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Old 02.08.2010, 11:49
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Cost of living - help needed to get it right

It really bugs me when people ask, "is such and such a salary enough to live off"
So I started putting together an idiots guide to working out your cost of living.


This is where I am up to, give me suggestions and I will update this original post and then hopefully we can stop having to answer questions from people who only want to eat cavier and drive around in Aston Martins.





August 2010

How to calculate if your salary will be enough for you to live comfortably in
Switzerland


1.
Tax
Put your salary into a tax calculator, Comparis have a good one.
http://en.comparis.ch/steuern/steuer...vergleich.aspx
(NOTE: This is best used to compare taxation between cantons, not as a definitive tax calculator)

If you live in
Zurich you can use their official calculator
http://www.estv2.admin.ch/e/dienstleistungen/steuerrechner/2010/zh.htm

For other Kantons look here
http://www.estv2.admin.ch/e/dienstle...uerrechner.htm

Alternatively this calculator is pretty accurate.
http://www.accurity.ch/revenueestimate/

Also for
Zurich (I live here) are the tax rates of the different Gemeindes
http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...euerfuesse.htm


As an ex-pat you will pay Quellensteuer, which means tax at source. Your tax will come straight out of your monthly salary and is made up of Kantonal tax (e.g.
Zurich) and Gemeinde tax (e.g. Thalwil)
Roughly speaking the amount of tax you will pay will be between 10-15% of your earnings.

(Note: If you earn over 120,000 chf you will pay Quellensteuer and will also have to fill out a tax form, go here for help filling out the tax form,
How to do your tax return Kt ZH)


As an example lets take a salary of 100,000 and I am living in
Zurich.
I am married, no religious denomination, have 2 kids and I am the sole earner.

As you can see the amount of tax you pay varies massively even across the Kanton of Zurich, but if I lived in Thalwil I would pay 11,451 chf per year.

Leaving me a total of 88,549 chf.



Tariff tables for Quellensteuer in Zurich
Single (Tariff A): http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...if_a_QSt08.pdf

married one earner(Tariff B): http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...if_b_QSt08.pdf

married two earners(Tariff C): http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...if_c_QSt08.pdf


NOTE:

It has been pointed out that the different tax calculators give different results. calculating tax in Switzerland is tricky because every village can set it's own tax levels.
Go here for a "clearer" explanation
Cost of living - help needed to get it right

****************



2.
Other taxes

AHV - Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung - pension 1st pillar. 5.15%.
ALV - Arbeitslosenversicherung - unemployment insurance, 1% up to 10500/month.
BFG - Berufliche Vorsorge(Gesetz), pension 2nd pillar. 2% – 11%.Swiss pensions consolidated summary
UVG - Unfallversicherung, accident insurance. 1.533%. (If not paid by your company)
KTG - Krankentaggeldversicherung, icome insurance in case of sickness. 1.07%. (If not covered by your company)

3rd Pillar - This isn't compulsory but you will probably want to invest money here
See this thread for a full discussion.
3rd Pillar Pension Fund


****************


3. Insurances

Health Insurance is the real biggy here and largely depends on what you want.
Again use comparis
http://en.comparis.ch/Krankenkassen/...ieeingabeseite


Accident cover is usually provided by your company. That means if you are out skiing and you break your leg your company insurance will pay. Read your contract to find out if you are covered.


The other thing to know is deductable rates

If costs for medical treatment, hospital treatment or medication occur, then the policyholder must first cover some of these costs. This first contribution is known as the deductible rate. Only if the costs exceed the agreed deductible rate, will the health insurance company contribute to further costs.

If you pick a rate of 1500 chf, you pay up until the medical cost goes above 1500 chf. (That is the basic explanation) The lower your deductible rate the more you pay per month for insurance.


As an example I pay 202chf a month for my insurance. Which from my remaining 88,549chf salary leaves me with.
202*12 = 2424
88549 – 2424 = 86125

If you are married your other half will also have to pay health insurance (and women pay slightly more than men)
So 86125 - 2424 = 83701

Children typically are insured for around 70-90Chf a month and they don't pay deductables, you just pay 80% (IIRC) of every general medical bill.


Next go here
http://www.comparis.ch/hausrat-versi...ngsnehmer.aspx
And work out the house insurance and your 3rd party liability insurance. These are not compulsory ( I don’t think) but you should probably have them.

All in all expect to lose about 27-35% of your salary to tax and Insurance.
So from our 100,000 chf salary expect to actually take home about 75,000 - 70,000 chf



****************


4. Rent
http://www.homegate.ch/homegate/rent...ault&a=default
Goto homegate and put in the house details and the area you would like to live in.

