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Old 04.12.2009, 16:10
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Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

Hi,

My husband has received a job off in Zug and has accepted it. My company has agreed to transfer me to a Swiss contract but no details have been worked out. I have done some investigating and it looks like the CH salary level for my level is CHF 130K - 160K. If I convert my current salary of £90K into CHF I get CHF 149K.

I am deeply concerned with these numbers but wanted to solicit some feedback. I know that the pound is extremely weak now so would have expected to find much higher Swiss salaries. If I compare these Swiss salaries to Euro figures I get Eur 99K. Back in 2003 when I lived in Germany, I pulled in Eur 90K, car, 25% bonus, free telecoms, defined benefit pension and more. My current company probably has a car but a minuscule bonus and all other benefits are worse. So looking at this, I am going back more than 6 years in terms of earning power.

Am I right to think that £90K in the UK will offer a higher standard of living that CHF 148K in Switzerland? From what I can see in terms of cost of living, housing and childcare both will cost me 2 to 2.5x more than in the UK. I am really questioning whether it would make sense for me to join my husband under these conditions.

The cost of an extra apartment for him and flights back to the UK every week would cost much less than the increase in housing and childcare costs (I estimate the increase to be about CHF 2000 more for housing and CHF 3000 more for childcare. So hubby can spend up to CHF for housing and flights before we are out anything. Of course taxes are lower in Switzerland so I will have to build a model to evaluation but would like some advice please.

Roxane
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:17
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

well, i dont think you will quite have to put on the red light with that income.

but 90k in uk will go much further that 148chf here (although if its london it would be closer..)

money isnt everything though!
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:18
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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Hi,

My husband has received a job off in Zug and has accepted it. My company has agreed to transfer me to a Swiss contract but no details have been worked out. I have done some investigating and it looks like the CH salary level for my level is CHF 130K - 160K. If I convert my current salary of £90K into CHF I get CHF 149K.

I am deeply concerned with these numbers but wanted to solicit some feedback. I know that the pound is extremely weak now so would have expected to find much higher Swiss salaries. If I compare these Swiss salaries to Euro figures I get Eur 99K. Back in 2003 when I lived in Germany, I pulled in Eur 90K, car, 25% bonus, free telecoms, defined benefit pension and more. My current company probably has a car but a minuscule bonus and all other benefits are worse. So looking at this, I am going back more than 6 years in terms of earning power.

Am I right to think that £90K in the UK will offer a higher standard of living that CHF 148K in Switzerland? From what I can see in terms of cost of living, housing and childcare both will cost me 2 to 2.5x more than in the UK. I am really questioning whether it would make sense for me to join my husband under these conditions.

The cost of an extra apartment for him and flights back to the UK every week would cost much less than the increase in housing and childcare costs (I estimate the increase to be about CHF 2000 more for housing and CHF 3000 more for childcare. So hubby can spend up to CHF for housing and flights before we are out anything. Of course taxes are lower in Switzerland so I will have to build a model to evaluation but would like some advice please.

Roxane
I'd say 90gbp is marginally better off than 150chf for a single person - i'd say 80k should be around equal to 150chf. for somebody with kids, i imagine it would be a lot worse due to higher childcare costs (but i only hear this from friends and have no direct experience). a few years ago, 90gbp would be 180chf or even 200chf.

i'd push for a higher salary, say 170chf or maybe get them to throw in relocation + childcare.

in the end, i don't think commuting to the UK would be a good move so you might just need to pay the cost.
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:24
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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Hi,

My husband has received a job off in Zug and has accepted it. My company has agreed to transfer me to a Swiss contract but no details have been worked out. I have done some investigating and it looks like the CH salary level for my level is CHF 130K - 160K. If I convert my current salary of £90K into CHF I get CHF 149K.
depends somewhat on the level of job you are doing, but £90K sounds like much more than CHF150K (not necessarily in purchasing power, but where it puts you in the pecking order). I worked in consulting for some years and therefore use that as benchmark - if I remember correctly someone who made £90K at our firm in London would have been in the CHF 200-250K range in Switzerland.

