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  #121  
Old 22.05.2020, 23:13
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

I do not know living costs in NZ/Australia but some 4 years ago I did a detailed cost comparison between Zurich and San Francisco area and decided Zurich is cheaper for our needs.

As I do not know what your preferences are it is difficult to say but some things I considered (didn't have kids at time but did budget for them):

- school (US more expensive, should send to a private school there)
- kindergarten (depends on age, but is a limited time deal and you won't need eventually unless you plan more kids )
- rent (again US was more expensive)
- health insurance (more expensive in Switzerland and is a major cost, easy to calculate on comparis and a couple of company websites to see what benefits you need)

I would say that rent, insurance and schooling are major costs from my perspective. You can't be without them. Many mentioned food but not a major cost for me. Maybe we don't eat much (definitely not eating meat as often as some) but we do eat almost all organic, don't eat out, usually are very picky ingredients-wise and for 2 it is less than 1000frs a month (even when adding cleaning agents and similar). Shopping from France of Germany cannot make up for the difference, travel cost and lost time. Plus in my experience of a couple of attempts food quality on the other side of the border is of inferior quality (even for same shops). But you should have already your take on food costs given you already lived in Switzerland. You may also visit leshop.ch and coopathome.ch and check food prices (I did that for US).

Some extras:

- travel to visit family (how much do you spend to visit family in Switzerland, how much will you spend on visits to NZ)
- other travel (how much do you pay for holidays when you are based in Australia vs CH)
- dental costs - how often do you go to dentist?
- how much do you spend on clothes? other household goods? what luxury level do you want to be able to afford?
- do you want someone to clean the house? how often? need babysitting?
- owning a car is fairly expensive in CH imo
- public transportation? during Covid e.g.?
- the list goes on as someone mentioned, write down everything you spend money on and what you intend to spend money on and compare.

You may also want to consider what will be your pension plan in either of the countries. How much are you insured against unexpected events and how likely are they?

You should definitely be more than fine with 150k. The question is where are you more comfortable and happy in long term. Where do you want your kids to grow up? How much do you like which educational system? Do you think they would fit in here, etc. Where do you feel safe? These are very personal things that hardly anybody else can answer for you... And whatever you choose world is an unpredictable place
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  #122  
Old 23.05.2020, 07:48
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

Hi all - thanks to those who have taken the time to write helpful posts on the matter :-) It has been very informative ;-)

And just to mention a couple of things - while we do have some friends in the region, none of them have 4 kids, so that makes it tricky to compare (most have 1 or 2) or they have 3 but they live over the border in France and have lived in the region a long time, worked for big companies and earn mega bucks in Geneva...so its kind of hard to get a realistic view of what's "doable" for us...hence I thought to throw the net wide and find out from the forum....but it also seems that there aren't many (I've only heard from 1) family with 4 kids that are making it work in Switzerland who shared their income for me to get an idea. But all the comments have been helpful in making me think about things I may not have on my own...

So its been interesting reading through everyone's comments and views on quality of life etc...thanks :-)

I will have the ability to work again in the coming years as well, which will help, but initially, for sure we would need to survive on the one income, so that is why the need to set the benchmark. We will just have to decide to not come back until we get a job for my husband that is over the threshold for what we consider doable.

As far as budget considerations go - specific things for us as a family would be that our food budget is always massive due to multiple food allergies and special diet considerations we have to make due to health issues (food allergies/health conditions) in the family - which means we spend WAY more than normal, just cooking at home and eating "basic" - ie. not fancy or eating out - and my kids now eat more than my husband and I - which is a huge shift for us with financially planning that out...I have done a "theoretical" online shop on Coop.ch and migros.ch for a week's worth of food for us - just basics that we would normally get through here - etc. and it comes to about 400chf a week - which is way higher than the average from what I can tell!!