For Zurich as a guide:
1 room– 500chf + per month
2 room– around 1500chf per month
3.5 room – 2000 – 2500chf per month
4.5+ - 3000chf+ per month
A house – 4000chf+


See this thread for a discussion on number of rooms in comparison to number of bedrooms
How are rooms/pieces counted in home adverts?
These are rough figures for Zurich and vary on how close you want to be to public transport or if you want to live on the Gold Coast.

****************


5. Food and living costs
http://www.coopathome.ch
Go to the online coop shop and work out your weekly shop.
As a rough guide.

Milk – 1.40
Halbweiss /500g – 1.15chf
Chicken Breast /340g – 11.75chf
Shower Gel – 3.90
Pasta /500g – 2.80
Bananas /4-6 – 3.00
Carrots /500g – 3.00
Cornflakes /375g – 2.95
Beef Steak /150g – 12.40

As a general rule meat is expensive.


Easting out
Drinks
English Pub - 1/2 litre draft beer= 9chf
Terrasse - beer (bottle) = 8chf
Bauschatzli - beer (bottle) = 5-6chf

Average/cheap restaurant
Tiffins - beer = 6chf, main = 20-25chf
Pizza Places - beer = 6chf, main = 15-20chf, salad = 8chf

100chf for a dinner for 2 including drinks is not unusual.

****************


6. Public Transport
Swiss public transport is excellent, however you need to be aware it is expensive unless you buy the correct tickets.

For Zurich go here
http://www.zvv.ch/en/tickets/tickets...ces/index.html

2 Zones in Zurich for 1 adult costs for 1 year = 693chf

Halbtax – At the minimum travel card I would recommend is a halbtax
There is a discussion about it here.
http://www.englishforum.ch/daily-life/683-swiss-mystery-2-half-tax-card.html
Basically all your tickets are half price.

http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reisemarkt/...te/halbtax.htm
It costs 150chf for a year.

General Abonement (GA)
This allows you to use any public transport anywhere in Switzerland. It’s a bargain if you travel a lot.
http://mct.sbb.ch/mct/en/reisemarkt/...abo-preise.htm



****************



7. Additional Costs
Go here for mobile phone charges
Cost of living - help needed to get it right


Internet/Television/telephone
Your 2 main choices are
http://www.cablecom.ch/en/ (currently 75chf for all 3) this is a cable connection
or
http://en.swisscom.ch/ this is a ADSL connection.


Television/Radio Licence.
http://www.billag.ch/web.html
You need to pay Billag, see below thread for more information.
Do I have to get a TV licence from Billag?
You pay per household and it is roughly 120CHf.

Last edited by PlantHead; 09.01.2011 at 21:45.
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Old 02.08.2010, 11:53
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

Good idea - comments:

Change bed to rooms for the rental bit
Bread at 1chf - is that for a bread roll?
Chicken (250g) = 5chf???
Cost of beer in a restaurant? bar? club?
Cost of daily tram ticket? with/out half tax?
Running a car??
Indication to the cost of a days skiing? IE Because it is what Switzerland is famous for.

Some of those food costs look wrong - very wrong!

Maybe once you have updated the main post - you could email/pm mods to delete the suggestion/replies?
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:13
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

I wanted to keep it to the bare essentials, so I kept skiing and dining out in restaurants out of it.
Food costs are from the Coop site, I will have a double check.

I will put in some travel stuff.
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:17
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

Great effort, I just doubt people will read it before posting away... so I will bookmark it to simply answer with a link.

For your list:

Asking the EF to sort out every detail of your move - priceless.
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:17
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

I'll put in possible price range of cable TV / internet packages from Swisscom and Cablecom too.

Well, thats a staple for this couch potato

PS: Fantastic initiative Planthead!
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:19
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

Add in how the number of rooms appears in a house as this is different to england (and other places ?) so:

Studio = 1.5 pce
1 Bedroom Flat = 2.5 Pce
2 Bedroom Flat = 3.5 pce

and so on.
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:19
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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Add in how the number of rooms appears in a house as this is different to england (and other places ?) so:

Studio = 1.5 pce
1 Bedroom Flat = 2.5 Pce
2 Bedroom Flat = 3.5 pce

and so on.
Already answered in another sticky
How are rooms/pieces counted in home adverts?
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:25
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

quellensteuer is only to be paid if you earn less than 120k/year...
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:30
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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quellensteuer is only to be paid if you earn less than 120k/year...
No. Until you get a C-permit, you must pay quellensteuer. If you earn more than 120K/year, you still have quellensteuer, but must also fill in a tax return.
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:37
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

When you arrive you need to register within the first week with your Kreisburo. Here is the list of them in Zurich
http://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/content/...ngszeiten.html
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:44
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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As an example lets take a salary of 100,000 and I am living in Zurich.
I am married, no religious denomination, have 2 kids and I am the sole earner.