On the other hand, 150 will be enough to make a living - don't forget that the average Swiss person earns less than half of that.
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:29
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

Hi Roxane and welcome!
When you talk about CHF 148K you're just talking about your salary, correct? Let's assume that your husband will be earning the same as you (just for argument's sake). That'll give you a combined salary of around CHF 300K which - even minus taxes which will be deducted at source (see separate threads on this topic for exact amounts) - will leave plenty of butter on your bread, even in Switzerland.

You also mention that you estimate childcare to cost CHF 3K more than in the U.K. I don't know what you're paying now, but a live-in au pair will never set you back that amount more.

A large apartment in Zug will cost you between CHF 3K to 6K rental, depending on location and standard.

Obviously, the choice is yours in the end - but I seriously doubt that being separated and "commuting" to the U.K. is a better solution.
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:42
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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Hi,

My husband has received a job off in Zug and has accepted it. My company has agreed to transfer me to a Swiss contract but no details have been worked out. I have done some investigating and it looks like the CH salary level for my level is CHF 130K - 160K. If I convert my current salary of £90K into CHF I get CHF 149K.

I am deeply concerned with these numbers but wanted to solicit some feedback. I know that the pound is extremely weak now so would have expected to find much higher Swiss salaries. If I compare these Swiss salaries to Euro figures I get Eur 99K. Back in 2003 when I lived in Germany, I pulled in Eur 90K, car, 25% bonus, free telecoms, defined benefit pension and more. My current company probably has a car but a minuscule bonus and all other benefits are worse. So looking at this, I am going back more than 6 years in terms of earning power.

Am I right to think that £90K in the UK will offer a higher standard of living that CHF 148K in Switzerland? From what I can see in terms of cost of living, housing and childcare both will cost me 2 to 2.5x more than in the UK. I am really questioning whether it would make sense for me to join my husband under these conditions.

The cost of an extra apartment for him and flights back to the UK every week would cost much less than the increase in housing and childcare costs (I estimate the increase to be about CHF 2000 more for housing and CHF 3000 more for childcare. So hubby can spend up to CHF for housing and flights before we are out anything. Of course taxes are lower in Switzerland so I will have to build a model to evaluation but would like some advice please.

Roxane

Depends where your working currently in the UK. If your in London there are a lot of job oppurtunities which keep salaries very high. Zug is a smallish place with a lot of business because its a tax haven but its still got not afraction of London in terms of financial scale, so when it comes to salary conversion it's quite possible your not going to get a directly converted rate.

Try and work out why your doing it. If your looking to advance your financial earning capacity then I would expect you will see more oppurtunity in the city (be it London or somewhere else). If your looking for a change in lifestyle then you take a bit of a hit but the experience is different.

I came here a couple of years ago and took a salary decrease but for me and my wife it has worked out very well as we really enjoy the lifestyle out here. If your looking for career ladder stuff though, I would think twice.
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:45
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

You know the world has gone into recession since 2003 right? I don't know anyone who has changed jobs in the last 12 months or so that is earning more then they where a few years ago (this is in IT) But if money is the only way you measure your succes then I'd say stay in the uk with your 90k
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:49
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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You know the world has gone into recession since 2003 right? I don't know anyone who has changed jobs in the last 12 months or so that is earning more then they where a few years ago (this is in IT) But if money is the only way you measure your succes then I'd say stay in the uk with your 90k
not in switzerland any more - officially!
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Old 04.12.2009, 16:57
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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not in switzerland any more - officially!
IT contract rates are still through the floor tho
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:00
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

Thanks all for some of the feedback. Let me clarify that I am not changing jobs, it is the same company I currently work for. I also will not be based in Zug, I will be based in Zurich. I have also done quite a bit of research on childcare and a nanny will cost CFH 5500 - 6000 per month which is frankly unbelievable. I know there are cheaper options than that but I don't want to downgrade what I have in place here to the detriment of my child so that my husband can go off on his little adventure (I didn't ask for this move ).

What is worse for me is that to make this move, I have to go from a nice internal strategy job where I work from home back into consulting which will be infinitely more stressful and could require me to be away from home 5 days per week. All that for a salary that will definitely be a major cut and have a big negative impact on my daughter who is used to having me around.

That is why I am thinking he can move and commute. It will be less damaging to my career and since he is the one making this change, he can be the one away from home every night. We spent the first 6 years of our relationship doing this so are well aware of what it is like and it is not ideal but neither do my options appear ideal.