That does not include ANY luxuries like wine, chocolate, snacks (which we don't often have ever anyway) etc..... that's just 3 meals a day for 7 days...feeding 6 is expensive if you don't want to be spending all your money going to the doctor afterwards to fix all the problems that are caused by eating the wrong stuff and suffering as a result. ie. we eat lots of veges/fruit, dairy, meat, eggs, nuts etc...and unfortunately those are all the most expensive! We have to be very careful about consuming any grain based foods due to multiple food issues.

About housing - with 4 kids - we have to consider that there aren't many places that will rent to us, as we will be considered an "high" usage family (we also have a small dog and cat), so I know that finding a place "cheap" probably isn't likely especially since looking in the wider area where we will need to move rents for anything with 4 bedrooms is between 3500+ per month, on average...so that takes a massive chunk out of the budget. Its just stuff to consider. We have no problem living in a smaller place - we have done it multiple times and size doesn't really matter as long as it is functional for all our needs and is in the general proximity to where we need to be.

I read one of the comments about how my husband must be feeling stressed about being the only bread winner in the house and how Switzerland will be harder with that - and yes...that is one of the main reasons I am doing this research so that we can set a benchmark in our minds of what he would be willing to move for - and nothing less...or it will increase his stress rather than reducing it...which in many ways would outweigh any benefits of moving back - because the main reason would be to be home and actually increase our family time together somehow as well etc. rather than reducing it...so that is a big consideration on my part for him.

Reality is, despite all the depressing things about how expensive certain things will be, overall Switzerland is where our hearts are and where we want to have the kids grow up longer term for sure, so I guess at the end of the day like one of the poster's said...we just have to make the leap of faith and jump.

I have to trust that it will work out in the end, and we may need to sacrifice certain things but I think overall our lives will be better because we will be surrounded by community and friends once again that we love - and this will make all the difference, which is what we have been so missing on our journey so far, despite all the extra perks of a big house etc.

Shows what really matters
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  #123  
Old 23.05.2020, 12:03
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

While you can’t do a test shop online, there are many stores that will work out far cheaper than Coop. For basic every day items such as meat, fruit and veg, milk and so on we use Aldi and Lidl. Cash and carry places like Aligro and TopCC sell in bulk, which for things like meat can work out much cheaper. We still use Coop and Migros, but more for convenience and for certain products that the others don’t carry.

I think you would be able to get that 400 a week down to 250 without too much effort.
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  #124  
Old 23.05.2020, 12:54
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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- school (US more expensive, should send to a private school there)
Why?

Tom
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  #125  
Old 23.05.2020, 16:16
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

As a returnee Swiss, I totally understand why someone would ask on an expat Forum. Because once you have lived abroad for a while, you have changed, the way you see and experience things, your perception of what is 'the norm' has changed. So asking other expats gives balance. Having returned to Switzerland after 39 years- I am not the same 19 year old who left in 1970. Many of my friends here have never lived away from home- and the ones we get on really well with have also travelled and lived abroad- several of them much more extensively than we have. So we understand each other and see other points of view and other ways of dealing with things.

To the OP- the rents you quote are really for the Riviera- you only need to be prepared to go to the foot of the Jura or some of the locations I mentionned- to find much much cheaper rents and large apartments with garden. Bonne chance.
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  #126  
Old 24.05.2020, 02:47
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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While you can’t do a test shop online, there are many stores that will work out far cheaper than Coop. For basic every day items such as meat, fruit and veg, milk and so on we use Aldi and Lidl. Cash and carry places like Aligro and TopCC sell in bulk, which for things like meat can work out much cheaper. We still use Coop and Migros, but more for convenience and for certain products that the others don’t carry.

I think you would be able to get that 400 a week down to 250 without too much effort.
I agree with this. Only 2 children here, they were 6 and 9 when we left and no allergies but we spent about 100-125 CHF weekly at LIDL. Then maybe an overall 200 CHF once a month for a buy at CoopOnline for some of the stuff we could not find.

I think 250 CHF a week is very doable.

