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Old 21.08.2010, 01:14
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another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

This is yet another question about the cost of living in Zurich. I've read them all but none of them are exactly my situation so I need specifics.
Here goes: I'm an American living in Italy with my Italian husband and 3 children under the age of 4. My husband was offered a job in Zurich with an engineering company at 125K swiss francs a year. This would be a large increase to what he is making now in Rome...but is it enough?

I keep reading how expensive life is in Switzerland but with 3 small children life can be expensive where ever you are in the world. This would be a huge move for our family and before we make this decision I'd like to have the big picture. In Rome we are living basically month to month on 2 salaries (I work...hence, preschool fees). There's no point in moving to another country if our economic situation wouldn't really change. (Even if getting out of Italy is something I'm really looking forward to!)

I would appreciate some insightful answers to my post. Need more details? Let me know.
Grazie!
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Old 21.08.2010, 01:25
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

Welcome to the Forum! To me that salary would be acceptable.
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Old 21.08.2010, 01:47
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

The salary could "easily" be acceptable, depending on how long you think you'd want to stay AND because of this, what sort of education you might have in mind for your children.

I am given to understand that schooling at the International Schools tend to run about 20k / yr per child... this can be quite some expense if you've got multiple children (and even the thought of one that seems expensive to me - some US universities aren't even that much).

Conversely, local Swiss schools would be (for all intents and purposes) "free." I'm sure there are some sort of fees to take into consideration but it is nowhere near that much.


Another thing to consider is vehicle vs public transport and how they each relate to your living quarters. You will find homes / apartments "more suitable" to young families generally further out of city center. Usually the taxes in these areas are slightly lower, the rents slightly higher... the commute much longer.

The public transport system here is fantastic but with three youngins, you (and they) may enjoy being in some of the further flung villages and the bus may only pick up from your village once an hour. Because of this you may be happier having / bringing your own vehicle as this will ease travel and commute quite a bit BUT I have no idea what sort of costs you're looking at for auto insurance and payments as I left my car back in the US.


The last factor that comes to mind right off for me is groceries. Your lifestyle, diet, eating habits, shopping habits all will dictate quite a bit how well you do on this front.

Meat is quite expensive here (pork loin I'm accustomed to paying about $5 for in the US runs about 18chf here) and certain grocery stores highlight this immensely. Once every few months we do a "special" shopping trip at one of the more elaborate grocers (Manor) and spent 300+ chf on food that would last maybe a week for my husband and I but more routinely I shop at Aldi with a few purchases at Coop and spend less than 150chf for enough to last about a week n a half or so.


So... can you make it and make it well on 125k / yr? I think so, particularly if you live what I think of as a "normal" sort of life. Frugal / attentive grocery shopping, attending local schools, living in a comfortable but not elaborate apartment / house and making good use of public transport.

Good luck with your decision!
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Old 21.08.2010, 02:01
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

Hi

There are some interesting calculations that came out of this thread. This person was / is earning 125 K and was saving 1500 - 2500 CHF per month and leaving a reasonable life. If this is satisfactory to you, then you will probably do OK.

I can't make it here in Switzerland financially.
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Old 21.08.2010, 10:16
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

I have 3 kids under 5, that salary is perfectly fine (though playgroups etc can be expensive)
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Old 21.08.2010, 11:37
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

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I have 3 kids under 5, that salary is perfectly fine (though playgroups etc can be expensive)
What are you doing for your childrens' education? When they are old enough I would like them to attend Swiss public schools(6 years old, right?). Until then I was thinking of sending them to a bilingual preschool so they can learn German.
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Old 21.08.2010, 12:41
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

Hi,
To me that salary would be sufficient to substain your family here in Switzerland. Furthemore, as an Italian living here I surely suggest you to move here, since while in Italy you'll hardly get a pay rise, once your husband will have worked here he can jump into another job, say after 2 years, and more likely than in Italy get a pay rise. Then, your life will be far more relaxed , safe and clean here than in Rome.
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Old 21.08.2010, 12:54
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

The children will also go to the standard schools. in fact the eldest (5 in November) starts Kindergarten this coming Monday.

I understand it to be 2 years Kindergarten starting in August in the year when the child is 4 (but their definition of year is not Jan to Dec, can't remember the exact cut-off date at the moment), and then school follows.

