Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Cost of Living in Zurich

Even after living here almost six years, The Frau is still shocked by the price of certain items in Switzerland.

So, in honor of Zurich being rated the world’s most expensive place to live, she’d like to have a “No way! That costs what in Switzerland?” blog party.

Here are the Frau’s top ten “You’ve got to be kidding me” shopping moments:

  1. CHF 12,90 ($13.99) for a small container of ice cream? Quite the champagne price for vanilla, don't you think?
  2. CHF 39,90 ($43.27) for 116 Pampers…oh, wait, this is the SALE PRICE (Originally CHF 59,90–$64.96)?
  3. CHF 39,90 ($43.27) for laundry detergent?
  4. CHF 3 ($3.25) for a dinner roll that’s in a basket on the table even though my entrée costs CHF 29 ($31.44)?
  5. CHF 5,90 ($6.39) for a miniscule bag of nacho chips?
  6. CHF 1,19 ($1.29) a minute to call customer service for the honor of giving them my business?
  7. CHF 1600 ($1,735) for a baby stroller?
  8. CHF 500 ($542) for a USED baby stroller?
  9. CHF 159 ($172) for a nursing pillow?
  10. CHF 35 ($38) for two foot-long Subway sandwiches (no chips or drinks), but a real deal considering: CHF 35 ($38) for a club sandwich (side of veggies costs more).

Join the pricing party! Leave a comment about your best sticker-shocking moment in Switzerland. And long live border shopping.


Hattie said...

Yikes! I will stop complaining about the high cost of living in Hawaii.

M'dame Jo said...

what strikes me the most is to see the number in dollar larger than the number in swiss francs... still remembering the days when you could get 3 swiss francs for one dollar (and i'm not that old), i can't get used to the 85 cents swiss franc.

Unknown said...

Wow! We're coming to Zermatt for 4 days at the end of April and these prices are terrifying to this U.S. girl. Any tips for travelling cheaply?

Unknown said...

So right about Subway, we visited the only Subway in Liechtenstein soon after it opened and were surprised to see a storefront offering second mortgages right next to the Subway. Then I saw that the $5 footlong was going to cost me $15 not including chips and a drink and I understood.....

Allison L said...

Loreal Mascara close to $30. I thought it was a joke when I read the price in Francs.

Back in the summer COOP imported the vanilla coke fridge backs. 12 cans for 13 CHF.

Towels and bedding not from Ikea were to expensive for us to buy too. When I looked at the price of toys and such like Legos! Not to mention board games which I saw ranging from 40-60 CHF.

Now shopping for soda in the US if I can't get a 12 pack for $2.50 it's not a deal.

Chantal said...

We were going to buy our little one a puzzle for Christmas. Until we saw it cost CHF 60...

Allison L said...

There is also the great story of us shoving a 5' 5" Christmas tree into our Peugeot 206 while in Waldshut-Tiegen buying Christmas groceries. In which we drive past an Edeka and I said look they have tall Christmas Trees. So we shoved it in the car and high tailed it to the un-maned boarder. Don't know the legality of that! But we saved half on it and got a tall one. They were so short in Zurich. Though it would of been fun to carry it on the tram.

Martin said...

Chantal, I agree that Zurich and Switzerland is not the cheapest place to be. But everything is relative. I am not so sure how strongly the researchers took into consideration the different income patterns, though they claim so. E.g. just given the idea that the stronger the Swiss Francs the more expensive the life should have become here is for somebody with the same Swiss salary as before the raise just not true (it is rather the opposite since at least some prices has been reduced slightly at least since then). Nevertheless, I ask you also to take into consideration the effect of what one calls the self-fulfilling prophecies. Of course, you can stay on this over-exaggerating side and you won't be "disappointed". Just in order to give a more modest attitude some chance, perhaps you read the article/commentary by Thomas Widmer in the Tages-Anzeiger of yesterday (15.02.2012) regarding this issue, what directly addresses expats (only available in print and in German of course).

Martin said...

...ah BTW, the article by Thomas Widmer is called: "Mein Zürich ist gar nicht so teuer"

Chantal said...

Hi Martin,
Thanks, I'll have a look at the article. I agree that it's all relative. That's why for expats it can be a shock to spend the equivalent of $25 on Chinese food when they are used to spending $5. For people who have never lived anywhere besides Switzerland, they wouldn't know the difference, they would assume Chinese food is $25 everywhere. Granted, in most cases, the higher salaries make up for most expensive items, but still, you have to agree: some prices still seem completely out of line with the rest of the world. If they didn't, people who know better wouldn't bother shopping across the border, as it does take a lot of extra time and effort.

Chantal said...

Just read the article. Here's the link for anyone else that is interested:

I couldn't agree more that there are definitely things that are free or reasonably priced to do in Zurich--even places to get coffee that aren't so expensive. And it's true that expats tend to go to more expensive places--because when you get here, you just don't know any better. I used to spend CHF 4 for 1/2 liter of orange juice before I found the budget stuff. But in general, even basic things, like those I have listed in this blog--diapers, ice cream, things like these, do make Switzerland seem extremely overpriced. There's just no reason for Switzerland to charge four times the price of Germany or France for the exact same grocery item. Salaries are not four times as high in Switzerland to justify this.

But this also explains why prices are high here--people don't protest them. They seem to enjoy paying more. It wasn't until the Euro hit a real low last year that articles in newspapers started asking why Switzerland's prices were so high. With the pressure, some retailers did drop prices by 20%, although I'd argue the items are still much, much cheaper over the border.

Pat said...

I feel your pain in the prices. I think here in Geneva, we are rated 2nd on the most expensive place to live....right behind Zurich.

Ibsen said...

I wonder if the high prices mean that retail employees enjoy a decent living, or at least a living wage?

I also wonder if everyone else in the world is thinner than Americans because portions are smaller elsewhere because we have the cheapest and most plentiful food?

Mirrorball Mama & Marketing said...

HI Chantal - I am a scot living in the Zurich countryside and have been here a year anow. I laughed out loud at your comment about cheddar in the land of cheese. I think I grumble / mention this eveerytime I go to the supermarket. While my hubby raises his eyes.

I have just started blogging and have become a bit addicted to this wonderful world. What have I been doing?

Enjoyed your posts.

Chantal said...

Ibsen, A minimum wage is under discussion right now in Switzerland. The proposed minimum wage is CHF 22 an hour.

Catriona, thanks for reading and welcome to the blogging world!

Carmela said...

Hi! Just found your blog, it's great!

Some prices that have shocked me have been 45 CHF for lunch for 3 at McDonalds, and you have to pay for the ketchup!

Another one was 26 CHF for a can of Nestle baby formula, made in Switzerland, same can costs 9.99 EUR in Germany!

Chantal said...

Totally agree with the McDonald's--especially the ketchup!!

And couldn't agree more with the baby formula. It's ridiculous. Luckily we live near the border :-)

GMG said...

I actually had a nightmare the other night that I was charged 36 francs for a Subway sandwich, and then I saw that wasn't far off on your blog. My initial big sticker shock was 39 francs for an English book -- a paperback.

Chantal said...

Yep, leave it to Subway to deliver the ultimate price shock!

And yes, paperback books are ridiculously priced here. I usually order from Free shipping anywhere in the world.

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art-vend said...

You can forgive most things, but your list is hysterical. Swiss made Lindt easter bunnies are cheaper in Australia, and a glass of coke at a bar was chf7. I've not really looked in to shopping over the border, but I understand it's common amongst locals anyway!!

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