Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The pros and cons of Swiss living

The American Resident

Hooray for new link ups!! Michelle over at The American Resident has started a link up called "Where I live." It's not just for us silly expats either. It's about loving where you live and wanting to share it with the world. I'm a day late with my post but better late than never right?

This weeks prompt is "the dark sides of where you live or have lived, but the one condition of this linky is to put a positive spin on your posts. Feel free to vent about the bad stuff this week, but match each negative with a contrasting positive!"

I know most people are shocked to find out that sometimes living in the land of chocolate and scary efficiency isn't all it's cracked up to be. 

There are pros and cons to living basically any where in the world and Switzerland is no exception.

ConSwitzerland is EXPENSIVE! Let me throw some numbers at you. Compared to Canada the price of rent is 81% higher. The cost of groceries is 47% higher. The cost of eating out is 64% higher. For a family of three to go to McDonald's it can cost upwards of 30 or 40 Swiss Francs (that's 32 to 42 Canadian dollars.) Right after we got here I spent close to 50 francs on 4 small steaks. Let me just point out this is a mistake I have never repeated.

Pro: I can budget like nobodies business now. I've got Gail Vaz-Oxlades jar system down to a science.We spend very little on non-essentials. Hell we don't even own a microwave (to me it's a non-essential item.) We eat incredibly healthy because crappy food is expensive. We operate almost completely with cash now so we can keep better track of our spending. And I've become very good at beating all the elderly ladies who grocery shop in the afternoons to the 50% off meat. 

Con: Everything that isn't a museum, place to eat or in the train station is closed on Sundays. As someone who ran a lot of errands on Sundays when we lived in Canada this really really bugged me when we first got here. We made a lot of trips to the train station in those first few weeks thanks to my lack of remembering things aren't open on Sundays.

Pro: Wow a whole day set aside to relax and not worry about getting stuff done, spending time with friends and family, checking out museums and other cool life enriching experiences!! Where has this been all my life?!

Con: I can't get any of the following items here; cheerios, brown sugar, Sailor Jerry's rum, mint chocolate anything that isn't an after 8, twizzlers, and big jars of peanut butter.

Pro: They do have; chocolate that is better than toblerone and lindt (we give that to tourists apparently), 450 varieties of cheese, 200 kinds of bread, amazing/cheap local beer, cheap wine and a focus on eating seasonally and locally that should be an example for the rest of the world.

Con: There is a HUGE bias against foreigner. So it can be hard to find apartments if you don't go through a rental agency. It can be hard to find jobs if you're a trailing spouse like me either because your of your permit status or hiring quotas. It can be hard to meet locals (especially if you don't have kids or a dog or both.) I've had friends who have had their children told certain kids from school weren't allowed to play with them because they weren't Swiss. "Come from aways" are seen as highly suspect. 

Pro: Not ALL the Swiss are bias towards foreigners some of them are genuinely excited to meet a native English speaker (someone to practice their English with.)  Just like biases in other places it's a few bad apples ruining it for everyone else. But when you first get here you're inundated with horror stories. It also helps we're Canadian which means universally people think we're pretty okay (no one has a strong opinion about us...phew.) And I speak German so I'm seen as someone who is trying to integrate.

So it's not all bad. It's not all great either but you do tend to turn the stumbling blocks into stepping stones.


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9 comments:

  1. Wow, you're great at turning a negative into a positive. "Stumbling blocks into stepping stones" - good way of putting it.

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  2. I particularly love the spin on having the sunday free. That's actually a good idea!

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  3. Gosh, 81% higher rents - now that is some difference! Love that you even turn the cost of living into a benefit by improving your budgeting skills.

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  4. Wow! What an eye opener, can't believe your prices and can believe the ignorance of some Swiss, but that's world over - not just the Swiss I mean.

    I think out of the whole post mu mind is still stuck on the 450 varieties of cheese, what I would give to try them all
    and the chocolate ;)

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  5. Very interesting. A friend lived in Zurich once and I remember him having some of the same complaints, especially the bias against 'auslanders'. But what a beautiful country to live in at the same time.

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  6. My post would be exactly the same with the addition of:

    CON - no possible way to get on a tram if you have a child under the age of three and a pram.

    PRO - I can't get in to the city to spend an extortionate amount of money on a bottle of water and a sandwich.

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  7. Great post--and you know what? That's a wonderful way to look at Sunday's. I love how well you've balanced the contrasts here!! Thanks for joining the linky :)

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  8. I sooo hear you on the Sunday thing, and on the meeting people thing too! I have some friends who just moved to Thailand for a year to teach and they've already met a bunch of cool people (also foreigners) because they're living dorm style, and I can't help but be super jealous because I've been her for 7 months and the friends pool is oh so dry. Plus, we're childless cat people. But eh, whaddya do? Like you said, at least there's cheese and chocolate?

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  9. CON - you're really far and I'd like you to come be closer and in the same time zone

    PRO - I have a place to stay in Switzerland and John says if you break he will keep me?

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