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Old 19.05.2010, 23:44
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"40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

Dear friends,

I got a PhD offer in computer science with in a project funded by the SNF. The salary offered is 40000 CHF/Year. Now I am little confused about the position as far as the salary is concerned. I think after tax I will get somewhere around 3000 CHF/ month. After going through some posts in this great forum it seems like kind of paltry for the swiss standard.
While thinking about what to do with the offer few questions occurred to me. May be some of you experts can shade some light. I am putting all of them in one question.

Q1: How much salary one needs approximately to afford the following things.
  1. A decent and furnished appartment on rent.
  2. A simple car bought in leasing/monthly installment (in Germany we have something like http://www.gute-rate.de).
  3. Save around 1500-2000 CHF/month.
  4. Eat out two/three times a month in a simple restaurant.
  5. Go to some disco/pub in the week ends (not every week).
  6. I will prefer to cook mostly at home and usually use good quality groceries.
I am sure after reading the previous posts and also from my experience when I was in Basel for few hours during my interview that this salary (3000 CHF/month) can not afford the above things. But I will have an external funding other than the PhD salary and fortunately that thing is negotiable. So I wanted to know how much more than 3000 CHF/ month I need if I plan to avail the above amenities in Basel.

Another question is if any of you know whether the SNF funded PhD salaries can be negotiated. I am aware of some 100% PhD positions in Switzerland where 68000 CHF/Year is payed from the first year itself. The offering of 40000 CHF/Year in Basel simply seems to be a 60% position, correct me if I am wrong. How many hours of work one should do for a 60% position. I guess it is kind of a work where you are required to work full-time and earn half of the 100% salary.

I need to plan real quick on this but I will wait for some steady responses
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:47
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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Dear friends,

I got a PhD offer in computer science with in a project funded by the SNF. The salary offered is 40000 CHF/Year. Now I am little confused about the position as far as the salary is concerned. I think after tax I will get somewhere around 3000 CHF/ month. After going through some posts in this great forum it seems like kind of paltry for the swiss standard.
While thinking about what to do with the offer few questions occurred to me. May be some of you experts can shade some light. I am putting all of them in one question.

Q1: How much salary one needs approximately to afford the following things.
  1. A decent and furnished appartment on rent.
  2. A simple car bought in leasing/monthly installment (in Germany we have something like http://www.gute-rate.de).
  3. Save around 1500-2000 CHF/month.
  4. Eat out two/three times a month in a simple restaurant.
  5. Go to some disco/pub in the week ends (not every week).
  6. I will prefer to cook mostly at home and usually use good quality groceries.
I am sure after reading the previous posts and also from my experience when I was in Basel for few hours during my interview that this salary (3000 CHF/month) can not afford the above things. But I will have an external funding other than the PhD salary and fortunately that thing is negotiable. So I wanted to know how much more than 3000 CHF/ month I need if I plan to avail the above amenities in Basel.

Another question is if any of you know whether the SNF funded PhD salaries can be negotiated. I am aware of some 100% PhD positions in Switzerland where 68000 CHF/Year is payed from the first year itself. The offering of 40000 CHF/Year in Basel simply seems to be a 60% position, correct me if I am wrong. How many hours of work one should do for a 60% position. I guess it is kind of a work where you are required to work full-time and earn half of the 100% salary.

I need to plan real quick on this but I will wait for some steady responses
You cannot afford to live in Basel and save 2000 per month while earning 3000 net. Even with no saving at all you will struggle to live on that salary based on your other requirements especially car, entertainment, good quality groceries etc.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:49
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

Can you please explain how you plan to save 1500-2000 a month when you earn 3000CHF? Do you think rent, food and leisure costs for the month... no to mention actually buying a car will come to less than 1000CHF? Unless you are VERY lucky to find an apartment dirt cheap (and shared) then you will be lucky to save 500 CHF is you want to do all that you listed. A reality check and a bit (ok, a lot) of research on your part is needed I think. Use homegate.ch to check out apartment costs in the area you want to live http://www.homegate.ch/, and check grocery prices online at Migros http://www.leshop.ch/leshop/Main.do?...6%26ie%3DUTF-8.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:51
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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You cannot afford to live in Basel and save 2000 per month while earning 3000 net. Even with no saving at all you will struggle to live on that salary based on your other requirements especially car, entertainment, good quality groceries etc.
I completely agree with you. But if you can give an estimate how much one may need for such a quality of life I will be able to tune up my external source of income accordingly.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:51
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

Yeah, the math does not sound right...

Welcome to the forum, by the way.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:52
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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I completely agree with you. But if you can give an estimate how much one may need for such a quality of life I will be able to tune up my external source of income accordingly.
Use the search function it has been done to death so many times.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:54
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

I think a decent furnished apartment is at least going to set you back 1200, and I am thinking of a small apartment. So that would leave you 1800 for the rest. Telephone, electricity, groceries I would estimate around 600 CHF a month that would leave you 1200...and forget about dining out, a simple restaurant (lets say McDonalds will cost you around 12-15 CHF per meal)
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:54
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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Dear friends,

I got a PhD offer in computer science with in a project funded by the SNF. The salary offered is 40000 CHF/Year. Now I am little confused about the position as far as the salary is concerned. I think after tax I will get somewhere around 3000 CHF/ month. After going through some posts in this great forum it seems like kind of paltry for the swiss standard.
While thinking about what to do with the offer few questions occurred to me. May be some of you experts can shade some light. I am putting all of them in one question.