In our case, luckily the children are already bilingual in Swiss German and English, but this is because of the advantage that my wife is Swiss, but children at that age are amazingly quick at picking up a language.

I'm pretty sure some playgroups (pre-Kindergarten , not cheap) around are dual language, one in our vicinity certainly had a teacher who sang English nursery rhymes and mixed the languages up a bit. Or certainly helped to introduce non Swiss German children into the group.
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Old 21.08.2010, 16:19
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

We did a family budget earlier this year 120k (2 Adults/2kids), so your salary should be fine. Our big cost items were childcare, insurances (health ect - cheaper options available) and holidays (something to factor in if your family is not here). Also the weekly shopping bill, depending on lifestyle and diet, can vary greatly.
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Old 21.08.2010, 17:35
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

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What are you doing for your childrens' education? When they are old enough I would like them to attend Swiss public schools(6 years old, right?). Until then I was thinking of sending them to a bilingual preschool so they can learn German.
If you go to www.homegate.ch, you can see how much an apartment
will cost. Additionally, there is a tax calculator to see how much
you have after taxes. The site is also in English.

Secondly. It is important to know that the tax rates vary from community
to community within Switzerland. If you are comparing two places to
live, put both of them in the tax calculator to see what you will have
left over after rent and taxes.
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Old 21.08.2010, 17:51
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

At such a young age, sending to bilingual schools is quite a waste of money... if you put them in normal pre-school, they'll learn great.

Usually, state pre-school is from 5 (kindergarten). Public schools are good, if you plan to stay long enough.

Coming from Rome, that will be quite a cultural shock though... Zurich is a fairly sized city, but comparing to Rome - not the same options and interests. Also, the Swiss are - lets be fair - much, much less friendly; making friends can take a lifetime. You have to factor in that you - as a non-working spouse - will have to go the extra mile to establish a social network.
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Old 21.08.2010, 19:15
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

HI

Your net salary will be around 9300 chf/month. Hard to tell the exact number as pension could be different in companies. Assumptions were: only your husband working, and you pay tax without church tax, the 125k was divided by 12. You will receive 600 CHF/month in child allowance. This net means that you will pay source tax monthly, but as you are above 120k/year, you will need to do a tax return too. Depending on where you live you will get back or pay more than the source tax.

9k net per month is not bad but you are a family of 5. I think most important that you find a good priced flat.

GL
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Old 21.08.2010, 19:48
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

The only reason why I could imagine you'd want a bilingual school is if you want your kids to learn 5 languages - because they will get Swiss German, German and French in the local school system...and English if you are in Zurich as well!

Otherwise, I've been perfectly happy with the local swiss-german kindertagestatte (day care) that my youngest goes to whilst I am working, and there are definitely cheaper and more flexible options with local Krippes, the biggest issue will be you, the parent, organising it if you don't speak German or Swiss-German, but I found that the enrolling manager at the Kita was really positive and the kids come from a very mixed language background, and about half the staff have a basic level of English so will help out with translation if needed...and my son has adapted beautifully to swiss-German (or so I am told, he's nearly 3 and speaks as much if not more than his peers)...

Our kids (we have three) are in Montessori pre and primary school, but for us it's not negotiable because their dad teaches at the Montessori school so tuition is tied to his salary package...
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Old 21.08.2010, 20:28
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

Cost of living - help needed to get it right
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Old 21.08.2010, 22:27
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

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At such a young age, sending to bilingual schools is quite a waste of money... if you put them in normal pre-school, they'll learn great.


Coming from Rome, that will be quite a cultural shock though... Zurich is a fairly sized city, but comparing to Rome - not the same options and interests. Also, the Swiss are - lets be fair - much, much less friendly; making friends can take a lifetime. You have to factor in that you - as a non-working spouse - will have to go the extra mile to establish a social network.
Excellent points! I was wondering myself about putting them in a bilingual school, cnsidering they already speak 2 languages, learning another at their young age shouldn't be too difficult. (I'm more worried about myself!) I have twins that are 2 and a daughter that is 3. Is that considered pre-school age or nursery school? Obviously a normal pre-school would cost much less than a bilingual school- any general ideas about the fees?

Your other point about the cultural differences between the 2 cities is well taken and something I have already thought about. This risk is something I'm willing to take to live in a place that functions. I've lived in Italy for 7 years and it's not an easy place to get things done.
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Old 21.08.2010, 22:45
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

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The only reason why I could imagine you'd want a bilingual school is if you want your kids to learn 5 languages - because they will get Swiss German, German and French in the local school system...and English if you are in Zurich as well!

