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Old 26.08.2008, 18:09
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A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

Hello, I have just completed a phone interview for a relatively senior technical position in Basel. I am relatively well-paid here in Salt Lake City Utah, making about $140K/yr. However, I do have roots and relatives in Europe, and love the culture, so there are other considerations.

It looks like I will be offered about 135K Swiss Francs a year. From poking around this forum, I believe this would be a fairly decent salary to live on. I have a wife and a 7-year-old daughter who would come with me. It seems, though, that health insurance, dental work [wish my parents had made me brush my teeth...], US tax requirements, and so on will "eat" a large portion of the salary.

I fully realize I have to discuss these issues with others and ponder them, yet I would very much appreciate any thoughts you can give me. I am not looking for a lavish lifestyle, just want to keep the family happy, travel a bit, save a few bucks....thanks for any input!
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Old 26.08.2008, 18:17
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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Hello, I have just completed a phone interview for a relatively senior technical position in Basel. I am relatively well-paid here in Salt Lake City Utah, making about $140K/yr. However, I do have roots and relatives in Europe, and love the culture, so there are other considerations.

It looks like I will be offered about 135K Swiss Francs a year. From poking around this forum, I believe this would be a fairly decent salary to live on. I have a wife and a 7-year-old daughter who would come with me. It seems, though, that health insurance, dental work [wish my parents had made me brush my teeth...], US tax requirements, and so on will "eat" a large portion of the salary.

I fully realize I have to discuss these issues with others and ponder them, yet I would very much appreciate any thoughts you can give me. I am not looking for a lavish lifestyle, just want to keep the family happy, travel a bit, save a few bucks....thanks for any input!
Look at it as a life experience to get rich in culture, not rich in money.

There is an apartment locator www.homegate.ch which has a tax
calculator on there. You can figure out how much it will cost
to live and how much taxes will be( Look under "Steuerrechner" ).

I still have all of my dental work done in the US when I make
my annual visit.

As far as US tax requirements go, you can either take

1. Taxes paid in Switzerland as tax credits in US
2. Exclude $84700 of your salary from gross income

Good luck!
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Old 26.08.2008, 18:33
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

I notice you have dental work in the US. Is that because you carry US dental insurance? Is Switzerland an expensive "medical tourist" destination?
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Old 26.08.2008, 18:38
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

IMHO, 135K CHF does'nt equate 140K in US (having lived in both places--)Switzerland is horrendously expensive

I would use a PPP rate of 0.8. which is to say that 140K USD equates to atleast 175-180K USD in Switzerland. However "other" factors may outweigh the money bit
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Old 26.08.2008, 19:46
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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I notice you have dental work in the US. Is that because you carry US dental insurance? Is Switzerland an expensive "medical tourist" destination?

My teeth are pretty decent so I usually just get a routine cleaning
in the US. Switzerland is about the same cost when it comes to
dentists from what I understand.
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Old 26.08.2008, 20:02
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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IMHO, 135K CHF does'nt equate 140K in US (having lived in both places--)Switzerland is horrendously expensive

I would use a PPP rate of 0.8. which is to say that 140K USD equates to atleast 175-180K USD in Switzerland. However "other" factors may outweigh the money bit
The OP is from SLC, so the cost of living is pretty low there. His cost of living will be nearly double here in Switzerland. To offer him less in CHF than USD is highly insulting.
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Old 26.08.2008, 20:14
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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I notice you have dental work in the US. Is that because you carry US dental insurance? Is Switzerland an expensive "medical tourist" destination?
It seems to be the case, from looking around in this forum and otherwise, that dental insurance is NOT covered by the mandatory medical insurance in Switzerland, and that dentist costs are steep. Right now, my U.S. employer offers an inexpensive, decent dental plan.
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Old 26.08.2008, 20:38
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

Larsh,

You can live on 135K Swiss but you will be taking a large pay cut from your current position given the cost of living. The public schools are free but an international education for your child will cost at least 25K Swiss per year. I just went to COOP to buy two sets of bed linens and two cotton blankets--400 Swiss francs Perhaps you can negotiate something a bit higher and some added benefits. If you currently live in a house then it will take some time to adjust to apartment life again. I live in a great place in Zurich Enge but still wake up when the baby in the downstairs apartment starts to cry.

That said, you will love Switzerland.
Good luck
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Old 26.08.2008, 21:03
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

I would never change USA to Switzerland, especially if you earn 140k in US and you are going to receive 135k here. Yes, it seems to be almost equal change, but ... Switzerland is very expensive country, you spend money everywhere - obligatory insurances for health, civil responsibilities, quite expensive apartments, etc.

So at the end, I assume you will have less money here after paying for all those hidden small things. Switzerland is not that technical country. Yes, you have found a technical company which pays you 140k now. A key word is "now". Have you checked market, does your speciality popular here? Will you be able to find a job here after some time with the same salary?