Q1: How much salary one needs approximately to afford the following things.
  1. A decent and furnished appartment on rent.
  2. A simple car bought in leasing/monthly installment (in Germany we have something like http://www.gute-rate.de).
  3. Save around 1500-2000 CHF/month.
  4. Eat out two/three times a month in a simple restaurant.
  5. Go to some disco/pub in the week ends (not every week).
  6. I will prefer to cook mostly at home and usually use good quality groceries.
I am sure after reading the previous posts and also from my experience when I was in Basel for few hours during my interview that this salary (3000 CHF/month) can not afford the above things. But I will have an external funding other than the PhD salary and fortunately that thing is negotiable. So I wanted to know how much more than 3000 CHF/ month I need if I plan to avail the above amenities in Basel.

Another question is if any of you know whether the SNF funded PhD salaries can be negotiated. I am aware of some 100% PhD positions in Switzerland where 68000 CHF/Year is payed from the first year itself. The offering of 40000 CHF/Year in Basel simply seems to be a 60% position, correct me if I am wrong. How many hours of work one should do for a 60% position. I guess it is kind of a work where you are required to work full-time and earn half of the 100% salary.

I need to plan real quick on this but I will wait for some steady responses

you will need another job..... 40K before tax works out at just over 3K a month. a decent unfurnished apartment is minimum 1500-1800 per month. a smart car ental is about 180 chf per month but better to buy an old car.
60% is 24 hours per week. dont u have the option of a greater working time??
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:54
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

As Economisto said, your 3000 CHF will pretty much cover all your basics but will not cover saving anything on top of that unless you are phenomenally frugal.

e.g. not eating out, not using good quality groceries, not having a car, etc.

If you're planning to save 1500 - 2000 CHF per month then you need to ask them to pay you approximately an extra 1500 - 2000 CHF per month, sadly.

Remember as well that you will have to pay a few other "fixed costs" that aren't mentioned in your post, such as health insurance and "billag" (TV Licencing) which are compulsory.

Regarding the question on 60% work, if you're a PhD student then I guess that you will be under pressure to deliver results on whatever your PhD is in - I would imagine that telling your professor that you "only work 60%" will go down about as well as a sloppy turd in a swimming pool so I wouldn't lead with that one if I were you...
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:55
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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I completely agree with you. But if you can give an estimate how much one may need for such a quality of life I will be able to tune up my external source of income accordingly.
Use some initiative, all the info is available on the forum and online. Check out the links I posted and bear in mind that Zurich is approximately the 6th most expensive citiy in the world... that should give you some perspective.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:56
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

I hate to break it to you but 'grad school' != 'yachts, girls, and film premieres'.
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:56
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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Can you please explain how you plan to save 1500-2000 a month when you earn 3000CHF? Do you think rent, food and leisure costs for the month... no to mention actually buying a car will come to less than 1000CHF? Unless you are VERY lucky to find an apartment dirt cheap (and shared) then you will be lucky to save 500 CHF is you want to do all that you listed. A reality check and a bit (ok, a lot) of research on your part is needed I think.
Aren't you being a bit harsh, Richdog? The OP is asking a question...

Monimora,

That is a VERY low salary for Switzerland, waiters make more than that...

Mrs. T
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Old 19.05.2010, 23:58
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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Aren't you being a bit harsh, Richdog? The OP is asking a question...

Monimora,

That is a VERY low salary for Switzerland, waiters make more than that...

Mrs. T
Not harsh at all, I was just pointing out how unrealistic it was, and the OP clearly hasn't done any research. Next time i'll use lots of fluffeh smileys to soften it up.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:06
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

You haven't said... are you single or do you have people who'd be depending upon your financial support?


I'd say that one person could live decently on 40k/yr without saving much in Basel. Having lived here a few years though, I'm not including auto in that "decent living" as it is really not so necessary here. I have no idea how much a lease for a vehicle would cost here in Switzerland so I can not help you there...

Meanwhile, if you desire a furnished apartment, you are looking above 1k/mo (possibly closer to 2k/mo) unless you share.

Grocery / dining out depends upon your own eating habits. I can get by with about 100chf/ week and could go cheaper if I planned out 2weeks worth of meals and shopped according to the plan. And then come hubby's snack habbits... another 100chf/wk gets "blown" when he's in the mood for a snack and buys a few things and some soda here and there.

TWO of us live on not much more than you are asking about but again, we do not have a car and our apartment was not furnished... and we have no savings.

So, can you do it? Yes, especially if you're single.
Can you do it the way you describe? I don't think so.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:08
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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Aren't you being a bit harsh, Richdog? The OP is asking a question...

Monimora,

That is a VERY low salary for Switzerland, waiters make more than that...