Otherwise, I've been perfectly happy with the local swiss-german kindertagestatte (day care) that my youngest goes to whilst I am working, and there are definitely cheaper and more flexible options with local Krippes, the biggest issue will be you, the parent, organising it if you don't speak German or Swiss-German, but I found that the enrolling manager at the Kita was really positive and the kids come from a very mixed language background, and about half the staff have a basic level of English so will help out with translation if needed...and my son has adapted beautifully to swiss-German (or so I am told, he's nearly 3 and speaks as much if not more than his peers)...

Our kids (we have three) are in Montessori pre and primary school, but for us it's not negotiable because their dad teaches at the Montessori school so tuition is tied to his salary package...
Sorry, could you give me a bit more information about the schools and their fees? Specfically the one you mentioned- "Kita". Now that I feel better about my husband's salary-to-be, the next big hurdle is figuring out the schooling situation. I'm not totally convinced that they need to go to a bilingual school either. My three children are 2(twins) and 3 years old, I suppose they're not yet eligible for the public school system. What's a not outrageously expensive way to get them out of the house?
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Old 21.08.2010, 23:45
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

PlantHead. I wanna thank you for your post but haven't yet figured out how to do it. I checked out the thread you recommended and it's full of useful info. So,...thanks
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Old 22.08.2010, 01:02
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

Well - I don't know where you are from; but if your original starting point was a big city, moving to Zurich area will be radical change.

That said, yes - here things work, while in Italy it is all about re-inventing the wheel every time, and enjoy the "surprises" each day brings... that can be tiresome.
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Old 22.08.2010, 08:32
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

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This is yet another question about the cost of living in Zurich. I've read them all but none of them are exactly my situation so I need specifics.
Here goes: I'm an American living in Italy with my Italian husband and 3 children under the age of 4. My husband was offered a job in Zurich with an engineering company at 125K swiss francs a year. This would be a large increase to what he is making now in Rome...but is it enough?

I keep reading how expensive life is in Switzerland but with 3 small children life can be expensive where ever you are in the world. This would be a huge move for our family and before we make this decision I'd like to have the big picture. In Rome we are living basically month to month on 2 salaries (I work...hence, preschool fees). There's no point in moving to another country if our economic situation wouldn't really change. (Even if getting out of Italy is something I'm really looking forward to!)

I would appreciate some insightful answers to my post. Need more details? Let me know.
Grazie!
The reason you can find answers for your own situation is becuase no two families are the same and you need to work it our for your self.

Its not that hard; figure out your net then work backwards. thats what everyone else does.

i can start you off with what i did and you can fill in the blanks.

Monthly Gross = xxxxxx

Deductions
Tax (at source)
Federal Old age pension / Social Security
Unemployment Insurance (max 105)
Accident Ins. (~ 270)
Medicial Insurance Loss of Earning Insurance
Pension
Total Deductions

Additional Income
Child allowance (2 kids)
Family Allowance

Net Salary Total
Net (deductions + child allowance)

Living Costs (monthly)
Rent
Groceries
Utilities(gas, elec, water, phone, sky)
Car (insurance, Fuel, Tax, Service)
Home Insurance
Rail Fare
Daily Comsumerables
Child Day Care ( 2 days a week)
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Old 22.08.2010, 09:31
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Re: another salary question [Zurich, 125K, 3 small kids]

I don't know if you got this part of your ? answered so I'll try...for the schooling you have a couple options. you can put them in a private preschool like montessori, or a swiss style preschool called a "spielgruppe" or playgroup. Some are more expensive than others. The local gemeinde that you live in may have one that they underwrite a bit making it pretty reasonable. The one in my gemeinde runs about 850CHF a year, for 2X a week for a 2 hr session, and a slight discount for multiple children. There are other spielgruppes here that cost twice this, and there is a waiting list go get into this one. I've found Private preschools to be somewhere between 250 and 500 per month. Every gemeinde is different of course.

Also,30 mins or so by train away from Zurich is Zug (or perhaps Baar)... taxes are much lower there and the child credit is higher. for a family your size on one income that could be a considerable savings for you and it is a very nice place to live. Best of luck!
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