39
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Thanks everyone. I threw adliswil because I thought there were a couple of places I liked there on homegate.ch and I had originally thought it would fit my budget. But I guess most of you are right. I will have to look at other places (Dietikon, Badel etc?)

And I meant 2 room as in one bedroom house (around 450-500 sqft).

About savings, i do have 10000-15000chf for initial setup and as a contingency fund over 3-4 years.

About renting out my apartment in India, it is still under construction phase and should be ready for renting out sometime next year and the expected rent can be around 500chf. So that will come in as additional income a year or so after I begin.

For rental deposit, I will be considering SwissKaution. Thanks @summerrain for pointing that out to me as an option.

@spinach Thanks for the number. I have been spending ages on trying to google that out and with no success and i saw numbers ranging from 48000 to 70000. It felt odd to ask the prof about the salary during the interview and I thought I can get to that part once i receive some confirmation about my offer.
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Old 19.01.2011, 14:54
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

You might also be eligible for a subsidy of health insurance, look here:
Are you eligible for a health insurance subsidy?
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  #29  
Old 19.01.2011, 15:03
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

@Technix: if you're looking for rental properties on Homegate, try the region of "Affoltern am Albis" in Kanton Zurich. They've got very reasonably priced 2 or 2.5 room flats and good public transportation connections (the "fast" train = S-Bahn) on lines 9 and 15 (30 mins) to Zurich main station
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Old 19.01.2011, 15:36
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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But one cannot have it all. Doing this PhD has been a long term desire and I would like to get it to materialize. Thanks again everyone.
GO FOR IT!! really! Just research the hell out of it and understand what the challenges will be. This country is EXPENSIVE but many locals do live on that much.
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  #31  
Old 19.01.2011, 17:08
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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thanks all for your inputs. I will be a bit more wary now. I understand some of this was not realistic. I will try to rework something. And yes, I need to do something about my mortgage until my wife can get a position or if possible take a mortgage-break for a couple of years which would mean very high interest and increase in repayment period. But one cannot have it all. Doing this PhD has been a long term desire and I would like to get it to materialize. Thanks again everyone.
I think you really need to get rid of the mortgage payments. If you can do that then I'd say do the PHD. It won't be easy it but will be easier if you can stop the mortgage payment for a while.

Don't forget that you need money in the budget for your wife's daily activities. She will need money to go out & meet other people, take a class or whatever. She can't sit around the house all day every day doing nothing. She'll go crazy.
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  #32  
Old 19.01.2011, 17:45
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

The consensus here seems to be that even without deducting your mortgage payments you will find it pretty difficult to make ends meet.

I think that you will find it more realistic if you factor in an extra 5 percent as salary deductions for pensions, accident insurance and other somewhat incomprehensible (to me at least) items and also bear in mind that there is a minimum CHF340 franchise on medical costs. Which reminds me that your wife will have to have compulsary accident insurance with her medical insurance.

Finding a place to live is obviously your major problem. I hope that the student services will be of some help. I seem to remember that they do have lists of places on offer. Other have already mentioned the start up costs when renting such as acquiring furniture, kitchen stuff and electrical appliances, as well as extra running costs such as billag, but you need to remember that monthly heating and service charges are based on estimates and you could find yourself with an extra bill at the end of the year if the costs exceed the estimate.

If renting out your property to cover your mortgage really isn't an option you might want to do what many Phd student couples do and start off in student accomadation. I know this is highly sought after, but vacancies do occur. This option would give you a breathing space to get yourself sorted at work and give you time to find a reasonable place to live, not to mention meeting others in the same boat. If you have a look at www.studentenhaus-vincenz.ch you can see the sort of thing I mean. There other similar places, but that was the only one I could think of off hand.

Anyway good luck and welcome to Zürich and a life on a shoestring. It's doable, I've met many people who have done it .
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  #33  
Old 10.02.2011, 16:37
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Hi,

Thanks all for many insights and useful pointers. Since my last post I have heard back from the professor and have been offered the position at 100% salary level. This means my annual gross income would be 68000 chf and after tax and statutory deductions, i will be left with around 4800chf a month. I realized that, as pointed out by many others in this thread, that we will need at least 3500-4000chf a month as basic living costs and rent. I think we should be able to manage reasonably with this salary. I will be beginning sometime in June and would be looking out for accommodation.