Next, it will take some time to adapt to mentality and learn the language and habits of local people. Things are different in this country, and I have a few friends from US having troubles to adjust here. Are you sure its a good idea to change your motherland into unknown but nice country?

I actually faced the second problem, I am doing DDK development, and there are not many companies in my region (canton de vaud) which are doing that kind of buisness.
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Old 27.08.2008, 01:03
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

Thanks for all the feedback! I am in a position where I have to make the decision whether or not to "proceed" by next week. I can get a trip out to Basel, but will not do this unless there is a good chance of eventually taking the job.

I must be too American, it seems, as I am heading towards a decision not to proceed. Anyone want to try to convince me otherwise? I have a very decent salary as mentioned (plus a 20% contribution to retirement!), I get 5 weeks of vacation a year (much of which is spent in Europe), and the joys of being able to watch the American political process.

Seriously, what are the "intangibles" that might make moving preferable?
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Old 27.08.2008, 01:11
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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Seriously, what are the "intangibles" that might make moving preferable?
You could read this thread until more users are online.

OK now tell me what you LOVE about Switzerland
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Old 27.08.2008, 01:15
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

I hope I was not the one, who forced you to reject the proposition?

In CH you have 3 weeks of vacation per year (usually). Plus if you want to think about pension and retirement you will have to work here for 20-30 years I guess to have a good pension ...
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Old 27.08.2008, 02:05
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

US140k to CHF135k will be a significant pay cut in real terms. Pretty much everything in America is dirt cheap, pretty much everything in Switzerland is quite expensive. Most importantly, it's the everyday expenses (like food) which will be higher, not the "luxuries".

With that said, my wife and I live quite comfortably within 5 minutes of the lakeside, only a ~12 minute [walk+] train ride from the middle of Zurich, on my ~CHF120k salary. We do occasional weekends in Paris, Rome, London, etc, (and a RTW through the US, Australia and Japan coming up) without any struggle, and don't really make any special efforts to save money, only buy food on special etc. We don't eat out often, however, as we were previously very spoiled with multitudes of (relatively) cheap, good-quality dining-out options in Sydney.

Obviously, however, we don't have any children-related expenses...

Last edited by drsmithy; 27.08.2008 at 02:17.
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Old 27.08.2008, 02:10
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

Bloody hell volodymyr, talk about taking the world on your shoulder!
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Old 27.08.2008, 10:19
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

135k swissy's is a very good salary here. You won't be struggling to live happily..however as stated it won't buy you as many things as in the States.

If money is the important factor you are probably better off staying put, however it seems to me that the opportunity to move to a different country, let alone a different continent don't come along everyday.
There are other advantages to living in Switzerland that may or may not compensate for the loss of purchasing power.
Better schools, less crime, different culture, central position in Europe, Mountains, lakes, alpine meadows, public transport etc...I don't know what the list would be for you but mine would look something like the above...to me those things would be worth a certain pay cut.

Don't get confused either by the above posts, 135k is a good salary, you will live comfortably. Just don't expect it to all be like home, things are different, that's the point of changing country and culture, if you aren't prepared for that you will be better off staying put.

Edit: too add longer holidays I get 6 weeks, and I can take more than 2 weeks in 1 go.

Last edited by PlantHead; 27.08.2008 at 10:34.
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Old 27.08.2008, 10:32
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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I hope I was not the one, who forced you to reject the proposition?

In CH you have 3 weeks of vacation per year (usually).
Actually the law says four weeks and many employers give five, but never mind...
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Old 28.08.2008, 13:11
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

Just to add: as an American, I'm fairly sure that you would not get any contribution to your pension (ie, they can withhold from your salary, but there is no employer-matched funds). This is, at least, my situation (I work at the ETH Zurich)-my Swiss colleagues get employer-paid pensions but I do not.

One more thing to think about...
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Old 28.08.2008, 13:53
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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Just to add: as an American, I'm fairly sure that you would not get any contribution to your pension (ie, they can withhold from your salary, but there is no employer-matched funds). This is, at least, my situation (I work at the ETH Zurich)-my Swiss colleagues get employer-paid pensions but I do not.

One more thing to think about...
Are you sure. I got employer-matched pension when I was working at the ETH (I had a B permit at the time).
Possibly there has been a misunderstanding, maybe you should talk to the personnel department about this.
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Old 28.08.2008, 14:48
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

I hope you're right! And there have been several misunderstandings about salary, etc., so I will look into it.

Thanks!
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Old 28.08.2008, 15:17
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Re: A generic "will my salary be good enough" post

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IMHO, 135K CHF does'nt equate 140K in US (having lived in both places--)Switzerland is horrendously expensive

I would use a PPP rate of 0.8. which is to say that 140K USD equates to atleast 175-180K USD in Switzerland. However "other" factors may outweigh the money bit
It really depends. If you live in Nogales, AZ 140k allows a person to live like an arab prince. In San Francisco CA it is just enough for a couple with one kid.

However in my opinion Basel beats the living crap out of Salt Lake City so it would be worth it.
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