Some more points:
-With 4 kids I would stay as central as possible and not try to save money by living in a village as this money can quickly be taken up by perhaps then needing 2 cars or the stress of a super long commute. Also living central means your kids will all have schools available without a long commute no matter the age and access to activities. As they get older they can do this alone, allowing you to work. Less possible in a village. This is clearly a personal choice but a worthy consideration.
-Basic health insurance - some companies will offer some free basic policies for children as of the 3rd child - have a look, I don't remember which one but maybe Swica or Sanitas?

Take care
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  #127  
Old 24.05.2020, 10:53
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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As a returnee Swiss, I totally understand why someone would ask on an expat Forum. Because once you have lived abroad for a while, you have changed, the way you see and experience things, your perception of what is 'the norm' has changed. So asking other expats gives balance. Having returned to Switzerland after 39 years- I am not the same 19 year old who left in 1970. Many of my friends here have never lived away from home- and the ones we get on really well with have also travelled and lived abroad- several of them much more extensively than we have. So we understand each other and see other points of view and other ways of dealing with things.

To the OP- the rents you quote are really for the Riviera- you only need to be prepared to go to the foot of the Jura or some of the locations I mentionned- to find much much cheaper rents and large apartments with garden. Bonne chance.
Of course, I didn't mean that OP shouldn't ask for opinions on an expat forum, especially since her husband will be an expat too and probably will see things as most of us do see them. I tried to point out that OP should be careful about how much weight our/these opinions should have when taking a decision. Sorry if I misled some people here into thinking I disapprove of addressing her questions here, it wasn't my intention. I'll stop musing on EF because it's obviously that language barriers can be pretty exhausting.

I should have made myself a bit more clear and if I failed in that post, I'll reformulate now: if OP still has family and friends here, maybe it is not such a bad idea to try to involve them more, and ask them to help her more.
I noticed a funny thing: everyone wants you (generic you) to come back home, yet I wonder how many would be willing to support you (generic you) readapt to your old country which has changed in the meantime too, like maybe you also did? People have their own stuff to take care of, wouldn't be that bad to test the waters at least to know what or whom she can count on, especially if OP will need a bit of help.

As you might know, finding a decent cheap house needs networking. Among the locals. No expat or returnee has helped me find my feet in Switzerland more than my neighbours and Swiss friends.
If she'll get attached too much to our expat world she'll miss so many things this wonderful country has to offer.
And....IMHO the Swiss do travel, even if they didn't actually live in a different country. They're pretty cosmopolitan too.

Last edited by greenmount; 24.05.2020 at 11:05.
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  #128  
Old 24.05.2020, 13:30
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

Great post - thanks. In our case, we were not looking to move here, and not looking for a house... we wanted to find a small place to rent, so we could come and help my very elderly parents, with my very unwell mother- on a more regular basis- but without actually staying with them, which I found draining. Then the Vicar came to say goodbye and explained he was retiring and would not be replaced. And I asked 'what about the lovely Vicarage'? - the rest is history. It was helpful that dad knew all the artisans who had worked on the house for past 50 years and more (it was built in 1586 in Elizabethan times)- so we could ask about all the main things, roof structure, main renovations, heating, plumbing, electrics (part had to be redone- dated from 50s) ... etc. 2 architect ex school friends also gave their opinion, and others in the Estate business- they were all really helpful and ready to give advice for free. 1 of them lived in quebec for a long time- others in Africa and South America, the USA, India- Japan - all over. Amazing how many of us have come back to roots eventually, most in retirement, and most keeping a 'pied à terre' elsewhere.
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  #129  
Old 09.06.2020, 17:11
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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Very interesting topic and would like to add my 2cts. We are a famiy of 3 (with one tiny toddler) and on my single salary of just below $200k gross I am at two minds. We definitely are not struggling but not feeling as comfortable as I should with this salary. We moved here from Asia and with the same salary we never ever looked at any of our expenses and still saved well over 50% of our income.