3. Insurances
Health Insurance is the real biggy here and largely depends on what you want.
Again use comparis
http://en.comparis.ch/Krankenkassen/...ieeingabeseite


As an example I pay 202chf a month for my insurance. Which from my remaining 88,549chf salary leaves me with.
202*12 = 2424
88549 – 2424 = 86125
Great initiative Planthead. Making a play for one of those EF Awards, huh?

Just a small point but you set up the example as a family of four, but only deduct insurance for one person from the hypothetical annual household salary. The family would also be paying a second adult insurance (and if it's for the wife it will be slightly higher than the husband), and insurance for two kids (which will run about 70-90CHf per month each child).

Also, kids don't have deductables. You just pay 80% (IIRC) of every general medical bill.

I know all this info is available in the links you provide in the post but for accuracy, it might be worthwhile mentioning in the main post too.
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Old 02.08.2010, 12:52
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

Great thread!

Here's the official tax calculator for all cantons: tax calculator

Quote:
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No. Until you get a C-permit, you must pay quellensteuer. If you earn more than 120K/year, you still have quellensteuer, but must also fill in a tax return.
Or if you're married to a Swiss - then you're treated as Swiss and file accordingly without quellensteuer (withholding tax).
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Old 02.08.2010, 13:31
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

maybe you could add directly the tax tables for those unfortunate people who will earn less than 120k, so they can see their monthly quellensteuer:

Single (Tariff A): http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...if_a_QSt08.pdf

married one earner(Tariff B): http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...if_b_QSt08.pdf

married two earners(Tariff C): http://www.steueramt.zh.ch/html/steu...if_c_QSt08.pdf
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Old 02.08.2010, 13:50
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

If you have a child you get about 200CHF per child extra as well do you not?
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Old 02.08.2010, 13:59
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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Also, kids don't have deductables. You just pay 80% (IIRC) of every general medical bill.
They do. I have two kids, Sanitas, deductible 500 CHF each. It is the maximum deductible for a child Sanitas offers.
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Old 02.08.2010, 14:09
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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If you have a child you get about 200CHF per child extra as well do you not?
This varies by canton. Canton Zug, for instance, receives 300fr/ month per kid.
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Old 02.08.2010, 14:33
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

100k is actually more like 6,300chf per month take home.
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Old 02.08.2010, 14:33
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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No. Until you get a C-permit, you must pay quellensteuer. If you earn more than 120K/year, you still have quellensteuer, but must also fill in a tax return.
sorry, thats how it works for me too, yes! what i wanted to say is that the quellensteuer differs if you compare the numbers given at zurich hp-website and the effective payment after you hand in the tax return form. but as a newbie to zurich/CH thats maybe not an important fact...
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Old 02.08.2010, 14:54
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

costs for mobile fon


if you dont have a b-permit or no corporate program from your company as an option you can choose from a variety of prepaid programs like

m-budget
http://www.migros.ch/DE/Supermarkt/M...en/Mobile.aspx

or yallo
https://www.yallo.ch/kp/dyn/web/pub/home/home.do


another option is to pay 1500CHF deposit (deposit can differ from provider to provider) and get a propper mobile fon contract like

swisscom
http://en.swisscom.ch/residential


orange
http://www1.orange.ch/residential_pr...s.html?lang=en


sunrise
http://www1.sunrise.ch/Mobilabos-cbl...de_CH-CHF.html

internet programs:

swisscom
http://www.swisscom.ch/res/internet/dsl/index.htm


orange
http://www1.orange.ch/residential_internet_on-the-go_internet-everywhere.html#at-home_orange-adsl


sunrise (see below for monatliche kosten= monthly cost)
http://www1.sunrise.ch/Abos-cbEB_AqF...de_CH-CHF.html

TV and/or internet

cablecom
http://www.cablecom.ch/en/b2c.htm



swisscom
http://www.swisscom.ch/res/tv/index....ampID=scs-home

http://www.swisscom.ch/res/internet/index.htm

http://www.swisscom.ch/res/festnetz/index.htm



billag

is a radio and tv fee that you MUST pay for broadcasted programs like SF
it has to be paid per household, not per set or number of people living in one place. cost is 120chf roughly.

Last edited by flow23; 02.08.2010 at 15:12.
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Old 02.08.2010, 17:45
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Re: Cost of living - help needed to get it right

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2.
Other taxes
...

AHV - This is your unemployment insurance and is 5.05.% of your salary.


ALV - 1% of Salary.



Actually:

AHV - Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung - pension 1st pillar. 5.15%.
ALV - Arbeitslosenversicherung - unemployment insurance, 1% up to 10500/month.
BFG - Berufliche Vorsorge(Gesetz), pension 2nd pillar. 2% – 11%.
UVG - Unfallversicherung, accident insurance. 1.533%.
KTG - Krankentaggeldversicherung, icome insurance in case of sickness. 1.07%.

V.
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