Mrs. T
When I was a PhD student a few years ago I made 25K NZD a year (around 15-20K CHF depending on the exchange rate) and this was the most prestigious scholarship one could get - about 25% more than standard PhD scholarships. I am sure that waiters got paid more than that, but a PhD student is exactly that - a student! Deal with it, or else don't do one.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:12
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

40K for a Phd offer is respectable, congratulations! Your expectations; however, seem a bit unrealistic as mentioned by others.

I suggest
1. forget the car: use public transportation
2. get a roommate
3. reduce your savings expectations just a little
4. ENJOY!

You'll make plenty of money after you complete your education to have the rest.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:12
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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When I was a PhD student a few years ago I made 25K NZD a year (around 15-20K CHF depending on the exchange rate) and this was the most prestigious scholarship one could get - about 25% more than standard PhD scholarships. I am sure that waiters got paid more than that, but a PhD student is exactly that - a student! Deal with it, or else don't do one.
Hey, you can easily survive on 3k per month in Switzerland without going through huge hardship. But owning and running a car, entertainment and saving? That's 7k net territory IMO.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:14
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

come on guys, give the poor (pun not intended) fella a break, he didnt ask if chf40k was possible to do all that, rather, what kind of salary is required to do all that. he also mentioned he has another source of funding that is negotiable.

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But I will have an external funding other than the PhD salary and fortunately that thing is negotiable.
this is probably the only answer that addressed his question.

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As Economisto said, your 3000 CHF will pretty much cover all your basics but will not cover saving anything on top of that unless you are phenomenally frugal.

e.g. not eating out, not using good quality groceries, not having a car, etc.

If you're planning to save 1500 - 2000 CHF per month then you need to ask them to pay you approximately an extra 1500 - 2000 CHF per month, sadly.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:28
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

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Q1: How much salary one needs approximately to afford the following things.
  1. A decent and furnished appartment on rent.
  2. A simple car bought in leasing/monthly installment (in Germany we have something like http://www.gute-rate.de).
  3. Save around 1500-2000 CHF/month.
  4. Eat out two/three times a month in a simple restaurant.
  5. Go to some disco/pub in the week ends (not every week).
  6. I will prefer to cook mostly at home and usually use good quality groceries.
Another question is if any of you know whether the SNF funded PhD salaries can be negotiated. I am aware of some 100% PhD positions in Switzerland where 68000 CHF/Year is payed from the first year itself. The offering of 40000 CHF/Year in Basel simply seems to be a 60% position, correct me if I am wrong. How many hours of work one should do for a 60% position. I guess it is kind of a work where you are required to work full-time and earn half of the 100% salary.
It is a little interesting to me that you are even asking these questions when you seem to already know the answers. I will say it again, PhD/postdoc/etc... salaries are *fixed* in Switzerland. There may be a little difference depending on your location, but they are federally regulated. So whatever negotiating you say you can do, good luck. You are definitely in the minority when it comes to negotiating something that is federally regulated, even if it is funded by the SNF. A lot of PhDs (and many in the research field) are funded by the SNF and they do not negotiate their salary.

And the amount you specify, 68000 CHF/year is about right for a full time PhD student. It actually seems a little high to me, but it is in that range. So if you are only making 40000 CHF/year, your assumption of it being a 60% job is still probably wrong unless your PhD advisor said it is only a 60% of your time. If it is a 60% job, then you would be expected to work 60% of the hours in a normal work week (here in Switzerland, it is something like 41.5 hours a week, but any PhD/postdoc knows you work way more hours than you get paid for)...

To answer your bullet points:
1. If you want it furnished, you will be close to 2000/month easy
2. Nobody buys a car on a PhD salary. Plus a car is not necessary in Switzerland. Public transport will take you everywhere you want to go.
3. Saving 1500-2000/month will require a flat share that you furnish yourself and a very frugal lifestyle.
4. Simple restaurants here still cost about 30CHF a meal, minimum (unless you are talking fast food).
5. I don't go to clubs, but you can burn 100 CHF a night just going out for drinks on the weekend.
6. All groceries (pretty much) are good in Switzerland. Cooking itself will cost you around 100 a week depending on what and how much you like to eat (less if you don't eat meat, more if you do).

You don't do a PhD to be rich and save money. You do the work because you enjoy it and you know you will reap the benefits later. If you really want to achieve all the things you say, you are looking at closer to 80000 CHF/year. And there is no way they will pay a PhD what they normally pay postdocs or researchers.

Sorry to be brutally honest, but be realistic.
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Old 20.05.2010, 00:33
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Re: "40000 CHF in Basel for PhD"-Is it enough for a good life?

One can rent a room, which I just saw on homegate Inseratenummer: 103296125 - 10 m2, close to the uni, with window, shared WC for 240 CHF/month, but obviously Maisonette-Wohnung in der Altstadt am Rhein (Inseratenummer: 103059078) is asking for 4'400 CHF/month. 3000 CHF per month is enough to survive, but that is all you can have. But as said before - a PhD student is a student, and money most likely come later - no need to save them now.
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