Roxane
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:04
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

sounds like a divorce waiting to happen to me
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:08
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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That is why I am thinking he can move and commute. It will be less damaging to my career and since he is the one making this change, he can be the one away from home every night. We spent the first 6 years of our relationship doing this so are well aware of what it is like and it is not ideal but neither do my options appear ideal.

Roxane
i know a few people who do this. not good for long term family life, but good for both careers.

childcare here costs a packet, and some work, getting paid only enough to pay for childcare.

school system also takes a LOT of getting used to, and is in another language.
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:16
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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sounds like a divorce waiting to happen to me
To me as well. I mean the salary she tells us she is going to get is pretty high. Most people dont get half of that. So even with childcare she should still have a comfortable life.

To the OP: I think you are viewing this in the wrong way. Look at it as an opportunity for something different to go through with your husband. Its a bonding experience. Something new and exciting for both of you.

Did you ask him if he is willing to commute to the UK every weekend? What if he says no? Then what will you do?

As for the second post of the OP. You say little adventure. An affair is a little adventure. What we are discussing now is a major career move.
I get from you post (and forgive me if im wrong) that basically you guys did not talk about this at all. Basically what you are saying is "well he wants to move then fine he can p**s off. Im better of by myself."
There are more underlying issues in the move i think.

But no matter what you decide, good luck
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:16
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

Just looking at the numbers...

I estimate that in the UK you take home around £4,900 a month, assuming you are an average person, don't receive tax credits and don't make any of your own pension contributions. That implies your net pay is around 65% of your gross.

My model tells me that on the same basis in Zug, as a single person (I know you aren't but I'm not a Swiss tax specialist, so my model works for my circumstances) on a salary of 160k CHF you would take home around 10,750 a month, which is 81% of your gross. Yes you have to pay a few hundred a month in health insurance and you may have to make pension conteibutions, but at current exchange rates that is £6,500 a month take home. At current tax rates in the UK you would have to be earning around £125k to take home that much. After April it will be higher.

I can't talk directly about Zug but my place in Zurich is a lot bigger and nicer and is in a more central location than when I lived in London, but by the time you factor in council tax and bills already included in the rent it is actually cheaper. Pretty much everything else is more expensive, but I find this is offset by the much lower taxes and slightly cheaper housing.
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:44
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

Thanks for still more helpful feedback. My husband and I do have a lot to talk about. When he heard what I think I would make and the cost of childcare, he and I both came to the conclusion that it might not make sense for me to move. We haven't decided and I am in the process of building a complex financial model to evaluate this. That is the kind of thing I get paid to do so will be very complete and correct.

As for an adventure, I had an adventure when we moved to Germany and it nearly destroyed my career, led to depression, the loss of a pregnancy, a EUR 50K decrease in salary (still haven't closed that gap!) and a financial disaster that took 4 years to recover from. The point is, I am a little bit wary.

I do worry that separation could result in a divorce but am also worried that a repeat of the German adventure would result in one. That said, we survived it and the separation so we have quite a bit of experience getting through crises and separations.

And by the way, hubby did verbally accept the job before he settled everything with me despite my having deep concerns that I wanted to sort through first.

Anyway, I haven't decided yet and am doing my homework including talking to people who work for my company in Switzerland (first call in an hour, call with my potential boss on Monday) so it could be that my fears are unfounded. I learned last time that due diligence is extremely important which is a lesson I wish my husband would have learned so he would not be so impetuous!

Roxane
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:48
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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That is why I am thinking he can move and commute. It will be less damaging to my career and since he is the one making this change, he can be the one away from home every night. We spent the first 6 years of our relationship doing this so are well aware of what it is like and it is not ideal but neither do my options appear ideal.

Roxane

I've spent a large part of my professional life (maybe around 8 years in total) living and working in different countries. It's not a big deal, especially between Zurich and London you have pretty decent flight connections. On more senior levels in organisations you'll find many people doing that because its still better than moving your entire family to a different country ever 2 years.