Thanks again!! hope to be an active member on this useful (and entertaining :0 ) forum.

-Technix
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Old 10.02.2011, 17:11
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Wish you soon a good start in Zurich.

ETH has some housing plans for their students. If you are married you can have a flat on your own (otherwise you have to share it with other students - so called Wohngemeinschaft).


http://www.students.ch, click on Wohnen
at the left there is Kartenansicht (map) and Listenansicht (list).

Also try

http://www.woko.ch

And say you need a flat on your own, because your married.

It worked for our Japanese friends, who came here for a year - he was a phd student
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Old 10.02.2011, 17:22
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

thanks for the links armandair. i will try those links and also speak to my advisor's secretary regarding this.

and once i reach 10 posts, i am gonna come back and thank all these really helpful people!
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  #36  
Old 10.02.2011, 17:33
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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The first year PhD salary in ETH Zurich was 67k pre-tax in 2010. It will go up a bit in 2011. I am posting this here, because it's actually public information. It doesn't come up with searching without serious google-fu applied, though.

Is this true??!!! I got a letter a few weeks ago saying that PhD salaries are NOT changing. Getting the same as before (apart from yearly raise).


Consider yourself very lucky to be getting 100% salary. From my experience this is very rare (although I really havn't asked more than a handfull of PhDs).

It's doable, what you're attempting, however you need to be very creative on meals and the such. I've been living at 60% for two years, and save a good portion of my monthly salary---but I'm also not married and am amazing at being cheap :P
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  #37  
Old 10.02.2011, 18:34
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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Hi,

Thanks all for many insights and useful pointers. Since my last post I have heard back from the professor and have been offered the position at 100% salary level. This means my annual gross income would be 68000 chf and after tax and statutory deductions, i will be left with around 4800chf a month. I realized that, as pointed out by many others in this thread, that we will need at least 3500-4000chf a month as basic living costs and rent. I think we should be able to manage reasonably with this salary. I will be beginning sometime in June and would be looking out for accommodation.

Thanks again!! hope to be an active member on this useful (and entertaining :0 ) forum.

-Technix
That is a very generous PhD salary. You will be fine....more than fine in fact.
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  #38  
Old 10.02.2011, 18:41
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

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Also, I am bit amazed at your offer, because in Neuchatel for example i know for a fact that salaries for PhD are huge (5-6000 before taxes) is this for a part time? If not, maybe other cantons have better offers and you could try another university...?
Really?

http://www2.unine.ch/rh/page1578.html

That's the salary for a PhD student at unine. The PhD assistants earn a lot more

http://www2.unine.ch/rh/page12271_fr.htm

But they are expected to do a lot of teaching as well.

Students at IMT (which used to be part of unine but is now EPFL) earn about 55k in their first year.
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Old 10.02.2011, 21:34
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

Hi,

I am also from India. staying with wife in near by Zürich area.Your figure for 400 chf for food is not realistic. you should assume around 500-600 chf per month for food. Rent 1200 chf is managable but you will not get decent home and locality.

But as you said before you cannot negotiate with salary for PhD. (Very true) but in general its okey. there are lot of people with same condition and they manage it very well.

SY
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  #40  
Old 10.02.2011, 22:30
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Re: yet another cost of living question (have done some basic research)

One thing you also need to consider is the baggage that comes with doing PhD i.e. physical, emotional and mental stress (maybe work culture in Switzerland is different). Add to that the financial stress that you may encounter...which may affect your personal life.
However, when people say Switzerland is expensive, it indeed is but at the same time the pay is high as well..... 68 K as stipend.... In US, that or lower is the starting salary as an assistant professor. My postdoc stipend was 42 K (won't even mention my PhD stipend) and I lived in Washington DC (more expensive than Basel). I still managed to enjoy small things in life with occasional leisurely trips with whatever little time I had outside the lab .
I would say that you can manage but will have to make some compromises.
All the best
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