Switzerland is much much more expensive. We are not eating out - too much trouble with a toddler anyways - don't have a car, shop at Aldi even and yet only barely save 3k a month. Am I crazy for complaining?
Here is our breakdown in case it helps with your decisions.


income: 16,000
expenses:
mandatory deductions: 1,000 (eg AHV, UVG, UVGZ, etc.)
health insurance (for 3): 600
taxes: 2,500
rent: 2,800
public transport: 200
pension: 4,500
food: 650
clothes: 200
phone/internet/tv: 90
insurance: 140
leftovers: ~3,200


Notes: I think we should buy a house once we have the downpayment saved as rents are crazy
It was somewhat the case with me when I moved here in my early thirties with seemingly high salary, just to figure out that I could hardly save a couple of thousand chuffs per month in cash (which I thought was not a big deal).
What I have learned so far is to never compare prices with other countries, consider pension 2nd and 3rd pillars as saving instruments and overall, focus on the quality of life, not on money per se.
My piece of advice is to think of a better (private) health insurance while you are young, as once you really need it, the insurance companies might decide you are too old or too sick for them...
Also, food - 650 francs for 2 adults and a baby...you must be starving, and 200 francs for clothes per month - where did you find such a wife?!
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  #130  
Old 10.06.2020, 07:39
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

We're surviving on 4K a month, we got 2 kids.

1K on health
500 on mortgage
2K on food

No we don't live in a big city.
No nobody has anything new to wear. We shop in boot sales, Swiss people buy and throw away really nice stuff.
No I never eat in restaurants these days.
No we won't go on vacation this year, maybe we can save a little next year; I'm going to keep dreaming.
Yes we have a car, that is paid for, only cost running.
Yes I walk almost everywhere these days anyway, save fuel for when I really need the car.
Yes we struggle now and again with big bills, but we some how find the money.
Yes I lost 5kg in the last 3 years, still a 1kg over what I should be.

My only concern is that my daughter wants to go to University and I may not be able to afford it unless we sell the house. Maybe I can get a loan using it as collateral.
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  #131  
Old 10.06.2020, 08:32
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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We're surviving on 4K a month, we got 2 kids.

1K on health
500 on mortgage
2K on food

No we don't live in a big city.
No nobody has anything new to wear. We shop in boot sales, Swiss people buy and throw away really nice stuff.
No I never eat in restaurants these days.
No we won't go on vacation this year, maybe we can save a little next year; I'm going to keep dreaming.
Yes we have a car, that is paid for, only cost running.
Yes I walk almost everywhere these days anyway, save fuel for when I really need the car.
Yes we struggle now and again with big bills, but we some how find the money.
Yes I lost 5kg in the last 3 years, still a 1kg over what I should be.

My only concern is that my daughter wants to go to University and I may not be able to afford it unless we sell the house. Maybe I can get a loan using it as collateral.
Thanks for sharing! Does that 1k go to health insurance? I ask because at your income level you should be able to get a discount "Prämienverbilligung" in german part. I just checked this site, where it says that the spendings on health insurance should be no more than 10% of the income, that is, if I understood the French well.

https://praemienverbilligung.org/can...al-canton-vaud
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  #132  
Old 10.06.2020, 08:42
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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My only concern is that my daughter wants to go to University and I may not be able to afford it unless we sell the house. Maybe I can get a loan using it as collateral.
She can take a part-time job, many students do. Tutoring, McDonalds etc

I think it's even more motivating.
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  #133  
Old 10.06.2020, 10:24
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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She can take a part-time job, many students do. Tutoring, McDonalds etc

I think it's even more motivating.
If one doesn't an apprenticeship working in McD's.
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  #134  
Old 10.06.2020, 11:33
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Re: Finding out minimum salary needed to survive/thrive for family with 4 kids in Vau

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My only concern is that my daughter wants to go to University and I may not be able to afford it unless we sell the house. Maybe I can get a loan using it as collateral.
If your paperwork is all in order, especially the tax declaration, proof of income and assets, it may be that your daughter is eligible for a stipendium (non-refundable grant) from the municipality or from the canton, to cover either her tuition fees, or a part of her living allowance, for the years of her studying.
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