Might be an option to try out and see how your husbands likes the new job in Zurich before all of you move. Only for you it might get a bit boring - you'll be stuck at home alone with the kid every night while your husband will be enjoying the high life in Zurich.....
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:50
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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Thanks for still more helpful feedback. My husband and I do have a lot to talk about. When he heard what I think I would make and the cost of childcare, he and I both came to the conclusion that it might not make sense for me to move. We haven't decided and I am in the process of building a complex financial model to evaluate this. That is the kind of thing I get paid to do so will be very complete and correct.

As for an adventure, I had an adventure when we moved to Germany and it nearly destroyed my career, led to depression, the loss of a pregnancy, a EUR 50K decrease in salary (still haven't closed that gap!) and a financial disaster that took 4 years to recover from. The point is, I am a little bit wary.

I do worry that separation could result in a divorce but am also worried that a repeat of the German adventure would result in one. That said, we survived it and the separation so we have quite a bit of experience getting through crises and separations.

And by the way, hubby did verbally accept the job before he settled everything with me despite my having deep concerns that I wanted to sort through first.

Anyway, I haven't decided yet and am doing my homework including talking to people who work for my company in Switzerland (first call in an hour, call with my potential boss on Monday) so it could be that my fears are unfounded. I learned last time that due diligence is extremely important which is a lesson I wish my husband would have learned so he would not be so impetuous!

Roxane
Good luck

To put it simply though if you end up in different countries maybe it will be like "well you did it so now its my turn"
Your relationship was strong enough to survive the first little adventure. You guys separating again its a time bomb waiting to blow up
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Old 04.12.2009, 17:56
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

It's also worth noting that the quality of life here in Switzerland is superb. I played with similar sorts of figures when deciding whether to come here, and in hindsight the conclusion is this:

I live in a bigger, nicer, more central apartment than I could have afforded in the UK. My commute takes me 12 minutes on reasonably uncongested roads. And after all my bills are paid, I have more money left over at the end of the month than I ever did in the UK.

The income tax position makes a big difference, particularly for higher earners.

Every relationship is different, but maintaining a commuting lifestyle and spending five days a week away is very hard to sustain. You can decide what's right for your marriage, but it sounds to me like you're looking for excuses about why not to come to Switzerland.

I hope you reconsider. Switzerland is an amazing place to live, Zug is a beautiful city (as is Zurich), and as the may ex-pats on this board will testify, life here is very good. There are lots of reasons that aren't financial for living here -- look beyond the 1-for-1 comparison of salaries and instead examine the life that you lead in the UK versus what you could have here.

When I did that comparison, the decision was a no-brainer for me.

Good luck.
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Old 04.12.2009, 18:00
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

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I've spent a large part of my professional life (maybe around 8 years in total) living and working in different countries. It's not a big deal, especially between Zurich and London you have pretty decent flight connections. On more senior levels in organisations you'll find many people doing that because its still better than moving your entire family to a different country ever 2 years.

Might be an option to try out and see how your husbands likes the new job in Zurich before all of you move. Only for you it might get a bit boring - you'll be stuck at home alone with the kid every night while your husband will be enjoying the high life in Zurich.....
I know what you mean about the moving every 2 years. My husband thinks this will be a 3 year assignment. If I go for this, I will be looking to get promoted which will make it harder for me to move on in 3 years. It would be easier to just suck it up and go if I thought we would get established and I could invest in my career and expect a pay off.

In a way, we need to look at the next step and beyond to see what makes sense but that is difficult. I guess I should think about it in terms of option theory. Which of these options has the higher long term value? That gets difficult because other things come into play like me getting an EU passport if I stick it out here for a little while.
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Old 04.12.2009, 18:01
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Re: Comparing UK and Swiss Salaries

Hmm...always a difficult question this one.
I would say that a salary of 150k Swissy is equivalent to around 80k in the UK.

However the taxes here are lower (especially if you live in Zug), you won't pay National Insurance and you won't pay council tax. The amount of money that will end up in your pocket will be more than you would get on 90k in the UK.
You are really suffering because the exchange rate at the moment is so poor.

Prices are comparable to London prices (although I have no idea about childcare)
I'm sure your financial model will take all that into account.

I think your standard of living will be much higher here than in the UK, depending a lot on what you like doing. (i.e if you lunch and shop then you will hate it)
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